How I Pendo Product-led growth

Personalizing free trials from the very first login

Learn how the Citrix ShareFile team used paid search data to personalize onboarding for free users, increase engagement, and boost trial conversions


Users may generate a free account for Citrix’s ShareFile product for a variety of reasons. In order to make these free trials more personalized to users’ preferences, Citrix needed a way to tailor their onboarding messaging to why a user first signed up.

Pendo'ing it

Using paid search data, Citrix built out first-time use messaging based on why a user created their free account. They leveraged Pendo’s in-app guides to walk new users through the exact workflow they were searching for—creating a personalized experience right off the bat.


After implementing the paid search guides, Citrix saw increased engagement with their in-app messaging and, more importantly, a 60% increase in free trial conversions. It all came down to helping new users take the exact action(s) they generated their account for in the first place.

Allison Caldrone

Senior in-product marketing manager

Drew Grantham

In-product marketing specialist


Citrix is a technology provider that empowers organizations to deliver a better employee experience. Its ShareFile product allows teams to securely access files, share data, and create time-saving workflows using any device.

By the numbers


increase in free trial conversions


reduction in support cases around user management

Pendo’ing something means let's build a guide, let's get it out, let's notify somebody. If it’s a big feature or one that’s struggling to gain adoption—and we know usage of that feature correlates with retention—then we’ll Pendo it.

You only have one chance to make a first impression

Picture this: You sign up for a free trial of a software product, and right after you log in you’re met with a welcome message directing you to the exact task you were looking to achieve. While this might sound too good to be true, Pendo makes this level of personalization possible.

Users can generate a free account for Citrix’s ShareFile product for a variety of needs. They might be coming to ShareFile for security purposes, or to send encrypted emails, or because they need a data source that’s easy for their own clients to access. This was top of mind for the marketing team as they looked to improve free users’ first experience with the platform.

“Something that we always try to think about is the user experience and what they want to get out of the product,” said Drew Grantham, an in-product marketing specialist for Citrix’s ShareFile product. “If a user is coming to ShareFile for a specific need, we want to message them accordingly.” The team turned to Pendo to create a more personalized onboarding flow for free users, powered by paid search data they were already collecting.

A white glove (in-app) experience

Grantham set out to create in-app welcome messaging based on why a free user created their ShareFile account. “We went to our paid search team and said, ‘We think we can help improve this experience and make these trials feel more personalized.’”

Armed with this paid search data, Grantham was able to use Pendo guides to build out in-app onboarding flows tailored to why a user came to ShareFile in the first place. For example, if someone was searching for how to create encrypted emails and the results led them to ShareFile, then they’ll generate their account with an encrypted email interest. When the user logs in for the first time, they’ll be met with onboarding that’s tailored to their specific needs.

In that example, “we help the user see that the messaging is focused on encrypted email the entire time,” noted Grantham. In addition to more personalized messaging, new users can click to activate a multi-step guide that takes them through the process of sharing a file with encrypted email.

This tactic proved highly effective for the ShareFile team. “What was really impactful about this is that it not only helped increase engagement with our messaging, but we’ve also seen higher conversion rates.” Grantham shared that after implementing these paid-search-inspired guides, they saw a 60% increase in trial conversions. “Again, it’s about personalization and helping users do the exact action that they generated their account for in the first place.”

ShareFile’s marketing team has also utilized Pendo for in-app support beyond a user’s first login. Allison Caldrone, senior in-product marketing manager, explained how their support team used to get a lot of questions (and repeat questions) about user management. “In ShareFile’s user access settings, there are a lot of different permissions options and checkboxes where you can specify someone’s access to your accounts,” she noted. “These can get confusing after a while.”

Caldrone created Pendo guides (triggered when a user hovers over a badge) to help clarify the effect each section of the user management page will have on users’ access. This gave reassurance to users as they updated their settings, and gave the ShareFile support team some relief. “With this messaging, we saw a 40% reduction in support cases around user management in ShareFile, which is great news for our clients and our own support team.”

Pro tips

  • When getting started with Pendo, start small—if there’s a feature in your product with low (or no) usage, create an in-app message to steer users toward the feature and then see how much adoption increases
  • Always think about where in the UI is the best place for an in-app message to live so that it’s not intrusive, but users will still see it
  • A/B test different in-app messaging and placements to see which drives the best results