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5 No-Fail Tricks to Keep New Users at “Hello”: Brand Onboarding

Lately I’ve been thinking about people’s ideas of what branding is and what it isn’t. I can’t explain how frustrated I get whenever I hear that brand development is some sort of soft, intangible process that someone in the marketing department is supposed to run.

You are smart. You know it, I know it. How on earth is making sure that you have a unique story in this hectic marketplace NOT a pivotal business strategy? Is there anything that your product does (or fails to do!) that isn’t under this brand story’s umbrella? I’m glad we’re on the same page now: to brand or not to brand is not even a question.

So let me make a bolder statement now: growth is (or should be) a part of every brand’s DNA. See, people connect to people. Our ultimate goal, then, is to make brands feel like people so that customers will relate to them too. But people have a nifty little hormone inside them called Human Growth Hormone (HGH) that keeps muscles and bones growing. Today, we’re giving our brands a much-needed hormonal dose to boost its growth. It’s not mechanical, not just a trick: this is humane. A Brand Growth Hormone if you wish.

Branding, meet growth hacking.

And we’re starting with “hello”. With the first moment in which your brand greets an incoming visitor and invites him/her to join. After the user signs up, there are a few seconds where brands can teach them how to use the product and create some solid bases for them to do so. This process is often called onboarding, and there are more than a few tricks that can help you make the most of it.

Ask yourself this question: what is my brand’s conversion turning point? In simpler terms: when do my new users decide that they want to stick around?

This week we will look at five tricks from some no-fail onboarding process examples:

1. Pinterest: train your new users. For Pinterest an important turning point seems to be that you find your first pin. They use an onboarding tour to explain what a pin is, how you can find one, and they “escort” you as you repin the first piece of interesting content.

2. Google Plus: make them land on a sticky dashboard. As a new Google Plus user you are prompted to “Find people you know”. But Google has managed to embed growth tricks even for existing users, who land on a highly engaging dashboard as soon as they log in. Google Plus uses this prime time space to suggest people and pages you’d like to follow, communities you might like, and trending topics you might be interested in.


3. Global Shapers Community: give them some crystal clear options. You know (or should go find out now) which are the top 4-6 functions that users value the most about your product. This private network for a World Economic Forum community offers some friendly shortcuts as soon as you log in for the first time. A pop up gives you quick access to frequent tasks like creating a project, following people, and editing your profile.

4. Right Inbox: reward sharing. I recently downloaded Right Inbox to be able to schedule email replies in a future time/date. As soon as you install it in your browser, a pop up prompts you to invite your friends in exchange for 10 bonus credits. These credits allow you to schedule more emails while staying on a free plan.  Users are happy to share a tool that works, especially when that sharing works for them too.

5. Quora: make sure they stay around. When you sign up as a Quora user, you’ll be guided to follow three simple steps. These steps are meant to make sure that you when land on your Quora feed you see a ton of activity. Step 1 asks you to choose your interests, while Step 2 invites you to narrow down these interests by selecting individual topics. By the time you’re done with Step 3 (Find your friends), your Quora feed will be buzzing with relevant updates. 

I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions feel free to email me at, comment right here, tweet @leanbranding or leave a comment on our wall at

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