How to Create an Effective Product Tour: 4 Key Tips

A product tour should be simple, focus on your product’s value, and invite users to explore product features on their own. These tools can help you get started.

Daniel Ternyak
January 29, 2023

Learning a new software can be a daunting task. Between the new features and unfamiliar navigation, first-time users can easily get stressed without help from your team. But with an interactive product tour — a walkthrough that introduces new users to your SaaS product — you can delight users, prove your value, and increase product activation from the start.

We'll explain the benefits of offering product tours, then provide some tips and tools you can use to create your own great product tours.

Why Offer a Product Tour?

No matter how tech-savvy a user is, getting their bearings on a brand new platform can be difficult. Additionally, SaaS products offer plenty of choice — from customization options to pages to explore — which can overwhelm new users and keep them from being successful on the platform. The power of a product tour is its ability to guide users toward the best first steps, so they can gain value from your software as quickly as possible.

When users no longer encounter a steep learning curve in order to understand the value your product provides, this can increase:

  • Activation: The amount of users committing to paid plans
  • Feature adoption: The number of features your clients use 
  • User engagement: The frequency of user interaction with your platform
  • Client retention: The amount of people who continue subscribing to your product

How to Build Effective Product Tours: 4 Tips

Not all product tours are equally effective. When they're too complex, for example, your clients may tune out before the user onboarding experience is even close to over. To make your product tutorial as effective as possible, keep these four key tips in mind:

1. Keep It Simple

The best product tours tend to be simple. In fact, including as little as five clear steps or fewer in your onboarding flow is usually ideal. Users may not finish product tours that are too long or complex, which means they're not getting clued into the functionality that could help them the most.

As you map your onboarding process, identify up to five steps that are most essential for creating a positive user experience. Any additional steps should always be removed or split into a separate, optional product tour.

2. Focus on Creating Value

product tour: Smiling woman using her laptop while sitting on her couch

The primary purpose of product tours is unlocking value for your consumers. The faster your new users discover how much their product can help them, the faster their digital adoption will come. But for simplicity’s sake, you don't want to explain every single feature. Instead, identify your SaaS product's core value and emphasize it throughout the tour.

For example, let's say your product is a photo editing software. The core value of your mobile app may be its convenience. When creating your product tour, you'll want to highlight up to five steps that are essential for editing a photo fast. For example, you may highlight your photo upload feature, filters, and photo sharing features.

Not sure what your core value is? Consider your target audience. Ask yourself what problems you help them solve and why they continuously use your product over time.

3. Encourage Small Actions

A great product tour guides your users toward activation, but immediately selling your product is a no-go. Getting too salesy from the start is a surefire way to get your walkthrough ignored by the users you want to help. Instead of trying to win the ultimate conversion, each step in your product tour should only push users towards small but essential actions on your platform. For example, on a social media management tool, you might drive users to schedule their first post.

When each action is meaningful and increases value, user interest will naturally go up. By the end of your product tour, you'll be able to suggest a paid subscription without being too pushy. For your newly paid subscribers, consider offering an additional product tour to guide them through the features they unlock.

4. Give Users a Chance to Explore

An effective product tour offers guidance, not a lecture. Users don't want to get stuck in a walkthrough that explains every feature in detail. Rather, they want you to point them in the right direction, so they can fully experience your SaaS product for themselves. When you leave room for self-discovery, user engagement may increase.

3 Types of Product Tours to Consider (Plus Tools to Create Them)

product tour: Smiling man using his laptop

You've identified the steps that you want to highlight in your product tour. Now, it’s time to consider how you go about putting your walkthrough together. First, you need to determine what you want your product tour to look like, so you can select a software that offers these features or templates. 

Here are three product tour styles you can consider and software tools that can help create them:

1. Tooltips

Tooltips are pop-up boxes that highlight specific features on your platform. Often, it appears as a small rectangle with informative text inside, pointing at a specific part of the interface.

This user interface (UI) element is highly interactive. Each time you highlight a feature, you can have users try out that feature before proceeding. Alternatively, if action isn't necessary at the moment, you can allow users to simply click onto the next step to avoid being pushy.

Tooltips, which are supported by tools like Userpilot and Appcues, are one of the most common features in product tours because they're minimalistic but still noticeable. You’ll get the benefit of grabbing users’ attention without completely interrupting the user experience. Plus, they add context to your walkthrough by helping users visualize where they need to click to utilize a product feature.

2. Live Walkthroughs

Face-to-face time with customers can do wonders for your product activation rate, especially if you focus on high-ticket sales. A live walkthrough allows you to customize your tour for your user, focusing on features that they'd uniquely find valuable each time.

To do so, you can offer a live chat pop-up like ServiceBell on your website. When your users are available, they can call your customer support or sales team — no prior appointment needed. During your call, you can take advantage of ServiceBell's screen takeover feature, so you can guide users through your SaaS product through their own browsers. You can focus on the features that would be of highest value to whoever you’re chatting with.

3. Hotspots

If you want to offer a subtler type of product tour, hotspots are a great option for driving feature adoption and engagement. They nudge users to try out or learn more about features by using small icons (like arrows) or by lightly animating key buttons for first-time users.

Though hotspots aren't as noticeable as tooltips, they can boost self-discovery. Users won't feel like they're being forced to take action, as they can ignore the steps that aren't relevant or valuable to them.

Tools like Chameleon support this newer type of product tour.

Create Better Onboarding Experiences With Product Tours

Product tours are your opportunity to prove the value of your SaaS product. They allow you to show users exactly how they can benefit from your platform, which can drive them toward activation, feature adoption, and long-term loyalty. 

To maximize results from your product tours, don't forget to keep your onboarding process simple and encourage small actions before a sale.

If live walkthroughs are your ideal product tour type, sign up for a free ServiceBell plan to offer the most personalized, face-to-face product tours possible.