How to Write In-App Tour Copy

Presented live on Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Attend our live tutorials

You should learn how to write in-app tour copy for one main reason:


As in, getting users to start engaging with your app when they sign up.

By removing the friction of that first “Ummm noooo” moment.

With an in-app tour new users actually want to engage with.

And in this tutorial – we’re gonna show you how to write the copy for that in-app tour…

Copy that covers the 4 Cs:

  • Be Clear
  • Be Concise
  • Be Consistent
  • Be Curious

Because here’s the thing:

If you give your users the white-glove treatment as they get to know your product…

They’ll be more likely to stick around for the long haul.


Introduction [00:00]

Joanna Wiebe: Alright, cool. Are we ready to dive into Carolyn’s wicked awesome talk on writing in-app tour copy. Yes, I’m stoked about it. So, Carolyn did this for us for our brand new Copy School coming out very soon, as in next week.

And she’s going to share with us some insights that will help you. So Carolyn, good day. Okay, are you ready to teach us all about in-app tour copy.

Carolyn: Totally, I’ll share my screen and we can get going.

Joanna Wiebe: Carolyn, have you done a Tutorial Tuesdays before?

Carolyn: No.

Joanna Wiebe: Carolyn is our senior conversion copywriter at Copyhackers. She is super dope at this. Clients go nuts for her stuff, with good reason. I never have to make any changes to her copy when I chief it. I love it.

Good, so welcome Carolyn to the Tutorial Tuesdays crew, for this Tuesday at least.Ange and I are dancing right all right, we can take it away, I just had to stop and interrupt.

What to Expect in This Tutorial [01:31]

Carolyn: We are going to talk today about writing in-app tour copy using the new Copy School platform in-app copy as an example. So, let’s get moving on this slide deck, there you go.

Let’s start by defining what in-app copy is. It’s that first thing a user sees when they sign in. It’s part of the user’s consuming process. So that consuming process comes from the jobs to be done framework and essentially stretches from the decision to purchase.

Yes, I’m going to purchase, through to completing the purchase. So moving through the checkout cart and then into that first use of the product that they just purchased. Most importantly, the in-app tour copy sets the stage for the user success inside your product.

Okay, quick poll. Why is user success so important? So you can chat your answer. There’s five different options. So, a) It keeps customers happy b) It improves product adoption c) It helps keep churn rates low d) It helps your business increase revenue or e) All of the above.

Joanna Wiebe: Everyone was already waiting for E to show up. It’s all the above. Yeah, not too shockingly, we’re getting a whole bunch of Es.

Carolyn: Yes, that is correct, so. let’s move ahead so Yes, he more user success at a very high level equals more money. User success is mega important because it keeps users happy, which can improve product adoption and keeps churn rates low. Which can increase retention, all of which can help your business increase revenue. So user success is mega important.

How to Write In-App Tour Copy [03:47]

Carolyn: Now, how to write in-app to her copy, so this is a step by step, for how I wrote the Copy School in-app tour copy.

Define Your Goal [03:59]

Carolyn: Start by defining our goal for the in-app onboarding. So what do we as a business want to achieve with the tour copy? In this case, Sarah, our product manager already had a draft in place with defined business goals and user needs.

Sarah’s goal was to help that user expectations early for specific “if then” scenarios. So, for example, if you watch all of the Unskippables, then you can access the roadmap filters.

If you upgrade your membership to include The Practice, then you’ll be able to access The Practice workouts as you move through a roadmap. There’s some spoilers for the new Copy School in here too.

Define The User’s Goal [04:42]

Carolyn: So first define our goal. Then define our user’s goal There are two big questions to ask here, so the first one being, what do they want to do? Like, why are they hiring your product? What are they hiring your product to do?

From our research, we know that freelancer students want to improve copywriting skills, so that’s their functional job to be done for Copy School. So they can feel more confident so that’s a personal desired outcome, which will help them get better clients and make more money, and those are functional desired outcomes.

We also have entrepreneurs and founders and business owners as students in Copy School and they want to create marketing materials that sell their product or service offer. That’s the functional job to be done, so that’s why they’re hiring Copy School.

And the outcome that they’re looking for, so the goal is that they can create consistent revenue streams for their business and that’s also a functional desired outcome. Finally, we have in-house copywriters and growth marketers students and they want to write awesome copy that converts so that’s their functional job to be done.

