Appcues vs Pendo vs Userpilot – which is best for your SaaS?
Deciding between Appcues, Pendo and Userpilot? We know that choosing the best product adoption platform for your SaaS is difficult. So we decided to write a more in-depth comparison of the three tools – going into more detail about the tools’ features, use cases, pros and cons – than what you’ll find on review sites. We’ve also provided screenshots of reviews – both positive and negative, and pricing for each tool. So whether you’re looking mainly to improve your user onboarding or product analytics, collect user feedback or NPS – you’ll find out how Appcues vs Pendo vs Userpilot perform for each Job-To-be-Done – and which one is the best choice for you!
Let’s dig in!
- Appcues is a no-code user onboarding platform for non-technical product teams. It allows you to create in-app onboarding tours, announcements, launch surveys, and analyze your product usage. Unlike Userpilot, the functionality is limited if you are using the basic plans.
- Appcues limits its functionality heavily in the lowest plan. Basic functionality such as checklists, or unlimited segments and tracked events – are not available on Appcues’ lowest plan, forcing you to upgrade to the $10,500+ plan right off the bat.
- Pendo is another low-code Product Adoption Platform that gained popularity for its simplified product analytics. You can build guides using templates, and there’s also a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) visual design studio editor for creating new designs from scratch. Types of guides you can create using Pendo include Lightbox, Banner, Tooltips, Polls, and Walkthroughs.
- The biggest drawback of Pendo is that unlike Appcues and Userpilot, it doesn’t allow real-time event-based triggering of the experiences. This means you can’t react to your users’ behavior in real time with Pendo product tours.
- Pendo’s famous analytics suite includes funnels, trends, cohorts and user paths. It comes out of the box and is easy to use, but fairly limited when it comes to deeper insights.
- You can use Pendo’s free version to create user onboarding guides, but you’ll only get access to limited features and basic analytics. Pendo’s pricing is not available publically on their website, but you can find customer reviews which mention quotes in the area of $12,500 to $55,000 per year. This can be quite punishing for smaller companies.
- Userpilot is a powerful Product Adoption Platform that enables you to quickly build personalized, flexible, contextually relevant in-app experiences targeted to different user segments – all without writing a line of code.
- Userpilot seems to marry the best of both worlds – Appcues’ ease of use and range of UI patterns in terms of building the in-app onboarding experiences, with the depth of product analytics offered by Pendo.
- On top of that, Userpilot offers something that Appcues doesn’t (while Pendo does) – an in-app Resource Center – a help hub with interactive self-service support resources available in-app for your users.
- Userpilot also has the strongest NPS and in-app survey functionality for collecting user feedback out of all the three tools – it allows you to tag your responses, and use the different tags as segments for follow-up in-app experiences.
- Moreover, it offers the best value for money in terms of its pricing – not limiting any of its core features even in the most basic plan.
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What is Appcues?
Unlike Userpilot, the functionality is limited if you are using the basic plans.
What is Appcues best for?
Typically, SaaS Product Managers consider Appcues for the following reasons: they want to improve their user onboarding, they need product adoption, and would also be able to measure their user feedback. How does Appcues perform when it comes to these top-three use cases? Let’s examine it all, and then compare it to the other tools we’re discussing in this post.
Appcues for user onboarding
Appcues used to provide onboarding templates, which made it easy to use. On the flipside, this provided a predefined way of thinking about onboarding all while having a higher price tag than other onboarding tools. As of the time of writing (end of 2022), Appcues has removed its onboarding templates – without really replacing them with another solution.
Here’s what Appcues offers:
- Access to an easy-to-use UI that anyone on the team can handle for building in-app flows without coding.
- Building a product tour in Appcues is relatively easy. You just need to open their chrome extension on top of your application and start building your in-app experiences with a WYSIWYG editor. You simply select a UI pattern and customize it ‘live’, or point to the elements you want to e.g. append your tooltips to.
- Previously it was even easier – you chose one of its templates, they would basically create the product tour for you, and you just needed to customize each step. This limited the options for customizing but it was useful for beginners. It is not certain whether Appcues is planning to bring its templates back.
- You can also create checklists with Appcues (NOT available on the Essentials plan) and prompt users to take action. These are ok but have limited functionality (can’t trigger JS functions, or add gamification elements) compared to alternatives, such as Userpilot.
- Track UI engagement with Events explorer which allows you to tag elements without coding.
- Build custom user segments (up to 5 on the Essentials plan) based on user properties, flows, interactions, or events you set up in the events explorer.
