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Best practices for using Product Tours
Best practices for using Product Tours

Send your product tours to the right people, with the right content, for maximum engagement.

Beth-Ann Sher avatar
Written by Beth-Ann Sher
Updated over a week ago

We’ve put together some advice from customer learnings, and our own experience using Product Tours in Intercom. This guide should help you show customers around your product, highlight new features and support them when they need guidance.

Plan your tour

When should you use a tour?

Tours are ideal for explaining a process that’s achieved in one go, and doesn’t take longer than a few minutes, like ‘Adding a project’. They’re also perfect for providing an overview of an area in your product, like ‘Welcome to the post editor’. And if you want, simply use a single-step tour to point out new features, like ‘Check out our new reports section!’.

Tours aren’t a great fit for documenting longer tasks, or things that don’t take place entirely within your product, like setting up an integration — In these situations, an in-app message with a supporting article from your Help Center is a better fit.

Who is your tour for?

With most products these days there are various states your pages can be in. A new user might see a blank page, where a long-time power user could have a list of projects. If your tour depends on the presence of certain elements, like an existing project, ensure that you only share it with customers who’ve added one. Or better yet, add some sample content to your product’s ‘empty state’.

Describe your tour accurately

Your tour’s name, and its description must be clear and appropriate for users, as they are visible when you share your tour. Avoid using internal jargon or flags like ‘Don’t delete’ or ‘Draft’ etc.

Tour names

Keep tour names as short and concise as possible. There’s no need to include ‘tour’, as the phrase ‘Product Tour’ accompanies every tour you share.

Using a verb at the start of your tour name is a good way to clearly state the tour’s function. We recommend using different verbs for different types of tours. For example,

  • ‘Creating a project’ uses the ‘ing’ form of the verb (present participle) which is more general, and suggests an overview of how to create a project.

  • But, ‘Create a project’ is more specific. It suggests that you will actually have created a project by the end of the tour.

Be mindful of what your tour name implies, and ensure it matches the end result of your tour.

To create a tour where customers complete more complex actions, like typing in fields, or navigating across multiple pages, you can choose how each step in the tour should advance.

You can even define custom text for the button to progress the tour. Learn more about designing a Product Tour.

Tour descriptions

Tour descriptions should be a value proposition. You should make it clear what problems they can solve, or what they’ll be able to achieve after completing the tour.

Where possible, the description should start with a simple, present-tense verb that describes what the tour will enable you to do, like: track, create, generate, share, etc.

Create engaging messages

You should draft your steps in the Product Tours composer, so you can see how your content appears in context.

While you can choose the relative location of each pointer message, they may adapt to fit in the space available, so you can’t guarantee their location relative to the element they point at (your customers may have different screen sizes, or browser settings). So, you should avoid using directional phrases or emoji in your message, like ‘below’, ‘above’, or ‘👇 👈 👉 ☝️’.

We recommend keeping your messages shorter than 20 words, and made up of max 2 sentences:

  • The first sentence should be value based (i.e. what problem does this feature solve for your customers).

  • The second sentence should be about how to use the feature.

Here’s an example from our tour of Intercom Articles:

  • Value based sentence: “Collections are groups of articles, used to organize your Help Center.”

  • How to use the feature: “You can add your article to a collection here.”

To keep your messages succinct, avoid repeating any text already visible in your product - your message should be supplementary and explanatory.

Images in pointer messages

To keep all the content visible without scrolling, make sure the image and text do not exceed 281px. Each line takes up 20px of space. For example, if you have 3 lines of text, the ideal image height is 281px - 60px = 221px. You can see if your message content will scroll in the tour builder.

Subtract 20px from the image’s height for each additional line you add.

Send the right type of messages

Tours are made up of three message types: Posts, Pointers and Video pointers.

Introduce your tour with a post

Posts take up the centre of the screen, and do not point to a specific element in your product. They are great at the start or end of a tour for messages with longer content or images/videos etc.

Allowing customers to snooze the tour lets them take it at a time that’s right for them.

Guide customers around your product with pointers

These messages point to a specific part of your product. They make up the majority of the steps in a tour. Your users can click ‘Next’, type in a field, or click on the element they’re pointing at to continue.

You can even define custom text for the button to progress the tour. Learn more about designing a Product Tour.

Personally guide customers with video pointers

These messages also point to a specific part of your product, and are great for offering a more personal explanation, while remaining in context. They are perfect for highlighting new features with a single-step tour.

We recommend adding captions for better accessibility. Learn more about using Video pointers. You can also make video pointers larger if they’re particularly detailed. 👌

Celebrate tour completion 🎉

To delight your customers, you can send a shower of confetti on the final step of any product tour:

You can also give your customers the option to restart a tour at any time.

Three powerful formulas for Product Tours

There are many ways in which you can guide customers to success with Product Tours. Here are three popular use cases to build tours for:

  1. Announce new features.

  2. Onboard new customers to your product.

  3. Support customers with step-by-step guides.

Every tour is unique, but we’ve found certain patterns which work well for these situations:

Announce new features

A single pointer, or video pointer is great if you want to draw customers’ attention to a new feature.

The content is brief, contains a value prop for why the customer should click, and what they’ll be able to achieve when they do.

GIFs or images are a great fit to explain the new feature visually, and make the message more engaging. This could also be done with rich text (bold formatting, emoji etc), or a video.

For these simple announcements, you may want to hide the sender. You can do this easily when building your tour.

Onboard new customers to your product

Onboarding tours are great to help new users get started, and familiarize them with your product.

They generally go something like this:

Start: Post message - Welcome your new users to your product, and encourage them to take the tour by highlighting what it will allow them to do. Add a video, or image of one of your teammates to keep things personal.

Middle: 4-5 pointer messages - Highlight the important areas of your product so users can find their way around. E.g. ‘Here is the… projects tab, task list, team chat, reports, and your settings’

End: Post message - Start with a clear call to action to help your customers take their next step, and end with links to further documentation or how to get in touch with you.

Support your customers with step-by-step guides.

Your support team can use Product Tours to walk customers through more complex processes. There’s no need for an explanation up front, as these tours will likely be issued in direct response to a question. Keep them short and to the point to quickly provide the important information.

The majority of the tour should be ‘click to progress’ pointers to navigate easily through menus to the right places.

Emojis are perfect to keep the pointers engaging, while staying concise. 👍

Wrap things up with a post message, including a value proposition for why this feature is useful to the customer, and links to further resources/guidance.

Check your tour’s performance regularly

After you launch your tour, check for issues regularly in the first few days to identify anything you may need to fix. Find out how to track and resolve your tour’s issues here.

You should also check how your tour is performing, and find which steps to optimize for increased engagement.

More resources:


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