They can prove their value as an important revenue generating team member so that’s a social desired outcome. So we have why they’re hiring. Why they’re hiring Copy School. And we have the goal, what do they want to achieve with Copy School. So we need to know both of those things.

And we also the second question to ask is, are there any objections or anxieties we need to help the student overcome to move them towards their goal? So, in our case with Copy School, we know that some students find the volume of content in Copy School a little overwhelming, there’s a lot in there.

Highlighting the step-by-step bite-size training and the direct path toward getting X asset, whatever that asset is, done could help a student feel less anxious and overwhelmed about the work ahead of them. So documenting all of this ahead of time to just really understand what our user is expecting right out of the gate hopefully from Copy School.

Draft Your Tour Copy [06:53]

Carolyn: After that. So we’ve defined our goal, the business goal. We’ve defined our users goal now it’s time to draft. So draft your tour copy with your users goal, the one that we just talked about, so that’s the expected outcome, as the north star.

What does that mean though, right? So for starters, I really recommend the feature, advantage, benefit framework for modal copy. Like, tour copy that we’re talking about right now, it’s a really, really excellent framework to start with as you draft each piece of in-app tour copy.

And using it as a backbone, ensures that each feature you show during onboarding is tied back to the what’s in it for me factor for the user. So, for example, one of the modals that was drafted says watch the Unskippables essentials to gain a strong copywriting foundation so you can avoid confusion as you work through the training roadmaps.

Our feature is the unskippable essentials. The advantage is tied to the functional job that all our prospective users gain a strong copywriting foundation. And the benefit here is overcoming a possible user anxiety that could get in the way of them achieving their goal to begin with.

So that’s avoiding confusion as they work through the training roadmaps. So that feature, advantage, benefit framework really helped in organizing messages in a way that’s easy for the user to consume. When they’re just getting into your product, it’s totally brand new and it can be a disorienting product experience, coming into a product for the first time.

Making our messages as easy to understand, as possible is really key here. As you draft, you’ll also cross check your copy against your own goals for the tour. So there’s the ones that Sarah set out initially so, for example in the case of the Unskippables.

Beta testing confirmed that we needed to further clarify that the Unskippables are quite literally unskippable. So setting that expectation up front was one of our goals with the unnatural copy. Most importantly, when you are drafting your copy, you’re still selling your product, even if the user has already handed over their credit card information and they’re technically considered a customer.

You’re still selling the use of the product users, usually need to be persuaded to use your product so that’s precisely what the tour needs to do.

Edit Out The Extra And Edit In The Awesome [09:22]

Carolyn: Finally, after you’ve drafted your tour copy, you will edit out the extra end edit in the awesome. If you’re in Copy School already there are plenty of techniques to draw, especially the rule, the one idea per sentence rule, and of course the seven sweeps.

I’m at a very high level of course you’re also going to want to edit out any language that feels too complex. Look, for simple language, wherever possible, because we want to make it easy on our user to understand how the product works.

The 4 Cs of Writing In-App Tour Copy [10:03]

Carolyn: So that’s a step-by-step in how to write copy. Now let’s take a quick look at some of the gotchas or tips that I have for making sure that your in-app tour copy is on point and as effective as possible, right out of the gate.

These tips I call the four Cs of writing effective in-app tour copy. And this gif is in our new in-app tour copy, which you will see soon.

Be Clear [10:45]

Carolyn: So first, be clear. This really all the time, be clear. Clarity is critical in your tour copy and, of course, anyone already familiar with Jo’s seven sweeps technique knows clarity should rule the roost anyway.

It can be tempting, especially when you’re in product if your brand is heavy on voice and tone or has a really unique voice and tone, it can be tempting to go really heavy on that in-app. But do so with caution. It’s easy for this approach to backfire and by backfiring, that looks like creating frustration for the user.

Which is likely to create a fair number of open support tickets and could also increase overall trend rates. So none of those outcomes are really outcomes that we want. What to do instead.

Consider a custom team gif, like the one that you’re seeing right here, is a great way to infuse automated onboarding with a human touch. And in the case of the Copyhackers team, this gif sits on the final tour model so that that model happens to encourage the rear reader to start digging into their new training.

And it’s a bit of a celebration moment, like let’s go and let’s start. We have this gif and it totally embodies that emotional experience and also fits with the overall brand voice of Copyhackers and it doesn’t rely on any copy to communicate voice or tone. It’s all done with the gif, like the copy, the actual middle copy is very simple and straightforward.

