By John Doe December 11 2017

The Delicate Art Of Copywriting For SAAS Onboarding

Even for a copywriter like myself, UX and UI are the first things that come to mind when I think about SAAS onboarding.

The copy that accompanies the super-refined & tested onboarding process is almost an afterthought in comparison to the amount of effort that goes into the design.

But it shouldn’t be…

It’s a bold statement, but we think that there’s nowhere that optimal copy is more important than the onboarding process (and that includes your sales & landing pages).

The Most Important Content You’ll Ever Write

Think about it logically for a moment. You’ve probably put a huge amount of effort into gently guiding and nurturing this lead, they’ve been converted from an unaware simple visitor to someone who’s primed and ready.

They’ve listened to you talk the talk, now it’s time for you to walk the walk.

There’s only so much you can explain with layouts, processes, and other visual design elements. At some point or another, you’re going to have to use your words…

And if it’s not crystal clear for the user what they’re supposed to be doing (and why), you’re going to be converting them into active users at a much lower rate.

Copywriting vs Technical Writing

The sweet spot when writing copy for SAAS onboarding processes is a weird middle ground that lives somewhere between technical writing and copywriting. It needs to be:

  • Clear but comprehensive
  • Concise but friendly
  • Helpful but minimal
  • Engaging but ‘all business’

Technical writers are used to writing concise and clear documentation, but they’re not usually interested in the engaging & friendly aspects of their craft. Similarly, traditional sales copywriters aren’t used to explaining things in the way technical writers do daily.

Is it impossible for these two kinds of writers to create great onboarding copy?

No, of course not. And to be honest, it’s probably the best solution you’re going to find. The number of copywriters who specialize in writing onboarding copy is minuscule.

Thinking Points

So what does this mythical onboarding SAAS copywriter look like? What advice would they give you? Here are 3 thinking points that will get you going in the right direction.

#Anxious

Users are particularly “nervous” and vulnerable when they finally take the plunge and join your SAAS platform. It’s a new world that is either going to live up to the hype your marketing department has created, it’s going to be a giant waste of their time.

They’re finally seeing what you’re all about, they’re vigilant for mistakes and red flags, and they need to be lead like a toddler, encouraged along the way.

You’ve certainly seen the “No credit card required” and “We will never sell your email address” taglines on sign up forms in the wild. They’re so commonplace because they work. Whenever there’s a potential “risk” for the client, reassure them in a similar manner.

Verbs Cut Characters

It’s copywriting 101, but it’s worth repeating. Starting the sentence/phrase/heading with a verb is a great way to cut characters and be concise while keeping a little bit of emotion and humanization.

“Your Email settings can be updated by clicking the cog icon” is much longer, and much less personal/human than “Click the cog for email settings”.

Why Why Why!

When your SAAS is asking for some kind of trust or sensitive data (API permissions for example), spend a sentence explaining why you need them to do it.

For example, if you need permissions to access a user’s Google Drive don’t just display an optimized button (that the UX team has probably spent 3 days designing). They’re going to click it, and be greeted with a screen that says “Acme SAAS is going to be able to see everything (and we mean everything) in your Google drive”.

Kind of scary, even if you have nothing to hide.

Writing a little subheading underneath the overdesigned button along the lines of “We need access to your files to process them”, and then the permissions “shock” is lessened.

And More…

So there you have it, an introduction into a super niche segment of copywriting that is massively overlooked in the world of onboarding.

Awareness of the importance of onboarding copy is growing, as is evidenced by the increase in demand for onboarding copywriters.

Let’s just hope we’re not all replaced by GPT-3 before brands catch on.