In-App Guidance: Pointing Users In the Right Direction at the Right Time

Ever felt lost in a product? Like you’ve got all the gear but no idea how to use it? You’re not alone. In-app guidance is the solution for you (and your users).

Ella Webber
10 min read
In-App Guidance: Pointing Users In the Right Direction at the Right Time

Product tours, product guides, product walkthroughs—whatever you want to call it, in-app guidance makes your product better. It removes friction from the user journey and enables your users to find what they’re looking for with ease. It pre-empts issues and provides contextual guidance. Consider it the signpost at a crossroads.

At a time when things could go awry, in-app guidance steps in and saves the day. Today, we’re looking at why it’s important and how you should approach it. Read on to find out what in-app guidance applied the right way can do for your product.

  • In-app guidance consists of providing users with the support that enables them to use your product as seamlessly as possible. 

  • It includes product tours, tooltips, onboarding checklists, and self-serve support options you give to users throughout their journey.

  • Effective in-app guidance anticipates and removes friction for users. 

  • Keep in mind that it isn't just for new users, it’s also key for supporting existing users. A combination of high-touch and low-touch onboarding is essential throughout the user journey. 

  • Let’s go through the steps that will help you make an effective strategy and create successful in-app guides for your users. Shall we?

What is In-app guidance?

In-app guidance consists of providing users with the support that enables them to use your product as seamlessly as possible. It includes product tours, tooltips, onboarding checklists, and self-serve support options you give to users throughout their journey.

While the ultimate goal is to create intuitive products, users will inevitably run into friction when using your SaaS solution. Providing contextual help through in-app guidance ensures that users are able to overcome issues and continue using your product. 

What makes in-app guides successful?

Let’s consider the following scenario to highlight why in-app guidance is successful.

You recently started using a new invoicing solution and—until now—everything’s been going to plan. You’re trying to view transactions from the past year but can’t seem to figure it out. You’re getting impatient. How hard could it be?

In order to find answers to your issue, you’ve got a couple of options. Which of these would you prefer when looking for a quick fix?

  1. Contact customer support

  2. Leave the app and look online for solutions

  3. An in-app prompt directing you to the transaction history page

We know what we’d pick—and we’re not alone in that. In fact, 67% of SaaS users prefer self-serve support. In other words, your customers would be grateful if you provided them with in-product guidance when they need it the most.

🦎 Tip: With Chameleon, you can quickly create Tours to help users find their answers quickly and understand the value of your product. Here’s an example of a Tour built with Chameleon that would be relevant to our scenario from above.    

What makes in-app guidance so successful is that it reduces friction and improves the user experience when using new products or features. It needs to add value. Here is Jay Filiatrault, Chameleon's Head of Growth, explaining it in under 30 seconds.

Always provide value to the user

When done well, in-app guidance appears before users encounter problems. This involves anticipating user problems and proactively addressing them—but we’ll have more on that shortly.

For now, let’s look at why you should care about in-app guides.

Why is it important to have engaging in-app guides?

To understand the importance of engaging in-app guides, we first need to consider the user experience. 

Do users want to face scenarios like the one mentioned above, day in, day out? Probably not.

Do they want to feel like they’ve been thrown into the deep end with no floaties when using your software? Unlikely.

Do they want to go through hundreds of documents and hours of training to get to grips with your product? Certainly not.

Users want to start using your product with as little friction as possible. A strong user onboarding flow is a great start, but you never stop onboarding users.

🦎 Tip: To master user onboarding and start crafting exceptional flows, download our User Onboarding Handbook right here 👇

User Onboarding Handbook: Craft Exceptional Flows

It's your go-to guide to user onboarding – backed by behavioral science and packed with tips, tools, and tactics you can use to level up your onboarding game. We'll send the eBook straight to your inbox.

We use your email to send you new blog posts and product updates.

In-app guidance is one of the ways you continue onboarding customers throughout their time using your product. And you want your users to enjoy using your product.

That's why in-app guides are great for:

  • User activation: In-app guidance helps users engage with your product to its full potential. It’s the moment when they’re engaging with the product in the way it most benefits them.

  • Customer satisfaction: As we demonstrated in the earlier scenario, in-app guidance increases user satisfaction by giving customers what they need, when they need it. 

  • Customer retention: Happy users that understand your product are users that stick around. In an industry where MRR is everything, retaining customers and minimizing churn should be a top priority.

User engagement is a big ask when you’re one of the thousands of products vying for your users’ attention, but excellent in-app guidance helps users separate the good from the great.

No matter where users fall on the product adoption curve, in-app guidance is key for ensuring confident product adoption.

Before you begin, make a strategy

Before you begin implementing in-app guidance in your product, you want to consider a few questions.

What are your goals?

First, consider what you want to achieve and how you’re going to measure it. It’s impossible to calculate improvement without a benchmark, so make sure you understand the current user experience.

You’ll want to identify key metrics to follow and conduct some UX research to gather qualitative data on the existing user experience. We’ll have more on both of these later.

What teams are involved?

Next up, consider who you’ll need to involve to get the job done. These teams will likely be interested and involved in implementing in-app guidance solutions:

  • Research team

  • Product team

  • Design team

  • Marketing team

  • Customer Success team

  • Customer Education team

That’s a lot of coordination depending on the departments at your organization. Each team brings different insights and knowledge to the project and ensuring everyone knows their role is key to successful in-app guidance.

How can you provide in-app guidance?

Now it’s time to take a look at the in-app guidance options available to you. It’s all good and well knowing that in-app guidance is a must, but how exactly do you provide users with contextual support?