Appcues for product adoption
When it comes to driving product adoption, Appcues offers the main functionality as its competitors but highly restricts it when using its lower plan. This makes it quite pricey if you need checklists for example, which are quite an essential tool for getting users to engage and adopt your product.
Here’s how Appcues can help you increase your product adoption:
- Building product tours in Appcues is quite easy. You can choose from a range of UI patterns and use a friendly Chrome extension builder. If you want to style the modals or tooltips in your tour to match your native UI, you might need to use to CSS.
- Welcome screens are an integral part of Appcues product tour templates. You can mostly customize them as you please by adding or removing elements, micro surveys, etc.
- The flows option offers 4 main onboarding elements (modal group, tooltip group, slideout group, and hotspot group) and only 1 action – navigating to a different page.
- Onboarding checklists are only available in the more expensive plans (Growth and Enterprise)
- Unlike its alternatives, Appcues doesn’t offer an in-app Resource Center. A Resource Center is a help hub where your users can search for different resources by keywords – including help docs, knowledge base articles, but also videos and interactive in-app guides. Watch the video below to see how a Resource Center can help provide self-serve support:
Appcues for user feedback
Can you use Appcues to collect user feedback? Of course.
Collecting data is not hard, analyzing and acting on it is where it gets tricky. What’s the purpose of having data if you can’t act on it?
If you want to track your NPS score over time and collect user feedback with short micro surveys, you can do that with Appcues. But to analyze the feedback data in-depth, you’ll have to use other tools.
In a nutshell, Appcues allows you to:
- Build and trigger NPS surveys in-app without coding.
- Edit the NPS survey questions.
- Target the survey at a specific user segment (or choose one of the predefined segments) and adjust the survey display frequency.
- Collect user feedback with short surveys built on top of modals: add numerical scale, open-ended questions, or radio button questions.
- On the flip side: you can’t tag your NPS/survey responses in-app and use these tags to segment your audience by them.
- You can’t analyze the responses in-app. You can only download a CSV report to start analyzing your data – and we all know how time-consuming that is 😬
Based on the above, when it comes to user feedback, Appcues is not the ideal tool, as it lacks the ability to segment users based on survey responses.
There is a better tool for your SaaS than Appcues!
What is Pendo?
It caters primarily to enterprise users and probably has the most advanced analytics of all tools we’re covering in this article. But it all comes at a price.
What is Pendo best for?
Similar as with Appcues, Pendo is typically considered for user onboarding, product adoption, and user feedback. It is most famous for its product analytics, that are supposed to be market-leading compared to other solutions. Let’s examine Pendo for these use cases, before we compare it to Userpilot.
Pendo for user onboarding
When it comes to user onboarding, Pendo offers guides for building in-app guidance that improves user onboarding across web and mobile apps. But how much do they cost, and are there better alternatives on the market?
Here’s what to expect from Pendo guides:
- You can build guides using templates, and there’s also a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) visual design studio editor for creating new designs from scratch.
- You can use Pendo’s free version to create user onboarding guides, but you’ll only get access to limited features and basic analytics.
- Types of guides you can create using Pendo include Lightbox, Banner, Tooltips, Polls, and Walkthroughs. The drawback with them is that they are quite basic and don’t allow much customization without coding. Even Pendo’s own onboarding guide is a series of purple tooltips.
- You can also build checklists with Pendo but not as standalone UI elements as users can only access them from the resource center (if they know they exit). This makes it hard and not intuitive for users to access guidance, and overall defeats the purpose of using checklists.
- Pendo product guidance for mobile works across Android and iOS mobile apps, so if you’re looking to support your mobile customers through their onboarding, Pendo might be for you (be aware that Pendo for mobile guides is not included on the free plan).
Guides or product tours are essential tools for user onboarding, and it will be difficult for new users to find their way around your app without them. The absence of these UX designs will lead to friction, naturally resulting in increased churn.
But do you need Pendo for this?
The answer is you don’t have to use Pendo in particular. There are other product adoption tools that give you more value for your money, so it’s always good to check the available options before settling for one.
Pendo for product adoption
Pendo is a robust product adoption platform with user engagement features, impressive analytics and in-app feedback.
It caters mainly to the enterprise sector and as of the end of 2022, has the most advanced analytics of of all product adoption tools on the market. Here’s how Pendo can help you improve product adoption: When it comes to product adoption, Pendo offers both the analytics features to track the adoption of features as well as guides for building in-app guidance that improves feature adoption both on web and mobile apps.
Here’s what to expect from Pendo’s product adoption features:
- Pendo’s analytics allow you to evaluate each feature usage and which features deliver the most value.
- You can see which features are underused for different user segments.
