Advanced Guide to In-App Tutorials – getting in-app training done right

It goes without saying: good user experience is everything.

What really does not go without saying is the fact that onboarding UX is a huge part of any product’s overall UX.

And guess what is ignored the most?

Yup, you guessed it. Onboarding UX. The very thing welcoming the users on the product.

Now, let’s today give onboarding UX some credit and talk about one of the most important user onboarding process elements, in-app tutorials. And specifically:

Let’s start with the basics.

What Is an In-App Tutorial?

An in-app tutorial is an onboarding UX pattern designed to assist new users to quickly reach value or help your current users continuously see your product’s value. Essentially, an in-app tutorial takes place in the user interface and initially focuses on key features. They are generally designed for first-time users and therefore are more commonly used during the new user onboarding process than during the remaining user journey. An in-app tutorial is easily one of the most important elements of user engagement.

But then, why do we feel the need to manage user actions so much?

And how does a good product experience help?

What makes in-app guides so important that they are an inseperable part of the user onboarding process?

Why Do I Need an In-App Tutorial?

In hopes of increasing user engagement, you might be going for interactive walkthroughs or simple in-app messages. In any case, a proper in-app tutorial has a say in whether your product will stick with the users – or not.

But hey, you already knew that.

What you probably don’t know, though, however, might be that a good in-app tutorial can:

1- Increase customer acquisition

It’s no longer the dark ages, and unless you like to gatekeep your product’s contents with no free trial, before making a purchase, users get to check out a few core features or two.

That means even before they become your active users; customers interact with a product walkthrough.

A good example of the best app tutorials before key activation is definitely Bubble with their demo environment on their website that website visitors can check out even without signing up for a free trial.

bubble in app tutorial
bubble in app tutorial

Now, imagine receiving such a cool feature adoption experience before the purchase, the days of installation, and other core actions.

You’d probably be agreeing with the 63% of customers who consider the onboarding period when deciding to subscribe to a service or purchase a product.

2- Increase customer retention

Much like a good product walkthrough can charm first-time users, it can also inspire your current users or new conversions into doing more with the valuable features you offer.

Don’t believe me? Let me pull up some stats.

Poor onboarding is the third most important reason for customers to churn, right after wrong product fit and lack of engagement.

What’s more, 86% of customers say that they would be more likely to stay loyal to a business if they knew that they would have access to educational and welcoming onboarding content post-sale.

I say you take in-app tutorials seriously 😎

3- Decrease costs and effort

After what you just found out about the impact of a good in-app walkthrough on customer acquisition and retention, you’d have probably realized that you will be saving money.

An in-app tutorial well done can save thousands of dollars you would have to have spent on user education, customer support requests, your product team, and more.

But if you play your cards right, you can save effort as well.

Let’s talk about how to do in-app guides right.

7 Tips for a Great In-App Tutorial

Creating cool product tours and showing off your core features sound promising.

But let me tell you, if you do it wrong, it might even become the reason why your customers churn without even telling you why.

Big shocker, I know.

Contrary to popular belief, a tooltip and a welcome modal window thrown in together is NOT considered a fully-fledged in-app tutorial.

But do not fret; I am here to give you all my top tips for good in-app training.

Here’s what a great in-app tutorial ought to look like:

1- Keep it short

When you’re creating an in-app walkthrough for a complex product, there are two options:

👉 Go with an overall 10-step onboarding walkthrough or

👉 Use contextual onboarding with bite-size in-app guides on different parts of the product.

And the right answer entirely depends on the nature of your product.

Still, you can’t go wrong as long as you remember two things: always use a progress bar and keep a single in-app guide between 3-7 steps.

2- Personalize it

Personalized experiences are getting more and more unique, and if you haven’t considered it yet, a good starting point is to refer to your customer by their name.

There are, of course, many other cool personalization tips and tricks, but it all requires user segmentation. And the best way to do it is to give a third-party tool a go (like this one right here 🤫)

3- Have them do it

The essential problem with traditional user onboarding is that it gives users no chance to get on a product hands-on and learn it by themselves.

Remember: you don’t teach them; you show them.

That’s the difference between walking users through endless features and showing the users what those valuable features can actually do for them.

Going with interactive walkthroughs and in-app guides can make the most difference while also keeping it all organized with user checklists.

in app tutorial userguiding user checklist

4- Make it fun

I am giving out these tips for free, and there are others on the internet who can tell you what an in-app walkthrough should look like or how you can nail user engagement.

What they can’t tell you is how you can make the most out of your in-app tutorial.

To create a bond of trust between your users and yourself, you need to offer them an enjoyable experience. And that is something you know the best when it comes to your product.

What you can do is consider gamification, your brand image, your voice, and simply to just put yourself in your users’ shoes.

Start with fun little gifs in in-app messages, for example.

What matters at this point is to know your user persona and what would work best with them.

5- Track its performance

Your in-app tutorial will consist of many steps that extend over different pages.

That means a step that becomes a pain point can kill your completion rate, rendering the whole concept useless.

That’s why you need to be constantly tracking your in-app tutorial performance using the right metrics and KPIs. Don’t worry; we’ve got a selection of them.

6- Improve on feedback

One big fat mistake to always avoid is not taking feedback.

The trick is to be a little paranoid.

Everything’s alright, and your churn rates are low? There is no guarantee that it’s going to stay that way.

Everything’s going downhill, and you don’t know the reason why?

Why not ask your users?

Regularly prompting users with NPS surveys and feedback forms can have a positive turn on users, AND the data collected might actually help take core actions regarding the product itself and product/feature adoption.

