Inline Manual Blog

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Get higher response rates with in-app Feedback

29 days ago

With our new in-app Feedback feature, you can prompt users to respond to a quick form in context. Don’t wait to ask users for feedback. Ask them right then and there. This improves your response rates and the quality of feedback.

New User Feedback Feature

Getting reliable user feedback is hard. Click rates on emails are already low, and when users get to the feedback survey the response rates are even lower. To help our customers get feedback quickly we’ve just launched a new Feedback feature to get you instant responses right within your application, at no additional cost.

Now you can prompt users to respond to a quick form in context. Don’t wait to ask users for feedback. Ask them right then and there.

Feedback feature popup window

When do you need to use in-app feedback? Here are a few examples.

  • Get customer reactions to a new feature release.
  • Website user feedback.
  • Evaluate a project or new service.
  • Invite members of a community voice their criticism constructively.
  • Assess the trial of a new integration.
  • Post-event survey.
  • Customer satisfaction.

When you continue the flow of feedback from members, user, or customers, it helps you improve services. This affects your bottom line, and helps keep your users happy. However, getting timely and useful feedback is a challenge.

Are you having trouble getting reliable customer feedback quickly?

An essential part of any service design is how you gather and incorporate user and customer feedback. If you want to hear how your customers feel about a particular feature or aspect of your service, the best time to ask them is right then and there.

Are these barriers to getting good feedback familiar?

Low email response rates. If you’re opting to send surveys via email, triggered by some customer behaviour, then you run the risk of being ignored completely. MailChimp’s benchmarks show that email open rates vary according to industry and are between 15-28%. Of those, how many will click on the survey link?

Low survey response rates. If you get them to the survey, Survey Gizmo reports that response rates on surveys range from 10-40%, with higher numbers coming from internal audiences.

Time of delivery. Researchers at Duke University summarised findings that response rates to emails vary with the time of delivery. When you use email, you are reliant on when the majority of people typically check their emails. This varies with your industry, audience, and timezones. You’re vying for attention when everyone else is bombarding inboxes.

Non-response bias. Large samples lead to non-response bias You may feel an urge to widen your pool to get more responses, but that number of non-responders continues to grow.

Out of context. You can embed robust surveys which cost $9-49 a month into your application, but will you be able to trigger them based on user actions? You can use free tools like Google Forms, but they won’t automatically know who the user is.  

How can you improve feedback results and value?

Here are some ideas for improving your response rates and the relevance of the feedback you get.

By its nature a feedback survey form is asking users for a reaction. Therefore, the shorter your reaction time, the better the quality of the response. Using our Feedback form, you can prompt users right in the app and ask for their comments and criticism.

You may intuitively think a larger sample will yield the best results. Research shows that for statistical inference, where you gain reliable data, it’s better to have high response rates from a smaller sample. So how can you improve your response rates? Narrow down the sample.

One way to narrow down that sample size is to prompt users for feedback right when they are in the application, right after they’ve engaged with that feature. Ask them in context, and you’ll be more likely to get a response.

Oracle’s own guidelines for improving survey response rates include some excellent advice.

  • Send your survey fast, while the experience is fresh in people’s minds.
    • Now with the Feedback feature, you can launch the survey right within the application.
  • Keep questions short and clear.
    • There’s one simple question to ask, which you can use to inform your NPS score.
  • Personalize the survey.
    • With Inline Manual, you can target a segment to send your feedback form.

Here are some more ideas

  • Tell users before you survey them. “We’re excited to show you how to [gain X Benefit]! We’ll come back to you later and ask you few questions. We’d love to know what you think.”
  • Translate the survey into the user’s local language.
  • Trigger the Feedback survey to launch after some behaviour, or after a certain time.
  • Provide the Feedback survey in context, such as only when they visit certain parts of your application.
  • Prompt users with a call to action on a button rather than a text link, that gave Campaign Monitor a 127% increase on response rates.
  • Follow up could increase response rates by 58%. Contact them again after a period of time, reminding them they can still take the survey before time runs out. You can also link to the same feedback survey via email or chat to reinforce the message.
  • After the survey, follow up with those who responded. Tell them what action you are taking, or give them details about the results of the survey.

Get started with a feedback form in-app today

For details on how to add a Feedback form, check out our guide here.

The Feedback form is a flexible piece of content, just like articles and walkthroughs. You can add as many feedback forms as you need for your site, and customise the question.

Here are some ways you can use the forms:

Then review your results. You can see how people are responding to the survey - across your user base- and you can find out how individuals responded.

  • View a summary of ratings
  • View individual responses

You can add as many feedback forms as you need, and get the measure of sentiment across your user base. Whether you're seeking feedback on a recent release or a new design, finding out what people think more quickly is ideal. By keeping the flow of feedback quick and fast, you can react rapidly and improve your users experience.

Want to get instant feedback in your app today?

