Does the order of sign-up flow matter?

Onboarding flow
Experiment Type
Field Experiment
Increase program enrollment
Increase short-term savings
Focus Areas
Behavioral Concepts
Framing Friction
Partner Type
Irrational Labs

What Happened

It worked. By simply switching the order of tasks to have people complete the difficult task first increased bank account linking by 223%.

Lessons Learned

People are motivated to save, but motivation wanes. It’s important to have people complete difficult tasks when their motivation is the highest to minimize drop-off rates.


SaverLife (formerly EARN) aims to create a savings habit by rewarding people who save and to reduce the close to 40% of Americans who can’t come up with $400 in case of an emergency. SaverLife uses a variety of incentives, both financial and non-financial, to promote short-term emergency savings.

To track savings and receive the financial reward, a SaverLife user (or “member”) must link their bank account. SaverLife faced an extremely low bank account link rate of ~26% when their engagement with Common Cents Lab began. SaverLife had previously largely attributed this to people interested in their offerings not possessing either a bank account or online login credentials.

Key Insights

SaverLife’s signup flow featured a challenging 24-question questionnaire before asking a user to link a bank account. This questionnaire contained a number of difficult psychological barriers to overcome:

  • hassles

  • friction

  • complexity

  • information aversion

  • cognitive overload

Upon completing the questionnaire after facing those cognitive barriers, we hypothesize that many people gave up instead of linking their bank accounts; motivation to complete account setup had been eroded.

We questioned the assumption that the vast majority of SaverLife’s users lacked bank accounts and/or login information and instead strongly encouraged SaverLife to rework the product signup flow to reverse the order of bank account linking and the financial questionnaire. We also recommended the simplification of the financial questionnaire.


SaverLife decided to test whether presenting either the bank account linking or the questionnaire first would impact their bank account link rate and ultimately the number of savers using their product.

SaverLife randomized 396 prospective users into two groups:


The control condition had 61 successful bank account links, while the treatment condition had 168 successful links. This represents a statistically significant increase in bank account link rate (p<0.01) from 26% up to 84%, an impressive 223% increase overall.

Moreover, 98.8% of users continued on to provide demographic and financial health data. We hypothesize that having completed the linking up-front generated investment in the registration process, and the demographics seeming like a standard part of registration maintained extremely high levels of completion.

Following the success of this experiment, SaverLife has kept the bank account linking first in their flow and has continued to see higher bank account link rates than before the experiment, consistently in the 50% range after marketing mix modifications. As a result of the account linking flow change, SaverLife estimates that their linked members likely increased by 12,000 in 2019. Based on SaverLife’s assumptions for product success, this generated an estimated $5 million in savings in 2019 alone.