Frase does it phenomenally.

in app tutorial frase feedback

7- Keep the developers out of it

There is a bell curve when it comes to going in-house with in-app tutorials.

Only very small companies or big enterprises tend to do it.

And if you’re neither one of them, trust me, you don’t need your developers wasting time on coding and maintaining your in-app tutorials and overall user onboarding.

Not when there is a better way.

Let’s take a look at the tools you can use to create top-notch in-app guides.

Tools for Creating In-App Tutorials (Free and Paid)

UserGuiding

When it comes to user onboarding tools, the majority of them have in-app tutorials featured.

So why would I like to suggest UserGuiding when there are many alternatives?

Well, I have multiple reasons:

It needs no coding – at all!

A significant amount of onboarding tools that claim to be no-code still require technical knowledge to fully implement and maintain.

That’s not the case with UserGuiding. It supports the no-code revolution by being as useful to a non-technical person as it would be to a senior developer.

Anyone in your company can utilize UserGuiding.

in app tutorials no code

Wide Range of Features

UserGuiding can help you create a complete onboarding experience with many features such as:

in app tutorials features

Segmentation and Targetting

One size never fits all.

If you don’t offer each user a unique experience that is tailored for them, you are behind the competition. With UserGuiding, you can segment users into different groups, then target those segments with different creations.

in app tutorials segmentation

In-depth analytics

To improve something, you must measure it first.

In user onboarding, the measurements you have at your disposal are completion time and completion rate of in-app tutorials overall and their individual steps.

UserGuiding provides you with a tool that displays both of these values for every step, allowing you to locate pain points and fix them.

in app tutorials analytics

Affordable Pricing

And every feature above costs only $69/month.

UserGuiding charges less than its competitors who offer the same value with different plans from Startup to Enterprise level.

You can start your free trial and get unlimited access to all features for 14-days. See its value for yourself!

Try UserGuiding for FREE!

Free Open-Source Tool: Shepherd.js

Now, if you don’t think you can afford or need a no-code tool with a monthly subscription, there is always onboarding solutions like Shepherd.js.

shepherd js free open source in app tutorial

Shepherd.js is a free, open-source javascript library that gives you the opportunity to code your own in-app tutorials using the comfort of ready too use code.

Though Shepherd offers a minimal range of onboarding UX patterns and no support other than the GitHub forum, it is still a viable solution for anyone who needs to code their own onboarding process.

Now, if you’ve decided what tool to use, let’s take a look at some cool examples to really get the idea of good in-app tutorials straight.

3 Top In-App Tutorial Examples (desktop and mobile)

A few years back, good in-app tutorials were quite hard to come by.

But as the time passes and we all realize just how crucial good user onboarding is for customer retention and royalty, we’ve been able to see more and more good examples.

Here are my favorite three these days:

1- GhostwriterAI

GhostwriterAI is an AI-based platform that helps marketers to identify the target audience and involve them with new, highly focused content.

But today, our topic is its in-app tutorial.

The onboarding starts with a warm welcome.

in app tutorials example ghostwriter ai

GhostwriterAI uses contextual onboarding in their in-app tutorials, prompting a different bite-sized in-app guide on every page.

This helps users stay focused and lets them actually interact with the product from the get-go.

What is also interesting about their tutorials is the fun gifs they use.

Remember, keeping the onboarding fun is one of the most fundamental things you can do to improve it, and GhostwriterAI is a natural at it.

in app tutorials example ghostwriter ai

Also, they do not use visuals just to entertain, they’ve used custom images they’ve prepared to visualize the point they’re making.

in app tutorials example ghostwriter ai

GhostwriterAI’s tutorials are straight to the point, entertaining, and informative.

Here’s how UserGuiding helped GhostwriterAI spent %63 less time on creating and maintaining their guides.

2- Picsart

Picsart is a famous photo editor that was first popularized on mobile; today, it is available both on the web and on mobile.

On its web editor, Picsart prompts a 5-step in-app tutorial to guide users in using the tool and its functionalities.

picsart in app guide example

What makes this in-app guide so attractive is not just its chic, dark style but other subtleties as well.

Picsart is aware of the fact that a long in-app tutorial is offputting, so it’s kept short. The copy complements the interactive guide in this sense; all we see are a few sentences.

The in-app tutorial is also designed with fun, colorful images that, in a way, support the onboarding by showing specific features.

Best of all, the in-app tutorial has a progress bar to reassure users that it won’t take long.

3- CapCut

Similar to Picsart, CapCut is a mobile video editor that is pretty popular thanks to Instagram edits and TikTok trends.

It might not look very serious, but its mobile in-app tutorial is quite an interesting one.

capcut in app tutorial mobile
capcut in app guide mobile

CapCut does not use a progress bar or any other progress indicator to keep the users engaged.

Instead, what they do is keep things contextual in a single user interface, which is much more favorable in mobile onboarding.

The animations used are also fun and visually stimulating, which again are crucial for mobile in-app tutorials.

While it doesn’t follow all the tips we mentioned above, CapCut’s mobile app guide goes to show us that mobile onboarding can be a lot different yet still follow the same principles. 

Conclusion

An in-app tutorial is a perfect tool to onboard users – if done right.

In this article, we went over the what, why, and hows of in-app tutorials while also reviewing some of the best in-app tutorial examples out there.

Hopefully, this is your sign to adopt or enhance your very own in-app tutorial.

Best of luck!

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Selman Gokce

Selman Gokce is the Senior Inbound Marketer of UserGuiding. He is highly invested in user onboarding and digital adoption, especially for SaaS, and he writes on these topics for the UserGuiding blog. When he's not writing, you can find him either listening to LOTR soundtracks while cooking or getting angry because he lost in a video game.