SaaS companies live and die by customer engagement and retention. When customers sign up for a SaaS product, their first experience determines whether they’ll continue using it or ask for a refund within the trial period.
Product tour software gives new users a guided walkthrough of your product’s key features to help them get started on the right foot. This results in higher activation rates, faster time to value, and decreased support costs - all of which directly impact customer lifetime value and your bottom line.
Without a product tour, new users are left to fumble around on their own. They risk missing important features and functionality, leading to frustration and churn. Product tours remedy this by:
Product activation rates are one of the key leading indicators of long-term growth and success for SaaS companies. A higher activation rate means:
Faster time to value.
When users can get up and running quickly, they see the benefits of your product sooner. This leads to higher satisfaction and the likelihood of renewal.
Reduced support costs.
Struggling with new users requires more support, eating into your margins. Higher activation means lower support usage and costs.
Better viral growth.
Satisfied users are likelier to recommend your product to others, fueling organic growth.
Increased retention and expansion.
Users who activate fully are far more likely to stay and increase their spending over time.
For example, a 5% increase in activation rates can lead to:
These impacts cascade, turning an initial 5% activation gain into substantial revenue growth and business scaling. This is why activation and onboarding represent one of the highest-leverage opportunity areas for SaaS companies.
Product tours directly help solve new user activation challenges by:
In short, product tours ensure new users transition from “tourists” to “residents” as quickly as possible- your activation, engagement, and overall business metrics reflect that.
Various product tour tools enable you to build and deliver guided tours within your application. Here are some of the best:
Folio: Purpose-built for SaaS demos and product tours, Folio provides an intuitive interface to build and deliver visual product walkthroughs that boost activation, ROI, and retention.
WalkMe: One of the leaders in the space, WalkMe offers an extensive product tour solution with features like dynamic tour creation, conditional branching, in-app highlighting, and real-time analytics.
Appcues: Another popular option, Appcues, allows you to build featured-based tours, onboarding flows, feedback prompts, and more. It integrates tightly with various platforms.
UserGuiding: Like the others, UserGuiding provides tools to build and deploy product tours, feedback prompts, tooltips, and more. It offers A/B testing and advanced targeting options.
Userlane: For more complex guided experiences, Userlane allows you to build sophisticated multi-step journeys. It has AI-based personalization and targeting features.
In general, look for a product tour tool that offers the following:
Armed with one of these tour builders, you’ll have the tools to craft an experience that maximizes your users’ activation, onboarding, and value delivery.
Your product tour shouldn’t exist in a vacuum - it needs to be seamlessly integrated into your overall customer journey and activation funnel. Here are some considerations:
Trigger: Decide when the tour will automatically appear for new users. Common triggers include:
Duration: Determine how long the tour should run. Short, snippet-based tours work best (1-5 minutes).
Personalization: Target the tour at specific personas or user types to maximize relevance. Tailor the tour’s content and flow accordingly.
Recursion: Offer the tour again to users who may need a refresher. You can trigger this after an interval (like one month) or based on user activity.
Onboarding: Align the tour with your overall onboarding process. It should introduce users to the most important early tasks and workflows.
Activation prompts: Following the tour, you may want to check if key activation criteria have been met. Prompt users accordingly.
Email follow-up: Email users after the tour wrapping up the experience and highlighting the next recommended steps.
Support: Train your support team on the tour contents. Many user questions may already be covered there.
Updated FAQs: Reflect any common tour questions in your public FAQ. This will reduce support load over time.
Metrics: Track tour-specific metrics like completion rate, activation lift, support request reduction, etc.
By bundling your product tour into a holistic onboarding and activation system, you’ll maximize the benefits it delivers for your business. New users will enjoy a seamless journey from first click to fully engaged customers.
Some tips for developing a product tour strategy that converts and delivers value:
Clarity of purpose: Define the goals you want the tour to achieve for your business. Focus on a few key priorities.
