SaaS Onboarding: Do You Really Know What The “Aha!” Moment Is For Your Product?

You’re part of a team who have built something truly amazing. This product revolutionises the lives of football coaches world-wide. Or enhances the post-op care experience for all elderly patients. Or perhaps it sheds 64% from the average software product development process.

Your app is quite simply, amazing. Google/Facebook/Yahoo should start writing a check straight away – they’re going to want to own this product. Absolute painkiller, no vitamins here.

But then the reality hits. Your 9,573 free trials last quarter only converted to 47 paying customers (0.5% conversion rate). What the hell? Are they crazy?! This product will change their lives, save their time and make them money. Why aren’t they paying to become subscribers?

Chances are, it’s because they never got around to using your product. Because your SaaS onboarding experience was totally wrong.

People Can’t Pay Before They’ve Had The “Aha!” Moment

The “Aha!” moment is the point at which your value proposition ‘clicks’ for your users. It’s the point where they finally ‘get it’. You can tell people all you want, but until they experience it for themselves, they won’t believe you. Show, don’t tell.

Telling a HR manager that your platform will increase candidate flow is all well and good. But it’s not until they receive their first monthly summary email where they’ll genuinely believe it:

“Hey Tony, check this out. In the last month of using that new WhizzBangHR product, we screened 947 candidates! We usually only get through 320!!”

If you had a landing page app, the “Aha!” moment could be the first time they export the database of collected leads into their Mailchimp account and blast that list with a newsletter. Of for an invoicing application focussing on bad debt, it could be the first time a bad payer finally pays an invoice.

You need to make sure that new signups experience that “Aha!” moment before you can convert them to a paying customer. And that means making sure they’re using your product after signing up.

Which Features Are Core To Your “Aha!” Moment

You need to discover which features are core to that “Aha!” moment and push users towards those. As I said before, at Trak.io we noticed that customers were getting that moment not from our advanced reporting tools, but from seeing a fully populated user profile in real time. Watching someone use their app in real time and seeing exactly who that person was.

You need to do 2 things:

  • Look at the usage data: Which features are being used, and being used fully. Which documentation pages are they reading again and again. Which emails are they opening, and what features were those emails talking about
  • Have a conversation: Asking a customer what they want from a product before they’ll consider paying is a mystical exercise. People don’t usually know what they want. But going to your customers who have already paid, and asking them which features were integral to making the decision to pay or not, is usually pretty accurate.

Once you know exactly where that tipping point is for onboarding free trial users into active users who just ‘get it’, you can cut everything else out of the way to drive users to that single point.

Discovering Our “Aha!” Moment At Trak.io

We always thought the “Aha!” moment in our product would be when users first see a Metrics dashboard with their data and put it on an office-wide monitor. We were wrong. Later, we thought the “Aha!” moment would be when a user first sets up a product flow funnel and see’s an obvious bottleneck in their product.

As it turns out, we were wrong again.

After analysing all of our inactive users, active users and paying customers, and combined with paying customer conversations, we realised that our “Aha!” moment was actually the first time they saw a customers face. Thats it. Something Google Analytics had never being able to provide. The face of a website visitors is a powerful thing to humanise the whole process.

We realised that was our “Aha!” moment. We knew that we needed to focus everything on getting users to start sending us their in-app usage data. And not even a full integration, just enough to identify visitors such as data from Login, Register and Subscribe forms (So we built AutoMagic)

Be Prepared For A Big Drop Off Until You Optimise

In the early days of our Beta at Trak.io we had a 10% Activation rate. This means for every 100 users who converted on our landing page and created an account, only 10% ever bothered sending us customer data.

Without those customer data pipelines, we could never show the free-trial user that “Aha!” moment, and they’d never become a paying customer.

Writing code to send us data from an app, or even worse, convincing someone else in your company to write code to send us data, is a big amount of friction. Activation for a product like Trak.io is always going to be lower than for say, a project management app.

But 10% sucked.

Eventually we increased this to 27% thanks to being able to analyse exactly what our activated users had in common, both as customer personas but also in the way they’d engaged with our blog and documentation.

We discovered most users were ok with quickly dropping in a snippet of code (a la Google Analytics) and if we could deliver a taste of Trak.io with that, then perhaps we could deliver that “Aha!” moment.

Every product category will be different, but you should try and speak with non-competing products in similar areas to you to establish benchmarks.

Logging In Is Not The Same As Being Active

Ideally when a customer has experienced the “Aha!” moment, they’ll stick around and pay. The theory is that by that point, you just need to keep them engaged long enough for the “sticky” effects within the product to take hold.

Unfortunately, it’s just not as simple as making sure customers are logging in.

Logging in to check if anyone has paid this month, and logging in to use your brand new Expenses Reconciliation feature are very different things.

In these scenarios, you need to discover whether people just aren’t aware of that feature, or if they just don’t care. Removing unused features in a product is a hard decision, but usually necessary for both early an established companies. It helps to maintain focus on the core value proposition.


Pouring a ton of signups into the top fo the funnel is be a huge part of growing a successful SaaS business. But before you buy any big PPC campaigns or start dicking around with Growth Hacking, you need to have a solid idea of what your “Aha!” moment looks like, and make sure your in-app onboarding, your onboarding emails and your Customer Success team know exactly what to guide users towards.

What experiences have you had in discovering your apps “Aha!” moment and optimising your free trial signups around that? Leave a note in the comments!

Published by

Liam Gooding

Liam is the cofounder and CEO of Trakio. Previously an engineer, he writes about growing subscription companies using data-driven techniques and inside glimpses to Trakio's own growth journey. He wrote a book, "Growth Pirate!" which discusses data-driven growth strategies for startups.

  • Aaron de Oliveira

    i’m using your thoughts to improve the design of our product. i’d love to tell you more. reach me at marroncito@gmail.com