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Announcing Product Tours: A new way to create powerful, personalized user onboarding

Director of Product Management, Intercom

Brian Donohue

@brian_donohue

Senior Product Manager, Intercom

Patrick Andrews

Main illustration: Tim Gilligan

There’s a pattern that’s all too common in our industry – you build a rock-solid product, spend a lot of cash and effort attracting people to discover that product, but then fall down at the crucial point of helping your customers actually find value.

Getting users to discover that value from day one is what great onboarding is all about, but so many of us struggle to ensure our onboarding is as good as our core product. The result of falling into this trap? Poor retention. If you don’t help your customers see value quickly, they won’t stick around, and for a subscription business, poor retention is nothing short of poisonous – it will slowly, but reliably, kill your business.

Interactive, personalized and relevant onboarding

Intercom has long been a leader in the onboarding space, with best-in-class in-app messaging to engage your customers from sign-up to success. Today, we’re launching Product Tours to help you take your onboarding and retention to the next level.

We’ve made it easy to create an engaging, interactive, personalized and relevant onboarding experience that gives your customers the best chance to get to that “aha” moment – the point at which they actually experience the value of what you’ve built.

Product Tours are a deceptively straightforward solution.

1. They enable you to create interactive guides to walk new sign-ups through the steps to get started.

 

Multi-step pointer messages in a Product Tour

2. And they provide a great way to spotlight new features by letting you announce and highlight what’s new in your product.

Intercom Product Tours: A pointer message announcing a new feature

A pointer message announcing a new feature

These look pretty familiar, right? These are, deliberately, very common design patterns, but Product Tours hide a lot of entirely new power within those familiar patterns. So here’s why we’re so excited about Product Tours.

Sans serif, sans designer, sans engineer

With Product Tours, you need to steal zero minutes from your designers and engineers. We’ve sweated all the details to make it easy for you to build polished, engaging tours, straight out of the box.

Above all, there are no awkward plug-ins required – once you have our Messenger installed on your site, you can take advantage of the nifty features that piggy-back on that code. This allows you to easily create an interactive onboarding playground on top of your site or app.

 

Tours are extremely easy to build

But we haven’t sacrificed power for ease-of-use. You can create tours that are:

  • Multi-page: so you can create a coherent tutorial across multiple parts of your app.
  • Click-to-advance: so you can make your tours interactive and have customers click on your UI to advance to the next step. The best way to learn how to use a product is by doing, not seeing.
  • Auto-scroll: a slick experience to automatically scroll to the right part of the page to display the next step.

One of the dirty secrets of creating in-app pointers is that they can be brittle. It’s hard to anticipate what parts of your UI will actually be visible to all your customers, so you might inadvertently build a tour that won’t always display. We can’t automatically fix this for you, but we can help you fix it – we’ve built in immediate error reporting to make it easy to spot which part of your tours have issues:

Intercom Product Tours: Immediate error reporting prevents tours from breaking

Immediate error reporting prevents tours from breaking

The key point is you don’t need to tie up any of your engineer or designer’s time to do all of this. And because it’s easy, you can create loads of Product Tours with minimal effort.

The benefits are felt immediately. Seth Greenlaw, the Community Manager at ViewPointCloud, saw significant advantages right away:

“Product Tours allowed us to save hundreds of development hours compared to a custom-built solution. Our support team is empowered to make changes and add new tours as our platform evolves”

Personalize your onboarding with video

At Intercom, our mission is to make internet businesses personal, and in pursuing that goal, we’re introducing something entirely new: video tours.

 

Inject personality with video

Video tours let you explain your product as if you’re right there beside your customers. It’s like being able to give a live demo, but with bite-sized chunks of content that keep your customers in control. You can inject your product with personality, give color commentary and simply humanize that initial experience.

Video tours are a first-class product. They’re full-bleed, can include captions, and subtly introduce audio – they don’t force audio on your customers, but once they’re unmuted, the rest of the experience is fluid and natural. We believe these could be the next big thing in onboarding.

Seriously high engagement; as in 7x high

We’ve been delighted with the engagement rates our customers have seen with Product Tours. During the beta, our customers saw on average a stellar 64% engagement rate, as measured by users who progress to the second step after starting a multi-step tour.

