How ProdPad Used Code-Free User Onboarding to Decrease Their Trial-to-Paid Period by 80%

5 minute read

More and more often, SaaS companies attribute their growth to a customer-centric process that values customer insights and communications as the most impactful factor for growth.

ProdPad is no stranger to this belief. They’ve created a product management software that  helps customer-centric companies capture feedback and prioritize customer learnings into product developments.

Although ProdPad has successfully used their own tools to prioritize product developments, they faced the challenge of communicating with new customers during a period of rapid (or new) growth.

While this was a great problem to have, failure to engage and learn from a growing customer base could have ultimately undermined ProdPad’s gains. As a customer-centric company, ProdPad knew that they had to improve their customer communications to create a better product experience.

ProdPad’s User Onboarding: Before Appcues

andrea saez

Andrea Saez, ProdPad’s Head of Customer Success, has a background in product management recognizes the impact user onboarding has on retention.

Andrea had always ensured that ProdPad invested in user experience early on. However, amidst ProdPad’s new growth, Andrea realized that her existing solutions failed to provide a good user experience quickly and scalably.

Intercom’s Live Chat Didn’t Scale

Andrea used Intercom’s live chat feature to help get new users acclimated to ProdPad. Each chat that came in was an opportunity to coach users to success. But as ProdPad’s volume of free trial starts grew, Andrea was soon inundated with a high volume of chat requests that she couldn’t keep up with, “Chat requests began taking up so much of my time that I had almost none left for strategic initiatives."

While the volume was overwhelming, it did help Andrea see patterns in user questions and feedback. Andrea became an expert in guiding users to success, but she found herself having to repeat the same guidance over and over again. As ProdPad’s customer base grew, Andrea realized she needed a way to scale her knowledge more effectively.

Joyride Distracted ProdPad’s Development Team

As another way to help new users quickly realize value, ProdPad also implemented product tours with an open-source tooltip plugin called Joyride.

The product tours were good in theory, but after ProdPad’s developers implemented them, the team soon found that—as Andrea relayed,

“[Joyride] took too much control of the users’ experience. It bounced them all over the page and kind of felt like we were screaming at them, ‘HEY! LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF I CAN DO!’ which is not a good first impression.”

In addition to the poor user experience, changes to product tours with Joyride required a developer to code and deploy. As ProdPad’s development team was already busy building features and improving infrastructure core to their product, these small updates were seen as a distraction. As ProdPad grew and garnered more customer feedback, it became clear that updating and maintaining Joyride wasn’t feasible.

How ProdPad Uses Appcues for User Onboarding

With Appcues, Andrea built product tours for new users without bugging her development team. ProdPad trial users are now steered towards their first WOW moment—adding a product idea—via a series of customized Appcues tooltips.

prodpad onboarding ideas page

Andrea customized her tooltips style to match ProdPad’s branding via Appcues and selected a user experience that doesn’t take “too much control of the user experience” like Joyride.

By building this product tour without the help of her engineering team, Andrea was able to update and iterate on the content in the tour at her own will. She no longer had to go through her engineering team to get prioritized, coded and deployed, keeping them focused on enhancing their product at its core.

How Else ProdPad Uses Appcues

After implementing Appcues for user onboarding, Andrea found several additional use cases for Appcues to help manage ProdPad’s growth.

In-App Messages Drive Action   

Andrea knows that her product-savvy customers want the chance to read or skim every product update ProdPad makes. ProdPad releases code 1 to 2 times a week, and overloading users with emails didn’t feel like the right method. Andrea wanted a solution that is effective without being overwhelming.

Andrea decided that in-app messages would be a better medium. In-app messages would give updates in the place most contextual and actionable to her users—inside the product itself.

Andrea used Intercom’s in-app messaging feature for a while but wasn’t satisfied with the amount of customization allowed.

“It fell short in letting me control and manage the in-app messages we published for our release notes. ProdPad is a single page app, so we wanted everyone to reload their pages to download the latest code and get our new features and bug fixes. That’s not something you can do with Intercom.”

Users would read Andrea’s release notes and then chat-in when they couldn’t find what was promised to them. She would tell them to refresh their browsers and voila—new code, but this clunky process wasn’t up to ProdPad’s standards for their customers’ experience.

Using an Appcues modal, with just a few clicks, Andrea now publishes her release notes. Each modal includes a customized call-to-action that causes a users’ browser to refresh. This downloads the latest code deployed to ProdPad’s single-page app, and is the exact functionality Andrea wanted but couldn’t create with Intercom.

prodpad new feature release

Because of the frequency of ProdPad’s updates, it is imperative for Andrea to create and publish these communications for her customers quickly and without any development help.

It takes me literally 5 minutes to create and publish a release update with Appcues.”

Customized Content Caters to Different User Needs


As Andrea onboarded different segments of users, she realized that some wanted to take a deeper dive into ProdPad’s offerings. Using Appcues, Andrea created a slideout to offer a demo to those new trial users that want one as well as a link to ProdPad’s user onboarding video series called ‘Masterclass.’

prodpad slideout user onboarding

These alternatives have helped users that prefer learning through different mediums get onboarded, and they have offered Andrea the ability to continue building high-touch relationships via demos.

Feedback Forms Provide Additional Customer Insight

Committed to continuous improvement, Andrea also wanted to create new channels to gather customer feedback. She published feedback forms into ProdPad through Appcues, and she’s currently collecting feedback on her users’ frustrations with the product. This insight gives Andrea a measure into both how happy ProdPad’s customers are as well as how she can improve in the future.

ProdPad’s Success with Appcues

While ProdPad was happy with its new customer growth, the team knew that they had to better communicate with and learn from its customers.

After implementing Appcues for user onboarding, ProdPad cut the time it took for free trialers to convert to paid customers in half. They cut their an average trial period from 8 weeks down 4. And after a few iterations of their onboarding process, ProdPad cut it in half again, bringing their trial period all the way down to an average of 2 weeks.

That’s an 80% improvement on their free trial to paid period!

Using Appcues for product releases, customized content, and feedback forms also helped Andrea free up her time and her developers’ time. Requests that used to take hours/days and several rounds of back-and-forth now take just a few minutes.

It’s simple math. Appcues has helped ProdPad speed up its customer engagement process and accelerate its free to paid conversions by 400%. Which has made a huge impact on its active user-base and turned its cohort analysis into a much happier version of its former self.

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