Get reliable responses faster than ever right in your app, within just 14 days.
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How to choose a WalkMe alternative for walkthroughs and more

about 1 month ago

Use this guide to evaluate WalkMe alternatives. You can create interactive walkthroughs and segmented messages to help your users reach success with lower cost alternatives.

Compare Inline Manual versus Walkme

If you’ve found this page, you probably already tried out WalkMe. You loved the tooltips and walkthroughs, the WYSIWYG authoring tool, and the multilingual options. You love that you can do this all without code. But then the WalkMe sales team gave you the quote. Now, you’re looking at WalkMe alternatives.

At this stage, it's likely you already have a good idea of what you’re looking for.

  • Do you want to create tailored, personalized onboarding experiences to welcome new customers?
  • Do want to keep your customers engaged and sticking around, increasing customer lifetime value?
  • Do you need to onboard staff quickly in a fast-paced environment, where the software changes weekly?

These cases are unique, but they have a similar solution. What you need is a user onboarding tool so you can create an adaptive layer over your application. You want to be able to draw a user’s attention and guide them to success with contextually reinforced learning.

This guide will help you research alternatives to WalkMe.

WalkMe Pricing. Got sticker shock?

WalkMe is expensive. Buyers said when they looked at WalkMe, they were quoted prices starting at $10,000 USD per year. In the comments of a post by our competitor, Iridize, some said they were told pricing starts at $15k a year, some were told $18k. If that’s far outside your budget, you might have gasped. Why is this software so expensive?

You probably noticed, enterprise software is usually expensive. On Kissmetrics, Tim Nguyen explains that in the enterprise market, “The average deal size was $500,000 annually, the smallest was $25,000 annually, and the largest was $7,000,000 annually.” By comparison, WalkMe is on the low-end for enterprise software.

Difficulties in enterprise procurement alone are known to drive up the costs of software. WalkMe delivers mainly to companies with really long sales cycles, which means deal complexity, and more people involved. And as at least one buyer remarked, WalkMe used more “aggressive” pressure in the sales process.

Additionally, enterprise software usually suffers from feature bloat, which is costly to maintain. You can expect that enterprise software would have additional features you can’t get in other platforms. The decision you need to make is which of those features are the most important. You can skip ahead to see how to do a feature comparison, or download this worksheet.

Download a side by side feature comparison of WalkMe alternatives (PDF)

WalkMe alternative price comparison

Inline Manual is less expensive than most user onboarding software out there. We know that’s why people come to check us out initially. Our customers tell us this all the time. Once they see what they can do with our tools - they tell us they’re “surprised!”

It makes sense that we associate sticker prices with quality. Somethings are “reassuringly expensive.” Our brains are wired for it. Study after study shows that we usually associate a higher quality with higher price tag. If you see a lower price, you probably want to know why. What’s the trade off?

On our pricing page, we give you a breakdown of where your money goes when you buy our services. At Inline Manual, we know what we can charge so that we can reach these goals.

  1. Deliver developments in a tool that makes it easier for our customers to engage their SaaS users.
  2. Continue to increase the excellent support that differentiates us.
  3. Grow our team (3x the size in last year!)
  4. Grow and sustain as a viable business, which we have since 2012.

Unlike many companies whose only corporate responsibility is to generate a profit to shareholders, we’re completely self-funded, and we have been since we started five years ago. Our corporate responsibility is to keep our customers happy. With customer success in focus, we’ve tripled the size of our company in that time. When we do migrate customers over from WalkMe, they’re pleased with the high level of care and responsive service they receive.

A final note regarding pricing: the reason we have the “contact us” pricing is that we probably need more information about your requirements. At Inline Manual some of our largest Enterprise-level subscriptions handle tens of thousands of MAUs a day (monthly active users). We may also be able to give you a better price than our price calculator suggests.

What features do you need? Compare what matters.

If WalkMe ticks all your boxes, it’s still well worth it to take a look at other solutions which can tick the same boxes and save you money. Some WalkMe alternatives might have a few key features, or they might be missing others. It’s not likely ALL the features will matter to you. To save yourself time, focus on the highest priority features and your unique requirements.

First you need to decide: what kind of service do you need? Our competitors, Walkhub, list a number of free and open source options. “Free” is an attractive price, though there may be hidden costs with editing and maintenance. Instead of a WYSIWYG interface, your content creators need to open feature requests. In this post comparing walkthrough jQuery libraries v using a service, we explain how this works in some more detail. If you don’t want to burden your development team, and you want more control: SaaS user onboarding tool will save you time. 

There are many services in this space. That variety can frustrate decision making. First consider what are the fundamental features you need for your goals. Then you can choose the best solution.

If you’re looking at WalkMe, you’ve already decided you want the advantages of a SaaS service.

  • WYSIWYG editing: Non-technical users should be able to edit content on the fly without coding.
  • Analytics: Reporting on the performance of content.
  • Automation: Automate who sees what messages with Segmentation, for example unique onboarding experiences for administrators versus content editors.
  • Segmentation: Define groups of users by attributes such as their user role, or behaviours such as how recently they created their account.
  • Interactivity: Such as prompting users to click or hover, and then reacting to the events, and branching.

