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January 26, 2024
9 min read

Mobile App Onboarding: Types, Goals, Metrics

Dive into our comprehensive guide on mobile app onboarding. Learn about different types, goals, and metrics to make your onboarding process successful.

Mobile App Onboarding: Types, Goals, Metrics

When it comes to subscription-based mobile app development, there is a lot of talk about optimizing paywalls and the products behind them. But paywalls alone cannot be an effective revenue driver. It's just one screen and one point of interaction with the product in the user's journey, albeit an extremely important one.

But in most cases, it is even more important to immerse the new user in the product from the first minutes of use. Onboarding screens are effective at this task. Their goal is to concisely convey in two words the essence of the product, its value to the user, and the benefits the user can derive from the application.

From this perspective, onboarding and the subsequent paywall are the same in terms of successfully converting a new user into a subscriber.

In this article, we will consider:

  • What goals effective onboarding can help you achieve
  • What onboarding screens are: types and common approaches
  • Metrics affected by onboarding and its relationship to paywalls in general

Mobile app onboarding screen goals

First, let's review what the onboarding process is all about. This process involves introducing the user to the application, describing how it works, what features it has, and how it can help them accomplish their tasks within its stated value.

So let's take a look at how onboarding screens can impact your app revenue. In the first step, it is very important to perform user activation. Within the first session, app developers have only seconds, at best a couple of minutes, to convey the essence of the app to the user and convince them that it is best suited to meet their needs.

Thus, the effectiveness of the mobile app onboarding process directly determines whether the user stays in the app and moves into the paying category.

Even if we did a great job with our retention funnel, but failed to engage them in the first place - all of our efforts will be for naught.

Another important part of the modern onboarding process is to teach a new user as much as possible about the application in terms of their needs and to provide a flexible solution that meets their specific needs. In other words, we are talking about intelligent personalization algorithms and even more customization to the user's needs.

This is a trend, but sometimes universal onboarding works perfectly well, and there are cases where you can do without onboarding at all. We'll talk about those below.

Mobile app onboarding types

Let's take a look at the main approaches to onboarding and when it might be right for you.

General and Personalized onboarding type

  • General onboarding

There are some applications where the functionality is always the same for all users. In such a case, a universal guide that dives into the features would be appropriate.

General onboarding example – Cleaner Guru: Clean Up StorageGeneral onboarding example – Cleaner Guru: Clean Up Storage
  • Personalized onboarding

Personalized onboarding is the best solution when the value of an app is tailored to the needs of a specific user.

Such apps include, for example, health and fitness apps.

If we can engage the user in the first few minutes of using the product and provide them with a value that is right for them, this approach will significantly increase the chances of initial purchase and then long-term use of the product.

If your application can tailor features to specific user segments, consider personalizing the tutorial.
Personalized onboarding example – Guided Meditation - NimbusMindPersonalized onboarding example – Guided Meditation - NimbusMind

Short vs. Detailed onboarding type

  • Short onboarding

If you can succinctly explain the essence of the application to the user in 2-3 screens, there is no need to complicate the mobile app onboarding process, do not overload the user with unnecessary information.

Otherwise, the user will get annoyed and leave the application early.

Short onboarding example – Find my Phone - Family LocatorShort onboarding example – Find my Phone - Family Locator

It is a good practice to run A/B tests to find the most effective onboarding scenario. 

  • Detailed onboarding

Another case is when your application provides value to the user based on their characteristics or needs. In this case, to deliver the value that the user personally needs, we need to customize the process of getting to know the app. This means a more extensive and highly personalized onboarding and the personalized offer that follows will be tailored to the user.

A typical example of such an app could be an exercise or diet program for women.

Detailed onboarding example –  Workout for Women: Fit at HomeDetailed onboarding example – Workout for Women: Fit at Home

No onboarding

However, there are times when you can skip onboarding altogether.

When is this possible?

There are times when an application performs a fairly simple and understandable function for users. If there are a lot of similar applications in the category and users know and are used to using them, unnecessary onboarding can only irritate and annoy them.

It is also possible if the user is shown the functionality of the application immediately after launching it, but the subtleties of using the features are further explained in the process of using it.

Onboarding and Paywall Metrics

We've covered what the mobile app onboarding process is for and what user engagement screens are in an app. Now let's talk about how to measure the effectiveness of onboarding and understand how well it's doing its job. So what metrics can help us do that?

Paywall View Conversion

This basic metric shows how well users are being onboarded and not dropping out in the middle of the process.

For example, you can see this metric in Apphud in the Dashboard section under the Conversions tab.

Conversions tab in ApphudConversions tab in Apphud

In addition, you can build a more detailed conversion funnel in your product analytics system for each onboarding step (screen) to understand where the user is having difficulty.

Conversion to Purchase (Subscription Start)

Different approaches to engaging and educating users can have a significant impact on their willingness to pay and use the application. Therefore, another metric to consider is conversion to purchase.

For example, you could test several different onboarding approaches and compare which are more likely to result in a subscription.

Regular subs. conversion chart in ApphudRegular subs. conversion chart in Apphud

Conversion to trial and trial to purchase

Similar to the first purchase, we can analyze how onboarding affects user trial registration and trial-to-purchase conversion.

Trial conversion chart in ApphudTrial conversion chart in Apphud

Testing different types of onboarding solutions

Finding the best onboarding solution for your application is not easy.

You can use the JSON Config tool in Apphud Paywalls to set up different onboarding screen configurations and change them on the fly.

JSON Config tool in Apphud JSON Config tool in Apphud 


Mobile app onboarding is a primary and very important part of the user journey and the app monetization funnel as a whole. In some cases, you can do without it, but for most apps, it plays an indispensable role in the funnel of successful user monetization.

There is no universal one-size-fits-all solution, so you need to study best practices, and the Apphud Paywall Gallery can help you do that.

We at Apphud are working on tools to help you increase your subscription app revenue. Sign up for free!

Head of Product at Apphud
10+ years in mobile. Anton started his career as a backend developer, last 3 years has been working as a product manager. He created a podcast dedicated to software dev. Successfully launched (and sold) his own apps.

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