If you’re creating a user onboarding flow for your SaaS company, you’ll want to look at website tour examples from other businesses before you start.
We can learn from their mistakes, as well as follow the best practices they’ve established for teaching customers how to use their product. Having helped thousands of SaaS teams with onboarding, we can assure you that other web apps have faced the same challenges that you have.
Let’s get right into it.
- SaaS businesses use website tours as a way of showing new users how their products work.
- Website tours are valuable because they make users activate faster and more consistently, leading to a higher rate of retention in the long-term.
- A typical website tour is built out of modals, tooltips, hotspots and driven actions.
- To maximize the odds of your website tour being a success, ensure that you segment your users and keep your tour as interactive and personalized as possible.
- Don’t code your product tour from scratch. Use Userpilot instead. Get a free demo today!
What is a website tour?
In many cases, website tours are interactive, requiring the user to actively engage with your product. That’s because learning by doing is a more effective means of user education than merely passively reading tooltips.
When users visit your app for the first time, it’s unwise to simply leave them to their own devices and let them figure out your product in their own way.
Ultimately, the risk of churn for SaaS companies is just too high to do something like this. We’re talking about an industry where Day One churn rates often exceed 70% or 80%!
Many businesses solve this problem by giving users a product tour that highlights their web app’s key features.
What constitutes “key features” is subjective, depending entirely on what a particular user group finds valuable.
So a CEO will likely have a very different set of product needs than an intern at the bottom of the hierarchy, for example.
I’ve seen plenty of businesses attempt new user onboarding with passive tours as well, but I don’t advise it.
Types of UI patterns used in product tours
Most product tours are built out of the following elements:
- Tooltips: brief text snippets that walk users through one individual product feature
- Modals: larger, rectangular elements that grab users’ attention with striking graphics
- Hotspots: small circles that flash softly to illuminate one particular part of the UI
- Driven actions: focus the user’s attention on a specific action such as a click or an input
Other patterns include:
- Lightboxes: similar to modals, but smaller and less disruptive to the user’s sense of flow
- Banners: long, thin, rectangular elements displaying an important message, often at the top or bottom of the screen.
- Sliders: similar to banners, but they slide in from the sides of the screen
So you now know what a website tour consists of, but why should your business care about creating one, when there are so many other things you could be spending your time on?
Why use product tours in your user onboarding process?
Website tours reduce Time to Value
It’s in the commercial interests of all SaaS businesses to ensure that their customers experience value from their products as soon as possible.
Partly, this is due to the high-dopamine, low attention span world that we live in.
But it’s also about fulfilling the promises you make to your users. If they’ve come to your app to experience a particular benefit, they’re likely to churn if they don’t receive what they were looking for.
So imagine if you signed up for a new product and were greeted with an empty state like this:
Not exactly very motivating, is it?
By contrast, social media scheduling tool Kontentino greets new customers to their app in a friendly, engaging way:
And they follow this welcome screen with two tooltips that guide users towards connecting their social media account and scheduling their first post:
Out of these two examples, I can assure you that Kontentino’s customers will be the ones more likely to stick around and experience value.
Customers that experience a website tour are more likely to activate
Arguably the most important milestone in any new user onboarding journey, activation is the moment when a customer personally experiences the value of your product for the first time.
A typical product tour is designed to highlight the features that are most important to each particular user segment.
Generally, this is achieved by giving the user a checklist of tasks to work through, like this:
By the time the customer has worked through the checklist, activation is almost certain.
If you want to create custom events for your app that will help your customers to activate, get a Userpilot demo today!
User onboarding product tours drive more user retention
Imagine you’re a new user who’s using a web app for the first time and you’re overwhelmed at the amount of value you receive.
You had signed up to find a way to organize your team’s work projects more effectively, and the product tour you experience shows you multiple ways of doing just that.
You experience the core value of the product through engaging with different features.
Do you leave and check out competing products?
Of course not!
Since it’s given you exactly what you wanted and the website tour made it so easy to use, there’s a good chance you’ll stay with this app for a long time.
From the perspective of the SaaS business who made this app, this translates into a high retention rate and multiple recurring subscription payments.
Now that I’ve got your attention…
Top tips for effective website tours
Every product tour is different, but there are some best practices that can be applied to just about any SaaS business, regardless of niche.
Don’t code your product walkthroughs from scratch
If this is your first SaaS product, it might be tempting to think that you can easily create a bootstrap tour on your own.
Now imagine that multiplied by the number of UI elements in your entire product tour.
But that’s not all!
Your developers will also need to edit your tooltips every time your product marketers want to run a product experiment, perhaps to change the tooltip’s color or shape to see if that affects performance.
