Appcues vs. Pendo: An Authoritative Comparison

Appcues vs Pendo Hero Image

You’re trying to decide on the right SaaS onboarding software, and your searches have led you to two of the top names in the onboarding industry: Appcues vs. Pendo. Realistically, for most companies, we believe that either one of these software packages will cover off 99% of the features required in an onboarding software.

But here’s the rub – they’re both expensive. Really expensive. And also, not that easy to use.

So, in this article, we’ll take a detailed look at both and throw a third name (our own name…) into the mix. Read on to discover more about who comes out on top when comparing Appcues vs Pendo, and when Nickelled might be a better bet…

Factors for Choosing the Best Onboarding Software

The best tool helps lead to a higher user adoption rate. The more people that use your product regularly, the higher the adoption rate. Think of it as a domino effect. A high adoption rate increases customer engagement and, in the end, improves profit. 

When comparing onboarding software, such as Appcues vs. Pendo or Appcues vs. Nickelled, consider the following factors. These answers will help you choose the best option for your business.


You want the top software and don’t want to be constrained by pricing. However, unless you’re a multi-million dollar enterprise with a large budget, cost does play a role in your decision. So pay attention to the different features. 

You might be paying for options you won’t use. Instead, look for onboarding software that offers enough flexibility to help you grow with it, but not so much more that it’s out of your price range. 


Will the software grow with your company? You don’t want to get heavily invested and find it lacks scalability. Instead, look for software that has tiered pricing with an option for unlimited users. As your business grows, paying for each customer can get costly. 

Learning Curve/ Ease of Use

Some onboarding software options are complex and challenging for users to understand. If it takes too much time and skill to install and use, you may lose more engagement than you gain. Although too much simplicity can be frustrating when you’re trying to grow, consider software that doesn’t require an entire team to break down and explain to users. 

Triggering & User Segmentation

The best onboarding flows are individualized. Look for an option that’s not generic for all users to increase engagement. However, avoid too much customization that can increase the price and technical needs of users. The right balance can keep users and companies happy.

Embedded or Standalone Software

Ease of use also involves how people access the software. Consider your customer’s technical level and user devices when making this decision. For example, people are less likely to use a product that requires a download to their computer or similar device.

Customization Options

You’re spending a lot of time and money on the software. Does it allow you to personalize it to your brand and needs? Review each option. Too much can make it confusing and hard to use. Too little can be frustrating for people who like a little wiggle room. 

Analytics & Reporting Features

The best way to know how well your product is performing is through the numbers. Therefore, user reports, feedback, and other analytics are essential features of any onboarding software. Pay attention to how you can view the reports and download options. If you can’t share with your team, that could create a problem.

Appcues Vs. Pendo: How Each Software Solution Got its Start

Appcues was founded in 2013 to help businesses connect with their customers for a better product experience without the need for an in-house developer. 

Pendo is an onboarding software company founded in Raleigh, NC, with offices in several U.S. and international cities. Its mission is to improve people’s experience with software. 

Nickelled is a digital adoption tool that helps potential customers and current clients understand how a company’s software works and guides them through the process. 

Appcues Vs. Pendo Vs. Nickelled

Nickelled Features

Why choose Nickelled? It’s ideal for creating product tours without code to help consumers dive into cloud-based software with ease. The goal is to improve the customer experience while reducing support tickets.

Nickelled Pricing

Nickelled is completely transparent about pricing and the features you get at each level.  

Nickelled Pros & Cons


  • Scalable with unlimited users for every tier. 
  • No coding necessary. Nickelled is wholly embedded in the software.
  • Ease-of-use—create your first guide in five minutes or less.
  • Nickelled is affordable for all businesses, because the company doesn’t price on monthly active users (MAUs).
  • Nickelled offers multiple language support.


We believe Nickelled is appropriate for most, if not all, users. For example, here are the sticking points we often come across in standard product demos.

  • Nickelled is only available for web apps.
  • Fine-grained user tracking is not available with Nickelled.
  • NPS tools are not currently available.
  • In-app messaging tools are not currently available. 

Appcues Features

Appcues is one of the big beasts of the user onboarding software world. Well-established, well funded and well-developed, it offers features including onboarding, employee engagement tracking, feedback collection, goal management, and A/B testing capabilities.

Appcues Pricing

Appcues offers a lot of insight into their first two tiers – though both are really pricey, especially for smaller businesses. At the enterprise level, you need to contact them to “talk.” 

Appcues Pros & Cons


  • Appcues offers multiple services for different aspects of the business, including onboarding and feature adoption, NPS scoring and support.
  • In-depth reporting and analytics are available.
  • Appcues’ integrations suite is extremely strong.
  • Enterprise-level plans with unlimited users and premium support are available.


  • It contains many features small businesses might not need.
  • Per-MAU pricing will make Appcues very expensive for companies with large numbers of users
  • No clear enterprise pricing information.
  • Limits users on all lower pricing tiers.

Pendo Features

Pendo is a platform for collecting user feedback on products AND for tracking user actions precisely. Small businesses and startups might find Pendo isn’t designed for them. However, large companies with bigger budgets may decide it’s a valuable tool, especially if they’re in the early stages of product development.

Pendo Pricing

Pendo offers no transparency in pricing. You have to contact them to get past a bare minimum free version of their onboarding software. Research indicates that Pendo’s lowest tier begins at around $12,000 per year.

Pendo Pros & Cons


  • Onboarding features are standard and include in-app guides and walkthroughs.
  • Pendo offers in-depth reports and user analytics, so it’s great for product managers.
  • Offers flow triggering and user segmentation not available on other platforms.
  • The software includes a product roadmap with shareable planning tools for teams.


  • It doesn’t offer full onboarding options, such as progress bars, checklists, or hotspots.
  • It’s limited to knowledgeable users with some technical skills.
  • Requires an extensive software setup that can take users an hour or more to complete depending on their technical knowledge.
  • Zero pricing transparency. Businesses must speak to a sales representative to even know the basics of Pendo pricing.

Conclusion: Appcues Vs. Pendo

For most businesses with unlimited budgets, both Appcues and Pendo will be able to help with user onboarding. If we were pushed, we’d say that Pendo is probably the top choice for companies with a tight customer > product management loop, who are looking to feed product usage data back into development. If you don’t need that, Appcues is probably fine for you, and will likely come at a lower price point.

Nickelled is a better choice for smaller businesses with more simple requirements. If you’re looking for simple guidance that’s easy to implement, you’ll find your path to success is much faster with Nickelled than it will be with either Appcues or Pendo.

Are you still having trouble deciding between Appcues vs. Pendo vs. Nickelled? Sometimes the best way to choose is with a free trial. So sign up today for a free trial of Nickelled and see how your brand can benefit from the easy-to-use onboarding software and streamlined analytics.