Most SaaS services have similar features to WalkMe:

  • Interactive Walkthroughs
  • Popovers or Next/Previous “Slideshows”
  • Coachmarks or Tooltips

After that, you start to see differences. For example, not all of them have a sidebar “widget” where you can list content in context or search. It is something we have at Inline Manual. But do you need it?

Sidebar showing list of content

Focus your attention on what you need to build engaging experiences for you users.

Need multilingual? Not all services support it. Some WalkMe competitors only support it partially. Factor in your unique requirements. By the way, Inline Manual supports all languages. Here you can see what content translation and multilingual support looks like.


Those are some examples of how you can take your individual requirements into account, and you don’t have to waste time checking out services which don’t have what you need. After that, you can do a feature comparison.

Compare features: Inline Manual v WalkMe

In this example, we’ll do a side-by-side comparison of Inline Manual versus WalkMe. Sometimes prospective clients come to us with a feature matrix similar to the one below. We tick their boxes, and they use that information to compare onboarding tools.

Start with what you want to do:

  • Reduce support tickets by enhancing guidance and tours.
  • Increase new feature adoption so you keep customers engaged.
  • Access to analytics to feed to 3rd party apps, and show how your content affects the bottom line.

Considering your requirements, which of these features do you know you want to try? We've highlighted the differences between the services below.

Features Inline Manual WalkMe
Offline version
People tracking x
Widget with content
Version control system x
Deployment management x
Organization account
Export/Import content
Export to HTML x
Multisites x
Iframes support

Now that you've compared, you can pick out the differences that matter to you.

Need PDF/HTML export? This isn’t something we currently support. Is that a deal breaker?

If you’re making the transition from PDF-based training materials, having an “export to a page” for your walkthroughs probably sounds like an absolute requirement. You may be thinking that people will want the familiar experience using ALT+TAB to switch between documents to figure out how to use your software. Or that they like printing out pages of instructional content.

In practice, we find users much prefer to learn-while-doing. So we discontinued the service in 2014. Now, we emphasise contextually reinforced learning. Make your content respond to where users are in the application, who they are, and what they are trying to accomplish.

We did support this feature but found the problems which arose with export were greater than the benefits for the few customers who did employ it. This is one of the ways we can manage our costs by being careful about the features we add and maintain.

Need version control? WalkMe doesn’t let you use version control content for rigorous testing. Is that a deal breaker?

Our version control system and multi-site support let you test on a staging environment before you go live with your next great update.

For teams that are building their own software, having rigorous testing and QA is a natural and important part of their process. Often, WalkMe clients are using a live system only so they might not need version control. When they do need version control, they come to us.

In these cases, it really only matters what you need, and that is more than a feature matrix can tell you.

Try out Inline Manual today

In the end though, the software you select isn’t just a set of features. You’re also building a relationship with a vendor. Our customers’ feedback is vital to what we do. Feedback comes directly from our customer support and customer success team, right into our product development. As an agile, customer focussed team we’re able to respond much more rapidly than more monolithic organisations. We’re constantly evolving as the market changes, responding to what needs you’re discovering.

We’d love for you to try out Inline Manual for 14 days, with no obligations, and no strings. Contact us with your ideas and questions. We’re always happy to help.


It’s likely you already understand tools like WalkMe and Inline Manual. You’ve seen them in use or you tried to build something in house. Now you know you need a SaaS option, and WalkMe was the first one you noticed but it’s $10-18k a year to start.

To put it plainly: you want a more affordable option. You’re looking for a cost effective value proposition to meet your requirements without feature bloat. You want the best quality, but you have to be smart with your money. You have to justify the costs.

We’ve created a service priced to that it will scale in a predictable way along with your services.

Start-ups take on investment and risk to create an unproven product in a new market. They run at a loss, investing in discovery. Some of our competitors have taken on significant investment. They need to drive up the prices, ostensibly, to prove their business model. The thing is, this isn’t an unproven product or market. It’s quite well established, hence the array of options which are available to choose from. Especially since we started in 2012, we’ve seen many new competitors come, and go. For some of our customers, just knowing we’ve been there a while was sufficiently reassuring that it helped them to choose Inline Manual.

We keep our costs low and reinvest back into the software. This makes our software, value-added services and excellent support accessible to smaller organizations. Yet we have great flexibility so larger companies and projects can make the most of the tool.

Decision makers do often tell us they’re surprised by our pricing. We’re in a lower price bracket than most of our competitors. We’ve recently adjusted our pricing to help us ensure our sustainability, and help us grow.

If you’d like some help to see if Inline Manual is right for your team, arrange a live demo with us. Our Professional Services team can always build a proof-of-concept for you. Download this PDF for a WalkMe comparison, and it will provide all the information to make the right choice.

