By Syed Balkhi, the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site that helps small businesses start their websites.
I consider product education to be a critical marketing activity in my business. Since most of my offerings are SaaS digital products, it’s essential to create extensive documentation so that users know how to work with them.
However, I believe that creating documentation isn’t enough to teach customers how to achieve their goals with our products. It’s necessary to create user-friendly and varied content in the form of blog posts, videos and full-fledged online courses. This practice of educating users is a form of marketing that generates powerful results in the long run.
When we educate customers we:
- Help them get more value from our products
- Engage them and build an authentic connection
- Build customer loyalty
- Stand out from the competition
In this post, I’ll break down how to approach product education and the ways to carry it out to help your audience and build your business’s brand image.
Understand your customers’ real goals.
When businesses create documentation and blog posts around their products, they often explain how to use them. For example, a web hosting company may create a post about “How to install WordPress” or something similar.
While this is helpful, it’s also missing something. You need to understand your client’s actual goals. For example, one of the products in my business is a form tool. It’s a simple product, and there are many free alternatives in the marketplace. However, our form tool plugin dominates the list of top WordPress tools overall because we go above and beyond to meet people’s real needs.
Here’s what I mean: Customers buy our tool to create contact forms, registration forms and even purchase order forms. But making these forms isn’t their end goal. Their end goal is to create a successful business or serve their customers. For example, a non-profit organization’s real goal may be to spread awareness about a significant issue. And the contact form or donation form is just a step in that direction.
By understanding what customers want—to stand out, change the world or be successful—we can build better products. And we can educate customers in a way that’s relevant and helpful. So, we don’t just make product education videos about “How to add a contact form on your website.” We also create content about “How to collect donations for your non-profit organization.” This more specific topic is helpful and will keep customers coming back.
Think about your customers’ real goals, and you’re on the way to creating meaningful product education content.
Create blog posts.
The best way to produce education is to use blog posts. Why? Because blog posts are versatile; you can include a range of content types in them, such as text, images, infographics, videos and more, to enhance the user experience.
Another essential reason is to optimize for search engines. When you include the right keywords in your blog post titles and throughout the content, people searching for answers will find your business. This way, your product education efforts will have the added effect of bringing more people to your website and, in turn, creating more paying customers.
Create online courses.
Today, you can use a learning management system plugin or platform to create a space just for learning. Such a tool is valuable if you have a lot to teach or if you want to go in-depth with product education. You can use it to create an online course, certification program or even just a series of video lessons.
An online course is different from blog posts in that it’s more comprehensive. It has a specific goal and structure. And often, it keeps your audience focused by drip-feeding content over a period of time.
This is helpful because it encourages people to consume all the content and not just skip to the interesting parts. As a result, they get a more well-rounded education about your product. It also allows you to build relationships with people and stay at the top of their minds.
Engage on social media.
For my blog, we have a very active social media group in which we hold monthly themed discussions. Sometimes we leave an open-ended question asking people what major issue they’re facing. We also enable group members to ask questions and leave answers to each other.
Creating groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is a great way to teach people how to use your product online while fostering social media engagement. You’ll build a community of customers and potential customers who can learn from each other. And you can use the group to provide product education directly. You can answer people’s questions, give tips and more. Just make sure that you’re monitoring the group regularly to chime in when needed.
Back to you.
I believe that product education is critical so that customers understand what we do and know how to make the best use of our products to see success and stick with us. There are many ways to provide product education, but the three that I recommend are blog posts, online courses and social media groups.
Start with one or two of these, and as you get more comfortable, add in the others. Don’t forget to track your results to see what’s working and what’s not. With the right product education strategy, you’ll be able to improve customer retention and increase sales.