Increase your MRR by Improving the Onboarding Process

When I signed up for my third SaaS in a week, I was wondering to myself, “why don’t SaaS businesses improve their onboarding process, so they can increase their MRR?”

I knew that SaaS works on the subscription model: mostly monthly subscriptions. And so their business model depends on retention: holding onto people like me, so that they could depend on monthly recurring revenue (MRR). So, there are three decision points they need to get me to be a loyal subscriber:

  1. Getting me to sign up in the first place

  2. Getting me to use the SaaS at all

  3. Moving me from free to taking out my credit card.

And although there are other points where they may win me over or lose me, these three are the key.

So, let’s start with the signup.

Low-touch SaaS relies on unpaid cheerleaders

Nearly every time I sign up for a SaaS it’s because of the personal recommendation of a colleague.

Just let that sink in.

I’m rarely going to consider using a SaaS because I’ve seen a video about it, or heard about it on a podcast. It’s nearly always because a colleague has told me how good it’s been.

And the colleague isn’t likely to be getting paid any affiliate fee for it.

If I were advising someone running a SaaS that didn’t have a big brand behind it and no ad spend, I’d be telling them to nurture their cheerleaders.

Your chatbot is about to lose me

I appreciate that you’re very keen to help, especially with that chat bot and that welcome email that says: “if you need anything at all, we’re here for you.” That’s great, but I’ve probably got some pretty dumb questions, and I’m a bit embarrassed to ask.

More importantly, I don’t necessarily see what you mean when you use certain terms or when you refer to a particular choice you’re giving me.

I need to see the use case. Where does this make sense for me to do this?

To tell you the truth, I’m a bit lost. I don’t know how to decide which of the many options I need, and you’re probably assuming I know what you’re talking about.

In a similar way, you’re asking for some information, maybe in your signup process, and I don’t know where I’d get that information. I don’t know enough about your SaaS to know why I would use it, and as I haven’t yet connected it to my big purpose in running my business, I’m not as far along your funnel as you may think.

The solution? You may need to engage me a bit more on a personal level. That could be something as simple as the founder sending me a short email offering a 15-minute call, or it could be a more personal outreach across a different channel other than your chatbot or an email.

Even if I sign up, you’ve got to get me to use it

Following that theme of “I’m not a loyal customer yet”, you’re going to have to show me how to get me to use your SaaS. Give me something simple to do - as simple as possible.

I’m not necessarily a geek, and I don’t want to spend much time figuring it out.

This may mean a rewrite of your user interface, but it could seriously be a lot easier than that. It could be a small thing like pairing me up with someone in your support team, or even sending a link to a free signup for a colleague, so as to encourage us both to use the SaaS together.

In fact, knowing that someone else is joining me on this journey is going to help a lot to keep me engaged.

Your how-to videos are not going to cut it

You’ve got some how-to videos, haven’t you? You haven’t? It’s only text? A screencast would be awesome, because it would show me exactly how to do something; which buttons to click and which order to do them. (Yes, of course your UI should be so good that you don’t need any documentation or how-to videos, but maybe there’s some work you need to do in that area).

But how-to videos aren’t enough. I really benefit from a how-to video that tells me some of the reasoning behind your design choices.

If you show me why you did it this way, I’m more likely to stick around

It’s far more valuable to me to understand not just how your SaaS works, but why you made the choices you did. I’m not necessarily asking you to change anything, but I do want to know why you made it the way you did. This doesn’t have to be a big documentary behind-the-scenes series on everything you did to bring the SaaS to life. I just need to know what sort of problems you’re trying to solve, and for whom.

Onboarding without your team

There’s so much to be gained from watching a complete stranger experiencing your onboarding process. By creating videos that go beyond the how-to, and somehow build a relationship with the founder, it can cut through the anonymity of a SaaS, and build loyal subscribers.

The key moments of building your monthly recurring revenue happen early on, and getting subscribers to understand and then be enthusiastic can turn them into your biggest promoters, too.

Anthony English