Product Management

How Amplitude Bypassed Engineering Bottlenecks by Using Appcues to Educate Users

5 minute read

In a typical day, Alicia Shiu, product marketing manager at Amplitude, might work on user onboarding, write a blog post, and conduct user research to improve the powerful analytics platform. 

If you don’t know Amplitude, it’s a rapidly-growing behavioral analytics platform with a fantastic product. We use it here at Appcues.

One of Alicia’s responsibilities is educating users and making sure they get value out of analytics. As a former Ph.D. candidate in Stanford’s neuroscience program, Alicia approaches growth with an analytical mindset and a GSD attitude. Alicia knew that she needed to be able to communicate with users effectively, but she struggled to get developers excited about building in-app messaging: 

“At a startup, our engineering team is constantly working really hard on the core product, and it’s hard to get them to spend time on something like creating in-app messages.” 

Alicia turned to Appcues for help. Thanks to Appcues’ in-app messaging capabilities, Alicia is able to help users get more out of the Amplitude platform. Here’s her story:

Wistia video thumbnail - How Amplitude Uses Appcues

Amplitude’s self-service demo

Finding first value during onboarding is difficult with a rich analytics product. When a user gets started, there’s nothing rich to see—data has to be poured into the platform for some time before value is created. 

To help users quickly understand the platform, Alicia wanted to create a walkthrough within a self-service demo account. But she found it near impossible to wrangle engineering time to create helpful walkthroughs and feedback forms on the Amplitude platform. 

Here’s what she made with Appcues:

amplitude product demo 1
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Alicia introduces each module with a single key message. The tour then gets out of the way, allowing the user to explore the product themselves. 

Amplitude’s self-service product demo is the main call-to-action on their homepage and serves as the free trial. 18% of prospective customers who enter the demo have contacted sales to explore Amplitude further—a big win for lead generation.

Releasing Amplitude 2.0

Alicia and her team soon looked to improving other parts of the product experience with Appcues. It just so happened that there was another key initiative coming up: launching Amplitude 2.0. 

After tracking two trillion user events, the team at Amplitude rebuilt the platform to be even more powerful and user-friendly. Spenser Skates, the CEO and co-founder of Amplitude, wrote

“We’ve completely rebuilt our user experience, with a focus on making it easy for anyone to access the data they need, discover insights, and share across teams...We wanted to make data easy to interpret and explore for people who are analytics beginners, but also provide new depth for analytics experts.”

Launching a new and improved platform is a big undertaking. It often requires input from marketing, product, growth, engineers, sales, and senior leadership. In addition to making a big marketing splash, releasing a 2.0 means that all users, existing and new, would have to learn new features and get accustomed to the new look. 

To ensure that users were on board all the way, Alicia launched the new Amplitude 2.0 platform by communicating via Appcues. They first teased at Amplitude 2.0 months ahead of the release.

amplitude 2.0 modal launch

While pre-launch communication may not be necessary for all products, Amplitude’s power users may spend hours a week in the product. They might know exactly where to find the data tables they need. For such a crucial tool, it’s important to set expectations accordingly and to build excitement for what’s to come.

When the new platform was rolled out, the team used a modal announcement and product tour. The tour is similar to the one they built in the demo app:

Amplitude 2.0 welcome modal
amplitude 2.0 product tour 2
amplitude 2.0 product tour 3
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The tour ended with contact information for those who need help. Just as importantly, the last modal in the tour thanked users for their time and gave instructions for going back to 1.0. Withholding this tip until after the tour of 2.0 gives users some time to get to know the new platform; otherwise, it may be tempting for time-crunched users to immediately revert back to what they already know. 

amplitude product tour support

To mitigate user frustrations, they continued to communicate how to go back a day after a user saw the initial launch. Alicia used a subtle hotspot to remind users of 1.0 without deterring further exploration of 2.0. 

amplitude hotspot

After the final depreciation of 1.0, users who continued to visit the old platform received the following message:

amplitude depreciation message modal

This can’t-be-missed modal window sends a final message about 1.0 and gives users the necessary instructions for moving forward to 2.0.

Being able to build in-app messages as non-technical teammates meant that Alicia and the rest of the growth team could help users faster and without bottlenecks: 

“The biggest benefit of using Appcues for us is the fact that we’re were able to create all these flows and tooltips and modals on our own without requiring any extra engineering time.”

Using Appcues for NPS

Over time, Alicia and the Amplitude team have continually found more use cases for Appcues:

“We had been looking for a way to collect NPS and knew that email probably wouldn’t be the most effective because it’s not actually when people are in the product and thinking about it. 

But it was just something that we hadn’t had a lot of time to dedicate to building our own solution until we started using Appcues.”

Here’s a look at the multi-step NPS survey Amplitude built:

amplitude nps survey slideout
amplitude nps survey form
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amplitude nps survey form

The in-app survey is triggered to show to existing users after their session exceeds 3 pages. Appcues makes targeting that user segment easy. In Alicia’s words, “it’s easier to set up a flow—it took less time—than to set up an email or a blog post.” And that’s why she keeps using Appcues to educate users.

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