For beta customers who were also sending out email and in-app messages, we were amazed to see that Product Tours had a 7x engagement improvement over email and a 6x improvement over in-app messages. This speaks to the power of our interactive, show-don’t-tell design.

Why is engagement so high? We think it’s because Product Tours put your customers in control – there’s no commitment to finish, but the interaction makes them compelling. And we demonstrate just how compelling they can be – right now, our reports show completion rates, and soon we’ll enable goals (so you can measure impact on adoption) and individual step performance (so you can optimize your tour design).

Our beta customers are already seeing that ultimate value. In the words of Andy Allen, Hike SEO co-founder:

“After implementing Product Tours, we found that new users who took the tour activated at 4x our existing rate”

The Intercom platform gives tours superpowers

Beyond the elegant ease of use and the personality that video offers, it’s the Intercom platform that really super-charges what you can do with tours.

1. Target and personalize

Just as you’d expect, because Intercom stores all your customer information and can track their behavior, you can effectively segment your tour audience, personalize a tour’s content, and deliver a tour at the right time and place for a seamless customer experience that meets their unique needs.

Intercom Product Tours: Precisely target the tours to the needs of your users

Precisely target the tours to the needs of your users

2. Conversational onboarding is now a reality with Custom Bots

If you have the data you need for targeting, then the above ability means you’re all set. But often you don’t, because it’s deceptively hard to figure out what exactly your customers hope to use your product for.

So what’s the solution? Just ask them! Custom Bots give you the ability to easily create a conversational flow to capture a new user’s intent and then send them on the relevant tour directly inside the conversation.

 

Custom Bots trigger specific tours depending on the context

So rather than creating a naive, one-size-fits-all approach, you can create multiple tours that hone in on the different use cases your product serves. After all, relevance is the difference between “aha!” and “meh.” Even better, you’ll now have that data stored in Intercom so you can tailor a whole campaign around their particular use case.

3. Use in multi-channel campaigns with Messages

You can also insert tours in in-app messages and emails, which means you can use them in sophisticated multi-channel onboarding campaigns. And you can give customers proactive guidance that keeps them out of the support inbox.

4. Answer Bot automatically holds your customer’s hands

We all try to build a product so intuitive that no customer ever asks “How do I…”, but we all know that’s how elusive that ideal really is. So Answer Bot can now not only directly answer your customers’ questions, but it can actually walk them through the answer as well.

 

Answer Bot can walk your users through tours

This actually feels like a little bit of magic when it happens – this truly is the power of automation. Combined with the ease of creating tours, this feature will inspire you to create loads of tours so you can stop answering those basic questions.

5. Insert in the Inbox

And if you don’t use Answer Bot to automate the launch of specific tours, you can still enable your sales and support teams to speed up their conversations by sending tours directly into conversations.

Intercom Product Tours: Teams can insert tours into conversations

Teams can insert tours into conversations

As a result, your teams will not have to spend precious time explaining your UI, allowing them to focus on more involved, customer queries instead.

6. Display on the Messenger home screen

Use tours with our Content Showcase Messenger app to make key onboarding tours available on demand to your users.

Product Tours: Showcase relevant tours right in the Messenger

Showcase relevant tours right in the Messenger

7. Links you can share just about anywhere

We also generate unique links that trigger tours from just about anywhere, so you can use it for a low commitment call-to-action in your emails.

Intercom Product Tours: Links to tours can enrich engagement emails

Links to tours can enrich engagement emails

You can also link to tours from your help docs, regardless of whether you use Intercom Articles or another service. And you can link to tours directly inside your product, so the content is contextual and user-triggered, and can be accessed whenever your customers need it. That’s what we’ve done on our Product Tours page:

 

Tours can be triggered from inside your product when necessary

We’ve even added an API that means tours can display almost immediately when you click a link or button inside your product.

Try it for yourself for free

We’ve built Product Tours to be an antidote for the poison of low retention. Now it’s easy to build engaging, interactive tours, and with the full power of the Intercom platform, you can make them targeted, relevant and timely. We think Product Tours will be a huge step forward for so many teams who struggle to put as much love into their onboarding and activation efforts as they put into their product itself.

See for yourself what it’s like to build a tour:

You can try building your own tour on your site without any commitment. See just how easy it is, and how powerful.

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