7 Onboarding Hacks to turn App Downloads into Active Users

App onboarding increases the likelihood of new users becoming loyal customers of your app. Why should you apply onboarding strategies for your mobile app? Simply put, if users don’t understand your app right away, there’s a good chance they’ll never open your app again. 

The onboarding process is designing the first impression a user has of your app. Doing it correctly increases the chance of successful user adoption. The onboarding procedure highlights the key benefits and features to reinforce your app’s value. An app’s retention rate increases by 50% with a strong on boarding process making this practice is essential to app success.

Onboarding allows your app to build strong relationships with engaged users. When done poorly or ignored entirely, you risk users not understanding your app through a negative experience that leads them to potentially abandon your app altogether.

So what exactly are the key aspects to a great onboarding experience? Read on to find out the 7 best app onboarding strategies that are guaranteed to keep your users satisfied, informed and coming back for more.

1. Highlight Your Value Proposition

A lot of startups and businesses make the mistake of trying to tell users everything they can about their app, rather than showing how their app offering can improve the user’s life.

People don’t care about features – they care about what they can do with those features. That’s why you should always lead with the value proposition of your app. As previously mentioned, a value proposition is a positioning statement that explains the benefit your app provides for whom and how your app does this uniquely well.

Now I’m not saying that impressive functionality and innovative features aren’t important, but in the long term, showing your users what they can do with those features is what wins them over. Jason Fried, Founder and CEO of Basecamp, said it best:

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2. Emphasize Core Features

While your app’s value proposition should always come first for onboarding, your target audience still need to understand the main functions of your app. Showcasing the key features of your app to users will help them follow through with desired actions by utilising highlighted key buttons and callouts.

Remember, don’t go throwing in the kitchen sink when onboarding. Instead, just stick to the core features that demonstrate the value your app provides. Those less-essential-but-really-cool features can always be showcased later with your second, third or fourth app promotion. These additional features can easily be introduced by apps using in-app messages.

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One Minute Closer focuses on the key features that users care about in onboarding.

3. Only Ask Users For What You Need

Many apps require messaging permissions or data access in order to provide the most valuable experience. By using permission requests, you can ask users to allow your app to access this data.

When particular data is critical for key app functions, be sure to prompt the user to provide data access. This does not mean you should bombard users with permission requests during the app onboarding process. Research shows that 60% of users have chosen not to install an app after finding out how much personal information the app requested.

The best way to avoid losing potential users is to only use essential permission requests initially. Clearly state why you are asking for access to only these areas of their smartphone and how that information is vital to them getting value from your app. Save ‘nice to have’ permissions for when the potential user is an engaged app consumer.

4. Make It Easy to Sign Up

The sign up process is a can often become a barrier to app adoption, so you need to make sure the signing up to your app is simple, fast and easy.

If possible, you should always give users the option to log in to your app with an existing social media account, such as Facebook or Twitter. Not only do social network options allow users to access your app in one or two clicks, but it also helps them to build trust with your app offering.

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Apps that let users log in with Facebook, Google Plus or email. Source: Kiip

To optimise your app user onboarding process, test a variety of login options – do more users prefer to sign up with their email address or via social? Do users prefer to sign up with Facebook or Twitter? Could you get rid of a sign up route all together?

It is also important to experiment with timing. Some apps require users to sign in as soon as the app is launched, even before onboarding begins, while others have more success prompting users to sign up after the onboarding process.

5. Keep It Quick & Don’t Overwhelm Users

Stick to the basics when prioritising your app’s on boarding experience.  You don’t want to force users to swipe through countless screens before they even try your app!

Get your point access with app screenshots and illustrations rather than written explanations. As a general rule of thumb, stick to one feature explanation per screen to ensure that users don’t become overwhelmed. It is recommended to include progress indicators as part of your onboarding process.

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Progress indicators show how many onboarding screens users need to read through. Source: Life Pulse

Progress indicators are often presented as parallax images or small circle that provide the user with a sense of build-up and movement. These indicators help users understand if they are near the start, middle or end of your app’s introduction.

6. Avoid the Obvious

An efficient app onboarding experience gets to the point. Therefore, you need to trim off any redundant fat to keep the onboarding process as streamlined and quick as possible.

Stating the obvious is a waste of time. App users understand that a camera icon will launch their device’s camera function, while most users will know the type of icons associated with liking and sharing functions, just as long as they’re not too different from the norm.

If you’re not deviating too far from standard design principles, explaining an app’s navigational framework is largely unnecessary.

7. End With a Call-To-Action

To guide users towards the next step to take at the end of your app’s onboarding experience, consider integrating a direct call-to-action (CTA). Prompting users to get immediately involved with your app helps them get excited about the app and grow towards being engaged users.

Mobile Music Streaming Service Spotify implements an effective CTA technique. One look at Spotify’s homepage makes it pretty clear that their goal is to get users to subscribe for a paid premium account, while the CTA for the free sign up option is very much secondary.

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Spotify’s homepage features an effective call-to-action. Source: HubSpot

Not only does the headline give this away, but so too does the colouring of the CTA buttons. The ‘Go Premium’ CTA is coloured lime green so it pops off the page. In comparison, the ‘Play Free’ CTA is plain white to blend in with the rest of the page. This contrast is done to draw potential Spotify users to the premium CTA.

So the App Onboarding Process Is Over – What’s Next?

In most cases, users want be able to know ‘everything’ about your app within the onboarding process.

