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How daPulse used Intercom to increase user engagement by 24%

If you’ve got a complex product with a lot of functionality it can be challenging to onboard new users and get them engaged. One company increased engagement by 24% by using Intercom to send messages at the crucial moments.

What follows is a guest post from Daria Shualy (pictured above), who handles product marketing at daPulse, a project and company management tool, which is also an Intercom customer.

The Staples “Easy” button is every founders’ dream. Don’t we all wish our product was just like that:

  • Self explanatory.
  • With only one function.
  • Gives immediate value.
  • Makes users smile.

Unfortunately, most B2B products are nothing like that, and ours isn’t any different. daPulse — a high-level management tool – is:

  • Not self explanatory.
  • Has many functions (and to complicate things, is completely customizable).
  • Gives value only after some effort on the user’s side.
  • Makes users smile only after some effort on the user’s side.

And that’s why from day one, onboarding new users to daPulse was anything but easy. In the early days, when users first entered daPulse, it was a bit like entering a ghost playground. There were all these rides, but you didn’t know how to use them and you were alone. The reason was, that to start enjoying daPulse, a user needs to build their first Board (the high level view of the company’s goals) and to invite other stakeholders. It’s a lot to ask from a new user and is contrary to everything that’s taught about onboarding: give first, ask later.

For users who do get past this stage — who build Boards and add team members — engagement levels are very high. On Intercom this reads as a high number of Sessions and a short time since Last Seen. These are the users who convert into paying customers after the 30 day free trial. But our challenge was how do we get them there? This is what we did:

‘Do Things That Don’t Scale’ put to work

The first step we took, was to follow Paul Graham’s Do Things That Don’t Scale advice. We did it by creating an Intercom Auto Message email, asking users who signed up what they expected daPulse to do for them. This email gets a 60% open rate and a 9% response rate. What we get out of it, apart from learning whether users understand what they can expect from daPulse, is an opportunity to set up a live demo call. These calls increase conversion to usage, and therefore to paying, dramatically. But demo calls don’t scale.

Discover Our MVE – Minimal Viable Effort

And while demo calls don’t scale, they did teach us what we were looking for. We call it an MVE – Minimal Viable Effort. It’s the smallest effort the user needs to make in order to get substantial value. The demo calls led us to believe our MVE was creating a Board. So we started tracking the usage of new users as well as the correlation between usage and conversion to paying (we did it using our internal business intelligence tool called BigBrain).

It showed us our educated guess was right – creating a Board — even without inviting anyone — was our MVE. The reason is that by creating a Board you gain clarity. This, for example, is a screenshot of a Shareable Board (a Board you can invite people from outside your company to) that I created for myself. It’s for collaborating with the design studio that’s building our new blog.

At first I was a bit overwhelmed by the mission I took upon myself – creating a new blog that will be an independent body of content. But the second I completed the Board I relaxed, because I got clarity. Suddenly I knew exactly how it was all going to happen step by step, and it became attainable. Based on this understanding, we created an onboarding experience with a tutorial for creating Boards and a few Board examples. But the engagement almost didn’t budge. We needed something more.

Intercom Events to the rescue

With perfect timing, as we were feeling that the onboarding process and the MVE needed an extra push, along came Intercom Events. We seized the opportunity to experiment with it. Based on our new learnings, we created two Events, two notifications sent to users. The Events are around the MVE.

The first is sent once a user creates their first Board and is about giving the users positive reinforcement about making the minimal effort.

The second is sent right after they’ve added five columns to their first Board, to help them get their reward for making the effort i.e. getting value. In our case getting an entire team motivated and working together as a result of everyone seeing the big picture and understanding where they fit in.

Now we sat back for two weeks and tracked the results of the two Events. In just two weeks we saw a 24% increase in engagement of new users, compared to the customer engagement levels of new users prior to creating the Events. We were thrilled. Intercom enabled us to pinpoint a moment in the onboarding process and turn it into a call to action.

Increase engagement in 4 easy steps with Intercom

Do things that don’t scale: Use Intercom to communicate with your users and find out what’s holding them back.
Find the MVE: From this communication, make an assumption about what’s the MVE – the minimal viable effort – your users need to make to start getting value from your product.
Create two Events around the MVE with two auto-emails or notifications: The first for positive reinforcement on starting to make the effort, and the second to help your users get their reward for making the effort – i.e get value from your product.
Measure the results: You can use intercom Goals and watch as engagement rates rise.

Got A Great Use Case?

If you’ve achieved success with Intercom and would like to share it on our blog, drop a mail to and we’ll get talking.