What is User Onboarding? Best Practice for Mobile Apps


There is a lot of time and planning involved in acquiring new app users. But the hard work shouldn’t stop there. Marketers have a short window to portray a good first impression. From a user downloading your app, registering an account and using it for the first time, the steps you take during this time are vital. A well thought out onboarding strategy, showcasing what your app has to offer and the value for the user can be make or break and ultimately determine if users abandon your app.


What is onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of introducing an app and demonstrating what it does for first-time app users.. Treat onboarding as a chain of first impressions. If done right you can increase your active users, if done wrong you may aswell say goodbye to your acquisition spend.  


Why is it important?

These are often the first interactions that users have with your app and overall brand. It’s an opportunity to portray a good first impression of what the app has to offer, its features and benefits. Did you know that 20% of Mobile Users Jump Ship After App Registration? The lack of onboarding is one factor that may cause this abandonment.

A good onboarding strategy should help familiarise new app users and boost retention.


Depending on the type of app, different onboarding strategies can be applied. Marketers in the iGaming industry will likely  have a different onboarding process for a betting app than a music or travel app. However best practices should remain the same.


Best Practices:

  • Add Value

Add a contextual welcome message to encourage new users to engage with your app. Use this as a guide to walk users through app features and show the value it can provide. It’s important not to hit new users with a message asking to opt-in to push notifications straight away, new users need to become familiar with your app before signing up to anything.


  • Highlight Main Features

Only show the main features to get started, you don’t want to overwhelm a user straight away. It’s useful to have prompts and pointers to guide users through these features. For example, why not showcase a cash out feature, news roundup, offline reading or flight price alerts.


  • Progress Bar

A progress bar can be really helpful, the user is able to see at-a-glance how many onboarding screens they need to complete and entice them to keep going. Keep it short and to the point that way new users are more likely to finish each step. Don’t be repetitive each screen should provide new content and engage the user.


  • Sign-up Process

Only ask for what you need. For example in betting apps, a user’s age is usually required to ensure they are the legal age for betting. Start with a simple verification process to gather this information. Other apps incorporate social media accounts to their sign-up process. Giving users the option to sign up to your app through existing social media accounts, makes it simpler.


  • End with a CTA

It’s good practice to end your chain of onboarding messages with a call-to-action. This encourages the new user to engage with you at a later date. As you can see below  Busuu highlights to the user other plans that are available and a CTA to upgrade.


  • Push Notification Opt-in

This is your brand’s moment to really shine. Now that the user has used your app and discovered the great features, it’s time to bring the relationship past the “first impression”. When requesting a user to opt-in to push notifications it’s critical to convey the value and content you will deliver. Keep in mind that delaying the opt-in message can increase opt-in rates.


Busuu app allows users to learn a new language. Their onboarding is friendly, simple and very valuable. Each onboarding message is a sample of the different ways to learn. From simple words to questions and quizzes, it highlights to the new user what to expect. Along the way, they incorporate useful tips and “well done” messages. Note they don’t start off asking you to sign up to push notifications, they give you a feel for the app, allow new users to experiment and then ask.



 User onboarding example Onboarding     



Now you know what user onboarding is and best practices, it’s time to create your “first impression” onboarding strategy. And remember to test, don’t just vary your push notifications and in-app messages, experiment with your onboarding strategy and measure results to improve it.



Read more:

Getting Started With Mobile Marketing Automation

Four Deep Linking Strategies for Winning on Mobile


About Element Wave

Element Wave is the only Mobile Engagement Automation platform built specifically for the iGaming industry. Established in 2010 in Galway, Ireland, we are a next-generation technology & managed services company serving some of the biggest players in the industry. Our multi-award winning company specialises in mobile marketing to combat the growing problem of player churn. Contact us now for a demonstration to see how we can boost your mobile retention.

Welcome to Element Wave

Check out our mobile marketing automation platform.

Request Demo Find out More

Welcome to Element Wave

Check out our mobile marketing automation platform.

Request Demo | Find out More