Tips for when you try out Inline Manual.

Follow along in our Get Started Guide to start building with Inline Manual. Install the authoring tool right in your browser, and start creating a walkthrough today. You don’t have to connect your site to see how it works, and this can all be done without coding. When you start the free trial, you will have access to all Inline Manual features, including PRO and Enterprise features like Analytics and People Tracking. Run your own experiment, and see improvements in just 14 days. Contact us for a demo.

Are you comparing Inline Manual to WalkMe? Missing a feature? We’d love to hear about your experience, get in touch at

Start your 14 day - Free Trial - today!

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Improve user onboarding with a style guide

about 2 months ago

Great User Onboarding copy helps people make decisions and learn quickly. How you write is as important as what you’re writing about. You can bake in good copywriting principles with a Style Guide to improve your user onboarding experience. We give you tips on how to express your brand voice, but also a practical advice to use now.

Writing great user onboarding starts with a style guide

In this article:

  • Why you need a User Onboarding Style Guide
  • Improve Cognitive Fluency with Clear Copywriting
  • Bland content makes decision making difficult. Be bold.
  • Writing rules go out the window. Bye!!
  • Adopt an established Style Guide as a starting point
  • Principles for good User Onboarding Copy
  • User Onboarding Copy Guidelines

Why you need a User Onboarding Style Guide

As we learn more about how the human brain makes decisions, researchers have discovered that most of the decision making happens subconsciously. Unclear writing and even a lack of emotional cues make the decision-making experience muddled and difficult.

Effective copywriting is conversational and engaging. It engages users’ curiosity while communicating with your unique brand voice. How is the translated to writing user onboarding experiences? With a user onboarding style guide, you can bake your principles right into everything you do.

First, let’s start with What is User Onboarding? We define user onboarding as the process whereby users are introduced to a service over time, to ensure users reach the goals or benefits promised by the service.

With User Onboarding Copy, we’re talking about the text and language you use in onboarding experiences, including any copy a user sees as they get familiar with your product, or even a new feature release:

  • Registration forms
  • Welcome emails
  • Interactive walkthroughs for first-time users
  • Drip campaign emails
  • Tooltips and in-app layovers like coach marks
  • Modal windows and welcome screens
  • In-app knowledge base articles
  • In-app feature announcements and interactive tutorials

Marketing teams and product teams have been spent years A/B testing even the merest morsel of microcopy and UI text. Users encounter language in the buttons, form fields, headlines, loading screens and social media. In her article on Copywriting for User Experience Talisa Chang points out that different people and teams are responsible for managing all this text and writing in various contexts.

In user onboarding, you already know your audience. You can use segments to zero-in on specific user groups. You also know where they are in your application and what they’re trying to do.

Watch this video, where we talk about:

  • How you can double the number of people willing to buy your product
  • How to ensure consistency with a style guide.
  • Writing rules you should follow, and others you should toss out.
  • Save time by building on industry standards.


Improve Cognitive Fluency with Clear Copywriting

In a study on cognitive fluency called Preference Fluency in Choice, researchers changed the text describing a product from an easy-to-read to hard-to-read font. The easy to read fonts doubled the number of people willing to purchase the product.

Anything that makes a thinking harder is a barrier to decision making.

“Not surprisingly, it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about rather than things that are difficult to think about. This feeling of ease or difficulty is known as cognitive fluency.” - How Cognitive Fluency Affects Decision Making, UX Matters.

Make everything as simple as possible. Write clearly and legibly.

Tip: Readability is affected by a number of factors such as word length, the number of syllables, sentence length and complexity. Readability Analysis tools like this one review your text and give you a rating on a scale, such as the expected age reading level.

Bland content makes decision-making difficult. Be bold.

Don’t be boring and flat!

Research shows that 90% of purchase decisions are made subconsciously, and most of those decisions are surprisingly emotional. Advertisers, like Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi, claim that the buying decision is 80% emotional and 20% rational.

It turns out, we need emotional cues to help us make decisions.

In a talk on “Using Neuroscience to Optimize the Customer Acquisition Process,” Tom Shapiro said being unemotional could be a significant barrier to decision-making. He argues that if your marketing doesn’t evoke an emotional response out of your audience, you’re making it physically and mentally difficult for your audience to make a purchase.

While tools like Grammarly give you instant feedback on the quality of your writing, tools like from Adoreboard’s Toneapi will analyse your content to tell you the emotional tone of the content, and they promise that it will “ensure content packs an emotional punch.”

When you’re writing, think about how you can empathise with your audience. Do you think it sounds far fetched to say that your SaaS application can improve someone’s emotional state? Decision makers are under enormous pressure to save time and money and prove to their own colleagues and clients that they made a sound decision. Support them to improve their decision-making confidence.

Consider these questions: How will this solution improve their lives? What negative emotions or experiences will be relieved or improved by making this decision? Make sure to address that in your copy and also in your language.