Audience focus: Tailor the tour’s language, examples and flow to specific user personas and goals. Avoid generic approaches.
Record a demo: Build an internal demo tour that walks through your product logically and conversationally. This establishes the foundational structure and content.
Prioritize features: determine the 3-5 features critical to early user success. Base the initial tour around these. You can expand later.
Short and snippet-based: Limit each “stop” or highlight to 30-60 seconds. Users have short attention spans! Provide a brief one-liner explanation at each stop.
Visual cues: Leverage visual elements extensively - arrows, circles, banners, etc. Studies show they improve comprehension by up to 94%.
Set expectations: Provide an upfront overview of what the tour covers so users know what to expect. Define any subsequent tours.
Allow skipping: Users can skip the entire tour or individual steps. But measure how many opt to skip.
Progressive revelation: Consider revealing additional value-unlocking features in follow-up or recursive tours—this staggers education.
Test and iterate: Run A/B tests to optimize your tour’s structure, timing, triggers, and content—iterate based on user feedback and data.
Connect to success: Following the tour, direct users to the most critical next activation actions. Then follow up via email.
Establishing a deliberate strategy aligned with your top goals creates a product tour experience that drives the maximum impact for your users and business. So invest the upfront time and effort - the returns can be substantial!
Here are some tips for writing your copy that improves engagement, understanding, and “stickiness” for your users:
Start with the “Why”: Explain why a feature exists and the user benefits it provides. People care more about “Why” than “What.”
Write concisely: Use short, punchy sentences. Long-winded explanations will lose people’s attention.
Consider bullet points: Lists of 3-5 bullet points can improve comprehension vs. paragraphs of text.
Use active voice: Write steps in the active voice (“Click the button”) rather than the passive (“The button should be clicked”). It’s more dynamic.
Be conversational: Mimic a friendly, one-on-one speaking style to build rapport. Avoid stale “marketing speak.”
Explain functionality: Define what a feature does and how it works at a high level. Don’t just label elements.
Answer “How” questions: Cover how users can complete key tasks within the interface using the feature.
Include examples: Leverage real-world scenarios and examples to show feature usages that will be relevant.
Address objections: Anticipate and preemptively answer users’ “But…” objections.
Use visual aids: Pictures, graphics, GIFs, and other assets can reinforce your message and improve understanding.
Test headlines: Try different explanations, benefits, and value propositions for key features. A/B test for highest clickthrough.
Keep it updated: Review tour content at least quarterly. Ensure it still reflects your latest value propositions and priorities.
By following these best practices, you’ll write product tour copy that engages users, quickly imparts key knowledge, and prompts them to take the next activation actions. Which ultimately leads to desired onboarding and business outcomes.
Some recommendations for the ideal timing and delivery of your product tour:
For when to show the tour:
Immediately after signup - Most effective time as users are primed to learn. It helps get them started on the right foot.
Upon the first login: A good trigger point if signup happens in a separate flow. Users are already “leaned in.”
After specific actions: You can delay the tour until a user visits a key page, completes a task, or reaches a milestone.
On-demand: Allow users to self-trigger the tour anytime from within the product. But only some will proactively do this.
For how to show the tour:
Modal overlay: The standard approach where the tour pops up and dims the background. Least disruptive.
Inline highlighting: Highlight elements directly within the user interface as they move through it.
Walkthrough video: Play an intro product tour video that users can watch while following along.
Guided tasks: Present short tasks for users to complete with “hints” that teach as they go. It makes it “hands-on.”
Workflow walkthrough: Lead users through accomplishing a realistic, relevant onboarding task from start to finish.
Email prompt: Trigger the tour from an email invitation that users click to activate. RSVP approach.
In general, look for the ideal combination of:
Test various techniques and timings through your tour builder’s A/B testing tools. Optimize for the approach that delivers the highest activation and value while minimally imposing on your users.
