Product tours are so hot right now – indeed, five years after Nickelled started producing our no-code guided tours, Intercom has leapt into the fray as well, joining a bunch of others now in the space (which is already a little busier than we would like!).
Still, that means as a business, it's never been easier to use product tour software to welcome your users.
The question is, how should you get started?
In this guide, we've tried to break down the selection and implementation process from start to finish, based on what we've seen our customers going through. You can use the links below to navigate, or just scroll down.
Don't want to read and just interested in getting started right away? Click here to find out more about Nickelled and take a free trial of the software to see how it works.
What's the impetus?
Your choice of product will likely depend mostly on the use case for your guided tour Call it your end goal, your job to be done, or whatever else you choose, but be mindful of this use case all the way through the selection process. Often, we see companies get sidetracked by potential future use cases or ideas that they have halfway through the selection process, which is normally a terrible idea.
Start with one goal, and then work the process from there. Common goals:
Welcoming new users to an app or a project is one of the most common use cases we see. Again though, think hard about the intended outcome (read our guide to user onboarding here), because you need to be aware of what your product tours are going to achieve, and "use the product more" isn't a satisfactory answer! Generally you want usage of a certain feature or features to increase, so that you're pushing new users closer to their "AHA moment" and (by extension) success with your product.
While user onboarding tends to focus on new users, product adoption is all about increasing usage for existing users. Again, map out exactly the features you're looking to boost, and have the right measurements in place to ensure you're hitting the goals.
Training for new staff is a relatively common use case for guided tours, and much of the problem statement will be similar to user onboarding above. However, employees typically have a larger amount of material to consume (you're not going to foist all of your company processes on some unsuspecting user, right?) and so it's important to select a solution that's designed for long periods of consumption, rather than the odd check now and then.
What's the strategy?
Believe it or not, building a product tour and throwing it up to every user on your website is not a great strategy for reaching the goals you just identified.
A good product tour strategy considers three main areas:
1) Product functionality
2) User personas
Let's take a quick look at the questions you'll have to answer for each one…
Product functionality questions to consider:
User persona questions to consider:
Measurement questions to consider:
Think of a product tour, and your first visualization is probably the type of guide that Nickelled produces – boxes moving around the page, pointing out elements as they go, with pages changing automatically as the guide progresses.
This is one form (and arguably the most popular) of product tour, but it's not right for all businesses and it's by no means the only option out there. Consider the below types of tour when trying to decide what will work best for your business:
These are popups over a webpage which don't point at anything specific. They're popularly used for more generic information that's not related to elements on the page, such as product announcements or welcome videos. Modal windows typically need to be delivered smartly, using cookie or other tracking to ensure that the modal only pops once for each user. Any more, and you risk irritating your visitor.
Traditional product tours use steps, containing text, images or videos, which move around the page and point to specific elements. They're a nice visual effect, and the ability to progress the tour by clicking 'Next' makes the user feel in control.
Many people choose to simply open or embed a video onto the page for new users. Again, care needs to be taken to ensure contextual relevance – showing a welcome video to a user who's been with you for two years is a real turnoff – but when combined with smart user tracking, video can work effectively as a product tour.
More obvious than a tooltip but less intrusive than a guided tour, a hotspot relies on the user clicking it to activate, and then opens out into richer content. Hotspots can easily be made to animate slightly (thus making them more obvious on the page) and, using a tool like Nickelled, can even be made to 'intelligently' show only to new users or users in a certain group. The downside is that hotspots don't lend themselves to a sequential guided tour in the same way that steps do, so they're best used for pointing out standalone features rather than guiding users through a process flow.
Popular for mobile apps, coachmarkers tend to be arrow-based prompts which are overlaid onto the interface of the product and can be dismissed by a user with a single tap. They're less interactive than a product tour, but superb for mobile, where screen size is restricted and text space may be limited.
Most modern product tour software doesn't require showing the same guide to every user, so it's often a bit of a shock when this happens (yes, we're looking at you, budget bootstrap guided tours!).
Instead of a one-size fits all approach, you want to make sure you're tailoring your product tour launch so that it's appearing for exactly the right person, in the right place, at the right time.
We call this 'persona-based launching'.
That is to say that in a fictional app for accountants, when the user is on the account payables screen, the guided tour that shows should pop up the first time they land, it should guide them on that page only, and it should be relevant to the jobs that they need to guide done.
The benefits of triggering with this level of granularity should be obvious, but our friends at Chameleon have actually put some numbers behind it – triggering a tour as the result of an event the user does (such as completing a task or click a button) improves the completion rate by 38%.
