Tips for writing perfect product onboarding copy

Asking for personal data is a delicate process and it can be very difficult to know how much information you need. For example, if you are asking for someone's email address on your product onboarding page, do you ask them to input their email address right then? Or should they add in their email later after they have learned more about the product? What if they don't want to give out an email at all? This article will help answer these questions by providing tips to create perfect onboarding copy.

Understand your audience's priorities and goals

Understanding your audience, their needs and goals is crucial to providing onboarding that will help them achieve those things. Determine what they are trying to do with your product or service in order for you to tailor copy appropriately. Provide a few options of different actions so they can find something which suits them best.

  • "What would you like to accomplish?"
  • "How would you describe yourself?"
  • "Which option appeals more? (a) I want this done quickly; (b) I am up for an adventure."

Organise your thoughts

You can organise the information in bullet points if that's easier. You may also want to make a list of sub-points under each section so it will be easier to edit them later.

For example, you may want to start thinking about questions such as:

  • Which types of requests are a bad idea at certain stage in that relationship?
  • What kind of content might work better than other types depending on the level of trust established between them and your company so far?
  • How does UX play into this balancing act as well, since it allows an opportunity for you to connect with your users on an emotional level.

Sort questions from low to high friction

When should you ask for personal information from users during the onboarding process, and what type of user data would be appropriate to request at different stages in their relationship with your company (low vs. high friction)?

When asking people to input information about themselves during onboarding, it's best to start with low-friction questions, such as:

  • What's your first name?
  • Where do you work?

If the user has given you low-friction information, it's time for some higher friction. Questions that might be considered high-friction would include things like:

  • Are you an Australian citizen?
  • What's your driver's license number?

After each step, ask yourself if there are any more steps available which could lead them closer to committing their trust. If not, then go ahead and finish onboarding by asking for something they can commit on behalf of themselves - such as payment details.

Figure out your tone of voice

The way you speak to your users is just as important to your brand as your logo, colours or fonts. Figuring out whether you're witty, casual, excited or serious can have a massive impact on how your users perceive you and whether they're willing to part with their personal information.

It's tempting to use the same "sign up" language in every onboarding email, but it ends up coming off as robotic and impersonal. Experiment with different ways of getting users excited about using your product - you'll be pleasantly surprised by how many people respond well! And don't forget humour: a little lighthearted banter never hurts. It shows that there are real humans behind this experience who care enough make sure they're providing value for their customers.

Break it down, step by step.

One of the most common mistakes in creating an onboarding process is asking users too many questions on one screen. Remember, onboarding is about easing your user into the product. Group your questions by level of friction and try to limit yourself to a maximum of five questions per screen.

Keep it simple

Your goal should be crafting an onboarding experience that will delight users - not scare them off by bombarding them with questions or overwhelming language. That means taking the time to write out meaningful copy that makes sense in context instead of relying on stock phrases like "Sign up now." Keep it personal! Read back over your content and ask yourself: are we being too sales-y? Are we asking for too much information? Is the copy too complicated? Would a regular user understand what this means?

Be clear

Be sure to use language that is clear and concise. Be specific about the problem your product solves, but don't forget to offer some general benefits too! Remember: not all users are on the same page when it comes to understanding what they need from your app or service. You want them engaged with your copy - not frustrated. Make room in their onboarding experience for discovery!

Balance push with pull

In order to make sure that people are onboarding in the right way, use a push strategy for some and a pull strategy for others.

Push copy is about urging your user towards action while making it easy as possible to do so - this might include nudges from emails or popups on their homepage reminding them of the value they'll get if they sign up now. Make sure you're not being too nagging! That's how we lose users.

Pull copy is more personal: ask open-ended questions like what drives them crazy at work? What are their goals long term? This type of copy needs time investment (more than pushing), but it can yield much better results for your product in the long-term. Balance these two strategies to keep your user onboarding for the long-term. Remember, good things take time!

Without a strong UX foundation that allows them to trust you and feel safe with opening up more personal information, they'll never get past those first few screens of setting up an account or signing in - no matter how compelling your copy is on its own. This is why we need usability testing: because if our product's not intuitive enough, even the best copy won't be able to save it.

Think about whether you're pushing too hard or pulling too little: are people onboarded as quickly as possible? Are they adequately engaged before being pushed towards higher friction interactions like filling out their profile? How can you balance the information you need with the experience they're having?

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