Compare these examples. Which is conveys more emotion? Is the emotion suitable to the message?

  1. We’ll reduce the time it takes to get to market by 50%.
  2. We’ll slash the time it takes to get to market by half.

Compare these examples. How does the second example convey the desired outcome for the decision maker?

  1. In three steps, we’ll show you how to use our calendar application to waste less time.
  2. Here’s how to clear your calendar to find space to think and plan.

Tip: Check out this guide which promises 380 high emotion words to persuade your audience. Use it for inspiration, but be careful not to manipulate users.  This is not the time for exaggeration. Don’t make promises you can’t immediately fulfil. In the onboarding process, you’re not building brand awareness, you’re giving valuable experiences directly in your application.

Writing rules go out the window. Bye!!

In school, you were taught not to start a sentence with “And” or “But.” You were also told not to write down contractions, “we’ll” or “can’t”. You were most certainly taught that a proper sentence has at least a subject and a verb. Is that always the case?

Any writing tool with a grammar check will highlight sentence fragments, and nudge you to fix it. But that might not be what your users need.

“Sentence fragments are acceptable to use when your intentions are clear. That’s because good marketing draws the reader in, quickly relays information using a casual tone and provides emotional resonance–all of which are possible with sentence fragments.” - Sentence Fragments in Copywriting

Sometimes rules are completely misunderstood. If you end a sentence with a preposition, such as “about” Grammarly advises that some readers may object. However, their advice goes further to point out this rule is a myth. The only reason you should rephrase it is to avoid strongly worded letters about your grammar. You have to balance readability with what is appropriate for your audience.

We discussed this on recently, and some people were happy to chuck out a whole bunch of writing rules. On that thread, copywriter Katie Holmes said a copywriter’s main object is to keep users engaged, “If that means a couple of ‘rules’ need to be broken to achieve this, then lock me up and throw away the key!”

Reconsider these rules when you write.

  • Sentence Fragments
  • Ending a sentence with a preposition
  • Plural pronouns (they/them instead of the cumbersome he or she, him or her)
  • Using 'data' as a singular noun

Tip: If the grammar rules prevent you from conveying emotion and engaging your audience, it’s hurting your copy and your readers. You decide which rules are appropriate. The point is that you should be consistent across your brand, and make sure everyone writing copy are on the same page.

Adopt an established Style Guide as a starting point

OK, now that we just told you to throw out all those established writing rules, we’re emphasising conventions? Before you step any further you should look at style conventions used in your field, and adopt them. This will help with the cognitive fluency as we described earlier. Use that to adapt and build your own conventions.

Your general house style guide will determine style and tone, as well as the minutiae of whether you write OK or o.k. Hubspot recommends starting with an established style guide such as the AP Stylebook. However that will not go into details around writing technical copy, such as when do you write “click” or “select”?

The Microsoft Manual of Style is a popular basis for technical copywriting. It will give you an industry standard guidance for UI text, microcopy, and documentation. As a foundation, this style guide provides advice on voice, formatting, grammar, and accessibility.

From that point, you can save time by adopting the entire guide as a reference for all writers, and then make an in-house guide which overrides or adds anything missing. For example, you may have specific products or features which you want to refer to in a specific way or spell in a certain way.

Tip: Check out Hubspot’s free Writing Style Guide template to prepare your own House style guide.

Principles for good User Onboarding Copy

Start with a vision to define your principles first. These principles inform the choices you make as you write or edit your copy. Are you Positive? Serious? Reliable? Dynamic? Compassionate? Your principles are an expression of your brand vision.

Whichever principles you stick to in your Style Guide, we feel these two guiding principles are essential.

1. Be customer focused

From the start of designing and planning an onboarding experience, the focus should be from the customer’s perspective.

  • Copy should be about the customer’s needs. Not “our” and “we” concerning your company or your product.
  • Copy should focus on the customer’s pain points and how to solve them. Not about your product features, bells and whistles.

2. Be conversational

The interactive walkthrough copy, in particular, works better as a conversation. A walkthrough prompts users to take action. Usually, you’re drawing their attention as they complete a task in your application.

Even if your brand style and tone is academic or formal, your walkthrough copy will work better in a more conversational tone.

  • Pose and then answer a question.
  • This principle can ensure you’re conveying a benefit.

Tip: Starting a walkthrough with a question is an excellent prompt. Users who want to know the answer can opt into the tour, and it helps others save time. Read more about writing a good call to action on our blog.

User Onboarding Copy Guidelines

Here are some example “User Onboarding Copy Guidelines” you can apply now.

Active voice

Active voice is a good writing staple. Passive voice leads to vague phrasing. Passive voice is a way to hide responsibility, whereas you want your User Onboarding Copy to empower users.

Instead of:

  • Selecting an option on the dropdown box will change the position of the pop-over in relation to the assigned element.


  • Select the position of the pop-over in relation to the element. By default, it is placed at the Top.

