Product tours (sometimes called product walkthroughs) are digital cues and instructions used in user onboarding (and occasionally, before a customer purchases new software in interactive demos, for example) to show customers how to derive value from your SaaS solution.
What Is A Product Tour?
In SaaS, your product tour can be a screencast, an instructional video, an overlay, or even a sandbox interactive version of your SaaS solution.
Your product tour should introduce new users to your user interface and guide them through a series of meaningful actions they need to take to realize their goals (and the value of your solution).
SaaS product tours are most commonly deployed once a customer has signed up for a new software solution, during an interactive demo, either for a free trial period or a paid subscription.
In most cases, it usually works as an overlay on top of your SaaS app, separate from your core product code.
Why Should You Offer a Product Tour?
The aim of a good product tour is to help customers take meaningful action that guides them towards their goals and realize your solution’s benefit, reducing churn and, in the case of free trials, encouraging conversion to a paid subscription.
Most customers find learning a new software (and the subsequent new behaviors they have to adapt to use it) challenging. New features and an unfamiliar interface combined with the fear of doing something irrevocably wrong may undo their progress. You can use product tours to show prospective clients or new customers how the software works in practice.
When Should You Offer a Product Tour?
Product tours are a way of helping users find their way through new tech solutions. Many SaaS products offer options for customization and numerous features, which can be complicated or overwhelming to navigate. If users feel intimidated, it can get in the way of adopting the new solution.
An interactive walkthrough or product tour can introduce new or prospective customers to your SaaS product during the onboarding or demo stage of your relationship, building trust and insight they need to discover the value of your solution from the start.
Product Tours for Onboarding
Your product tour can guide users through the first steps during onboarding to gain value from the solution faster. It will make it easier for your customers to interact with your SaaS solution and reduce churn.
Product Tours for Demos
You can use product tours during the demo stage, especially when no account executive or rep is present to guide the prospect through the software solution. For example, in demos that serve marketing purposes.
Product Tours for Free Trials and Freemium
By reducing the learning curve for your users, you can increase the number of users moving from product trials to paid plans. In addition, existing customers can use product tours to discover new features and benefits, which increases the likelihood of retaining them for the future.
Common UX/UI Patterns and Features of Product Tours
No two SaaS solutions are alike, and every user will have different needs and requirements, so product tours tend to vary. Here are a few of the most common features of product tours used in the SaaS industry:
Tooltips are pop-up overlay boxes used to highlight features on your platform. They are the most common product tour feature type you’ll come across.
Tooltips are useful because they offer a contextual way of steering users through your solution without being overly prescriptive. They are highly interactive; each time a feature is highlighted, users have to try it before moving on to the next feature in the sequence. You can guide users in a way that doesn’t interrupt the user experience.
Hotspots drive feature adoption and engagement. They use small icons, arrows, or highlight buttons to show new customers how to get started or draw benefits from your solution. These are subtler than tooltips and are best if your software is simple and suitable for self-discovery.
Task Lists and Progress Bars
Pop-up task lists show users how many steps they need to take to reach a set goal, e.g., registering their account or creating a campaign.
Clients get frustrated if they feel that product tours take too long; task lists indicate the time investment they need to make and encourage them to persevere until the end.
Progress bars operate in the same way by helping clients visualize the progress they’ve made towards achieving their goal through a graphic.
Modal windows pop up over the user interface (either taking up the full screen or partially covering the screen) with welcome messages and instructions. They are larger, conveying more information than tooltips (including videos and images).
9 Tips On How to Create SaaS Product Tours That Showcase Product Benefits
Whichever interactive product tour features you use, you have to optimize them according to your objectives.
Make Sure The Tour Is Simple
Good product tours are as simple as possible. It defeats its purpose if the tour is too complex, takes too long to complete, or tries to cover off too much at once. Remember, the goal of the product tour is to keep your customers from feeling overwhelmed by new technology. It also has to steer them towards realizing value right away.
Help Your Users Reach the Aha Moment
Your interactive product tour’s purpose should be to help your new users or prospects have a positive experience and reach the “Aha” moment where they can witness the transformative power of your solution first-hand. Use tooltips, hotspots, or modal windows to communicate the first onboarding steps with simple images or copy.
Keep Things Personal
Interactivity and personalization are the keys to making users feel like you understand their needs. You’ve already spent time getting to know your prospects and their pain points – why not use that knowledge to create a highly relevant first-run experience? Personalizing your product tour will increase engagement rates for the better.
Modal windows offering a welcome message can have a significant impact. According to one company, adding a welcome message during onboarding boosted their conversions by 17%.
Provide Next Steps
Users should never feel lost during a product tour. Your product tour should be sequential and show them exactly where to start and which next step to follow. Do they need to add their data first? Or create a profile? Never assume they already know what to do but make it as easy as possible. A checklist or progress bar is the perfect solution to guide them through the process.
Show Them The Value Of Your Product
The key to long-term adoption is to help your customers realize how much your product can help them. Don’t try to cram every benefit and feature into your product tour. Focus on the core product value and keep emphasizing it. You can showcase all of your capabilities in other increments, videos, or tours.
If you aren’t sure what your core value is, base it on the customer and his pain points. What problems are they trying to solve? Which problem has the biggest impact on their business? Once you identify their biggest headache, you can create a product tour that shows them how to fix it.
Encourage Small But Meaningful Actions
You don’t need your customers to use every feature right away. Instead, you want them to perform a small but powerful action that helps them achieve a goal. For example, if you use a SaaS social media publishing tool, you can encourage users to upload their first social media post.
If every action they take during the product tour has an impact and increases value, they’ll be encouraged to keep exploring.
Let Customers Explore
Interactive product tour isn’t a sales pitch or a lecture. Users should be guided, not bombarded with information or prescriptive actions that don’t have any room to discover the platform on their own. Some users prefer playing around with the platform with minimal intervention; others want hand-holding. Allow users to skip ahead during the walkthrough or focus on areas they are interested in. Tooltips are handy for self-guided tours.
Prioritize Visuals Over Other Tools
Some product tours are entirely static and text-based, but visuals and interactive elements make it easier for customers to get acquainted with your software. The more interactive your tour is, the more engaged your customers will be. You can use video and images in modal windows that show customers exactly what to do and what to expect if they follow the right steps.
If possible, set up your walkthroughs with annotations and analytics so that you can gather insight into user behavior during the product tour. This can be done using third-party interactive demo solutions or by implementing heatmaps and similar technologies. That way, you can continually improve and customize your product tours. For example, if users drop off early, you should consider simplifying the process and dropping a few steps from the tour. If they struggle to complete a certain step, revise your copy and design to make things clearer.
Interactive product tours are a great way of getting customers acquainted with your software solution. They welcome new visitors to the site and guide them through the features they should use to start seeing the value of using your product faster. Keep your product tours simple, with room for self-discovery, but make sure your users know the sequence of steps to follow.
If you want to know more about how product tours can be used during your onboarding process, visit our SaaS onboarding section.