- You can then build guides to improve the adoption of these features.
- You can use Pendo’s free version to create guides, but you’ll only get access to limited features and basic analytics.
Pendo for user feedback
Pendo offers polls (also called micro surveys at Userpilot) through their guides which collect user feedback and gauge sentiment at different points in the user journey.
Polls come with basic functionality and are available on the free plan. However, if you want to collect user sentiment with NPS surveys, you’ll need a paid plan that doesn’t come cheap at all.
Here’s how you can collect user sentiment feedback with Pendo:
- Add short polls on your guides and UI patterns built with Pendo.
- You can use only text polls, yes/no polls, numbered scales, or multi-choice polls and add them as building blocks when building the guides.
- There’s not a lot of customization, like themes or emojis available, but it’s enough to collect data in-app.
- If you are willing to pay for the Growth plan, you get access to Pendo’s NPS feature too.
The downside of using Pendo for collecting user feedback is that you can’t use the insights to personalize the user experience. For example, you can’t create user segments based on NPS scores or specific answers you collect with your polls.
Considering the price you have to pay for Pendo, you’d expect more from it.
If you want to both collect and act on user feedback, you should use a better tool. And, with the risk of sounding biased, Userpilot gives you more value for money here. You can build micro surveys, embed Typeform long surveys, collect and analyze NPS responses, and segment users based on scores and responses so you can trigger more personalized experiences.
Get a Userpilot demo here.
Try a better tool for your SaaS than Pendo!
What is Userpilot?
Userpilot is a powerful product adoption platform that enables you to quickly build personalized, flexible, contextually relevant in-app experiences targeted to different user segments – all without writing a line of code.
What is Userpilot best for?
Userpilot is used for similar use cases as Pendo and Appcues. Let’s see how Userpilot compares to the tools we discussed before it comes to user onboarding, product adoption, and user feedback.
Userpilot for user onboarding
Userpilot was created specifically for SaaS product teams that want to improve their user onboarding experience and improve user activation.
You can build a large variety of user onboarding experiences and in-app guidance flows without needing to code.
Here’s what you’ll get when you start using Userpilot:
- Build in-app flows using the largest range of UI patterns (modals, slideouts, tooltips, hotspots, banners) and in-app onboarding experiences (checklists, microsurveys, NPS surveys, in-app resource center)
- Get access to a built-in NPS tool for collecting and analyzing user sentiment so you can improve your onboarding process based on real data.
- Create and track combinations of in-app events like clicks, hovers and form fills, and then analyze all these interactions under your own custom events, which can be built without code or API calls.
- Use advanced product analytics and in-app flows analytics to identify where users need help and create granular user segments to trigger in-app experiences contextually (segment based on user identification data, in-app engagement, custom events, clicks, hovers, form fills, user feedback responses, NPS scores and more)
- Enhance the onboarding experience with in-app help by launching a Resource Center directly inside your app. Add in-app guides, and video tutorials, and give users access to search the knowledge base or reach out to support. Self-service has never been easier.
The best user onboarding is contextual and it happens right where the users need it, inside your app. There isn’t a better user onboarding tool out there that offers more value for the money than Userpilot.
Schedule a demo with our team and get ready to build the best onboarding experiences your users have seen.
Userpilot for product adoption
Product adoption describes the process of getting users to the point where they are experiencing value from your product.
Userpilot is a powerful product adoption platform that enables you to quickly build personalized and contextual in-app experiences targeted to different user experiences – all without writing a line of code.
It’s a great option for enterprise users too since it’s SOC 2 Type II certified and offers robust features for large-scale usage.
Here are some of Userpilot’s product adoption features that you may find helpful:
- A broad range of UI patterns to build fully customizable, contextual, and interactive in-app flows: modals, slideouts, tooltips, hotspots, driven actions, banners, and more. And – most importantly – you are not limited by plan when it comes to how many UI patterns or designs you can build.
- Advanced in-app checklists with built-in gamification elements like progress bars or ”automatically marked complete” tasks: checklists also come with analytics so you can track who is interacting with them and how.
- Fully interactive walkthroughs walk users through engaging and adopting specific features of your app.
- The self-service in-app resource center lets users search your knowledge base directly inside the app, access chat, and support but also launch guides and tutorials when they get stuck.
- User feedback tools allow you to collect insights to improve the product and the user experience, thus leading to a higher product adoption rate. You can also collect NPS data and tag responses to uncover patterns into what makes users stick, or build micro surveys for more granular data. Then you can use all the feedback collected to build user segments based on the answers and personalize the path to higher product adoption for each segment.
