Onboarding New Users With Video

September 22, 2015

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Andrew Capland


The user onboarding experience is like a college tour. The average user doesn’t know the ins and outs of your product, they don’t have a ton of time to figure it out, and they’re probably under pressure to evaluate quickly.

A poor onboarding experience will make your users want to leave. Immediately. And never come back.

A good onboarding experience makes your new users feel calm and comfortable. On the tour, they think, “this place might not be too bad,” but they’re not sold. Yet.

A better onboarding experience sparks curiosity. New users might not venture down every hall (or feature of your product), but they’ll take in their surroundings and look forward to coming back.

Finally, an exceptional onboarding experience creates an “aha” moment. Whether it’s a genuine, warm welcome or a clear explanation of a solution to a user’s problem, something will spark a sudden realization that they’ve found the right fit.

When you create this moment for your new users, they become excited and eager to join your community. We’re in the process of revamping our own onboarding experience for Wistia customers. Since video is a central part of our marketing strategy, it should come as no surprise that we’re using lots of it to communicate during onboarding.

Show the humans behind your product

Right now, you can navigate to any website and purchase a product without ever talking to someone. This automated world can be great for your business, but might leave some customers missing a personal connection.

It’s more comfortable purchasing new products if you know who you’re working with. If something goes wrong, are these the type of people that will help you in a pinch? Will they be available when you have a support problem Friday at 4:30 pm?

Using video, companies can introduce their teams to new users, building rapport and trust. In our case, our CEO Chris Savage and head of product management Jeff Vincent take new Wistians on a tour of our features in the Wistia Basics Series.

Communicate clearly and quickly

Even if your product is simple, your onboarding messaging may not be.

Video offers the benefit of being able to show your product in action. You can walk people visually through workflows, and for many, it’s much easier to follow along with a video than a convoluted list of steps.

I hate reading long tutorials. Although they answer many of the edge cases that I think of, they usually just overcomplicate things by listing off every use case instead of the main functionality. An overview video can be a great kickstart if someone is just looking to get into the product and click around.

That’s why short videos explaining product features are great for onboarding. You can explain the product, list a few common use cases, and then link to your support documentation if someone wants to dig deeper.

Let others speak for you

You probably (hopefully) think the product you spend so many of your waking hours working on is great, but you’ll alienate new users by telling them this over and over.

Instead, why not let your superfans speak on your behalf and demonstrate how they’re benefitting from your product? Video testimonials and case studies are perfect for this. Your new users can see how other companies are solving problems or using your product in creative ways and put themselves in their shoes. Win!

Demo that product

Sometimes people sign up for your product without a full idea of what it can do. Most website visitors only view a handful of pages before leaving a website. If a user sees just 2–3 pages and then signs up, it’s totally possible they completely missed your product video, and were compelled to sign up for other reasons.

Including a link to your demo or explainer video in your onboarding communications can offer a helpful overview of all of your product’s features. This way, users will be better equipped to get the most out of your product.

Learn about your audience

One of the best things about video data is that you can see where viewers pause, rewind, and fast forward.

Analyzing your onboarding videos can help you determine where you should slow down and talk more about a feature, where a section drags on too slowly, or where your users get stuck and might need further documentation.

By understanding how viewers are consuming your content, you can update your videos over time and make them more valuable for your users.

Video onboarding for the win!

The best onboarding videos demonstrate your product’s benefits and answer your users’ most pressing questions, so they can hit the ground running.

We’re always trying to think of new and creative ways to grow our business using video here at Wistia, and we’ll continue to incorporate video into our documentation and onboarding and keep you updated on what works.

Andrew Capland


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