User Onboarding

The "Disneyland" Strategy: Applying Jobs-to-Be-Done to Personalize Your Product's User Onboarding

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If you’ve been to Disneyland (or any theme park for that matter), if you approached one of their employees for a tour, they wouldn't start spewing out a detailed description of all the attractions, rides, shows, and food spots. You’d get bored and probably walk away feeling overwhelmed.

This scenario may seem absurd. But, for most SaaS products, the user onboarding experience is typically just like this, a one-size-fits-all experience. As such, you end up showing all the bells and whistles of your product and overwhelming users in the process. It’s not surprising that onboarding flows that take this spray-and-pray approach results in leaky buckets as new users quickly lose interest.

In this talk, Ramli John, Founder and Chief SaaS Optimizer at OptimizingSaaS.com, shows a 3-step process for personalizing your product’s user onboarding by applying the jobs-to-be-done concept.

You’ll learn: - The “Disneyland” Strategy to personalizing your product’s onboarding - The 3-step process for applying the jobs-to-be-done concept to your onboading - How to identify and remove bottlenecks in your onboarding

Ramli John:
Hey everybody. Welcome to this talk for the ProductLed Summit. I'm super excited to not just talk to you about Disneyland, which I love. I've never actually been to Disneyland in California. I'll talk more about that. But I want to talk about how that relates to applying the jobs to be done framework to personalizing your products user onboarding. So really to get that aha moment, the personalized moment in your products so that they actually stick around and become lifelong customers for your product.

Ramli John:
Let me introduce myself before we get started. My name is Ramli John and I'm the Founder and Chief SaaS Optimizer at OptimizingSaaS.com. I help product led companies apply product led concepts to optimize their user onboarding and thus their retention of users to their product. And I also am the Growth Marketer at Jilt.com. It is an e-commerce email marketing platform. I've really been focused on user onboarding there. I'm going to talk a little bit about some examples that I've done to applied jobs to be done for Jilt.com.

Ramli John:
I'm also the host for Growth Marketing Today. It's this podcast where I interview marketing experts like Rand Fishkin, Hiten Shah and April Dunford, and a lot more. I've been running this podcast for two years. So really I'm all about growth. If you have any questions during this presentation, feel free to reach out. My website is there, the optimizingsaas.com. My slides will be up there. Also my email, you can find that on the screen, ramli@optimizingsaas.com. Or on Twitter @RamliJohn.

Ramli John:
So let's get started. I want to talk a little bit about Disneyland before we get started with jobs-to-be-done. So here's a picture of my wife and I, Joanna, and our dog and our cat. Our dog is Ro and our cat is Ming-Ming. This is a picture we took during Christmas that just happened a few weeks ago. But really Joanna and I are super excited because we've both never been to Disneyland. And we are so excited to plan our trip this coming year in 2020. We are going to go there sometime this fall. So we're looking at all the website. We want to meet a bunch of the Disney characters. I grew up with Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast, Lion King. So I'm really excited to meet the Beast and also Timon and Pumbaa, and a whole bunch of other things.

Ramli John:
But as we're planning our trip to Disneyland, we realized that really people go to Disneyland for many different reasons. For me, I'm there because I'm super excited about Star Wars. I'm there for the attraction. I want to ride that new ride about Star Wars, where you actually get to be in one of those X-Wing fighter or that fighter plane that goes around, be really cool. I also want to meet Mickey Mouse. That's one thing that I wanted to try and experience in Disneyland.

Ramli John:
But my wife, on the other hand, has another purpose that she wants to go and she wants to go shopping. She loves shopping. Me on the other hand, if I could, I pretty much buy the same thing over and over again. I have the same black shirt that I always wear everywhere. So I'm not a big fan of shopping. She's also a big foodie. So she wants to experience food in Disneyland.

Ramli John:
So as we're planning this trip, we have many different goals. We have many different objectives. And imagine if we went to Disneyland and we're presented with a map. And we are told by the website or somebody who works at Disneyland that there is only really one way to go through Disneyland. It's this path or else. It's almost like a linear path. We would be confused. Like, "What the heck? What the heck just happened? Why would you force us to go through this path when I have my goals and my wife has her goals?"

