Customer onboarding

As a business term, ‘Onboarding’ was originally mainly used to describe the employee induction processes for welcoming a new starter to a company in order to ‘get them up to speed’ with the business. Today, it is widely used to describe the process of welcoming new prospects or customers to a company.

Customer onboarding involves using marketing communications to welcome new customers to a business aimed at encouraging loyalty and advocacy.

Since onboarding communications are the first a new customer will receive, these are particularly important to set the right tone and give a good first-time impression of the brand and to avoid post-purchase dissonance.

This quote explains the aim of onboarding and where the initial focus should be well.

To help achieve this it’s useful to aim to measure and improve time-to-value.

Common customer onboarding activities using digital marketing include:

  • Encouraging initial and repeated use of an online service
  • Welcome emails
  • Product registration
  • Post-purchase support and customer service

Onboarding is a particularly important process for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) businesses. In this article, SaaS tool Chart Mogul explain these examples of SaaS onboarding.

Within more traditional businesses onboarding can be equally important and involve multiple channels. For example, in financial services,  this onboarding example from the Financial Brand shows the many potential steps across online and offline touchpoints involved with customer onboarding.


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Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of digital marketing advice site Smart Insights. We’re a publisher and learning platform that helps our 150,000 active members in over 100 countries plan, manage and optimize their digital marketing activities by applying the actionable advice in our planning templates, guides and interactive e-learning tools.

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