How to Create Successful Product Tours? [11 Tactics]

There’s no better onboarding tool letting new users familiarize themselves with your product’s interface. Product tours are usually sets of tooltips (also called contextual tips) that highlight UI elements one by one. You can use them to point out the most important features or to teach people how to go through a process, showing what to do or where to click.

If you’re going for the former, you’ll most likely make the flow progress on a click of the “Next” button. But if you choose the latter, remember that learning by doing is more powerful and move users to the next step when they interact with your product. By making them experience the process first-hand, you have higher chances they’ll actually remember what to do or feel how easy it is.

What’s important, you don’t need to limit yourself to one tour. You can have, e.g., a main walk-through showing new users around the app, and then for each process they need to learn or feature they need to set up—separate tours.

And while having multiple product tours is totally fine, remember not to make them too long or text-heavy as nobody will remember any of it. The aim of product tours is not to explain each icon or link in a menu but rather highlight elements pivotal at this particular moment.

User onboarding product tour tactics

Skip the intro message

Letting people know what to expect from the tour might help you set expectations but during this user onboarding research, I’ve noticed that it felt totally different whenever I was asked to start a flow, compared to being thrown right into it. In the first case, you’re free to decide while in the second it feels like you have no choice and you just go with the flow.

Make it more personal

It’s common knowledge that introducing the human aspect to marketing tends to improve its results. So why don’t you try it out in your product tours too? Add your name and a photo to let users know who’s guiding them and create a more personal connection. And although most user onboarding software doesn’t have this option available out of the box like Intercom, it shouldn’t be that much of a hassle to do it manually.

Add images

a) for even more context

If you feel the text itself won’t be enough to explain what to do, add to your tooltips screenshots showing exactly how users should proceed.

b) to make it more engaging

Of course, images don’t need to have a purely informational role—they can also make your messaging more engaging. Follow Livechat’s onboarding example and add well-designed graphics showcasing your features.

Show progress

Number each step in the flow or add a progress bar to let people know how much is still left.

Use a short survey to personalize further experience

An interesting idea from Pendo, user onboarding software. Because their setup involves a high-friction action (adding their code to your app), they first let users explore other features, and only at the end of the product tour do they introduce their Polls feature, asking if you’re ready to implement the code or if you want to see more. A clever idea!

Add follow-up actions

The end of a product tour doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to do or explore. Don’t leave users in a situation where they don’t know what to do, and suggest the next steps they can take.

Let users replay the tour: 

a) Use “Remind me later”

b) Allow to start the flow over

c) Link to tours from your Resource center

Focus on the bigger story rather than the UI

Not a classic example of a product tour, but I thought it’s worth adding it as a worthwhile alternative. Mixpanel’s user onboarding managers don’t teach you the interface showing where to click. Instead, they help you understand the most crucial concepts, and this way truly empower you to become successful.