I have a long history working in the video games industry. I worked as a designer, producer, CEO and founder of several game development companies. Games taught me a lot about customer experience and I'm happy that I can benefit from that know-how in Product Fruits now, where we focus on the customer experience, product adoption and user engagement. In this article, I would like to share with you a couple of tricks I learned (sometimes the hard way :) ) during my video games career that you can successfully adapt to your SaaS (Software as a Service) business to boost the trial conversion and user engagement.
Are video games relevant to SaaS?
Oh yes, they are. A game is a product you don’t really need to use. You use it just because you like it. What about SaaS? You use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or some project management tool because you need one, right? Is that really all?
Think about how you feel when you really enjoy using an app? You are enthusiastic to see how much work you’ll accomplish and excited about your productivity. Am I right? It is fun. We always talk about productivity, priorities, visibilities and the like, but at the end of the day, we want to do what makes us happy. Happy in that particular moment. When we work with CRM, with an AI-powered scheduler, or with whatever crazy app your CEO "recommends" this week, It’s not only about the actual achievement (how much work you did), it also very much depends on your user experience with the app, whether you really understand it, whether you like it, whether you enjoy working with it.
User experience is the key differentiator among apps these days
There are tons of similar apps on the market now. You may think that yours is unique but frankly, it is not :( The difference between winners and losers is not just the feature set, but also the user experience. Just like games, where many of them are "almost the same", but some of the games are simply more fun than the others, also there are many Saas with similar feature sets, but some of them are much fun to work with. The more-fun ones sell better.
The myth of the perfect design
Yes, the design of the app is fundamental, the app must be clear and smooth to use. But an app that doesn't need any explanation is a myth unless the app is very simple and generic (i.e. needless). If your Saas app is innovative or complex, you want to implement powerful adoption features, which help you to make your app more understandable, clearer, more engaging, and fun to use.
Boarding takes it all
Boarding of the new user plays a crucial role in the sales process. It usually takes place during some form of free trial (every application has a free trial of some sort, despite what some product managers claim), where the user is familiarizing with the app and deciding if the app really solves their needs as you have promised in the adverts or during the persuading demo session. It’s the moment, where you are converting a free user to the paying client and if you fail here, you lose all the costs associated with getting that lead into your app. This is the place, you must show your best engagement skills.
Few video-game tricks for the boarding
During the in-app boarding, your user relies on the step-by-step tours, tooltips, adoption meters, feedback and any other tools you provide him with, to help him to understand and to like your app. Yes, you can board them in the video session, but that's actually just a support (and more or less marketing) tool as an average person tends to forget a lot in one minute after the call ends.
These are the simple rules of video-game tutorials.
1. Teach your users how to use the app.
2. Provide users with Comfort - assuring them they are doing great and on the right track. Videogames can be pretty frantic and players need to some form of comfort zone. This is similar to Saas. Work environment could be stressful so you want to keep in mind that you are helping your users feel more relaxed.
3. Excite the users. Going back to video games comparison, you want to excite the player. This is similar to SaaS, show your customers how cool your app is by making sure you sell your best feature.
Short animated gifs are the best here. They are attention grabbing and get more reaction. Videos are not bad at all but far from perfect. Especially long videos are not the best when the user is looking for one particular piece of information.
Just like in games, you must be very careful in over-feeding the user with long information that might be difficult to consume. Cut the boarding into smaller pieces for a better reception.
I don't know about you but my patience is about 6 to 8 seconds when it comes to trying a new product. You definitely want to keep this kind of user in mind in Saas. Cut the boarding into smaller logical chunks and at the start of each tour tell the user what they will learn and if possible, how long it might take. The best would be to number the cards on your tours.
Fight the "I'm afraid I'm using it wrong, I’m getting nowhere" paranoia. Ensure users that they are on the right track.
Video game tutorial is always a natural part of the game. You don’t want to explain something using general data which really doesn’t belong to the player, let them to use the data they created as this motivates them. Steering users to use their real data works better, show them the results and they will be motivated to keep their data in your app.
And remember that We are never presenting, we are ALWAYS SELLING.
If you want to learn more about user engagement, tutorials and boarding tours, I highly recommend playing video games to get the feel. There is so much to learn and adopt.