How Peloton Builds — and Perfects — Its User Onboarding Flows

Janey Zitomer
July 23, 2020

Salespeople aren’t the only employees who can and should use the power of words to their advantage. That’s a lesson Senior UX Designer Nick Breeser learned while conducting a recent A/B test at Peloton

His team wanted to evaluate how requiring a payment method to start a free trial might affect the number of new users who sign up, and ultimately become customers, of the fitness platform. Their hypothesis? That the amount of converted sign-ups would negate the initial hurdle of getting users to enter their credit card information.

“The hypothesis proved to be correct but caused a sharper decrease in account creation than we would have liked to have seen,” Breeser said. 

So they altered the copy to come across as less transactional and tried again. For example, Breeser and his colleagues changed the phrase “start 14-day trial” to “get started.” 

This time, the drop in account creation disappeared. 

“Overall, the series of tests resulted in a massive lift in our onboarding flow’s ability to convert prospective members to paid subscribers,” Breeser said. 

While a small terminology change might have a wide-ranging impact, the onboarding flow shouldn’t cater to just one type of user. The more barriers to entry team members can eliminate off the bat, the easier the process will be to adjust –– and expand –– as necessary. 

 

Peloton
Peloton
Nick Breeser
Senior UX Designer

What are the key considerations when first building out a user onboarding flow? 

We ask ourselves a few key questions before designing an onboarding experience. First off, what are we onboarding users for? We design onboarding experiences at Peloton for numerous reasons, including welcoming users to a new product and introducing them to what we offer on our digital platforms, such as iOS or TV. Depending on the use case of the onboarding, we set different goals. 

For our Bike and Tread onboarding, we aim to create a seamless and efficient path through activating the device, getting accounts set up and connecting other services to the software to enhance the experience. 

After establishing an onboarding flow, we think about the various types of users who may experience it. The person setting up the Bike may be the original purchaser, someone who received it as a gift or someone who got the Bike secondhand. We have several branching paths that tailor the experience to the user and what information they may have, such as a subscription key or an existing Peloton account. This flexibility allows us to make sure there is always a path forward, so the user can start working out as quickly as possible.

 

We ask ourselves a few key questions before designing an onboarding experience.’’ 

How do you continue to test and refine your user onboarding flow over time? 

There are three ways we evaluate the effectiveness of onboarding flows at Peloton. First off, we have a vibrant and vocal member community. Whenever we launch new features or make changes to one of our experiences, our social platforms light up with chatter and feedback. This is a great source of candid feedback and discourse around the experiences we design as well as an excellent starting point when analyzing how successful we were in onboarding users to changes we made. If we see many users confused about how an element of the experience works, that usually means we can improve the onboarding process for that feature. 

Second, we rely on analytics. We can track how many members are skipping onboarding steps rather than engaging with them to see how valuable each step is. For example, we are able to track the number of new connections made between members when they connect their Peloton account to Facebook. As our member community grows, we see an acceleration in the number of friends found when a user connects to Facebook in the onboarding experience. 

Lastly, to understand more nuanced areas of refinement, we rely on our user research team to conduct interviews or surveys with our members to get both qualitative and quantitative feedback on our designs.

 

Share an example of a change you've made to your user onboarding flow that had a major impact. 

We recently altered how we approach acquiring new members on iPhones and iPads. For this change, we ran a series of A/B tests to evaluate the impact of requiring payment to start a free trial versus allowing members to start a free trial without attaching any form of payment to their account. The test monitored rates of onboarding completion, account creation, free trials started and final conversion into a paid subscription. 

The underlying hypothesis was that by requiring a payment method to start a free trial, we would have fewer prospects starting the free trial but an overall higher conversion rate. The hypothesis proved to be correct but caused a sharper decrease in account creation than we would have liked to have seen. To combat this decrease, we ran an additional A/B test on the onboarding flow. We altered the copy on calls to action to less transactional terms. For example, we changed the phrase “start 14-day trial” to “get started.” 

This follow-up test erased the drop in account creation we were seeing. Overall, the series of tests resulted in a massive lift in our onboarding flow’s ability to convert prospective members to paid subscribers.

 

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