To decide which features warrant coverage in your product tour, assess each one based on the following:
Importance for activation: How critical is the feature for users to fulfill their most important initial tasks?
Likelihood of discovery: Without guidance, would users easily find this feature independently?
Common questions from users: Does your support team receive frequent inquiries about this feature?
Unlock future value: Does learning to use this feature enable users to unlock additional value later?
Time-saving functionality: Does the feature help users accomplish tasks more quickly or easily?
Customer requests: Have existing users specifically asked for education about this feature?
Ease of explanation: Can you clearly explain how the feature works and what it’s for within ~60 seconds?
Visual demo potential: Does the feature lend itself well to a screen highlight or visual demonstration?
Based on these criteria, you’ll likely want to prioritize the following:
Initially, keep the tour relatively focused on the highest-impact areas. Then expand in subsequent tours to cover:
For now, focus on the “vital few” - then expand to the “useful many” - oriented around delivering maximum value per minute of your users’ time.
To determine whether your product tour is achieving its goals, track several key metrics:
Completion rate: The % of users who finish the entire tour. Track over time and aim to increase.
Activation lift: Compare activation rates before and after launching the tour. Look for a measurable increase.
Support request reduction: Monitor the volume of user requests to see if the tour diminishes “how-to” questions.
Time to value: Survey users on how long it took them to get up and running. Aim to decrease over time.
Churn: Evaluate whether churn rates decrease following the tour launch. Correlate the two where possible.
Expansion: Assess if users upgrade plans or add more seats at above-average rates after completing the tour.
Referral rates: Watch for increased users referring new customers after embracing your product.
NPS: Check your Net Promoter Score before and after the tour launch. Aim for an improvement.
Task completion: Survey users on whether the tour helped them complete important tasks within the product.
Content comprehension: With recursive tours, test users to ensure they retain the knowledge presented.
Qualitative feedback: Survey users for their subjective assessment of the tour’s value and areas for improvement.
You can measure these metrics:
Armed with meaningful data, you’ll gain the insights needed to refine your tour strategy, content, and approach, continuously increasing its positive impact on new user success, activation, and your bottom line.
While product tours are highly effective, some alternatives can deliver an even more personalized and engaged onboarding experience:
Video walkthroughs: Producing a 3-5 minute intro video that users can play while interacting with the product provides a more personalized feel.
Interactive scenarios: Present users with simulated work scenarios requiring specific features to achieve a goal. This creates an immediately relevant context for learning.
Guided challenges: Pose a series of small tasks or challenges for users to complete, with hints that reveal how to accomplish them using the interface. Makes the learning “hands-on”.
Contextual tooltips: Show brief explanatory tips (5-20 words) as users hover over or click elements for the first time. Similar to “just in time” training.
Personalized journeys: Segment users into personas and deliver tours or flows specifically tailored to the needs and goals of each group. This maximizes relevance.
Conversational AI: Use artificial intelligence to conduct a natural “conversation” with users, walking them through the interface and answering questions in real-time. Provides a human touch.
Conference calls: For enterprises, offer a live walkthrough conducted by a product expert. Allows for Q&A, customization, and immediate feedback.
While more resource-intensive, these alternatives often result in higher activation rates, faster time to value, and decreased support loads - because they provide a more personalized, immersive, and engaging onboarding experience.
But start simply - build a basic product tour - then experiment with “leveling up” your onboarding over time using these advanced techniques. Measure each iteration’s impact to determine the best approach for your users and goals.
In summary, product tour software has become essential for SaaS companies seeking to improve customer onboarding, activation, retention, and the overall user experience.
By guiding new users through your most important features and functionality, a product tour can help them get to value faster and maximize their initial satisfaction - translating into higher lifetime customer value.
With the right tour-building tools and a deliberate strategy, you can craft an onboarding experience that converts prospects into loyal, productive users. So if you’re ready to activate your customers at scale and boost key metrics like activation rates, support costs, and upsell potential - invest in building an effective product tour today.
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