by Sofia Coppol

Tips for a Smoother Internet of Things App Onboarding

Onboarding is a critical phase in a user’s journey with your app. It’s primarily the first contact point and thus is necessary for making a great first impression. The simpler the onboarding is for an app, the easier it is for users to accept and use it. It’s the right onboarding that puts users into action.

But for a developer, it’s never been easy to develop an onboarding plan that engages users right from when they first open an app. Developers face unique challenges making users get started with their apps, without them feeling overwhelmed.

Good on-boarding always contributes to the success or failure of an app. An app is considered successful when it is actively used. According to the May 2016’s data from an analytics firm Localytics, one in four apps is uninstalled just after a single use.

In this post, I’ll introduce my top tips to help Internet of Things (IoT) app developers make a perfect onboarding plan for their app. But first, we’ll look at the main challenges with app onboarding.

App Onboarding Challenges

An IoT app is always tied up to a physical product. This adds a new set of difficulties to users onboarding a new app along with a product that will interact with the app. Developers need to spot all those pain points that cause users to get frustrated.

  • Apps that are difficult to open or leave behind an excessive footprint
  • Long instructions that require users to learn a lot before using a product
  • Troubling syncing the app with the IoT device requiring users to go through multiple steps

Because an IoT app brings together challenges related to the app itself and the IoT device the app interacts with, it is important for IoT app developers to form a solid onboarding plan, from initial setup to tutorials to user retention.

So here is a list of things that you need to do to have a smooth onboarding experience:

Put app downloading instructions in the product packaging

When it comes to an IoT app, it will always be used as a secondary product to the actual physical device the consumer is purchasing. The app is just an interface to interact with the IoT product. Make sure you have provided straightforward instructions on how consumers will access the app and download it onto their mobile devices. You can include a shortened or simple link or a QR code on the product packaging. The link or QR code should direct consumers to a landing page.

An app landing page should automatically detect the consumers device type and redirect them to the appropriate app store.

Many product providers run an SMS server that requires users to send an SMS message and then a download link to the app is sent to them.

You can choose any of the above methods, a shortened / simple link, QR code, or SMS request.

Make login simple with Social Logins

JanRain, a customer profile and identity management software provider, says that 92% of users will leave a website if they’re asked to go through a long process while logging in or recovering credentials.

This behavior of users has created the termed known as the account fatigue. It puts users under pressure of remembering usernames and passwords for their accounts. No doubt users still remember the credentials to a few of their most used services, such as of Gmail and Facebook.

Users cannot remember all their usernames and passwords for all their online accounts. And this holds them back to easily get engaged with an online product. This situation can be avoided by allowing users to login to their accounts using their social media profiles, like Facebook, Twitter or Gmail.

Highlight the Benefits of the IoT product and the app

The product should speak about the core benefits and features of the IoT product and how the app can be used to easily manage the device and leverage these benefits.

This approach can be applied to walk-through tutorials, which highlight each of the features individually.

Here is what you need to consider when creating a walk-through tutorial:

  • Adding a slideshow - When adding a tutorial to inform users about benefits and features, keep it simple and brief.
  • Add a skip button - for those users who have already downloaded and used the app before.
  • Use arrows to point to the features - Many developers use arrows to inform users what is where. Arrows with a line of detail interactively inform users about what’s where. When clicking on the title that describes the feature, a new title appears which tells the user about the second feature / function of the app.

Include Video Tutorials

Adding a video tutorial is one of the best ways to educate users about your application. Including video tutorials in your app will help users easily setup their IoT product and guide them through how the app interacts with it.

As an example, look at how Nest introduces their learning thermostat in this video.

Show Tutorial Progress

Consumers may get bored reading a tutorial if they don’t of their progress and how much of it they’ve completed. You can avoid this by providing them with an indicator of the progress of the tutorial so that users are motivated to complete it which results in smoother onboarding.

Make accessing customer support easy

Even after having access to manuals and tutorials, consumers may need to get in touch with customer support. You can make your customer support highly responsive by adding documentation to the app and providing an easy access to in-app support. You can also add a link that redirects users to a mobile-friendly support section of your product’s website.

You can also include an in-app chat that directly directs customers to customer care representatives. When users have an easy way to access customers care services through the app itself, it is more likely for them to reach out for support when they face a problem and increases overall satisfaction and engagement with the app.

Gamify Your App

People love unlocking achievements or having access to an interactive interface. Gaming apps have been doing it for a long time which increases the engagement of their users. The same gamification concept can be added to IoT apps keeping users engaged with the app and encouraging them to use it more frequently.

Rely on In-App and Push Notifications

IoT apps are pretty good candidates for in-app and push notifications. You can put notifications to notify users to complete their profiles or remind them that they haven’t used the app for a prolonged period of time. Notifications can be triggered based on the progress of a task or an achievement the user is about to reach. This also helps users view the status and actions associated to the connected IoT device.


When designing an app while keeping the above mentioned tips in mind, a development team succeeds to create an awesome onboarding experience that instantly engages users with the IoT device app. Although all of the tips above may not be applicable to every single IoT app, each one of them can be tried individually and their effects on the retention of the app viewed.

Sofia is a digital marketing expert at Rapidsoft Technologies, an offshore software development company which develops Software for Education, Automation, Construction and Finance sectors across the global. She loves to write about the latest mobile trends, technologies, startups, and enterprises.