Five tips for collaborating cross-functionally and upping your in-app messaging game

Written by Pippa Armes  | 



As organizations scale and grow, working cross-functionally becomes increasingly important. 

Collaborating and clearly communicating isn’t just necessary for your own internal teams. Your customers can tell whether your team is working cohesively or not, too. They feel it through their experience with your product, see it in how you position your services, and hear it in the messaging you serve them throughout their journey.

Allison Caldrone (senior in-product marketing manager) and Drew Grantham (in-product marketing specialist) from Citrix know a few things about creating a seamless user journey with cross-functionally vetted in-app messaging. They’ve been using Pendo to deliver in-app guides for the past five years, and currently manage over 400 live guides (with over 2,000 created) across 35 Citrix products and services. 

During their breakout session at Pendomonium 2021, Caldrone and Grantham talked about their process for collaborating with teams across the organization, and shared five tips for creating more resonant in-app guides.

The in-product messaging process

Caldrone kicked off the session by talking about the importance of having a clear workflow in place and making sure all the right stakeholders are involved in the messaging planning process from the get-go. “We collaborate a ton,” she explained, “depending on the actual message we want to go live [with], we will meet with different people—that could include product managers, customer success, support, engineering, product design, documentation, or e-learning teams.”

During her team’s initial meeting with the relevant stakeholder groups, Caldrone said that her team always starts the conversation with the same three questions:

  • What do we want to message?
  • Who do we want to message?
  • When do we want to message them?

From there, Caldrone’s team builds the necessary in-app guides in Pendo; tests them extensively on various browsers, operating systems, and screen resolutions; and pushes them to staging. Caldrone emphasized the importance of working closely with quality assurance (QA) and engineering at this point. “This really built the trust between [my team] and engineering. [At first] they were a little worried that we could push whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted,” Caldrone said. “We built that trust with them over time.”

Once their in-app guides pass the QA and staging phase, Caldrone’s team then alerts Citrix’s various customer-facing teams about the soon-to-be-deployed messaging via an email distribution list. That way, everyone knows what’s being communicated to their customers. And finally, once a guide is ready to be disabled or removed, Caldrone’s team analyzes the performance of every message and reports back their findings to the stakeholders from their initial discovery meeting. 

This collaborative process has been highly successful at Citrix, and has helped Caldrone’s team message to customers in a very cohesive way. “This is a super cross-functional approach that we’ve developed,” she said. “We found that even at the beginning, it helped us spread the word about who we are and what we do.”

Tips for creating resonant and effective guides

Next, Caldrone and Grantham shared five simple tips for teams looking to level up their in-app messaging game.

Tip 1: Teach users the way they want to learn

“Not every person learns in the same way. Our adoption is going to be limited if we only have our users trying to adopt the product in one way,” said Grantham. The first rule of thumb for the Citrix team is to always consider all the ways their users might prefer to learn—for example, in-person, on-demand, via videos, or with written content—then create in-app messaging and guides to point users towards the resources that are most relevant to them. 

Grantham also shared the many guide formats Citrix has leveraged to help users learn—including GIFs, videos, walkthroughs, documentation, and even an option to contact the CSM team. In particular, Grantham noted that she and her team have had a lot of success with GIFs, which are particularly useful for walking users through a process or demonstrating specific actions Citrix wants users to take—all while keeping things fun and interactive.

Tip 2: Make it seamless

Caldrone also noted that she’s constantly striving to make Citrix’s in-app guides as seamless as possible by making them feel like they’re part of the product experience. She does this by incorporating guides into the products’ native UI—which has been a big win so far. These branded in-app guides have helped Citrix create an intuitive learning experience for their users. And with learnings from Pendo’s analytics, Caldrone has been able to arm the Citrix enablement team with valuable engagement insights, without the need for additional engineering resources.

Tip 3: Have a super cool Resource Center

The Citrix team has also seen a lot of success with the Resource Center. “We treat our Resource Center as a hub for users to be most successful in adoption. We want it to go beyond onboarding and support the entire customer journey,” said Grantham. The Citrix team has leveraged their Resource Center as a robust repository of content to accommodate all learning styles and formats—including videos, search and support articles, and Tech Previews. 

Grantham and her team are also going a step further to customize the content that each user sees in the Resource Center based on where they are in their journey. “Once users hit a certain level of active use, they then have a new section in the Resource Center called ‘Optimize your Citrix Environment,’ which includes guides that are more technical for features beyond onboarding capabilities,” she explained.

Tip 4: Don’t waste their time

Caldrone recommended keeping guides short and sweet, and noted that her “magic number” for guide steps is five or less. “Around five steps, we see people drop off [of walkthroughs] pretty drastically,” she said. A good rule of thumb is to keep things as succinct as possible, and only use as many steps in your guide as are absolutely necessary to get the point across.

Caldrone also suggested leveraging segmentation to create tours and walkthroughs based on the data you have about specific users and their entitlements. Adding this layer of personalization to the user experience—or even allowing users to self-select how they’d like to move through their onboarding flow—ultimately leads to a better product experience and happier, more engaged users.

Tip 5: Help them when they need it

Grantham wrapped up the session by covering one of the most important areas of focus for the Citrix team: targeting users where they are in their journey. She suggested using very granular and targeted segments to ensure any messaging being produced is as relevant as possible.

She also reiterated the importance of asking users for feedback—and doing it at the right times. Grantham noted that one of the ways her team closes the loop with customers who have submitted feedback is by serving them targeted guides acknowledging their submissions and highlighting new releases or updates related to their requests. 

Finally, Grantham talked about the importance of avoiding pop-up fatigue. She suggested being strategic with guide placements, only helping users when they need it, and leading with data-informed messaging.