Verbs first

Start with a verb to make your copy more active and dynamic by default. Try to use verbs as a starting point - what is the action you’re asking them to take? Starting this way usually saves you words, which improves readability.

Instead of:

  • You can also remove the assignment by clicking the x button on the side.  


  • Click here to remove the assigned element.

Be succinct

Brevity is best. The popover bubble used for tooltips and walkovers is small, and that is a good thing. Don’t overstate the obvious.

Instead of

  • You can utilise these navigation and control buttons for each step.  


  • Add control buttons such as Previous or End on any step.

Tip: If an action is obvious, don’t use up an entire step for it. For example, use a redirect instead of saying “Click here.”

Users are in control, not the app.

Your users are powerful. They use your tools to wield their power. The tools do not “let” users do things. Users don’t need your permission.

Instead of:

  • This feature lets you select the range of dates so you can limit the data analysis.


  • Select the date range to fine-tune your data analysis.

Tip: Make it easy for your content editors with Custom Step Templates. These starting points can demonstrate your guidelines, and make authoring new walkthroughs really quick.  


Everyone who writes applies some kinds of guidelines or principles. As we’ve seen in this article, sometimes we’re clinging to myths about writing, and sometimes applying rules which do a disservice to our readers. Decision making is hard, we should do everything we can to help. Once you figure out your own writing guidelines for your application, you will directly improve user experience, and your bottom line.  

You may think your team is too small for copy editing guidelines. However as soon as you do start growing, you’ll be glad the guidelines are there.  

Some may also think their teams are too big. With so much copywriting happening all across the company, where should you start? User Onboarding Copy is something you can edit quickly and on the fly with Inline Manual’s WYSIWYG editor. Try our Custom Step Templates to make it easy for your different content editors to create consistently awesome walkthroughs for users.

If you’d like to see how, sign up to our 14 day free trial.

New release: Checklist to improve user onboarding

2 months ago

Today we’ve released a new feature that has come directly from customer feedback. Say Hello to the Checklist!

Checklist - New feature

With the Checklist, highlight important tasks and give users an idea of what to do next. First-time users can see how to make the most of your application. Employees can get up to speed more quickly. Customers can see what new possibilities are available with a new release.

You can configure the checklist depending on how you want to use it. The Normal type shows all of the tasks, which users can complete in any order. With the Linear type, the next task becomes active after the previous task is completed. This means you can give users flexibility when you need to.

The progress indicator shows what percentage remains. Research shows that progress meters increase engagement rates, and users prefer to have progress indicators. Here are some ways you can use it to improve user response rates and adoption.

Use the Checklist to improve user onboarding completion rates and more

Many user onboarding tactics can be enhanced with the Checklist feature.

  • Focus on benefits, not features. Show the list of tasks you need to complete to gain a specific benefit.
  • Encourage profile completion. For social applications and services, guide users to complete their account profile or expand their network.
  • Reduce friction in the initial configuration. In the past many services relied on 1:1 interaction to get users through the initial setup phase. Turn the first steps into self-service tasks with the Checklist.

User onboarding expert Samuel Hulick advises you should be selective in what you get people to do when onboarding. He said, “Onboarding tends to fail when you simply line up a bunch of stuff for people to do without knowing whether that stuff directly increases the chances they will find ongoing success.” What will bring your users to success?

Whether you’re helping onboard new users, train new employees, or support customer success, the Checklist can help your users stay focused on the goals. Here are some ideas.

Checklist - How it works

Improve user onboarding completion rates

With the Checklist, define the onboarding flow for your new users with a clear the path to success. Collect the steps they need to get up and running into a User Onboarding Checklist.

Direct a new user’s attention to the highest-impact experiences right from the start. Don’t let them get lost in power features which only your advanced users require. Now is the chance to emphasise the key things which will directly lead them to success.

When you have the tasks and topics collected into the Checklist, you’ll know where they are in the process. Take this a step further, and you can review what users have completed with Analytics, and then you can target messages to your users based on what you know.

This would be an excellent way to use Red Flag metrics to get users unstuck. Alex Turnbull, the Founder and CEO of Groove, defined Red Flag metrics as indicators that show a customer is at risk of churning. By paying attention to Red Flag metrics, they reduced churn by 1.6%. You may find that customers who churn get snagged on a particular step in the onboarding journey. Prompt them with a message if they didn’t complete a task after X number of days.

Speed up employee onboarding with a training checklist

New hires are overloaded with many new systems to get familiar with and set-up tasks before they can even start to be productive. They may also get frustrated when they learn many procedures, and can’t recall them when they sit down to get to work.

Instead of relying on new employees checking back and forth with another digital onboarding system, give them a task list right there alongside your application. The obvious thing would be to use the Checklist to help them get familiar with your software or service. Why not also reinforce company policies in the checklist? For example, add a reminder about security procedures show them how to ensure their account is secure.

