This article was originally published on Digital-Adoption.com

In-app walkthroughs are ideal ways to boost user retention – as well as many other important metrics.

Below, we’ll learn all about in-app walkthroughs, exploring:

  • What in-app walkthroughs are
  • Where they fit into the product adoption process
  • How walkthroughs can boost user acquisition metrics

Let’s start by looking at walkthroughs in detail.

The Basics of In-App Walkthroughs

In-app walkthroughs are product tutorials that guide users through a specific set of actions or product features.

They are usually designed to:

  • Introduce new users to a product’s interface
  • Demonstrate the value of the product
  • Teach tasks or workflows

Walkthroughs are essential parts of the product adoption process, because they help product creators accomplish two key aims of adoption: onboarding and training.

Here’s how:

How in-app walkthroughs help onboard new users

In-app walkthroughs can be used early on in the digital adoption cycle to accomplish several aims:

  • Help convert prospects into customers
  • Help users realize the value of a product
  • Provide a tour of basic product features

With the right design and execution, in-app walkthroughs can significantly improve onboarding metrics, as we’ll discover below.

How in-app walkthroughs are used to train users

Another use case for walkthroughs is product training.

In-depth, step-by-step walkthroughs can:

  • Teach new users the basics of an app or product
  • Transform beginners into intermediate or advanced users
  • Prevent user skill levels from plateauing 

For product creators – particularly developers of enterprise-grade SaaS platforms – in-app walkthroughs are excellent training tools.

Product tours vs. in-app walkthroughs

Some professionals make a distinction between product tours and in-app walkthroughs.

Others do not, and use the two terms interchangeably.

Those that do differentiate between the two tend to use the terms this way:

  • Product tours introduce a product to a user, in the same way that a real estate agent might offer a house tour to a prospective buyer
  • In-app walkthroughs are in-depth tutorials that offer step-by-step instructions, aimed at training users and teaching them how to use a product

This is certainly an important distinction to make, at least from an onboarding perspective.

However, from one perspective, this difference can be viewed as a semantic one.

As long as the product team is clear on the purpose of the walkthrough, it makes little difference whether the team calls it a “walkthrough” or a “product tour.”

In either case, the benefits of walkthroughs – and product tours – remain the same.

The Top Benefits of Interactive In-App Walkthroughs and Product Tours

We briefly touched upon some of the key advantages of offering in-app walkthroughs to users, but let’s explore those in more detail.

Including walkthroughs in the adoption funnel can result in benefits such as:

  • Boosted User Engagement – The more users understand a product, the more engaged they will be. On the other hand, as that understanding goes down, engagement also goes down.
  • A Better User Experience – When done right, interactive walkthroughs can automatically introduce, onboard, and train new users. This can dramatically enhance the user experience, especially for more complex products.
  • Improved User Retention – Walkthroughs and product tours can both improve engagement, which will, in turn, positively affect user retention. 
  • Greater Proficiency Levels – Another equally important benefit of walkthroughs is improved user proficiency. This is particularly beneficial to enterprises that implement digital change or new digital software, since organizational performance depends a great deal on employee proficiency.
  • Enhanced Productivity and Performance – When walkthroughs are applied correctly, increased proficiency translates into improved productivity. And users who are more productive are more likely to continue using that product over the long term.
  • Higher Software ROI – Ultimately, increasing metrics such as engagement, productivity, and retention results in better customer growth. The result: improved marketplace performance and software revenue.

Product walkthroughs are, in short, beneficial for product creators as well as users.

To use product walkthroughs effectively, however, it is important to place them in the context of a well-structured product adoption strategy.

Product Walkthroughs vs. Product Adoption

Product adoption processes include several components, such as:

  • Onboarding 
  • Training
  • Support
  • Product walkthroughs and tours

We have seen that product walkthroughs can generate some big benefits for product developers and their users.

However, to make the most of product walkthroughs, it is important to have a solid adoption plan.

That is, organizations must:

  • Look at the entire user’s journey, rather than just the walkthrough itself
  • Design an adoption roadmap with specific aims
  • Incorporate walkthroughs into that map
  • Test and refine the adoption funnel – including walkthroughs – over the long term

When looking at the entire user journey, it becomes clear that walkthroughs are only touchpoints along that journey.

They are important, certainly. 

And the more complex the product, the more important they become.

However, regardless of software complexity, the point remains the same – for best results, create an overarching adoption strategy, then implement walkthroughs as part of that strategy.