Ramli John:
Fortunately, that's not what Disneyland does. They give you the option to plan your own day. But unfortunately for a lot of user onboarding, it's typically that. It's a straight line onboarding where typically what we see is people sign up and there's this linear path that users go to, to achieve their aha moment and actually become customers.

Ramli John:
Now, applying that to the bowling alley framework, we also see that where there's a current state. And this is something that Wes Bush presented in the Product Led Growth book. And then there's this outcome. We kind of assume sometimes for a lot of products that there's only one desired outcome. And we put together conversational bumpers like emails, in-app messages, sales outreach, direct mail, and product bumper, like welcome messages, product tours, progress bars, checklists, and tool tips, really to get people to that one goal.

Ramli John:
The reality is users sign up for products for different reasons in the same way that my wife, Joanna, has a different goal for going to Disneyland. And I have a different goal for going to Disneyland. People sign up for your products for different reasons. And really user onboarding is typically never linear. Right? And this one size fits all onboarding experience doesn't just cut it for complex B2B SaaS products anymore.

Ramli John:
Let me give you an example. For a lot of B2B SaaS, there's actually a lot of different goals, or as I'm going to bring up later, jobs-to-be-done. An example of this is HubSpot. Now I use HubSpot for one reason. I use it to book my guests for my podcast. They have this really cool tool where you can book a meetings with people. And it actually creates a calendar invite right in Google calendar. Unlike Calendly, which you can't edit that calendar invite, you actually have to contact the guests, I can edit that and that's the reason why I use it is to book meetings with my guests. They have the sales meeting calendar tool. But people use HubSpot for many other ... People have goals, different goals for signing up for HubSpot. Maybe it's to build out their whole website with HubSpot. Or maybe it's to build out landing pages. Or maybe it's places for them to build out landing pages so that people can download eBooks or guides.

Ramli John:
Now they have a HubSpot Sales where people sign up there to book calls. And they have HubSpot ChatBots, where you can build ChatBots. So there's many different goals with this. So people sign up for different reasons. B2B SaaS products usually just have so many features that if you don't understand what your user's goals right out of the get go for each different user, then there's a few problems that can arise.

Ramli John:
The first problem can be something I called the disconnect. So let's say somebody signs up, let's say, for HubSpot to help schedule meetings like I do, but all of their onboarding, their emails, their product tours, all directed to helping people set up their website with HubSpot. There's going to be a disconnect. People are going to be like, "This is not the reason why I signed up for HubSpot. I signed up for a different kind of goal." People are going to be super confused. Like, "Why are you presenting me stuff about setting up my website when I sign up to schedule meetings?"

Ramli John:
Another problem that can happen here is something called the shotgun. So if you don't know what the user's goals are right in the beginning, well, you could end up is you just present them all the features. It's just like a shotgun effect. Like, "Oh, here's feature one. Here's feature two. Here's what you can do. Here's where you put in the emails. Here's where you build dining pages. Here's where you can schedule meetings." So what happens here is that it just becomes way too overwhelming for users.

Ramli John:
And this is exactly what happened with Jilt when I was setting up their onboarding email series, is that I just presented them with all the different types of emails you can send with Jilt for their e-commerce business. And one of the feedback when I started talking to users who didn't convert to becoming paying costumers, this one of the direct quotes. It is very painful when I heard this. "Your onboarding emails and product tours gave me pain. I felt overwhelmed. I thought to myself, 'Oh man, I have to learn all of that.'" So this is what happens when you don't understand what the goals of the users right at the beginning is, is you can overwhelm them.

Ramli John:
Another problem that could happen if you don't understand your user goals is that you can give them the silent treatment. This is when you just send them one information or email in the beginning. "Hi." And then 14 days later, when the trial has expired it's like, "Your trial has expired." "Well, thank you very much." What happens here is people are going to peace out. They're like, "What just happened?" So really what I'm proposing here, the solution, is to apply the jobs-to-be-done framework to your user onboarding experience.