Joanna Wiebe: No one said it’s a dance party and then like I wish I’d known, it was a dance party, I was told to wave and I did what I was told. I love it, it’s awesome.

Carolyn: One of my favorite gifs for sure.

Be Concise [12:43]

Carolyn: Okay, so the next tip after being clear is to be concise. In-app models are in most cases, quite small crowded modals could increase friction, for your user and make their first use feel like more work than it needs to be.

Instead shorten the copy to its most reasonable length without sacrificing clarity, persuasion or specificity. Include only what the user needs to know right now about the feature, and why using it should matter to them right now, as they begin to use your product.

What does that look like in terms of our tour copy? For an example, let’s look at this welcome message. This is our strong first draft. Sarah identified that she really wanted students to move through this tour copy, of course, the tour.

Instead of clicking out because of those goals that we had initially set out, making sure that the expectations are clear for how to use the product itself why student can’t access certain parts of the interface until they’ve done other actions first making that clear up front to try to decrease frustration as they actually get into using the product.

So, because of that, I made it a priority to optimize this first screen by leading, with the benefit of taking action, so the user immediately understands what’s in it for them, why should I move through this to a copy in the first place.

And I mentioned the minimal time commitment involved to ease friction around moving through to the next level. So we’ll take a look at the revised modal in one sec. So here’s what that looks like. So first of all, here’s the strong first draft.

And then here is our revised modal, So that’s it and if it first so kickstart your copywriting success. And then we intro the minimal time commitment, copy wise that turned into a cross a line of body copy and two buttons.

That’s all the user needs at this point in order to understand why they should move forward in the tour. And if you take a closer look at the buttons, I also rewrote the buttons so one of them is a CTV. The one that encourages the user to move forward, it’s a CTV or a call to value aligned with our user’s desired outcome.

So, copywriting success, but in this case, kickstart my success. And that encourages the user to enter the tour, so aligning the tour with success. Like there, their goal, job to be done here. And you can also think about this, if you use a hero’s journey to sort of organize messages and where you fit specific messages into an experience.

You can think of this like receiving the call to adventure once they’re entering into your product.

The other button, on the other hand, gently reminds them of the danger and not answering their call to adventure, so that’s like refusing the call.

Again that’s from the hero’s journey. If you use that particular framework in this case, we mentioned a known failed solution. So trying to go it alone in learning copywriting. And mentioning that subtly de-optimizes clicking out of the tour.

So all in all, in the new revisions for this particular modal, we amplified persuasion. And a 10th of a draft of copy by almost 50% so challenge yourself to say only what you need to say in the most persuasive way you can say it, in as few words as possible. It’s a challenge but it’s fun.

Be Consistent [16:17]

Carolyn: The third tip here is to be consistent, so use the same language your users see in your UI. So if the dashboard calls the product subscription membership, don’t call it a subscription in your tour.

Keeping your language consistent helps you avoid creating unnecessary confusion that will increase the friction during the user’s first use, as well as any further uses after that.

For example, our setup inside Copy School is that we call Copy School a membership, so we use that exact language in our in-app tour as well. So it’s not a subscription, it’s not a billing cycle, it’s a membership.

Be Curious [17:27]

Carolyn: Finally, be curious. Copy can’t be set it and forget copy. I mean we’re conversion copywriters so there’s always room for optimization anyway. But expect this to be an especially iterative process. Even more so if you’re working on copy for a new product. And get curious about what users are saying.

If you can, try to watch recording beta sessions or user demos and proactively collaborate with your product team and customer support to solve user problems. Here’s what happened when we were drafting the actual copy for Copy School.

Okay, Sarah didn’t actually say, Carolyn you have a problem, but I heard a problem earlier when she was discussing early beta feedback. Sarah shared in one of our daily stand ups, the beta users were consistently confused by The Practice. Specifically, they were confused about their inability to access practice workouts. Users kept saying things like Oh, I have to move through these lessons to unlock this practice.

But that’s not actually how The Practice works. It’s an in-product upgrade. So with this feedback in mind, I went back to the copy and added messaging to clarify that aspect up front, so you can see that now at the bottom of this modal.

Joanna Wiebe: Awesome. Thank you so much, Carolyn, for sharing this with us today. Thanks, Ange for also keeping everything running and chatting out a whole bunch of links along the way. Everybody for sharing your questions. We will see you very soon, but do watch your inbox for cool stuff coming your way early next week. Alright thanks, everyone. Take care. Bye.

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