Maybe you have investors with deep pockets, but given how expensive developers are and how little time they normally have, that sounds like a risky strategy to me.
A better strategy is to use code-free user onboarding software like Userpilot. That way, your product marketers can build product tours to their hearts’ content, without having to bother your devs.
But don’t take my word for it. Get a Userpilot demo today to see how it works!
Ensure your website tour is interactive
Do you remember that boring old professor at college that used to lecture you back in the day?
I’m prepared to bet that he lectured students 30 years ago in exactly the same way. Right?
The worst thing you can do is to create a product tour like that. I’m talking about a website tour that
- goes through the same product features
- in the same order
- to every single customer, regardless of use case
- in a dry, non-interactive way
This is called a linear product tour. And users consistently hate them!
This is why Pendo’s tooltip-based product tours don’t work, by the way. They’re just too linear and repetitive.
A better approach is to create an interactive walkthrough, like Kommunicate did here:
To the user, this feels more like a two-way dialogue than a boring lecture.
The product tour asks them to try out one of the core features, the user does so at their own pace, and then they get served with another interactive task that’s directly linked to their particular use case.
Don’t forget to segment your users and personalize your website tours
As we mentioned earlier, what your customers find valuable about your product tour is subjective.
It will depend entirely on their particular use case. For example, if your product is an SEO tool:
- Senior management will look at the bigger picture of their business
- SEO managers will be interested in higher-level analytics to see how their team is performing
- Link builders will generally only care about specific metrics such as domain authority and domain reputation
So it would be foolish to serve the same website tour to each of these user segments.
Segment your users, and deliver an individualised product tour to each segment.
A great place to segment is on the welcome screen. You can ask your users questions that assess how they want to use your product, and then use software like Userpilot to personalize the subsequent product tour based on their answers.
This is how Postfity segmented their users:
If you want to see how Userpilot can help you segment your customers, get a Userpilot demo today.
Website tour examples that follow best practices
Now that you know what a website tour is and what the signs of a good tour are, let’s look at some guided tour examples from other businesses.
Website tour example #1: Rocketbots
Rocketbots have a web app that allows you to connect all your messaging systems on one platform.
After the user logs in, they initially see this welcome screen:
Observe how Rocketbots is addressing me by name and how it’s already looking to personalize my user experience at this stage of the process.
This form is also extremely minimalistic, which shows that Rocketbots want to keep their website tour brief and get their users to activate as quickly as possible.
Once you’re done with the welcome page, the software serves you with an onboarding checklist, which looks like this:
It’s notable that the checklist includes the tasks “Connect a Channel” and “Create a Space.”
These are the two most important activation tasks that Rocketbots requires of its users.
Their software won’t work if you don’t have a “space” to put all your inboxes in, and you won’t experience any value until you’ve connected your first inbox (or “channel”) to your space.
Rocketbots used Userpilot to create a series of tooltips that walk users through these two activation tasks.
Here’s what the tooltips look like for adding your first channel:
Once this is complete, activation won’t be far away.
Website tour example #2: Tallyfy
Tallyfy is a project management tool. It has two main functionalities: documenting business processes, and then automating them.
Tallyfy’s tour consists of the following two tasks, both of which require action from the user:
The first task is simple enough. Simply follow the instructions and click “Open.”
The second task is rather more playful. If you click “Open,” you’re asked to choose between sand, bacon or cheese.
Adding a light touch of gamification is a great way that Tallyfy keeps its users engaged.
Once you’re done with these two trial tasks, Tallyfy finishes up by prompting you to create your own task.
There’s just the one CTA here, so it’s very clear where to go next after this website tour.
It seems to me like Tallyfy have listened to their user feedback and discovered that their product tour needn’t be any more complicated than this in order to get users to activate.
Website tour example #3: Demio
Demio is a webinar hosting service.
Their website tour is perhaps the very definition of interactivity. You are asked to join a fake webinar, and then handed over the reins to control it.
The webinar initially looks like this:
When the host passes control to you, you’re given dummy data and a slideshow to ensure that you have something to talk about.
If you’re anxious that this is some kind of a test, fear not! There is a fake audience who will chat in the sidebar and appreciate whatever you say!
There’s an element of playfulness to this website tour which makes it memorable.
And since it’s a fake webinar, there’s no risk to you if things go wrong. So it will be good practice for when you come to deliver a real webinar to real users.
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be that you consider using Userpilot to build your website tour!
It really is so much faster and cheaper than coding everything yourself, and Userpilot has templates for all the UI elements you’ll need.
Get a demo today and you’ll see what I mean.