What is “Phased mobile onboarding”?

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What is “Phased mobile onboarding”?


After we’ve established that the purpose of app onboarding is to create a positive initial experience for first-time users, it’s time to take a closer look at the different types of mobile onboarding, and see where this definition demands some flexibility. One example is that of “phased onboarding”, a process that divides the onboarding procedure into different segments instead of presenting them all in the first encounter of users with an app.

The mere concept of phased mobile user onboarding is puzzling. We already know how important it is to put our best foot forward and immediately expose users to a well-crafted procedure. Why, then, would developers should even consider postponing parts of their product’s mobile user onboarding process?! As you will see, there are numerous reason to do so. The following lines will discuss how to put this tactic to use, and combine it with mobile personalization in order to drive better app retention rates.

Asking for permission

One form of phased mobile onboarding involves asking for permission requests at different times, instead of presenting user with everything your app might need right when they are about to first use the product

First, let’s go over the basics: one of the purposes to mobile user onboarding is to present a compelling experience that will get users to realize the app’s value, it’s functionality and what is needed on their part in order for it to work properly. The first time user experience on mobile includes the registration process, as well as the access requests approval stage. In other words, good onboarding should convince users to allow your app access to their private, personal data.

And, as far as personal data goes, mobile users are rightfully suspicious. They read frequently about apps that bring zero value to users and demand unreasonable access level. The app stores are filled with apps violating users’ privacy and the burden of these malicious products presents obstacles to great apps who truly need this data in order to work.

When it comes to mobile user onboarding, as you know, there are no second chances. With app store permission requests this issue becomes an even bigger deal. That is due to the fact that after users have decided to decline your app’s request to access their personal data, it will be technically more difficult to go back and change their decision. The latest adjustments to Apple’s iOS have made things easier, but it remains a challenge for developers.

This means that asking users to access their informations is an even more dangerous task, with more painful results for your app. This is true especially when the request is for access to information that is crucial to the main functionality of our app. You simply cannot afford to lose users’ collaboration, for without it you will not be able to present them with the best working version of your product.

Another important junction is when asking permission to send users push notifications. Push notification are a great tool to use in order to increase your app retention rates. Unlike the web, in mobile there are less options to get in touch with users. There are no retargeting options and the mechanism relies on users’ approval to send push notifications. This is developers’ mean of communication with users, and without their approval you are left with very little options for app retention rates improvements.

That’s when phased onboarding can help: In order to improve your chances of getting the coveted approval from users, there is great importance to the way we approach this matter during the app onboarding process. Dividing the experience can help users feel secure and develop a deeper trust in you and your product. Everybody wins.

Dealing with users’ increased level of suspicion or impatience towards mobile apps is a form of art. What you should not be doing is cause users to feel overwhelmed and concerned. The great thing about the phased mobile onboarding process is that if your app requires a few approvals that are potentially alarming to users, you can choose to divide them and make the transition easier.

The learning curve

Mobile users do not like complicated products, which is why simplicity has become a key term in the mobile arena. That being said, there are still times when a great product could be a little too much to take in at first glance, but its creators would hate to give up certain features just in order to present users with an app that is simple to operate.

Another reason to adopt a phased onboarding process is in order to teach users about your product in stages. You may want to start by introducing users to the basic functionality of your app, and only after a while, present them with more advanced features. This has a lot to do with the overwhelmed feeling you should try to avoid. Not only users’ trust grown with time, their understanding of your app does too. After using your product for a while, users are likely to understand more about your app’s value, making them more available for further and even complex features. Not only that, but after mastering the basic ways of your app, taking things to the next level makes a lot more sense.

When implementing phased onboarding, start with the permission requests or features that are absolutely essential to your app and save others, especially those who deal with more advanced actions, to later times. When you do ask users for additional access or effort, they will already reach a higher level of trust and be more inclined to play along.

Obviously, we do not recommend using phased mobile onboarding when it comes to the basic operations your app needs. Do not compromise your product just for the sake of creating a more comfortable atmosphere. If you learn in time that a great deal of users ignore certain features, this could be your hint to save these for later and increase the odds that users will actually put them to use.

We recommend using phased onboarding when you sense that the comprehensive onboarding process might scare users away. Some developers are so excited to share their product with the world, that the idea of holding onto certain features seems unacceptable. Remember: it’s better to take your time with users and achieve a certain level of loyalty, than it is to present them with the best version of your app, but one they will be reluctant to accept.

Mobile Personalization

We’ve said it once and we will say it again: different users call for different onboarding experiences. The ability to present users with a variety of app onboarding versions is a wonderful opportunity for mobile marketers and developers, and it allows you to give users a more caring feeling when interacting with your product.

Phased onboarding is an option. You can use it with some audiences and avoid it with others. The idea of mobile personalization is based on a similar logic: instead if following the generic rule of thumb that causes too many apps to lose a great deal of their user base during the first few days after installation, adopt a more flexible approach that will come into play in onboarding procedures that are personalized, and sometimes phased.

Smart app onboarding sometimes means that exposing users to parts of your app should take place gradually and not all at once. Take a long, hard look at your app and make an educated decision as to what should be displayed to first time users. Giving users some time to get acquainted with your app, study it and learn to trust it is a great thing.


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