Ramli John:
So the jobs-to-be-done describes the job or the main goal. We've been already talking a little bit about this. It's the main goal of the users that they're trying to accomplish with your product. The classic example brought up by Clay Christensen, he's a professor at Harvard, is the milkshake. So when people drink milkshake, people think, "Oh, it's just a milkshake." But it could be hired by people for many different types of jobs. One of them could be to get the daily dose of sugar. Another could be a hot summer and people just want to drink something cold. Or it could be to cheer up people after a bad day.

Ramli John:
Another example could be the iPhone. When you think about an iPhone, there could be many different jobs. And this might be subliminal. People don't really think about it right at the get-go. But they're hiring iPhone for many different jobs. It could be to stay in touch with loved ones in another country. It could be to keep up to date with important meanings or emails that you have during the day for your business. Third, you can create content for social media and build your personal brand, whether you're an influencer or you just want to take more photos for Instagram or whatever you have for social media.

Ramli John:
And what happens here is with a job-to-be-done centric onboarding experience is what you can do is if you know what the people's job is when they sign up, then you can personalize all the features that would get them to accomplish that job. But also you can position your product better as to solving and being that solution for that particular problem or pain point that they're hiring you for. So if it's job one, you'd highlight all the features that is related.

Ramli John:
For example, the iPhone. They're hiring it to stay in touch with loved ones that are from another country that are far away, you can highlight the FaceTime feature. Or you can highlight the FaceTime voice, FaceTime call. You can talk about group messages and other features that would help them accomplish staying in touch with the loved ones far away. And then you can position your product as that, as a solution to stay in touch with the loved ones. Certainly here's more personalized because now you're not doing a shotgun effect or you're not actually trying to disconnect what their goal is through the bunch of feature that you're going to apply.

Ramli John:
For me really the benefit of this is applying the job-to-be-done framework to your user onboarding is you can be crystal clear in letting users know how your product helps them. If you know what the job is, then you can tell them you are that solution to that particular job. The other thing that you can do is you can ... Users learn what they need to know to get to their aha moment. So you don't overwhelm them with all the amazing bells and whistles that your product can do. This case, they only learn what they need to know so that they can get what they want to do done, essentially that aha moment. And the third thing is it's better targeted messaging based on your user's main goal. So it really increases motivation.

Ramli John:
When I was teaching as a professor in a local college here in Toronto, I would ask my students what is their career goal? And I would try to apply that back. So let's say they want to be an entrepreneur, the stuff that I'm teaching about marketing, I would try to apply that to my experience in startups. Or if they want to get into more enterprise, I can tell them about how this relates to working in a larger team. So really as you speak to your users about their job, their goal, and how you can help them, their motivation really kind of increase because they know what they're talking about.

Ramli John:
Applying to this to the bowling alley framework from Product Led Growth book by Wes Bush, I think what happens is each of the different jobs that people do, that they would have the different kind of conversational bumper and product bumper that aren't related to each other. So let me give you the three steps to actually putting this job-to-be-done framework and applying it to personalize your products' user experience.

Ramli John:
So the first one is identify the job that news user hire your product to do. In this case, I would actually suggest ... And if you haven't already done so, I hope you are. Is you need to talk to your customers. And really, you talk to them and really try to find out why. And don't just ask them why they're hiring you. But really, at the end of the day, you want to know what are their motivation? Well, what's happening in their workplace or their life at that moment that really caused them to start looking for a solution. What is the trigger that caused them to start looking for a solution and eventually to find your product and to sign up for it? When you think about that, you start really getting into what is the job that they're trying to hire you to do.

Ramli John:
Another thing you can do is ask your users as part of the onboarding. So this is what you see with Box. And a lot of apps have already started doing this. They would ask the users at the get-go, "What is your main goal for signing up today?" Or in this case for Box, "What do you care most about?" It could be filing, syncing and sharing, secure internal and external sharing, advanced admin controls and security. Now this would take some product changes to your onboarding flow.

