The Best Digital Adoption Platform For Your Onboarding Needs in 2023

Oh hey, you made it!

I will assume that you need a good digital adoption platform, and if I’m not too far off…

You are in the right place.

The thing is, even though digitalization is a lot faster and more important nowadays than it has ever been, most companies don’t realize how important onboarding is.

When it’s just that they don’t know the difference a quality user experience or digital transformation can make 🤷

But hey, you do!

And I am here to help you make the right decision by going over:

👉 What digital adoption & a digital adoption platform are,

👉 What the benefits of digital adoption platforms are,

👉 Some basics and good strategies in picking the right DAP for you, and

👉 Our selection of the very best digital adoption platforms out there

If you’re looking for the basics of digital adoption, here’s our definitive digital adoption guide 👈

And if you don’t have time for the whole list, here’s the TL;DR ⬇️


👉 Digital adoption is the digital process where users learn to adapt digital tools, new digital technologies, business processes, and/or other digital solutions.

👉 Digital adoption platforms are pieces of software that come with a wide range of features focused on offering users a smooth transition to new technologies, user interfaces, and digital product experiences.

👉 Adopting a good digital adoption platform is beneficial because it can help with: activation and conversion, employee and user training, and feature adoption.

👉 When choosing a DAP for employee digital adoption, it is important to make the difference between complex software in use and heavy documentation to learn.

👉 When choosing a DAP for customer digital adoption, it is important to pay attention to activation & conversion options, user onboarding capabilities, and user engagement.

👉 Our 3 top DAP picks for enterprise, paid, and free are:

Pendo – An all-around tool for a big budget,

UserGuiding – No-code onboarding tool for better in-app experiences,

Shepherd.js – Free, open-source JS library for smaller budgets

Ready? Let’s dive right in 🌊

What is Digital Adoption?

Digital adoption, also referred to as technology adoption or digital transformation, is a term referring to digital processes where users learn to adapt digital tools, new digital technologies, business processes, and/or other digital solutions. This digital adoption process is often performed through app guidance or similar training content for maximum efficiency. Though digital adoption is a term generally used in the context of employee onboarding, it has been recently extended to customer experience and user productivity contexts as well.

What is a Digital Adoption Platform?

A digital adoption platform or in short, DAP, is a piece of software that comes with a wide range of features focused on offering users a smooth transition to new technologies, user interfaces, and digital product experiences. These platforms often provide key features like app guides, training materials, app onboarding tours, and personalized experiences.

Though most digital adoption software is onboarding and software training tools, other tools focused on app surveys and/or user behavior tracking can be mentioned under the term. 

Why Use a Digital Adoption Platform – The Main Benefits

Having found your way to this article, I assume you already know a thing or two about why you might need a digital adoption platform.

But I am here to tell you why it is not a need…

It is a must.

Be it for your SaaS product’s user onboarding process or for employee experience during a change you are going through; DAPs have many benefits.

Here are the main 3 reasons why you need a DAP for your business ⬇️

1- Better activation & conversion

Especially from a user onboarding point of view, a digital adoption platform helps smooth over some important processes during the initial stages of the customer lifecycle, like:

👉 User activation,

👉 User conversion,

👉 User engagement

And thus, digital adoption platforms create a good base for customer retention rates from the get-go.

2- Better training

Seeing DAPs as a digital transformation strategy to train employees, they hold many powerful features to be worthy of the use case.

For example:

👉 Contextual guidance where needed,

👉 Step-by-step guides,

👉 In-app learning opportunities,

👉 Knowledge bases,

👉 Accessible help documentation, and

👉 Self-serve options

Are just a few of the advantages of using digital adoption platforms for employee training.

3- Better feature adoption

Both for employee onboarding and for better user experiences, DAPs are helpful after the initial onboarding as well.

Every digital tool is dynamic and gets regular updates.

So, it is essential to find a way of effectively announcing updates and seeing through that feature adoption is successful.

For example, creating this ⬇️ shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

digital adoption platforms example userguiding

And a digital adoption platform can help with that.

Give it a try ⬇️

UserGuiding also offers free migration services for your in-app content created using other software to minimize your switching costs.

Schedule a demo with one of our experts or start your free trial now:

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How to Pick the Right Digital Adoption Platform – The Basics

Before we dive deep, let’s divide our use cases into 2.

As we discussed above, DAPs can be used to train employees AND create in-app user experiences that convert & retain.

And depending on what you are going for, there are characteristics of digital adoption solutions that you need to know about.

Let’s take a look:

1- Employee Digital Adoption

When it comes to employee onboarding, there are often 2 scenarios where a digital adoption platform can come in handy.

Complex Software in Use 💻

Software adoption is a term referring to employees adopting new tools that will come in handy during their workflow.

For example, if you use platforms like Slack, ClickUp, and Notion in your company and your new hires go through a process to learn how to use them, that’s software adoption. 

And when it comes to software adoption, your ideal DAP can be:

👉 Video capturing software like Loom,

👉 App guidance tools that work inside other apps,

👉 Collaboration tools that can help onboarding buddies

Heavy Documentation to Learn 📑

If you don’t use many tools in your workflow, but your product or service requires a big load of specialized knowledge, your new hire might need to go through a fitting onboarding process.

Similarly, if you need them to learn more about your own digital product, you might need them to explore the product on their own and still learn the details hands-on.

If that’s the situation for you, your ideal DAP can be:

👉 A learning management system for storing training materials & creating training modules,

👉 Interactive guide software for hands-on learning,

👉 Knowledge base software for internal documentation

2- Customer Digital Adoption

Customer digital adoption can require a way more intricate strategy for many.