While a new hire is getting familiar with your systems, that ramping up time is costing you money. The more you can make your new team members self-sufficient, you’re improving productivity and their job satisfaction.

Bring larger milestones and goals into focus

One of the most important aspects of reducing churn is making sure your long time customers continue to gain value from your product or service. Sometimes the most valuable milestones in a customer’s journey might involve multiple processes. They may also need to wait before they can see the value and benefits you promise. Breaking these processes down into clear tasks gives your users a way to see progress taking place.

Instead of creating long walkthroughs with ten steps, break larger processes by grouping tasks into items on your Checklist. You can also add knowledge base articles to your checklists. For example, you can add an article that describes what is happening in the background while they wait to see the results of their efforts.

When you show them the Checklist of those steps along the way, you can build confidence that yes, you are guiding them to success.

How to use the Checklist

Enable the Beta Version to get an advance preview of features to come. Our gradual rollout process gives you a preview of the new features which improve your application’s user experience and help you guide users to success.

  • Enable Beta Version to get access to this feature.
  • Enable the Checklist.
  • Configure it to be either normal or linear, to control what order users can complete the items.
  • Mark which topics should appear in your checklist.

Find out how to use the Checklist feature.


When you apply User Onboarding best practices, you’ll start to see users finishing their tasks more quickly which gets them closer to success and satisfaction faster.

Keep your users focused on success with the Checklist. Whether they are first-time users, new hires, or returning customers, the Checklist will give them clear guidance about the most important tasks they can complete now.

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User onboarding: How to guide first-time users to success

2 months ago

In this article, we’ll show you how to guide first-time users to success. With in-app guidance, you can show your users how to be awesome with your app. They learn while doing, and experience the benefits of your application ASAP. Here are some practical tips you can apply now.

First-time users need to experience and not just see benefits

Because you designed your application with users’ needs at the centre, your new users will ideally be able to meet their needs with your software. If they don’t, they churn. 40-60 % of users who sign up for a free trial of SaaS application will use it once and never come back.

It’s crucial to demonstrate the value of your service. In order for you to deliver on the expectations you built up in your marketing message, first-time users need to know:

  • What’s possible
  • Why they should do it
  • How to get it done

And what better place than right within your application, while they are using it?

In the face of this pressure, the mistake is to try and show the breadth of product features and capabilities in extensive, rambling product tours. These kinds of tours are more likely to bore your users than they will impress them.

They don’t want a hard sell. The hard selling tactics backfire today. There’s also a new paradox of users who want a fully self-service product yet personalised sales. They want live demos, yet they want free trial access to explore on their own. They want a self-service shopping cart, but they also want to chat - with a person.

And they certainly don’t want to be ignored altogether. Imagine getting to the counter, and no one coming to serve you. A lack of communication could be worse than a miscommunication.

Tip: Your user onboarding experience can address their needs by being fully self-service, and get tailored to their needs. Customise and tailor your user onboarding experience depending on their role.

Communicate your application's value

“Shut up and take my money!” is the enthusiastic response you want customers to have for your product. To get to that point, a potential customer must know that the value of your service will bring benefits which outweigh the costs. The costs may be financial, but decision makers also the effort invested in setup and use.

When you’re identifying your product’s value and benefits, think less about the specific features of your service, and focus on the outcomes for your customers.

Is your service going to

  • Save them the time they would otherwise spend on doing it themselves?
  • Make it possible for them to do things they couldn’t do otherwise?
  • Help them respond to a situation they are struggling with?
  • Give them an advantage over the competition that isn’t possible without your service?
  • Save them money over another solution?

After that, you can get quite specific about the benefits.

Tip: In your user onboarding experience, clearly state the time or money saved. 

Compare the not-so-obvious competition

Decision makers are overwhelmed with options. You probably have your direct market competitors clearly in your sights. But your first-time users may also be considering other alternatives which aren’t so obvious.

For example, some buyers are comparing your service with making no decision at all and delaying the decision. In that case, you can quantify the lost opportunity if they don’t make a choice now. State the benefits they will get in the first month of your service.

In other cases, some customers are comparing an in-house solution. In that case, quantify and compare with the Baremetrics Build v Buy calculator.

  • How much time would it take to build a similar solution in-house?
  • How much time will it take each month to maintain?
  • What is the cost per employee involved in the build?

Even in the most modest estimations with one developer spending a few days on building a solution and a few hours a month to maintain it, doing something in-house can soon become a costly solution.

Particularly for SaaS products relying on recurring subscriptions, your customers need to understand that value continuously. Determine what has the biggest initial impact, and then continue to reiterate that message throughout the customer’s lifecycle.

In this example, Grammarly communicates the numbers of fixes delivered over time.

Communicate value continuously, like Grammarly

How can you get users to see the benefits outweigh the costs as quickly as possible?

  • What task demonstrates value in your application?
  • Which task involves creating something new or adding data to your application?
  • Which task shows them results?