Here are three ways you can provide in-app support to users:

  1. Tours: Create flows that guide users through new products and new features

  2. Tooltips: Provide in-line help to unblock users when they encounter issues

  3. Launchers: Add in-app widgets that guide users through product discovery

You can also support users with Customer Education content including in-app knowledge bases and help centers. Whilst it might not be direct in-app guidance, it’s helpful for supporting users with more complex issues. 

Using a combination of these solutions will ensure users are able to satisfactorily engage with your product.

Do you have the tools to make it happen?

Finally, consider how you’re going to turn your in-app guidance ideas into a reality. There are ample in-app engagement solutions available—the right one for you depends on your specific wants and needs.

You want an intuitive solution that offers highly-customizable in-app guidance options. Ideally, you also want your chosen solution to provide behavioral analytics, so you can understand how effective your in-app guidance is. 

Another consideration is the quality of support—some issues can’t be solved with in-app guidance and knowledge bases. Find a tool with a dedicated support team ready to help guide you through issues.

🦎 Tip: You can build in-app guides with Chameleon, no code needed. You can also rack their performance, analyze user behavior, and uncover more insights by integrating your data with product analytics tools. 

Build in-app guides to retain users

Chameleon makes it easy for product teams to create product tours, tooltips, onboarding checklists, and in-app surveys without code.

How to build effective in-app guides?

Effective in-app guides anticipate and remove friction for users. In order to build the best user experience and in-app guidance possible, you’ll need to follow some key steps.

Remember, in-app guidance isn't just for new users, it’s also key for supporting existing users. A combination of high-touch and low-touch onboarding is essential throughout the user journey. 

Let's go over four simple steps for building great in-app guidance.

Step 1: Segment your users

When users sign up, ask them for some basic info on their roles and jobs to be done. This enables you to create and trigger in-app guides that are targeted at specific users and highlight their specific pain points and solutions.

For example, consider our previous scenario. Corporate finance managers are likely to be using an invoicing solution differently from a freelancer. They’ve got different needs, different pain points, and a different approach to how they engage with the software.

Knowing who your users are will enable you to better anticipate specific issues and friction, which then informs your in-app notification and guidance placement, timing, relevancy, and more. 

Ask users for this information right from the get-go, it’s a useful audience demographic to have at your disposal.

Step 2: Conduct UX research

In order to provide relevant in-app guidance to your segmented users, it’s crucial to know what each segment needs. Conducting user research enables you to get a better understanding of how different roles engage with your software, thus enabling you to identify features and functionalities that’ll be of use to them.

Remember, in-app guidance isn’t just for unblocking users—it’s also to help guide them towards solutions they weren’t aware of. You may offer a game-changing solution to a certain segment of users, but they won’t use it if they can’t find it.

Whether you conduct interviews, hold focus groups, or send out surveys, UX research is how you begin to understand your users and how you can best support them.

Step 3: Add tours, tooltips, and in-app widgets to unblock users

Once you’ve got your segments and you know your audience, it’s time to consider how you’ll support them in-product.

Tours, tooltips, and onboarding widgets all provide in-app guidance for users that ensure proactive support throughout the user journey. They provide training to both new and existing users with in-app widgets, banners, modals, and more.

Step 4: Optimize your in-app messaging

Our Benchmark Report has shown there’s definitely a right way to do product guidance. You don’t want lengthy tours and tooltips that do more to drive users away than engage them.

Consider the following when creating in-app guidance prompts.

Tour length: The length of your product walkthroughs matters greatly for completion rates. Our Report shows that tours with three steps are most effective and achieve an impressive 72% completion rate. Adding or removing a step drops the completion rate to 45% and 42% respectively. Include six steps in your tour, and this drops to 23%—far from ideal.

Tour step length: We just discussed tour length, but now we’re looking into the tour step length—the amount of copy you want to include in your tour steps. Our research found that the ideal length for a tour step is 25 words—your copy needs to be clear and compelling to get the message across. Use plain language, and be specific and accurate. That way, users are left with little to no doubt.

Additional media: Finally, consider adding images or videos to your product tours and widgets. Images are a great way of engaging users, and videos are even better. In fact, tours with a video hold your users’ attention for 30 seconds longer than tours that don’t include videos.

The design and styling of your product tours may seem insignificant, but it’s not. Video tutorials, informational images, checklists, and more all improve the user experience and encourage users to continue their journey through your product.

Measure your success and iterate

Attributing improvements in any metric is really tough when it comes to in-app guidance. While it can greatly impact customer retention, satisfaction, and more—it’s really difficult to prove it. 

So leave the traditional SaaS metrics behind and turn to your users for qualitative data. You can ask precise questions that focus on the specifics of your product experience.

There are ample product surveys you can use to gather the insights you need on the in-app experience, such as CSAT, CES, NPS, and more. By altering the questions to ensure they’re feature-specific or action-specific, you can gather insights into how the user experience has improved.

For example, you can use in-app widgets to show surveys to users following an in-app guidance flow. This gets their immediate feedback on your guidance and allows you to learn from users.

You can then reflect on this information alongside your in-app guidance tool engagement analytics to consider the effectiveness of your tours, tooltips, and launchers.

Offer in-app guidance to improve UX

In-app guidance greatly improves the user experience. It reduces churn, increases adoption, and improves customer satisfaction with a customer-centric strategy.

Creating an incredible product isn’t worth much if nobody knows how to use it. In-app guidance takes their hand and shows them the ropes.

If you’re looking to provide 5-star in-app guidance that seamlessly blends with your product and branding, sign up to Chameleon for free. It’s got everything you need from an in-app guidance solution, and plenty more.

Create In-App Guidance That Delights Users

Chameleon offers no-code tools to easily build in-app experiences that look native to your product's styling.

Boost product adoption and
reduce churn

Get started free in our sandbox or book a personalized call with our product experts