3 key reasons why a Product Walkthrough has a negative impact on the User Onboarding Experience

As I was growing up, I was always told that ‘hate is a very strong word’. I guess I shall stay true to my roots and diplomatically say that I really dislike the product walkthroughs that I am often subjected to when I sign up for a trial of new software. I think as humans in the internet age, we can all say that we’ve been there, whether signing up for a personal or a business solution. We arrive at the signup page, enter our name, email address and a password to start the trial. We walk through a few basic steps in the setup wizard to get the ball rolling, nothing more than a few minutes, that’s fine. We come to the end of the setup wizard and I think ‘Yes, now I can really get started’ and then the dreaded greyed and dimmed screen appears - a little window saying ‘Welcome to xyz James, start your walkthrough now!' appears. Having been in this situation so so many times in the past, I instantly look for the ‘skip’ or ‘not now’ button that will get me away from my dreaded pet-hate, and now I can’t see one. Oh NO, it’s yet another one of those mandatory tours. I suppress my frustration and prepare for my usual course of action of pressing Next Next Next through the whole walkthrough, not reading a thing because I know I will both remember and learn almost nothing from this pointless experience - end it so that I can get on with actually engaging with my free trial.

From reading the above, you probably think I am being overly dramatic, or that I am making a mountain out of a molehill from my experiences, but please hear me out. Below I share my reasons on why I think walkthroughs add little value to the users onboarding experience when they are starting a free trial:

Too much information all at once
These walkthroughs generally comprize of highlighting buttons or features across the UI, accompanied by a small window explaining what each of these features will help you to accomplish. When being shown what 20, 30, or maybe even more than 50 buttons do in the space of five to ten minutes, the odds that a user even will remember what two or three of these buttons help them achieve are very small (not even to mention being able to find them in the interface after the walkthrough has ended). The walkthrough then ends, and there is no more assistance with features. Okay then. What’s next? They are presented with all of this information on the key features and expected to remember this all at once, and after the walkthrough, they are thrown in the deep end, and that’s it. It seems that the concept of showing them many or all features in a tour seems a little futile, wouldn’t you agree?

Cuts the user off when their interest is peaked
When a user signs up for a trial, their interest has peaked, and they have at least some level of determination to get their account set up to see if your SaaS platform is something that will make their lives easier. When they have just signed up, is it a wise move to distract them from their natural course of interacting with the software immediately? Does it seem like a good idea to show them a large volume non-action oriented information for a few mins? Those few minutes may be enough time for the trialist to get bored and decide to trial a competitor. Each step forward, no matter how small, that a trialist takes on their own, increases their likelihood of converting to a paid plan. Immediately cutting the user off from taking these small steps in the early stages when their interest is greatest seems a little unintuitive, and potentially damaging when you consider the effect that this has across all trialists in the early stages. Even if it’s a tour they can skip, the distraction of the popup tour may have a negative impact on the concentration of the user.

No action-oriented engagement steps
During these tours, the users are told what they can do, and how they can do it - but not actually allowed to try and engage with any of these features until after the tour. They might come across some killer feature that your SaaS platform offers, realise that this is exactly what they need, but aren’t actually able to take the plunge and use this feature immediately. Also, they may have difficulty in locating this feature once the walkthrough ends. They may have to contact support to ask how they can find and use this again - they may be waiting for a response for a few hours, and by the time they receive the response with the information they needed, their interest has significantly waned and it will be harder to get that user engaged with the trial. Most business intelligence teams will tell you that the chance of activating a trialist who has not engaged on the first day of the trial is very small. Any trialists who engage for the first time after day 1 will usually do so because they have been guided through a more labour-intensive user onboarding journey, i.e. a sales agent has reached out and assisted with setup. It is difficult to frequently depend on this if you are trying to achieve scale.

For best results, an action-oriented approach, that guides the user through engaging with and completing the most important events associated with trialist conversion, should be considered - perhaps a small widget that contains the most important user events, that the user can complete in their own time, as they navigate through the software.

Traitly offers powerful prediction algorithms to determine what key actions a user needs to complete in your trial in order to convert to a paid plan, based on what actions successful users have completed in the past. For more useful information on the topics of conversion and retention, subscribe to our blog below.

James Moran

James Moran

James is the Customer Success Lead at Traitly. Previously, he worked at xSellco, a fast-growing SaaS company. Given his engineering background, he takes analytical approaches toward customer success.

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3 key reasons why a Product Walkthrough has a negative impact on the User Onboarding Experience
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