SaaS Playgrounds

How to get 1.5x conversions with Interactive Demos.

Hey — It’s Nico.

This is another edition of Failory’s Behind Tactics 🧠, the newsletter in which I analyze the different strategies startups use to get ahead in their markets.

In this issue:

  • SaaS are leveraging no-signup, interactive demos to help users grasp the value of their products.

  • Research indicates users who interact with demos are 1.5× more likely to convert.

  • Interactive demos can be a fantastic idea for both B2B and B2C SaaS companies.

  • Startups like Webflow, Mercury and are leveraging them

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The Strategy

Show, Don’t Tell

One of the most crucial steps in a user's journey with your tool is reaching the "a-ha" moment. This is the point where users truly grasp the value your tool offers and understand its worth.

Typically, this moment occurs after the user has registered and used your tool for a while. However, it's better for users to experience this "a-ha" moment as early as possible. The sooner they reach it, the less likely they are to abandon your product.

Many SaaS companies invest heavily in crafting the perfect onboarding process to help users quickly reach their "a-ha" moments.

But what if users could experience this moment even before they sign up or make a purchase?

Achieving this would not only improve user retention but also boost conversion rates.

So, how can we demonstrate the value of a tool to users before they've even started using it?

This is where Interactive Demos come into play.

Interactive Demos, also known as playgrounds or sandboxes, allow users to explore your product without the need for signups or payments. These demos give everyone visiting your website the chance to interact with the product firsthand.

The primary goal is for users to get a feel for the product through the demo and ideally reach that "a-ha" moment right away. This immediate understanding of the product's value can significantly increase their likelihood of subscribing.

Let’s look at a couple of examples to better understand how these demos work.


When Webflow was just starting out, the team had a clear vision of what they wanted to build but knew that creating the full product could take years. To address this, they launched the Webflow Playground, a demo that allowed users to experiment with what Webflow would eventually become.

This strategy was incredibly successful, helping them attract 20,000 sign-ups.

It is a playground in the most literal sense of the word. It’s not meant for creating real websites but rather for playing around and modifying everything in the sample site. 

The idea is that letting users interact with the tool directly is a far more effective strategy for demonstrating the product’s value than merely showcasing its features in a video.


One of the first things you see when you visit the Mercury homepage is a button that says "Explore Demo." 

Clicking this button takes you directly to Mercury’s Interactive Demo, where you can experience the app using an example account. This demo is almost an exact replica of the app you’ll use once you open a Mercury account.

Everything is functional. You can check your bank balance, analyze recent transactions, and even send USD 100,000 to your fake nutritionist if you want to.

You can also customize the demo to display your name, company, and balance, among other things. It gives you a realistic feel for how the app works and what it can do for you. saw what Webflow was doing and took it one step further. Instead of having a separate button that takes you to the demo, they decided that the homepage itself would be the demo.

When you visit the site, you'll see a button that says "Edit." Clicking on it allows you to modify everything you see. You can move objects around, change text, fonts, and colors, and even add images or embeds. They give you total control to experiment and transform their homepage into something beautiful and unique. Or, you can be like me and make this monstrosity:

It’s a very clever approach. Anyone who enters the site will be tempted to click the "Edit" button. This makes the demo as smooth and frictionless as possible, providing an immediate and engaging experience.

Should I?

Why This Works

  • It’s fast: There is no quicker way to show customers what your product is about than an interactive demo. It's much more efficient than merely telling users about the product or even showcasing it through videos or images. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an interactive demo is worth a million.

  • A-ha moment before conversion: Interactive demos help users reach their "a-ha" moment even before they subscribe or sign up. As mentioned earlier, guiding users to this moment as soon as possible can significantly reduce attrition and increase engagement.

  • Great for complex products: If your tool has a certain level of complexity, demos can be a much easier way to showcase its features and benefits than trying to explain them through text or static images. This is especially true if your app offers a unique approach to solving a common problem.

  • Multiple CTAs: You can incorporate several call-to-action buttons within a single demo to continually remind users to subscribe or sign up. This constant nudge can increase the likelihood of conversion without being intrusive.

How to Apply It

  • Create an accessible version: Develop a version of your product that’s accessible to everyone without requiring sign-up. Ideally, users should be able to customize the demo with their own data, giving them a realistic sense of how the product will work for them.

  • Implement guided steps: Add a series of optional guided steps on top of the product demo. This helps direct users to key features you want them to see, increasing the likelihood they’ll reach their "a-ha" moment. Be sure to include a CTA at the end of the guided tour to encourage conversion.

  • Focus on personalization: Create multiple versions of your demo to share across different sales channels. This includes the main demo on your homepage. You can set it up to first ask visitors about their role or the use case they have in mind. Then, tailor the demo to guide them through your product accordingly.

Yes, But

  • Competitors have access: Providing an open demo means competitors can easily access your product. This can be particularly challenging for B2B SaaS companies that don’t offer self-service sign-up options, as competitors can explore your product without any barriers.

  • Limited user information: Since you’re not collecting user information through the demo, you miss out on the opportunity to follow up with potential leads via email or other channels. This lack of data can hinder your ability to nurture leads and convert them into customers.

  • Not suitable for all companies: A product demo without sales calls may not be suitable for every company. Some businesses may find that a demo alone doesn’t fully capture the complexity or benefits of their SaaS solution. In such cases, additional sales interactions or demonstrations may be necessary to effectively showcase the product.

Keep Learning

Others Playing It

  • WP All Import: They create a WP sandbox that lets you do pretty much anything for seven days. It comes with the WP All Import plugin installed, so when you use the sandbox, you automatically benefit from the plugin.

  • They have embedded several demos on their homepage, which showcase the tool's different features.

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