The flip side to this, obviously, is that you need a little more tech integration to ensure you're showing the right thing at the right time. We'll cover some of this in implementation pitfalls section below, but broadly, there are a few ways you might need to wrangle the tech to make it happen:
Control the launching at your end - your devs will launch the product tour at the right time and no data is sent to any third-party
Pass some data to the product tour provider, but trigger the guided tour yourself. In this scenario, the product tour provider had enough data to 'remember' unique users and the progress they've made, but not enough to tailor launches based on roles and responsibilities, for instance.
Whichever you select is up to you, and there are obvious tradeoffs around passing across customer data to a third party vs an increased development load for your team.
Here at Nickelled, we offer an implementation of the middle-ground option above – we'll check that a user has seen a guided tour, but we won't handle personal data needed to run granular launches. It's an approach we've found balances the needs of our clients best, but it may not be right for everybody!
The best of them all – some of our favorite product tours from around the web.
When you sell your product to billions of customers globally, you need an onboarding experience that works. And Apple has found it… By not having one at all.
The best user experiences don’t require product tours upfront, because the product is so naturally intuitive to use, like the iPhone.
If help is needed, it’s available, which was the rationale behind the Tips app that Apple introduced with iOS 10.
Designed to ease new users into the product over time (rather than forcing a tour of the product at the time of purchase), Tips uses intelligent notification timings to try to highlight functionality that the user might have missed or been unaware of.
Hence, through the first few months of new device ownership, Tips pushes ‘Collections’ of tips related to different capabilities of the device, across photos, music, videos, apps etc.
Tips is a really simple user interface, but its power is really in the persona-based triggering which launches the notifications.
Evernote’s mobile-first guided tour has a lot to recommend it… And a few drawbacks.
We love that when the app is first opened, there’s a neat set of screens that remind the user why they’ve installed it in the first place (believe it or not, it’s not always that obvious…).
After logging in, the app pushes users into an optional tour, which is the best way to do it anyway (according to Chameleon, users are 123% more likely to complete tours they start themselves versus a tour that appears automatically. ).
This tour is a walled garden, which seems to work in this context but it often a risky proposition – if the user gets stuck, or realizes they don’t want to continue with the tour, you might find you’ve got a mutiny on your hands…
However, in this example, it works pretty well. It’s short (just five steps) and hits the most important feature of Evernote – creating your first note.
As ConversionXL points out, this has another subtle psychological effect… By asking the user to take the first small step, you’re priming them for more action later on. It’s called the foot-in-the-door technique (yes, really) and it works surprisingly well.
We were blown away by Airtable’s impressive product tour when we first saw it - it’s a crazy complex implementation, but it does the job really well. We recommend checking out this article from ReallyGoodUX for the full teardown.Hints are at the bottom (as opposed to getting in the way of the UI on the page itself) and are brightly color-coded so you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Each button opens out into an overlay on the live page. Inside, there’s an animated GIF and steps which show exactly what’s going on.
Also, note how they’ve linked out to further help documentation (which opens in a new window, obviously), so the user never has to leave the app, if they don’t want to.
Our products have positive reviews from users around the world
Project Manager, Capterra-verified Company
One of the best products I have used in my entire career! All of our guides and tutorials up to this point have been static PDF documents with screenshots and text to explain what to do. With these guides we can get a crystal clear snapshot of every web page, making the guides visually appealing to go through.
Owner/Founder, [K8] Digital
It was easy to setup the Nickelled walkthroughs and the pricing was extremely low, especially compared to some immediate competitors. The processes that we wanted and needed to explain to new website visitors were pretty basic and Nickelled was the right solution for us. It was quick and easy to set up.
Community Manager, Gengo
Building Nickelled guides was a simple process - we were able to build and deploy our first guides to translators very quickly. In the past few months, our percentage of new translators who become active within the first 12 weeks after signing up has increased, eventually reaching our goal of 60%.
Director of Customer Experience, 90 Seconds
We found Nickelled whilst looking for a solution to onboard our users without the need for extensive dev work - and we haven't looked back since! Perfect solution, great product, and brilliant support.
Head of Customer Ops, Gumtree
We love the way Nickelled lets us show users around our site. It took us no time to get up and running. Now, when a customer really needs our personal support, we have the time and the bandwidth to help them
Nickelled has helped us to make sure all of our new users can get the most out of Clubmodul.de without intensive hand-holding from the team - it’s an easy, scalable solution which has helped to boost activation rates significantly.