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The selfish product tour trap.

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

The selfish product tour trap.

I spent hours analyzing how the top SaaS companies design their product tours and these are my top 3 takeaways: 1️⃣ Walk through a realistic workflow, don't just show off features. 2️⃣ Make sure they understand what's coming next. 3️⃣ Always have an opt-out option, don't force it.

In the world of PLG and self-serve software adoption, product tours are a secret weapon to help customers experience your product’s value.

Let’s first take a step back and ask ourselves “What even is a product tour?”

What is a product tour?

A product tour is a series of guided interactions that are used to educate new users how to use your product to achieve their desired outcomes.

Why is it important?

If you want users to be able to adopt your product without needing to hop on an onboarding call with a success rep, then you have to provide the tools necessary for them to:

  • Learn how to use your product.

  • Understand your value proposition.

  • Experience a personalized introduction to your product’s capabilities.

At the end of the day, no matter how great your product’s solution is, if they don’t know how to use the necessary functionalities relevant to solving their specific pain points, they WON’T adopt your product.

What is the goal?

I want to clarify that the goal of a product tour isn’t to teach users how to use your features, the goal is to teach them how to solve their problems.

This leads us into the first key factor in building the perfect product tour👇

1️⃣ Walk through a realistic workflow, don't just show off features.

Product tours should look like this

You want to take them through the actual steps that they would need to take in order to achieve a certain outcome. As I mentioned, the goal is to teach them how to solve their problems, not to teach them how to use your features.

So, you’re probably thinking “If they don’t know how to use the product, how can they solve their problem?!”

And you’re correct, learning how to use your product is a critical part of the journey. But, its not the goal! This is a crucial shift in perspective.

PLG leaders have mastered this. Their new users are solving problems right from the start. Here are 2 examples:


❌ Master image cropper, wizard text animator. ✅ Empowered graphic designer. Create their first design faster and easier than ever before.


❌ Pro channel creator, expert huddle host. ✅ Better team communication. Streamline team collaboration in minutes.

So next time you’re designing a product tour, don’t show them every feature you’ve got. Instead, guide them through a realistic flow and give them an experience of how they would actually solve their problem using your product.

Pro tip 💡

When you’re designing user journeys - you should always create different flows that are personalized according to different personas/use cases. You should also have customized tours depending on the desired outcomes of your users. Read more about personalization in my previous post here.

2️⃣ Make sure they understand what's coming next.

Give them an idea as to what they will get out of completing the product tour. Put the focus on them. Create curiosity, motivation, and context.

Features vs solving problems

A powerful CTA is the best way to get the ball rolling for an effective tour. Let them know why they should care.

3️⃣ Always have an opt-out option, don't force it.


Live footage of the Product Led Panda hunting down the product manager that didn’t add an opt-out button in their product tours.


This is a similar problem to the insecure product trap (Full post here) where companies are scared to lose potential leads from their new signups so they try to force value onto their users.

The reality is, that not every user wants to or needs to go through your product tour and in these cases, all it does by forcing them into it, is annoy them and ruin their first impression.

We’ve all experienced those tours where we angrily smash the click button to try finish as fast as we can. It’s not a great intro to your product.

Instead, you should give them the option to opt-out and as a best practice make those tours available at a later stage for the users that decide they do want to learn this way.


To wrap up, don’t trap users into a feature showcasing event. Always remember that product tours are an opportunity to help users achieve their goals faster in your product.

Make it about them, make it exciting and clear, and let them choose how they’d like to learn.


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