A Guide to the Digital Adoption Platforms to Use in 2021

digital adoption software

According to a recent survey conducted by Statista, over 25% of large-scale organizations and 29% of small-scale organizations are adopting newly cloud technologies and tools – a trend that’s only accelerated during the pandemic. 

As organizations use more online tools for their day-to-day operations, the more important it is to make the onboarding process as smooth as possible to compete in a crowded marketplace. Digital adoption platforms can be used to facilitate this process. But what are these platforms and how can they help customers use your services?

What Is A Digital Adoption Platform ?

Put simply, digital adoption platforms help customers or employees learn how to use digital products (e.g., web apps, Software-as-a-Service, and online video editors) more quickly and grasp the benefits of using them. They provide various elements that help facilitate software learning and onboarding, such as guided walkthroughs, interactive tours, checklists etc., and relevant insights related to user behavior.

What Are The Benefits of Using One?

Efficient automated and continuous onboarding process

Onboarding has always been necessary for long-term customer success, but today, customer attention is more divided than ever, so businesses will need to make their onboarding process more seamless and engaging. 

Digital adoption platforms ensure that users who are new to your products pass through a step-by-step guide of your features, leading to better understanding of the features to be used at scale. 

Minimize IT support cost

Digital adoption platforms are a way to completely escape or minimize this IT support costs by making sure that customers understand how to properly use various features through guided onboarding. 

Detailed insights and metrics

With a digital adoption platform, you can gather insights that allow you to understand if users are using your features or how they are reacting to the onboarding elements.

On-screen guide for user

An on-screen interactive guide is changing the way we utilize digital products exactly as GPS changed the way people drive. Before, if any digital product is launched, users will need to read boring manuals to understand how to use the product. At this time, the adoption of a new digital product was hard and a bit more complex.

Through a digital adoption platform, you don’t need to worry about training users in person or hiring additional onboarding support. The DAP handles the process for you through an automated and seamless on-screen step-by-step instruction to users on how to use your digital product(s).

What To Consider When Deciding Your Digital Platform-tools

For this article, we will be comparing three digital adoption platforms, Nickelled, Whatfix, and Pendo. These will be the criteria we will be focusing upon:

  • Product adoption features. There are many product adoption features that exist out there based on your onboarding needs, including interactive and guided tours, tooltips, nanobars, embedded videos, and so on. In other words, you need to see if the platform carries the product adoption features that you want before using it. 
  • Monitor & assess progress. Different digital adoption platforms have varying ways of assessing the effectiveness of their features, but an important part of your decision-making process should be centered around the complexity of your onboarding experience. Growing startups may need a platform that’s quick to implement with basic product adoption insights, while enterprise businesses with many complex use cases may benefit from using more comprehensive analytics.
  • Ease of implementation. Some digital adoption platforms are easier to set up than others. For instance, Nickelled requires no-code to implement, while Pendo may require a development team to fully reap the benefits.
  • Security. Some privacy-oriented companies may be rightfully concerned with how their product adoption platforms retain user data. While Nickelled holds a no-tracking policy, Pendo retains data for up to seven years.

Top Digital Adoption Platform Tools You Can Select

Key takeaways:

  • If you’re a growing SMB that needs a platform that’s affordable, requires no coding knowledge to set up, doesn’t penalize you for having a growing user base, choose Nickelled.
  • If you need something that is geared towards enterprise-level employee training, consider WalkMe or Whatfix.
  • If you need a digital adoption platform that provides comprehensive analytics (but only has basic onboarding elements), choose Pendo.

Top Pick: Nickelled

Nickelled is a top choice DAP tool because it has many of the necessary features small- and medium-sized businesses need, is affordable, and requires no coding knowledge to set up.  This tool focuses on increasing product adoption through continuous and effective onboarding.

Why use it?

