What if your Startup Fails to Get and Keep Customers?

What if your Startup Fails to Get and Keep Customers?


The pain of failing to get and keep customers

Can you stomach the failure of your startup failing to get customers?

Without happy early customers, you can’t possibly dream of achieving the growth metrics needed to attract investors.

That’s why customer onboarding is crucial to a startup’s success. And creating an awesome onboarding experience isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult things to do.

If you’re losing customers, you probably don’t have an expert understanding of customer psychology. With it, you can build customer loyalty.

With Octalysis Gamification, you can bring laser focus to your user Onboarding and decrease your chance of falling flat on your face.

Unless you keep customers…

It doesn’t matter how great your product is if you can’t successfully get people using it consistently.

Everything is against you. You’re facing large incumbents and cutthroat competitors.

Not only that, you’re facing inaction and a reluctance to change their ways in customers who you have to convince to switch from the incumbents or the competition. You’re facing status quo sloth. From the word Go, your product needs to seem significantly better than competitors to convince people to go through the friction and unfamiliarity of switching products and routines.

Ultimately, you’re battling for attention.

Building customer routines

Once you’ve captivated someone’s attention (through a promising and captivating Discovery process), you can start to plant a seed that will evolve your user experience into a user’s mental routines. People need to start imagining how your startup’s product or service will change their life in the future. Paint customers a pleasant picture of their future selves interacting and benefitting from your product, complete with a feeling of success or happiness and lots of social proof.

The nuts and bolts:

There is a lot to consider in your Onboarding.

Onboarding is in between your Discovery and Scaffolding phases (see the 4 phases of a user journey). Various player types will arrive to interact with your product and you should account for the major ones. The CEO visitor is different from the Innovation Intrapraneur, who is again different from the Operations Executive.

One overriding thing to consider for all your users in this initial phase of their journey with you:  make them feel really smart and accomplished (Core Drive 2: Development and Accomplishment). Overload them with confirmation design that they have made the right choice and give them plenty of win states.

A taste of development and accomplishment for a quick and easy action gives a motivational boost into the next Desired Action. As Onboarding continues, you can ratchet up the difficulty as your users become familiar, allowing them to “unlock” normal functionality that you saved in the earliest moments of Onboarding. If you keep users in Czickszentmihalyi’s flow state, with just enough difficulty to avoid boredom and just enough forward progress to provide a sense of accomplishment, you’re on the right track.

As you consider how to do this, there are many tools and game techniques at your disposal:

During onboarding,  highlight existing customers testimonials (“social proof“) or “pro tips” from happy veteran customers. Think of providing links to your community pages where users are showing off how they use your product (Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback). All of these will confirm to the user that they have made the right choice to visit your product. Many other people have done this too, so it must be good right?


Intentional Design

Once you have your Onboarding design done, you are ready to introduce users to their  Core Activity. This is where they come back again and again to interact with your product and do Desired Actions: liking, commenting, sharing, buying, commenting. Give them something to do on your pages, something they want to return to again and again. Careful use of motivational triggers, mechanics, or incentives/rewards will help you do this.

Then, you can use Octalysis to brainstorm new game techniques for your specific problem. Adjusting designs based on user behavior is the next step. We have helped hundreds of companies with this.

If you want us to help you design better Onboarding, contact Joris Beerda:


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