Therefore, it’s important to make resources available to users that allow them to continue learning about your app’s functionality after onboarding. Your most loyal and engaged users will seek out these informative materials, so make sure you have them ready!

What is the onboarding process for your app? How could the onboarding experience your app provides be improved? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

5 Tips to Growth Hacking Your Personal Brand

First coined by entrepreneur Sean Ellis in 2010, a growth hacker is “a person whose true north is growth”. In this post, we outline five growth hacking tactics to help boost your personal brand and, in turn, expand the overall marketing strategy for your app startup.

A growth hacker differs from a conventional marketer in the sense that all of their efforts and strategies focus on lasting growth. The word hacker represents the fact that these tactics for growth are not mainstream or “by the book”. This does not mean they work outside the limitations of the law of course, but this approach to marketing is often unconventional and very creative, bypassing mainstream marketing techniques and promoting huge amounts of growth – often with little to no cost at all!

The term “personal brand” refers to the total experience others take from you. This includes the thoughts and ideas they have of you and how they recognise you as a person.

Having a good personal brand attached to an app startup and/or enterprise mobile app is a great way to promote consumer loyalty. For example, real estate tycoon Donald Trump uses his name extensively on his businesses and products (E.g. The Trump Organisation).

Growing your personal brand is a great way to set yourself apart and be unique. Setting aside some time and effort into growth hacking your personal brand will lead to much better results when implementing your overall marketing strategy over traditional marketing alone.

Social is a standard place to start when you’re talking personal branding and is my go-to place to promote growth. 

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Traditional Marketer vs. Growth Hacker. Source: Inbound Marketing Agents

Social Media

Social media is more often a place where users or potential investors go to find out about you. So why not show them what you want them to see?

It’s important to be true to yourself on social networks while keeping the values and contentions of your brand in mind. Just as it’s essential to be relatable, you must also be professional and valuable. Make sure your profile photos show a unique, fun side of yourself, while still keeping them polished and professional.

Make use of the different social networks available. Find out which one your potential app users flock to and concentrate on those. If you’re an online marketer, try LinkedIn or Twitter. On the other hand, if you’re into retail you’d do better focusing your efforts on Facebook or Instagram. Regardless of your industry, first you must identify your target audience, find out where they “hang out” online and then focus your efforts on those social hubs.

Remember, if you’re trying to grow your personal brand as quickly as possible you want relevant followings from people within your industry, who can then share your valuable content, not your second aunt, twice removed.

Personal Brand

The benefits of a powerful Personal Brand. Source: Buffer

Identifying Your Strength

The first step is to find your strengths when creating content for your audience. Releasing content that you’re passionate about and well educated in is the quickest way to finding your niche. This will promote brand loyalty and a good volume of app downloads while identifying yourself as an industry expert. With consistent writing and insightful content on your social sites and blogs, you will soon propel yourself to becoming the to-go guy in your field of work!

Once the hard work is done and you have an interested group of strong followers, they will want to listen to more of what you have to say. This will give you the opportunity to start talking more openly on subjects that might interest yourself, further broadening your potential audience.

Stay a Student in Your Industry

Along with releasing consistent content to your audience, you must stay hungry and continue learning. Educating yourself in the latest news and information keeps you at the forefront of your industry. It’s not enough to simply learn new things, you must share what you learn to get the credibility as a professional in your field.

Learning doesn’t stop at content, finding new ways to present your information via social networks, videos or even webinars is a great way to keep relevant and continually grow your brand. Rachel Perkins, Associate Director of Social Media at Michigan University, insists “Personal branding doesn’t end once you get a job. You are constantly building your brand, especially as a student or young professional”.

Be Yourself

Many people believe that you have to portray your brand, speak or act a certain way to be successful. This can be painfully strenuous and tiresome as even the smallest falter in your brand’s image can have a tremendous effect on its reputation.

Instead, be real with your audience and just be yourself. People connect better to people and would prefer if they really believe they were communicating with a real person instead of a ‘fake’ persona.

Remember to tell a compelling story that includes your ups and downs in life. Remember back to when Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, got fired from his own company? He came back years later, smarter and more refined, eventually reforming Apple to become the powerhouse we know today. That’s a relatable story and did wonders for his personal brand. Everyone has their own unique story full of excitement and who’s better to tell that story than yourself?

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The evolution (or lack thereof) of Steve Jobs’ personal brand. Source: Fast Company


Networking online and in person is mandatory to grow your personal brand. According to Lynne Sarikas from Northeastern University, “LinkedIn doesn’t replace networking—it makes it easier to find the right people with whom to network. While it can be a great enabler in the job search process, it does not replace the power of building relationships.” Sharing good content and creating a mass following is a great place to start your personal brand but definitely not the whole package.

Speaking to clients and professionals will help promote your brand and give you opportunities to talk at big events. Start small and always speak with confidence and vindication. This gives you the opportunity to voice ideas and share your knowledge. It’s also an amazing way to meet new people and promote networking growth.

Building your personal brand won’t be an achievable overnight, but it’s definitely worth the time and effort. It’s one thing no one can take away from you and will be with you for the rest of your career. Needless to say, it requires consistent maintenance and tweaking but using as many of these growth hacks as you can help skip a lot of time between being a nobody to someone that stands out as an industry leader.  

Are there any other Growth Hacks we should consider for Personal Branding? Let us know what works for you in the comments section below.