Animating User Acquisition with Storyboards in 6 Steps

My favorite framework for thinking about the customer lifecycle is “AIDA” (attention, interest, desire, action). I also like to add an “OR” (onboarding, retention) since these are so important to many of the products I deal with today. Fun fact: this framework is ancient by the standards of today’s business press- it was introduced by marketers in the 19th century (yes, the 1800’s).

AIDA(OR) is one of my favorite storyboarding topics simply because lots of product teams I meet with haven’t thought through the whole acquisition process in vivid, actionable, testable terms. You should absolutely more panels if you feel you have more detail for them but here’s a simple 6-panel reference for an AIDA(OR) storyboard:

Create a Copy

The board below is an example for a fictional company, ‘Enable Quiz’, that I use for example purposes in my book. Enable Quiz offers lightweight technical quizzes for anyone looking to assess the skill sets of engineers they’re looking to hire. The key personas are ‘Helen the HR Manager’ and ‘Frank the Functional Manager’. Helen’s responsible for doing initial interviews, and Frank’s the hiring manager. I described their life before and after Enable Quiz in a previous POST. Here, I’ll narrate a take on the customer acquisition process.

AIDA EXAMPLE (attention, interest, desire, action)


ATTENTION: Helen the HR Manager sees a post from her friend (former co-worker) on LinkedIn that she likes something called ‘Enable Quiz’ for screening engineering candidates.

Customer Acquisition Storyboard-Attention

INTEREST: That problem’s on her mind and it catches her notice. The site’s splash page clearly explains what it’s about: effectively, automatically screening technical talent. No assembly required.

Customer Acquisition Storyboard-Interest

DESIRE: Helen’s tired of not being able to improve their success rate on hires and having to clean up the emotional, financial, and logistical mess when a hire doesn’t work out. It’s never going to be 100% but it should be better than it is. Also, Helen has her annual review in three months and she’d love to add ‘implemented new screening system for engineering candidates’ to her list of accomplishments for the year.

Customer Acquisition Storyboard-Desire

ACTION: She checks in with Frank since he has to buy in and give her inputs to tune the quizzes for their positions.

Conveniently, the Enable Quiz site has a page for hiring managers that she forwards to him. But he doesn’t read it, she catches him in the hallway, and he says fine, especially if they can try it first and it’s only $2/candidate.

Customer Acquisition Storyboard-Action

ONBOARDING: She puts in a credit card and they’re rolling with a free trial for 10 candidates. The site’s built-in wizard helps Helen draft quiz content for their open positions and submit it to Frank for review/update.

She ends up dragging Frank into her office to finish up but overall the process is pretty painless. They try it out with their first candidate the next day and the results are good.

Customer Acquisition Storyboard-Onboarding

RETENTION: Screening candidates using Enable Quiz becomes a habit and they’re using on average 20-40 quizzes/month. Helen has herself posted about it on LinkedIn after becoming a fan. They’re thinking about implementing skills audit for their existing staff.

Customer Acquisition Storyboard-Retention

All you need to storyboard is a surface and a writing implement. In this case, I used the tools at for putting these together. I recommend giving the process a try- each one will probably take you 30-60 minutes and I think you’ll find the time well spent.


If you’d like more on storyboards, I recommend the Storyboarding Tutorial or the Online Storyboarding Workshop.

Your Turn

What techniques have you used to better illustrate how user acquisition is supposed to happen? In particular, have you tried storyboards and how did they work for you? If you’re just trying them out, please let me know how it goes. Post a comment, respond on Twitter, drop me a line, post on LinkedIn- we’re in this together!