Want to see Userpilot in action? Get a demo and improve product adoption with contextual and personalized in-app flows that actually help users.
Userpilot for user feedback
There are two types of feedback you should be focusing on collecting to better understand the health of your product and users.
First, you have user sentiment which looks at user satisfaction and effort scores or loyalty (using NPS surveys). Then you may also want to collect feedback on the functionality of the product or specific features.
You can do all these with Userpilot. In short, you can:
- Collect and track (NPS) in-app with a built-in NPS widget that allows you to fully customize the survey look and feel, and set the trigger frequency and specific targeting.
- Analyze NPS scores, tag responses, and use the data to create specific user segments.
- Build and trigger in-app micro surveys like the classic PMF survey, or similar ones and mix multi-choice and open-ended types of questions to collect specific insights.
- Be in charge of who gets which survey type and when with advanced segmentation capabilities, and of course, you can use the answers to segment your audience.
The advantage of using Userpilot for collecting feedback over other survey tools is that you can better control who sees the surveys but also you can instantly use the data collected to segment your user base and trigger the right experience for them.
For instance, if your users give you a low NPS score because they think you’re missing a critical feature (that you actually have already), you can push an interactive walkthrough guiding them to find and explore this feature.
Tired of bad Digital Adoption tools? Try Userpilot for your SaaS for free!
So Which tool should you choose? Appcues vs Pendo vs Userpilot – final thoughts
As you can see, both Appcues, Pendo, and Userpilot cater to most of the use cases Product Managers typically look for in their SaaS companies. There are some differences between the tools when it comes to how those use cases are executed in each, of course. So if you’re still on the fence – there are two more factors that can make a difference for you – the tools’ pricing, and their reviews. Let’s have a look at both below!
All things considered, Appcues does not offer the best value for money compared to some Appcues alternatives – at $249 per month. If your product has 2,500 active users, the costs for different plans are:
- Essentials: $249/month (Up to 3 user licenses)
- Growth: $879/month (Up to 10 user licenses)
- Enterprise: Custom (Unlimited user licenses)
Pendo’s pricing is only available to you if you ask for a quote. The company doesn’t list pricing on its site for the higher tiers. However, some reviews say they have prices starting at $20,000-$25,000 per year for a single product, and around $50,000 per year for the mid-tier package.
The tricky part when it comes to Pendo’s pricing is that you get to pay separately for different modules:
- Pendo Free: up to 500 MAU, single-app, and basic functionality and analytics.
- Pendo Starter $7000/year: 2,000 MAU limit, multi-app, and access to premium features like NPS but it doesn’t include advanced analytics or integrations
- Pendo Growth: Custom MAU, single-app, NPS and PES, resource center, and access to support compared to lower plans
- Pendo Portfolio: Custom MAU, multi-app, cross-journey reports, experimentation, and 1 free integration included.
- Pendo Premium: Custom MAU, multi-app, everything in other plans plus custom roles and permissions and advanced security
- Pendo Feedback: collecting feature requests is a separate module with custom pricing.
- Pendo Adopt: employee onboarding is a separate module with custom pricing
Userpilot offers great value for money compared to other similar tools on the market. Even its entry-level plan (Traction) provides all the necessary features without any usage limit.
The price-to-feature ratio is the best for Userpilot. Other cheaper tools in the market would definitely not fulfill your needs, and others like Pendo would be out of budget. Userpilot sits in that sweet spot. – Saurav S.
The pricing differentiation happens mostly on the service level (e.g. custom domain hosting, dedicated Customer Success Manager, SLA) and is based on the number of Monthly Active Users (MAUs) your company has.
Here’s the detailed Userpilot pricing:
- Traction: For up to 2500 users, this plan is $249/ mo.
- Growth: For up to 10,000 users, this plan is $499/ mo.
- Enterprise: For large-scale businesses, these plans begin from $1000/ mo.
What do users say about Appcues vs Pendo vs Userpilot?
The final countdown: Pros & Cons of Appcues, Pendo and Userpilot
Let’s look at some key advantages of Appcues:
- It makes it easy to build product tours with a user-friendly UI and predefined templates that can save you time.
- Can be used on web apps and mobile apps too.
- It integrates with most user analytics tools: Heap, Segment, Amplitude, Mixpanel. This compensates a bit for the lack of in-depth analytics but means you need multiple subscriptions.
- You can use predefined flows or build your own using a good range of UI patterns.
- Allows basic segmentation and event-based flow triggering.
- It’s easy to build in-app surveys using modals or the integrated NPS tool.
