Best Practices

3 ways to make your in-app guides more data-driven

Published Nov 3, 2021

In-app guides are one of the best (if not the best) ways to communicate with your users. Need to onboard new users quickly? Drive adoption of a key feature? Encourage a free trial user to upgrade? There’s a guide for that.

While the use cases for in-app guides are plentiful, it’s not effective to simply spin up a guide for every idea, problem, or need your team has. Without the right strategy in place, guides can actually hurt the product experience–like when messages stay up too long, don’t feel relevant, or are full of an overwhelming amount of information. We’ve all been hit with such a pop-up.

Like most things, a good strategy requires the right data and in this case, the right data is the product data you’re already collecting and analyzing. In-app guides are how you’ll take action on all that data.

To help you create guides that are helpful, impactful, and drive the right behaviors in the product, here’s how to weave data into your guide strategy at every phase:

1. Use product usage data to identify opportunity

Product usage is the ultimate data source to inform what type of guides you create, who to serve them to, where in the product they should live, and what content they should include. Say you want to bring your onboarding in-app and leverage guides as the foundation of this experience. You can first use data to identify the behaviors of your most successful users, then build an onboarding walkthrough that highlights those areas of the product. Why guess where in the product users will find the most value when you can let the data speak for itself?

On the flip side, it’s also beneficial to use product data to understand where users aren’t as successful in your product. Where are they getting stuck? At what point do they drop out of a certain workflow? This insight is key to building guides that provide the appropriate contextual help and steer users in the right direction.

2. Segment your in-app guides

Since you likely have multiple types of users accessing your product (e.g. people with different job titles or account levels), your in-app guides need to account for these differences. Creating segments based on user metadata and their behaviors in the product allows you to personalize guides to your users’ specific needs. In other words, no more blasting your entire user base with the same message.

Here are some ways you might want to segment your in-app guides:

    • If a feature has low adoption, serve guides to users you know would find the most value in the feature
    • Deliver guides to your free or free trial users as a channel for converting them to paying customers
    • Target NPS Promoters with guides asking for customer testimonials or to participate in beta programs or user testing

3. Always measure guide performance (and iterate)

Once you’ve put a guide out into the world, don’t forget to come back and see how it’s performing. This experimentative approach to guides will help you understand if they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Have users started adopting your new feature? Are they getting to the end of your onboarding walkthrough? Make sure your team spends time analyzing guide performance and making any necessary tweaks.

Similarly, no in-app guide should last forever. Turn to the data again to understand if a guide has served its purpose. For example, for a guide that’s meant to drive feature awareness and adoption, there should come a point where you’re able to see whether or not the guide impacted users’ actions. It might make sense to retire the guide, update the copy, change its location in the product, or keep it as is for another set period of time. But you won’t come to any of these insights without first digging into the data.

For more tips on taking a data-driven approach to in-app guides, check out our new e-book.