The Role of In-Product Guides in Making Product Champions

Usha Vadapalli
December 10, 2021

You’ve cut through the noise and got your sign-ups. Nicely done! You leveled up and so did the challenge. Now it’s time to figure out the path to creating product champions!

Your beginner users have to invest a considerable amount of their time and effort into your product to become a superstar user. The ebooks, white papers, webinars, slide decks, and infographics we all traditionally used are not going away anytime soon but, they are not enough to drive user engagement with the product. They have to actually use the product.

Your product is the best engagement channel to retain the user after signing up. And, well-strategized in-product guides are your best collaborators to achieve that. Let’s start with the right first impressions.

User Onboarding

As a marketer, you might have read, heard, and seen this or perhaps are doing some of it already. Successful product-led marketing is all about helping your customer succeed. Starting with frictionless onboarding you are essentially setting up the user for success. Consider these before designing your next onboarding experience.

  1. It need not end with the first login instance. Onboarding can extend to, well, as long as it takes, depending on factors like product complexity, or user’s niche. But, definitely not longer than your trial period, if you have one.

  2. I know I just said - as long as it takes, but the first-time users need to see value in the product quickly to stick around. The shorter the time to value is, the better chances you have for retention. For a complex use case, you might want to consider onboarding in stages, starting with the simplest set of tasks leading up to a bigger goal. This can help get the user to achieve smaller “aha!” moments in case of a long onboarding process.  

  3. Product tours are great for a smooth onboarding. Help the user get started with some basic features and then point to the in-app knowledge base for more information. Chances are, stuffing too many feature details into the product tour will overwhelm a first-time user. I know you have amazing features that might even achieve world peace but, hold on for a little longer. We will talk more about product tours later in the blog.

Know Thy User and Know Thyself

After onboarding and before you turn a user into a product champion, ask yourself, how well do you know them? Sign-up forms, when used wisely can tell you much more than a user’s first name. With the user’s consent, of course, you can tap into information like the size of their organization, or geographical location - if that’s relevant for you. Your ideal users are probably segmented based on this information. Let me give you an example of where it might go wrong.

User persona segmentation

You see the problem here, right? I am not saying don’t have goal-based or demographic-based user personas, but you have to look at other ways of understanding your user's challenges once they are in the product. Wouldn’t it make more sense to segment Prince Charles and Ozzy Osborne based on their goals and problems they are trying to solve?

As a marketer in product-led, you need to constantly think about how unique the user’s problems are. With every micro-interaction, the user is telling you exactly that. You have your ideal user personas but have an open mind to build and modify the user archetypes based on their in-product behavior.

If you have the right engine to understand user archetypes and segment them, it goes a long way in getting to individual “aha!” moments faster. Help the user progress and plan the next goal while understanding a little more about their intentions, learning speed, and maybe about your product even!

Also, ask nicely. Request quick feedback on new features, ask for customer satisfaction ratings, or take feature suggestions. Use in-product messaging and conduct micro-surveys to understand your user better. Make it easier for the user to be heard. Don’t forget to tell them when you acted on their feedback!

Product Tours

Have you heard of this realtor who sells houses only by showing the rooms in the house? Me neither! We certainly heard or met a realtor who creates an amazing multi-sensory experience and paints a beautiful picture of a home for the customers and they often are the ones that succeed in making a sale.

Your product tour can be a similar or better experience for your users. When designing a product or a feature walkthrough, bear in mind that before championing the product, the user has to understand how the product can help them. Use the Tell-Show-Do-Apply technique to let the user realize value.

💬 Tell:

With the help of tooltips, pop-up messages, in-app notifications, or a chatbot keep your user informed. Tell them about a new feature in a success story format or inform them about a shortcut to get things done faster.

👀 Show:

Show the highlight reel of your product. I can’t say this enough, try not to overwhelm the user (new or habitual) with too many options and features. Use demos to show a use case and point the way to a knowledge base to find more use cases in their niche.

🛠 Do:

Make the experience interactive. Give a simple step-by-step guided activity for the user to engage with the new product and/or feature.

🎓 Apply:

Help the user apply what they’ve learned. Let them carry out a simple task or help them set a path to achieve a larger goal.

Great product experience can be curated with the help of a well-strategized product tour. There are some underlying factors for these steps to succeed, though.

  • Designing the product tours for your users. With some assistance from understanding your user archetypes, these steps can be hyper-personalized to the users.
  • Your key value propositions have to be translated as use cases and success stories. User’s problems have to align with the solution your product offers - the right product fit.
  • You need robust product analytics to power your user insights. Insights give you context and context is crucial in giving that necessary nudge to the user.
  • It takes some getting-to-know your product for the newbie users to become habitual and habitual users become champions. Check up on them periodically.
  • Use positive reinforcement. Inform the user of their progress, celebrate small successes, and guide them in setting the next milestone.

Conclusion

In product-led, the best marketing you can do is to create a customer-centric product experience around the product to keep the user engaged. Step outside the funnel to create a rich environment in the product to engage and nurture the user. Create an experience founded on an understanding of user archetypes,  product usage, and your product’s fit.

Every time the user interacts with the product, you know a bit more about their pain points. Use in-product guiding for everything from a curated onboarding experience to asking for help the user accomplish a task with quicker time-to-value.

Your ideal product champion understands, uses it to solve problems, returns regularly, invests time and effort to get the most of it, and advocates your product. When used right, in-product user guidance is THE engaging mechanism to build product champions.