But as any tool, Appcues is not without its flows – and at this price point, we think you may really want to consider some options that offer the same or more advanced functionality, but at a lower price tag:
- Appcues lacks certain transition actions like driven actions, scroll position, or page change, which would make product tours more interactive.
- It heavily limits the functionality available in the lowest (Essentials) plan. If you need checklists, more than 10 events, or more than 5 user segments, you’ll need to upgrade to the Growth plan (starting at $879/mo payable annually, which means you need to fork out more than $10,500 to start using Appcues for more use cases.
- Appcues doesn’t have a resource center feature, meaning you can’t use it to offer self-service support to your users.
Despite the price and its steep learning curve, Pendo does have a few pros compared to its competitors.
- Pendo is known for its good and easy-to-use analytics tools like Paths, Retention, and Funnels. (As of Q1 2023, Userpilot will have the same analytics features, with more robust functionality).
- Pendo has a shareable product-planning tool to organize customer feedback and prioritize high-value features. It helps keep teams aligned with the shared feature-planning guide.
- It works on web apps and mobile apps so if you need both, this might be a good choice for you.
Surprisingly for a product engagement tool that claims to be “all in one” you can’t act directly on the user analytics from Pendo in Pendo.
That’s because Pendo doesn’t allow you to target users segmented by in-app events with the in-app guides you’ve built with it.
Here’s a short list of Pendo’s cons:
- It doesn’t allow you to trigger experiences based on in-app events either. This is probably because of tech debt – but makes Pendo’s analytics pretty much NOT actionable.
- Pendo offers limited onboarding elements, which means you can’t always create the best experience for your users. If you want checklists these can only be accessed from the Resource Center which defeats the purpose of having them in the first place.
- Pendo’s pricing is only available to you if you ask for a quote. The company doesn’t list pricing on its site for the higher tiers. However, some reviews say they have prices starting at $20,000-$25,000 per year for a single product, and around $50,000 per year for the mid-tier package. This might be Pendo’s biggest downside.
If you’re looking for a tool that shows you user analytics in real-time and allows you to trigger in-app experiences based on in-app events and user behavior in real-time – Userpilot offers these features (and at a lower price tag too).
Userpilot has a number of advantages, especially for mid-market SaaS companies looking for a robust but at the same time very easy-to-use, no-code tool for user onboarding, product adoption, and simplified product analytics. Let’s have a look at the pros of using Userpilot:
- No-code builder – Userpilot comes with an easy-to-use Chrome Extension builder.
- Multiple UI patterns – choose from a range of options to build customized flows: modals,
- slideouts, banners, tooltips, hotspots, and checklists are all at your disposal.
- UI patterns are not limited by plan – you get access to all of them on every single plan, meaning you get value even with the Traction plan (this is the entry-level one).
- Engaging walkthroughs and onboarding flows- build interactive walkthroughs targeted to distinct user segments.
- In-app help – build a resource center offering self-service support to your users, customize it with your branding, and select from a range of help options to boost user satisfaction (i.e. videos, in-app flows, chat, and more).
- Experimentation – built-in A/B testing for flows lets you explore and quickly iterate based on direct user behavior.
- Powerful feedback options- integrated NPS surveys with analytics and response tagging unlock insight into how your users feel.
- Advanced analytics and segmentation- analyze product usage and in-app flow engagement and build user segments using the data.
- Event tracking and feature tags- tag UI engagement (clicks, form fills, hovers) and group them into one custom event to track what really matters.
- More value with integrations- unlock value faster with built-in integrations with popular tools like Segment, Amplitude, Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, Intercom, Heap, and more.
There are, however, some downsides to Userpilot as well:
- Browser/web app only – Userpilot won’t run on mobile devices/applications.
- Doesn’t support employee onboarding- The tool is better suited for customer onboarding than for employee onboarding as you can’t build in-app guides on third-party tools.
- Missing integrations – doesn’t have built-in integrations with some tools, but it has webhooks, and Hubspot and Zapier are coming soon.
- Not appropriate for small startups on a shoestring budget (<$100)- Userpilot is a powerful, mid-market to enterprise-level tool. So $249 a month might be too expensive for really small startups.
Try the best tool for user onboarding for FREE!
In this post, we’ve discussed how Appcues, Pendo, and Userpilot compare when it comes to user onboarding, product adoption, and user feedback. We’ve discussed their features for each use case, pricing, reviews, as well as the pros and cons. Hopefully, you’ve found these detailed descriptions helpful. Obviously, we’re a little biased, but we think that Userpilot offers the best value for money, and is unrivaled especially when it comes to user onboarding. Hopefully you’d like to give Userpilot a chance – see you in the free trial soon!