  • Product adoption tools with extensive UI elements: guided tours, tooltips, nano bars embedded videos, multiple triggering functions, etc.
  • Pricing based on the number of flow, not users, making it a great option for rapidly-growing startups.
  • Nickelled does not retain user data, period.
  • Localization features allow you to onboard users in different languages, similar to how Gengo uses Nickelled.
  • Automated on-demand support.
  • Real-time recording of how customers interact with your product.
  • No coding required – easy to set up without login and installation.

Why not use it?

  • No NPS features.
  • You may need to code to customize advanced onboarding flows.
  • Only for web apps.


(All Nickelled pricing plans include 14 days free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee)

Starters plan – $99/month with discounts when you pay annually

Growth plan – $199/month with up to 25 number of flows

Premium plan – $399/month with discounts when you make the payment yearly

#2. Whatfix review

Whatfix is a customer experience management software that’s deployed by enterprise-level organizations to ensure employees make the best use of their software and web applications. 

It’s more focused towards onboarding and teaching employees, rather than customers, the ins and outs behind the digital tools that they use. As such, Whatfix’s tools are more geared towards providing training materials, and complementing learning management systems. Catering towards large organizations, Whatfix can be deployed in the cloud or as on-premise software.

Another contender here is WalkMe, which was the company that originally coined the term digital adoption software. We’ve written extensively about why WalkMe might not be suited to smaller organizations (see here).

Side note: WalkMe is likely to be a much better choice if you’re looking for a digital adoption platform for Salesforce. The company is an official Salesforce partner and well-trusted in the SFDC space.

Why use it?

  • Multiformat content creation: Convert walkthroughs into simple training content and slideshows.
  • Smart in-app training for employees.
  • LMS integration, allowing walkthroughs to be embedded into your LMS.
  • Customized messages to users during walkthroughs.
  • Can be used in the cloud or on-premise.
  • Collect & interpret data from numerous sources for decision making.

Why not?

  • Still an expensive solution, according to many clients.
  • Clients reported a buggy editor for creating various onboarding elements.
  • Complex flows still require engineering support.
  • Lacking in analytics.


On the subject of pricing for Whatfix, organizations can get custom pricing depending on what they intend to achieve on the platform. While we have estimated a few years ago that its pricing is around $1,200 per year, there is a large chance that most companies pay higher fees today.

#2. Pendo review

Pendo is a digital adoption platform established in 2013 that’s built to assist software development companies in user onboarding and offers features that tracks behavioral insights and various types of user action precisely. 

Why use Pendo?

  • In-depth analytics around tracking user behavior.
  • Strong integrations, including with Google Analytics and Tag Manager, bring in a wealth of insights.
  • It features a product roadmap, which is great for coordinating product and support teams around.
  • NPS surveys available.

Why not?

  • Basic onboarding flow patterns. It can only create walkthroughs and allow in-app messaging. It does not have checklists, progress bars or hotspots.
  • Harder to set up than Nickelled.
  • Pricing is based on the number of monthly active users — leading to increasing costs for fast-growing startups with thousands of users.
  • Expensive. The opaque pricing does not help, either.
  • The platform retains user data for seven years and only includes additional security protections in its more expensive plans. This might not be a good option for privacy-focused startups with limited budgets.


Pendo’s pricing plan is quite opaque, and you can only request a quote by contacting the sales team. On their website, their pricing packages are based on the number of monthly active users (MAUs), making it potentially pricey for online companies with a rapidly-growing user base.

That said, based on our research, prices tend to be expensive, ranging from $12,000 for startups to use a suite of features to $30,000 or more. One business states that they’ve paid $5,000 for a single feature. 

Ready to Choose Your Product Adoption Platform?

Digital adoption platforms can help improve user experience and engagement with software, and ensure the adoption process is easy and seamless. While there are many digital adoption platforms out there, these three options provide a good glimpse into the market. 

If you want to try out Nickelled today, sign up for your free trial to get access to an unlimited version for 14 days.

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