Tip: Guide users to the most high-impact activities.

Don't grag users all throughout your application.

Focus on the highest impact tasks, stay focused.

What's your keystone and aha moment?

Even after they click “buy, when users are in the early stages of the customer lifecycle, they are still evaluating their purchase. If you give them an immediate return on their investment, it will not only fulfil their needs it will also boost their confidence. Lee Markidan at Groove HQ writes that there are “two important milestones” early in the customer lifecycle.

  1. The moment they sign up for your product, and…
  2. The moment they achieve their first “success” with your product

Most of your marketing efforts are focused on raising product awareness and getting users to sign up. Once they log in - this is where they should hear a clear message and guidance to their first “aha moment.”

One of the most famous “aha moments” in user onboarding lore is Facebook’s focus on “getting to 7 friends in 10 days.” This keystone galvanised hundreds of people to work towards one goal, eventually bringing Facebook on the path to 1 billion users.

Chamath Palihapitiya’s job at Facebook was to try and increase Facebook's user base in 2005. In this video Chamath explained how they honed a simple and elegant understanding of product value and user behaviour.

Chamath credits their success with the decision to completely reject any product plans about “virality.”  He wouldn’t let the conversation revolve around the idea of trying to trick and spam users into signing up. Instead, they focused on the three challenges any consumer product has to deal with.

  1. How to get people in the front door?
  2. How to get them to an “Aha” moment as quickly as possible?
  3. How do you deliver core product value as often as possible?

He explained that a massive amount of complexity could be expressed simply. Famously, for Facebook, the aha moment is “get to 7 friends in 10 days.” It’s under these conditions that the users see the value of the application, and have their first a-ha moment.

For him, it didn’t matter whether “7 friends in 10 days” was a perfect metric. It gave his team focus. Hundreds of people were working towards one goal, and they talked about nothing else. He called this a keystone.

To discover that keystone, he advised people to start by looking at an engaged user. What does their success look like and how did they get there? You can’t rely on your gut, he explained, you have to listen to users and observe their behaviour.

“All Analytics does is it tells you WHAT. It very rarely answers with conviction WHY,” said Daniel Rowles and Ciaran Rogers in the The Digital Marketing Podcast. You need to gather both quantitative data and qualitative data.  

Liam Gooding at advises you do two things.

  1. Look at the usage data.
    • Which features are they using?
    • What documentation pages are they reading?
    • What emails are they opening?
  2. Have a conversation.
    • Speak to existing customers.
    • Which features were integral to making the decision?

This information is valuable because it tells you what successful customers behaviours are, and it explains why.

The best way to get qualitative usage data? Listen to your customers. The CEO of GrooveHQ managed to talk with 500 customers in 4 weeks.

Data about customer activity will help you identify successful customer behaviours, so you can guide users to success.

Tip: When you identify your keystone, focus your team’s efforts and your customer’s attention on that goal. It doesn’t need to be a perfect metric, but the message needs to be crystal clear. You’ll learn more about the customers by doing this, and you can continue to iterate.

User onboarding in a free trial: Try before you buy

Free trials are the most common strategy to engage potential customers in a purchase decision.  In Pacific Crest’s 2015 Private SaaS Company Survey 30% of respondents derive revenue from Freemium strategies, but “virtually no one drives their business on it.” Instead, “Try before you buy” is more common, with 60% of respondents deriving revenues through this strategy.

The trial experience exists among other marketing and support channels. The messaging around the service and the actual experience should be consistent through all the channels. Lincoln Murphy says The seeds of churn are planted early.” Particularly if aggressive sales practices over-promise unrealistic benefits.

There are high-touch methods which are effective. Sales team members will reach out to prospects through email responses. These may initiate demos or invitations to webinars. These live experiences provide opportunities for prospective customers to ask for and receive help from a real person.

Customers can reach out to your support team and experience what the full service is like. Groove HQ discovered that customers were 350% more likely to convert if they sent emails to the support team. A great support experience is an excellent demonstration of your service.

Those high-touch experiences are costly to scale. This is why it’s important to optimise and automate as much self-service as possible.

Within the app, product tours should focus on guiding new users to the same behaviours of successful users. Documentation and help resources should be readily available from within the application. You can send drip emails either triggered based on a schedule to triggered through their interactions in your application.

Tip: The free-trial is one aspect of your future customer’s decision-making process and conversion experience. With consistency and coordination, these tools choreograph the user’s experience around your product and service.


A wealth of options confronts decision makers. They’re considering your competition, and if they’re exhausted by search, they may even opt to do nothing at all.

When they do sign up, it’s your chance to clearly demonstrate whatever benefits you promised in your marketing message. The more clear this message is, the better. Your team will be able to rally around and focus their efforts. And your users will notice this when they compare their options. The sooner they get value, the more likely they are to stick around.

And that means happy customers who stick around!

If you’d like to start guiding your users to success right now, sign up for our 14 day trial.

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