Customer onboarding is one of the most crucial aspects of your Go-to-Market strategy post-launch, but the process starts far earlier than you may think.

If you start early and take a cross-functional approach to your customer onboarding, it could be the biggest difference between a product that succeeds in the market for a prolonged period of time and a product that falls off the face of the industry within weeks of launching.

Today, we’ll be taking you through:

Let’s get into it. 👇

What does a customer onboarding strategy look like?

Customer onboarding teaches your customers and users how to make the most out of the product you’re providing them. It turns a sale into the customer’s adoption of the product, which significantly mitigates customer churn.

Not understanding how to use a product or how it brings the customer value is the leading reason for churn, so it’s super important to educate your users on the benefits a product will bring them.

Onboarding processes can take the form of step-by-step tutorials, video tours of a product, setup wizards or info pop-ups that appear when a customer uses a new part of your product for the first time.

Imagine you’re playing a new video game for the first time. When you first start, you won’t automatically know which controls do what, what your objectives are, how to improve your character in the game or how you’ve won.

Without instructions, you’re going to give up fairly early on and go back to what’s familiar. The customer onboarding process is very similar. If you’re introducing a customer to a new product, they probably won’t know where to start.

Just as you’d expect in a video game, the first step is a welcome message to introduce the customer to the product. This should be followed by a walk-through of the product, where they can explore the features available and practice using them so they can feel comfortable doing so on their own.

Unlike a video game, you probably won’t be teaching them ‘press X to use your weapon’, but the basic premise is the same. As time goes on, you can take them through more complex features and build on their knowledge.

Customer onboarding is a journey, and you’ll want to have resources available to customers at any stage of it. Users will want to learn more over time or train up other members of their team.

A good way around this is to have a knowledge base on your site, that users can refer back to as and when they need it. This also empowers your customers to educate themselves, which they may prefer further down the line.

And finally, you’ll want to celebrate customer milestones. When they learn how to use a new feature or complete a significant task, congratulate them. This can be with a pop-up message, an Asana style rainbow unicorn zooming across the screen or the classic XP boost.

If you want a conclusive customer onboarding template that you can replicate time and time again, check out our customer success masterclasses here.

However, there’s a lot more to your customer onboarding strategy than the format in which information is shared with them. A high-quality customer onboarding strategy requires time, research and dedication.

How to build a customer onboarding strategy

Customer onboarding is all about making sure your customer is happy and confident using your product, but your strategy goes far beyond the actual process of teaching.

You need to be tactile about knowing what your customer wants, how to deliver and how to keep them coming back to your products.

You achieve this by creating a really solid relationship with your customers.

Your strategy needs to start early, so that you’re ready to pick up where sales have left off. There’s a lot of prep to do before you interact with your customers because you need to make a really good impression.

Every customer interaction needs to feel unique and valuable to that customer, or you’ll struggle to generate loyalty to your products.

One of your first steps you take should be really understanding your customer personas. For each customer, you should know what problem they’re looking to solve with your product, what their pain points are and what they want to achieve through the use of your product.

You can find out more about building out really strong buyer personas here:

Driving company adoption of buyer personas
You’re asked to recreate company buyer personas. You research and update them and they’re shared in a sales meeting and placed in the company wiki - but creating buyer personas your company will use is a challenge for PMMs. This article dives into persona creation and company adoption.

You’ll also want to set realistic expectations for the customer of what the product can do and where you’re still ironing out the kinks, to mitigate disappointment or frustration if you do hit bumps in the road.

Set these expectations early. You can even write a plan for the training, how you expect it to go and what the customer should get out of it. By sharing this with customers at the start, you can ensure everyone is on the same page and has clarity on what they’re setting out to achieve.

Again, building customer loyalty is key. If you’ve proven yourself to be honest and able to recognize flaws, your customer is more likely to find you reliable and want to continue partnering with you.

Check out our top tips for onboarding best practices:

  • Keep up regular communication with customers.Set a frequency for how often you get in touch, and stick to it. That way, you can keep your customer engaged and identify and resolve problems early.
  • Orientate your goals around your customer. Customer journey and experience should always be the priority and any other objectives should be derived from that.
  • Measure your success. If you want to improve, you need to know what you’re doing well and where you’re falling short. The best way to do this is by establishing a customer feedback loop and reviewing your practices.
  • Use software like Asana or Jira to create an onboarding tasks template you can repeat each time you restart the process, and ensure nothing gets missed.

Cross-functional customer onboarding strategies

What takes your customer onboarding from a process to a strategy is cross-functional working. This is key to Go-to-Market as a whole, but it makes a very real difference at this key stage of maintaining and growing your customer base.

The marketing and sales processes should be used to gather data about your buyers. These teams can find out why customers are interested in your products, how they want to use them and what they want to get out of them. You can also spot concerns early and use the onboarding process to resolve them.

If you have an in-depth handover from sales to customer success, you’ll go into meetings with customers knowing exactly what you need to focus on to keep them engaged. Tailor the process to the information you’ve garnered through the sales process and offer your customer a unique experience that makes them feel valued.

Working cross-functionally is the best way to provide your customer with a seamless journey and build a partnership with them that has real, tangible longevity.

What value does customer onboarding bring to your Go-to-Market strategy?

As we said at the start, customer onboarding can make or break your product’s success. Without it, you’ll get significant customer churn and your product's life will be very short-lived.

If you’ve spent months on your Go-to-Market strategy, don’t want to waste that by ignoring your customers post-sale and having them move on to a different company and product.

If your customer onboarding is successful, you’ll make your product irreplaceable.

Customer onboarding is also key to the overall growth and lifespan of your company. With a regular pattern of engagement and an established feedback loop, you can continue to improve your service for your customers, as well as building and advising them on innovations relevant to their desired outcomes.

The onboarding process increases the customer lifetime value, which is absolutely essential for the success of your company. The majority of revenue comes from existing, not new, customers. So the longer you can keep customers around, the more revenue you’ll make.

What’s more, if you’ve got loyal and happy customers, they’ll do your marketing for you. These customers will become your best resource for referrals, but only if you put the work in first.

The bottom line is, exceptional customer onboarding = exponential growth. So make sure you get it right.

Want to know more?

Customer success is one of the core pillars of a successful Go-to-Market strategy.

Whether you’re looking to get your onboarding best practices up to scratch, or a leader, looking to upskill your team, we have the tools you need to get ahead.

Check out our GTM Academy courses and access all of the teaching, resources and expertise you need to lead in everything you do.