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 have learned (sometimes in a hard way :) ) during my video games career and that you can successfully adopt to your Saas business to boost the trial conversion and user engagement.
Are video-games relevant to SaaS?
Oh yes, they are. A game is a product, which you don’t really need to use. You use it, just because you like it. What about Saas? You use CRM or some project management tool because you need one, right? Is that really all?
Let me ask you - how do you feel when you really enjoy using the app? You are enthusiastic to see how you are accomplishing the work, you are excited about your productivity. Am I right? It is fun. We always talk about productivity, priorities, visibilities and so on, 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 or with an AI-powered scheduler or whatever crazy app your CEO "recommends" you to use 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.
The user experience is the key differentiator among the apps now
There are tons and tons of similar apps on the market now. You may think that yours is unique, but frankly - it is not. What makes 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 supporting (and more or less marketing) tool, as they really manage to forget everything you tell them one minute after the call ends.
These are the simple rules of video-game tutorials.
1. You want to Teach your users how to use the app, that’s clear, I guess.
2. You also want to provide users with Comfort - assuring them they are doing great, they are on the right track. Videogame can be pretty frantic and players need to some comfort zones, not to be overheated. In Saas, it is the same, maybe for a different reason (work environment is stressful), but you want to keep in mind that your users are under the stress and you want to help them to feel more relaxed.
3. Respect the user. Just like in a zombie game you don't want to explain what the zombies are, you don’t want to insult your customer by explaining the basic principles of CRM.
4. Excite the users! I can't stress this one enough! In a videogame, you want to excite the player. Is Saas different in that? It is not. You want to show your customer how cool your app is, you want him to "Awhh that's awesome!", you want to surprise him. Sell these moments well.
Imagine you are selling an ice cream right? A potential customer wants to taste it. What will you do?
1. Here is the strawberry ice cream please -> No sale
2. Here is the strawberry ice cream. This is our specialty, we import strawberries from New Zealand. That’s what makes the difference. Do you feel the flavor? Fantastic right? -> Sale
Videos are not bad, but far from perfect, especially when the user is looking for one particular piece of information in a long video. Images illustrating the content are great, short animated gifs are the best.
Just like in games, you must be very careful in feeding the information. Cut the boarding into smaller pieces, long tours and texts always take their toll.
Video-games players are the most impatient users ever. One of the reasons, why they quit is, that they are afraid, that it will take too long to learn the game.
The same applies to Saas. Cut the boarding to smaller logical chunks and at the start of each tour tell users what they will learn and how long it takes. Number the cards on the tours (1/10, 2/10...10/10).
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, you want them to use their data (data they input, data they created) as they will be motivated not to lose them. It’s tempting to fill the app with general data to show what it looks like when the app is fully running. But 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.
Yea, this might sound cheap, but if there is just one piece of advice you should take from the article, is it this one:
If you want to learn more about user engagement, tutorials, boarding tours, I can highly recommend you to play video games and see how they are doing this. There are light years ahead in the user engagement from the Saas. There is so much to learn and adopt.
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