X and O assets for aesthetic

Understanding the Customer Lifecycle: Onboarding

Understanding the Customer Lifecycle: Onboarding

We’ve all had that moment when we get a product in the mail or sign up for a service…

...and have no idea how to use it. 

The thing is, it shouldn’t be that hard.

That’s where the customer lifecycle comes in.

If you need a quick recap, here’s the list:

  • Awareness
  • Education
  • Conversion
  • Onboarding
  • Retention
  • Brand Advocacy
  • Word-of-Mouth

So, you got their attention, they looked into your brand, and they finally bought something. You’ve made it to the onboarding stage.

It’s like an extension of your education phase, but this time you get to help them understand what they’ve already bought instead of trying to help them understand why they should buy it.

Why Care About Onboarding?

This stage mostly depends on you. If the customer can’t figure out what to do after they hit “buy now,” they probably won’t hit “buy again.”

If you play your cards right, it could go the other way: the customer will continue the lifecycle with your brand instead of starting over with someone else. 

You need to do a few things during this stage:

  1. Make an impression
  2. Help them feel connected
  3. Make their experience seamless

Focusing your energy on these during this stage makes a lasting impact on your customer and could be a turning point before they become brand loyal.

Listen, breakups are hard. If we were you, we’d avoid all that pain and put in the effort now.

No, thank you.

Key Concepts During the Onboarding Stage

Onboarding really is what it sounds like: getting the customer on board your brand. 

You’re not guaranteed to keep them, but you have more opportunities to customize and guide them toward retention.

Give them the tools they need to use what they’ve purchased.

This is when you’ll want to pour your effort into making sure the customer gets a full experience. 

After welcoming them to your brand, help them get to know their purchase. Usually, this involves things like nurture campaigns and virtual tours.

If they received that long-awaited fitness tracker, they’ll probably want a step-by-step guide on how to set it up, get the app synced, and start tracking.

Other examples: 

  • Video tutorial series
  • Introductory email series
  • Instruction manuals
  • Virtual website or database tours
  • Product kits (if you’re shipping them a physical item)

Help them understand key features.

If you offer a service, your key features might include online chat or social media groups.

If you sell a product, you might include features like app syncing and time management optimization. 

  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Screen captures
  • Slideshows
  • Step-by-step instructions when they log in

All of the above will help you show the customer how to get the most value out of their purchase.

Make the process easy.

It’s the worst to purchase something without knowing you’re about to spend 1000+ hours (maybe an exaggeration?) actually setting it up.

Whether it’s a smartwatch or an online community, make joining the team effortless. Don’t force them to jump through email hoops and too many unnecessary verifications before they can actually start using it. 

Because that’s all they want! To start using their purchase.

Understanding the customer (AKA: reading the room) is the main player here. When you know what they need, how it needs to happen, and what will influence them to continue, then you know what to do.

Onboarding is the jumping-off point to retention. If you put in the effort now, your customers (and your employees!) will thank you in the long run.

Do you need someone to help you understand and onboard your customers? Schedule a call! In the meantime, refresh your memory with the other posts in the series.

Ready to work?


Favorite projects, award-winning campaigns and more.


Meet the team and learn how we can help.