Lessons on Reducing Your Web App’s Bounce Rate by 75 Percent

Editor’s note: Product tours are immensely helpful for user retention and minimizing bounce rates – often improving sales conversions 20-100% – but they can also be frustrating and eat up valuable time.

Evan Chen is a software developer who experienced this problem and did something about it, developing a terrific app for taking the pain out of creating and managing product tours. In this post he shares with us what he has learned as well as a code to get a free beta invite to his new app, Taurus.

How it Got Started – Case Study

Taurus - Set up a product tour for your web application in 15 minutes

Taurus is our new service that vastly improves user retention by taking the pain out of creating, maintaining, and iterating product tours, but it was born out of a completely separate product.

While working at an education startup Kite, my cofounder and I noticed that a lot of ours users stopped using the product immediately after signing up. Approximately 40% of all users never really made it past a few pages and we quickly realized that without a tour of the product, our users weren’t going to dedicate a lot of effort to figuring things out.

So we took time to put together the front and back-end for our product tour. After it went live, user bounce rate dropped dramatically, to less than 10%. Some things could be said about the data–perhaps our interface just sucked, maybe our target demographic specifically needs hand-holding, but one thing was for certain: the product tours worked.

Take a look at the analytics:
How Taurus product tours affected user retention in Kite

What We Learned

  1. Product tours are immensely helpful for user retention and minimizing bounce rates. The implementation of product tours have been known to improve sales conversions 20-100%.
  2. Product tours are a pain to maintain. Setting one up wasn’t a huge deal (though it does still take effort), but when our layouts changed, or maybe a step needed to be added, the tours needed to be modified and updated to reflect the changes. It’s just a lot of tedious work for something that feels like should be a lot simpler.

We took these lessons and built Taurus. We think product tours should be something developers or the product team could easily sit down and put together without much effort. New feature rolled out? Put together a new tour. Or maybe we’re noticing bounce rates on a particular page? Quickly add a tooltip. Modifying and adding tooltips ought to be something that can happen without an expensive development cycle.

Tooltips should not require an expensive development cycle.

How to Set Up an Effective Product Tour

We were able to glean several insights on what makes a successful product tour through our experience creating one for kite. Here are 3 tips to keep in mind:

  1. The introductory tour should hand-hold your visitor through all major features and have them perform every action manually. Create your tooltips to mark every action. This winds up being more effective than a video or screenshots, because the visitor has first-hand experience performing every action.
  2. If your application has premium features, be sure to walk through them with tooltips as well. The improved visibility for your premium features provided by Taurus can lead to a dramatic increase in sales conversions. Your visitors can’t pay you for features they don’t know exist.
  3. Continuously update and maintain your tours. One of the biggest values provided by Taurus is the ability to modify and update your tours quickly and easily. By keeping your tours well-groomed, you can rest assured knowing that your visitors are always aware of the latest features.

If you’re looking to install a product tour for your web application or make the maintenance of an existing one easier, try out the Taurus demo; if you like what you see, you can sign up for immediate access to the closed beta using the following code: WEBITECT50 (good for 50 sign ups)

I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions in the comments!

Written By Evan Chen

Evan Chen is the founder of Taurus and StartEngine-backed education startup Kite. Evan specializes in usability and front-end technologies. He has worked professionally as a software engineer for 5 years before quitting his day job to run his own startup in early 2012. You can follow him on twitter here: twitter.com/ebzlo

1 Comment

  1. Sydney_Web_Designers

    December 10th, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    I find myself in the same situation every time. I have just walked a client through an app and then I’ll go to another website and search wildly for tooltips helping me to fill out an online form. Not everyone has the time to ‘take the tour’ so anything to help users understand your apps easily is a Godsend.

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