While the use cases can vary greatly, it is best to try and adapt more than one software to effectively increase customer retention rates in the long term. 

So what I’m about to list are preferably bundled up for more effective digital adoption ⬇️

Increasing Conversion & Activation

Digital adoption in the customer and user context often start at the conversion and activation stage.

And if you are looking to succeed in these stages, it is important that you use the right strategies and DAPs.

The ideal DAP for you can be:

👉 Chatbot & live chat software that can be used on landing pages

👉 Product tour software for initial onboarding, especially for products with freemiums and free trials

Better User Onboarding

Talking about initial onboarding, it is crucial that you are well-equipped to onboard your users, no matter the stage they are in on the customer journey.

Also, keep in mind that user onboarding flows need to be highly interactive and engaging as well as the right fit for your target audience.

Your ideal DAP can be:

👉 Interactive guide software for hands-on learning,

👉 Video onboarding software for if your target audience might potentially be visual learners,

👉 Demo software if your customer base is small and has high-touch requirements

Higher Engagement

If you are looking for a digital adoption platform to help ease the load of user engagement off of your shoulders, your DAP also has specific features just for that need.

Given that you are handling activation and onboarding already, your ideal DAP might be:

👉 Popup message software for quick in-app updates,

👉 Good old email campaign tools like MailChimp

Now, if what you need has a size and shape in your head, we can move onto the fun part!

Let’s take a look at:

Top Digital Adoption Solutions For You – Free, Open Source & Paid

Now, I told you already that if you are here looking for a DAP solution, I assume you know a thing or two about digital adoption.

You have probably come across different solutions already, in fact.

Appcues, the veteran solution…

WalkMe, the onboarding deluxe…

Product Fruits, the ad master of the digital adoption space…

I’ll be honest; there is a load of good tools out there that can do A LOT for you.

But every product has its super specific solution, and if you go with a DAP you didn’t actually need, it might be a financial burden.

So today, I’m giving you one DAP for the enterprise level, one for mid-to-small businesses, and one for the startups with a small budget (yup, free).

Let’s get you started:

1- Pendo: The All-Around Solution for Enterprises

digital adoption platforms pendo

If you have seen G2’s grid for digital adoption, you would know that Pendo is one of the best products for the task.

It is a popular choice thanks to its combination of digital adoption, user engagement, and powerful analytics.

Some of its great capabilities include:

User feedback collection,

✅ Powerful analytics,

✅ Guides and product tours

And I can personally say, it is a good tool.

But, here’s the issue with Pendo:

❌ It is expensive; even their starter plan is $7000/year, and

❌ Its learning curve tends to be steep; it can take a while before you figure out how Pendo’s core functionalities work,

❌ Its user onboarding capabilities might be limiting for broad use

Here’s the verdict ✍️

So if you are an enterprise-level company or have the budget, Pendo can be a great all-around approach.

But for smaller budgets, it can get out of hand when it could be easily replaced with smaller alternatives.

Check out our Pendo alternatives article for more 👈

2- UserGuiding: The No-Code Solution for Enhanced In-App Experiences

userguiding digital adoption platforms

UserGuiding is THE digital adoption solution for small to medium size companies.

But it can still be the solution for enterprise-level companies looking for a simple, easy-to-use DAP option.

UserGuiding’s appeal is that it is a simplistic tool that focuses on ease of use and also being easy on the eye and the pocket at the same time.

And the best part is: it is a no-code user onboarding platform.

Meaning, you or anyone else on your team will be able to create digital adoption strategies in a matter of minutes, using:

Contextual & interactive guides, product tours, walkthroughs for initial onboarding,

User onboarding checklists for a gamified and personalized experience,

Resource centers for easy self-serve customer service,

In-app surveys for high-quality feedback & higher user and employee engagement,

Robust analytics, user segments, and targeting, for informed product adoption,

Localization for multi-language support and adoption,

Customization for a branded look,

And more!

👉 Try UserGuiding for FREE 👈

3- Shepherd.js: The Free & Open-Source Product Tours 

digital adoption platforms shepherd js

Shepherd.js is a simple solution all around. 

✅ It is free.

✅ It is an open-source JavaScript library.

✅ It helps you code your own product tours with ease.

The library is frequently updated by GitHub devs every few months, and most issues are resolved with ease.

And if you are on a tight budget, it is the digital adoption tool you are looking for.

❌ Just make sure to clear the schedule of your devs for a while.

To Wrap Up…

Every product out there is a good product that came to be from a good idea.

But not all users are going to see it.

Unless you use the right digital adoption solutions to get users to value the moment they step inside your product.

The secret to success is finding the right solution that will get you there.

Hopefully, this article was helpful in doing that.

If not, you have nothing to lose with a 14-day UserGuiding free trial 👀

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Digital Adoption Platform?

A Digital Adoption Platform, or DAP in short, is a software that helps you engage users easily and gets them to become loyal promoting users by providing in-app training, support, and engagement elements to educate end-users easily.

What are Digital Adoption Platform Companies?

Digital adoption platform software or companies are third party tools that provide digital adoption features such as in-app walkthroughs, NPS surveys, gamification checklists, resource centers, and so on. The best Digital Adoption Platform Companies include UserGuiding and its alternatives.

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Serra Alban

Serra Alban

When I realized I won’t be the next Greta Gerwig I found myself as a creative content writer at UserGuiding. I’ve been obsessed with UX design, customer success, and digital adoption ever since. If you could stare at good UX for hours like me don’t hesitate to hit me up on LinkedIn. I might end up dropping too much movie trivia but hey, old habits die hard.