I came across Scott’s Cheap Flights a while back and was impressed with their onboarding process. You’ll see in a minute why. Let’s take a deep dive to see what you can take away for yourself.

Takeaway #1: Offer a social sign up if relevant to your industry. This saves the visitor time and gets people to the next step faster. For example, if you run a SaaS targeting employment seekers, you may want to consider including a LinkedIn signup to pull their profile info to save time.

Takeaway #2: If pertinent, ask for the user’s geo-location to quickly populate with local places or deals.

Takeaway #3: Upsell to premium in your onboarding. Scott’s Cheap flights upsells to premium on the 4th screen in the onboarding flow. Notice that crazy savings testimonial that tells us this subscription pays for itself!

Takeaway #4: Include social proof in your onboarding or checkout. The lowest hanging fruit I see with many clients is the lack of social proof in their funnels. I’ve seen great results peppering in high impact testimonials and in some cases just a short snippet with 5 stars and a face.

Scott’s Cheap Flights uses FOMO (fear of missing out) to capture people who signed up for the free account. FOMO is rooted in the principle of scarcity which has been shown to have an impact on a person’s cognitive load. In short, people make less rational decisions when their mind is in scarcity mode. Personally, I find this strategy very borderline unethical, but it is used in sales every day nonetheless.

Takeaway #5: Scarcity works in sales. Whether you wish to use it is up to you, but if you do, the FOMO can be baked into the funnel or onboarding. I don’t think I’ve come across many websites that use FOMO in onboarding, hence why this impressed me.

Side note: Check out that button: “start limited membership”. Personally, I feel this is pushing it. You could be leaving people feeling dirty and disappointed before they even got to try your product.

Side note #2: Check out the social proof on the left. Notice how it relates directly to the premium upsell. For many smaller companies this is a luxury, but if you can get your hands on relevant testimonials, you are a step ahead of 99% of your competitors.

Break up large forms into multiple steps

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that the entire flow consisted of one step at a time. SCF could have easily put most of the flow into one form, but that would likely tank their conversions. It is not unusual to see huge conversion lifts from converting single-step forms into multi-step. In some cases people report up to 300% higher conversions. I will talk more about this subject in greater detail later.

But that’s not all!

The welcome email contains 2 premium opt-ins, and the free call to action is at the bottom-most portion of the email.

If I were a betting, and a patient man, I would guess that 2 other emails will arrive in my inbox that will try to upsell me once again. The next email will probably land after 24 hours, and another after 3 days.

Scott’s Cheap Flights has one of the most aggressive premium upsells I have ever encountered in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling (too) dirty.

Update to the last point: I actually did not publish this email right away and waited a bit. Sure enough, 8 hours later I got a follow-up email (they didn’t even bother waiting 24 hours ;) Guess what the email was about…

Yep, 20% off premium (with an expiration date). My guess is somewhere around 6% of all people who drop off initially are captured on this offer.

Personal PRO Tip:

If you ever want to get a better deal on ANYTHING, add it to cart, or go through the checkout flow up unit the payment step, then leave. If you’ve entered an email, many places will send you a 15-30% discount. It’s a bit of a cheat, but if you are price sensitive, this is a good way to get discounts in e-commerce, SaaS, whatever. Works like magic!

Now for the fun part… is there anything this flow could do better?

Not so fast. It’s hard to say what if anything they can do better without looking at their data. A growth designer doesn’t simply guess. We have our list of tricks, but blind tests lose companies money. We don’t want to do that.

The first thing a growth designer would do to help SCF, is to look through their data - the entire onboarding funnel to see where people are struggling and or dropping off. Then we’d hypothesize about what changes to the onboarding flow might get people to sign up for premium at a higher rate.

It’s not a bad idea to get a handful of user tests completed to see what people are seeing and how they feel about each step of the funnel.

But, let’s for a second assume we are only interested in some top-level ideas and have zero access to their analytics, heat maps, session recordings, or anything for that matter. Here are some things I may look at:

1. Reframe the cost as per month, billed annually

While not exactly a design decision, it’s an effective way to position your pricing. Instead of $49/year, try $4/mo billed annually. Compare it to the price of a coffee. Top it off with some juicy copy. I’m not a copywriter, but I can imagine something along the lines of “$500 off your next trip for the price of a monthly cup of coffee”.

2. Show an average number of deals members can expect from this service. I suspect some people will question whether their smaller regional airport will provide enough deals for this thing to pay for itself. SCF could try to show how many deals members can expect per month.

Here is a sample mockup I did in dev inspector (though I would make it look nice and add spacing).

We can also just point out the average ticket savings like so: “Premium members save $550/ticket on average.”

Where did I get $550 and how can I be so specific? Well, remember that follow-up email I got 8 hours later? That’s where it came from. Why wait for a follow-up email to point this out when we can add it right next to the CTA ;)

3. Look at the core demographics to see what can be learned about the most common user of this service. For example: if we find that women make up a majority of the people who enter the flow, I may want to test images that specifically target women (show an image of a satisfied woman in a natural flight setting).

4. I may look at which deals get the most visits. So, if a lot of people are checking out deals to Hawaii for example, I may want to test images that show tropical destinations more prominently, or even test images and or videos of Hawaii (to sell the experience and put them in the mood).

5. I would explore doubling down on social proof. If customers are praising the service in droves, I would consider plastering their positive tweets / reviews all over the funnel in as many places as I could fit without distracting from the next steps. The goal here is to overwhelm the senses. Not to distract them from completion, but to overwhelm them with the positive feedback. It’s hard to object to something (like price) if we see so many people say so many good things about the service. It doesn’t even matter what the contents of the comments are, just the fact that there are so many.

I think you get the point where I am going with this and how I would approach the process of designing for growth. Above are just a handful of ideas. Typically my own process is very exhaustive and I turn up somewhere around 10 ideas (in some cases more if I see good growth opportunities).