Ramli John:
What I would actually suggest, and this is what I actually did with Jilt before we had this going because the product team was busy, was I showed a pop up image, actually a pop-up in-app message with a survey. So I used Intercom with Survicate. And I would just ask the users, "What is your main goal with Jilt today? Is it to engage with email subscribers with a newsletter? Or maybe it's to announce a product promotion sale or product release? It could be to recover abandoned carts. It could be to send ordering notifications to customers." So whatever that is, once I have, I would actually store that into their user profile in Intercom. So that's an easy way to do it would be to just ask users, why did they sign up today?

Ramli John:
Once you have that, what do you need to do is step number two, is identify the features that users need to know to get their job done. So I what I would do is I would pull out a spreadsheet for each of the different jobs that you've identified. You list out, first of all, what are the benefits of your product that is actually solving that particular job? Then you would list out the features that deliver those value. And what are the steps required to configure the features that is mentioned in the previous step? So for each of the different job, what you in end up is having the minimum set of features that the user needs to know to accomplish that job. And you have a better messaging on how your product is positioned better to solve that particular job. And now you know what the steps required for each user to accomplish those jobs.

Ramli John:
So once you have identified this, you put this in a spreadsheet. Now it's the time to implement and personalize your user onboarding experience based on the job-to-be-done. And this is where the magic happens. I found this GIF where ... Yeah, this is where the magic happens. So before the onboarding emails are linear. So they take this one route and everybody has to go through this. And now after, what happened is based on the Job-to-be-Done for Jilt, if it's send newsletters, I know the kind of problems that they might be facing for newsletters that the open rates might be very low. So really focus on helping users, not just send newsletters, but how to get the most out of newsletters. How to increase open rates. Examples of newsletters. How often should e-commerce businesses send newsletters?

Ramli John:
If their goal is to recover abandoned carts, those are carts that people put on to their shopping cart and they actually leave. How soon after a potential customer leaves their shopping cart should you send a recovery email? How many recovery emails should you send? Should you offer discounts or not? And then if it's to send order notifications, how do you cross sell with email receipts? How do you spice up your order notification? Example of order notification. So really I'm tailoring the email notifications, the tips that they will get, based on what their job-to-be-done is. To really get the most out of the specific emails that they've chosen for themselves.

Ramli John:
I don't just stop there. So this is just for email motivation. I actually implement this in this checklist as a well. Even though it might be a small, minor change. I believe those changes in wording really does help. So in the checklist that we have, instead of just being very generic. "Set up and send your first email." I actually customized the wording and send them to a different tour based on their job-to-be-done. So it's set up and send your first broadcast would be send newsletters. If they said they were trying to recover abandoned carts, they can set up and send their first cart abandonment email. If they chose to send order notification, they could set up and send their first email notification through that. And like I said, once they click on that, the checklist, it would actually launch a different product tour. And I also customized this for in-app messages. So follow-up in-app messages that they get, the users that sign up get, would actually have different messaging as well, and would launch different tours based on what they said that they have.

Ramli John:
Well, that's pretty much it. That's how you would personalize your user onboarding experience using the jobs-to-be-done framework. I'd like to talk to you about the results of those. But that's something that we're keeping close to our heart here at Jilt so far. But those are some of the stuff that I've been working on the past few months and has shown impact into our user onboarding.

Ramli John:
Just to recap, the three steps to applying jobs-to-be-done to user onboarding experiences is first, identify the job new users hire your product to do. Second, figure out the features that users need to know to get their job done. And finally, third, personalize your user onboarding experience based on their main goal. Well, that's it. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. Like I said, I am an open book. I love helping out folks. You can find my website there at optimizingsaas.com. Send me an email, LinkedIn requests and Twitter. Other than that, if you'd love to reach out, reach out. If not, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Have a good one.

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Gretchen Duhaime
Ramli John
Managing Director at ProductLed
Ramli helps product-led companies optimize their user onboarding experiences and convert more trial users into life long customers. He is also the host of the Product-Led Podcast.