Customers never love you at first sight

on 2013-01-02 by @plc

Love at first sight? More like a mild interest at 12 dates, 15 emails and 2 phone calls.

When a new user registers for your web application, they’re not in love with you. At best, they’re open-minded and ready to be wooed. Getting a new user from that stage to being besotted with you is tremendously difficult.

In fact, it’s probably the primary reason why a company might fail: an inability to delight its audience. It’s typically not even a case of “we could not delight ten million users,” but rather “we could not delight ten users.”

It’s unlikely that they’ll start to love you from your landing page, it’s unlikely they’ll start to love you from the moment they register, and therefore it’s unlikely they’ll have started to love you a week after they registered.

This is why onboarding new users is so utterly critical. Software designers (and especially founders) need to be aware that new users do not love their product. New users do not look at your product through rose-tinted glasses. In fact, if new users were to be wearing metaphorical glasses whilst looking at your product, it’s best to assume they’re whatever you’d call the opposite of rose-tinted glasses. CIA-endorsed sensory deprivation glasses, perhaps.

And yet, while this is all so obvious, software does a terrible — terrible — job at ensuring their users love the product.

the primary reason why your company will fail: inability to delight an audience. (tweet this)

If you go on a date with a pretty girl or guy, you have to play it cool: if you come across as pleading or desperate for affection, it’s game over.

Please. Please. Please. Love Me.

This rule doesn’t really apply to software. It’s acceptable if I sign up for your service and a week later you shoot me an email explaining some killer use cases for your product.

In fact, it isn’t just acceptable, it’s totally critical. People are busy. If you don’t ensure that the user progresses from nothing to something, they’re not going to do it themselves.

Here is a test: Go to Techcrunch. Register for a random startup that is announcing it’s financing. Do you love it? If so, you’ve landed on your own startup. If not, leave the site. Try and remember to come back next week and give them another try.

What do you have to do to love me?

the million dollar question for your product: what do i — the user — have to do to love you? (tweet this)

If you’re a social network, your site is pretty crappy unless you have friends on it! How many friends on it depends on your product, but knowing that “when a user has 47 friends they are 80% more likely to become an active user each day” makes you formidable.

Knowing this allows you to do two game-changing things:

#1: Incentivise specific behaviour

#2: Re-engage lost users

It’s pretty much a lost cause if you ask me to invite my social graph to a social network where I have no buy in, but if I already have a dozen friends and I am using it occasionally, it may be a good moment to fire an email sequence about inviting friends.

Similarly, asking me to come back to a website where there is no value is pointless. But if I now have 40 friends on it, holla!

This question applies to every. single. business. At userfox, we know that companies that integrate the userfox snippet are almost certainly going to give us money. Because they’ve done the hard work, it’s gravy from then on.

Answering this question is harder than you think. It’s hopefully obvious that users have to do some work to start to love you. But how much? And more importantly, how much is too much? Too much to the point that your value proposition is never realised by your users.


In conclusion: Have a spectacular initial user onboarding experience, iterate and care about this the most. And have specific metrics or bridges you know that the user must cross in order for them to love you, and have extensive in and out of application messaging to encourage the user to cross those bridges.

Read out to me on twitter if you have any feedback or tips, we’ll be retweeting especially insightful ones.