The Only Playbook You Need for a Customer Education Strategy

Shreelekha Singh
March 1, 2024
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Ever learned how to drive a car? If you have, then you know there are two types of instructors:

  • The grumpy ones who grunt at everything and make it look too complicated
  • The kind and helpful ones who offer meaningful support whenever you need

In the world of SaaS, your user education efforts can also take any of these two approaches.

You can, like a grumpy driving instructor, throw a dense product manual at users' way and expect them to figure it all out on their own. 

Or, you can build a customer education strategy and turn new sign-ups into power users. If you want to invest in meaningful user education, we’ll walk you through the best practices to build your strategy from the ground up.

What is a customer education strategy?

A customer education strategy is a strategic plan to teach users how to get the best value out of a SaaS product. The goal is to make it easier for customers to understand how the product works and how they can achieve their objectives using this tool. 

A good customer education strategy can help you:

  • Enhance customer satisfaction
  • Reduce support requests
  • Drive feature adoption
  • Maximize power users

While some companies create a help center in the name of support and call it a day, building a customer education strategy requires more nuanced effort. 

Do you really need a customer education strategy? 👀

The true success of your SaaS business depends on how well you’re able to retain users and drive adoption. A well-designed customer education strategy helps you achieve this and a lot more. 

Here’s everything you stand to gain from an airtight customer education strategy:

  • Increased product adoption and usage: By educating customers on how to use their products, SaaS companies can increase the likelihood of customers integrating their software into daily operations. Educated customers are more likely to explore and use advanced features, maximizing the software’s value.
  • Stronger competitive differentiation: A comprehensive customer education program can serve as a differentiator in crowded markets. Companies that invest in educating their customers often stand out for their commitment to customer success, which can be a deciding factor for prospects evaluating similar offerings.
  • Faster feedback loop for product development: Educated customers are more likely to provide valuable feedback because they understand the product better and can suggest meaningful improvements. This feedback is crucial for continuous product development and staying ahead of market needs.
  • Facilitates up-selling and cross-selling: Customers who are knowledgeable about the current product are more likely to trust the company and be open to exploring additional products or services offered. Education can highlight the benefits of upgrades or additional features, leading to increased revenue opportunities.
  • Drives community and peer-to-peer support: A well-educated customer base can lead to the development of a user community where customers help each other. This peer-to-peer support can be incredibly valuable, reducing the reliance on official support channels and fostering a sense of belonging among users.

Building a customer education strategy that delights users

Want to turn new users into product champions? Let’s break down the key steps to follow for setting users up for success from day 0 with your customer education efforts.

1. Set up your customer education roles

Before you start chalking out your user education strategy, it’s important to build your team to drive all the effort. Establishing a team and clarifying responsibilities sets the stage for all your customer education initiatives in the future. 

Here are some key positions you’ll need in your team

  • Project head: They oversee the entire customer education strategy, making sure it aligns with the company's goals. They define the overall vision and goals of the customer education program and coordinate between different team members to ensure alignment with company objectives.
  • Content creator: They develop educational materials, such as tutorials, guides, and videos. They produce easy-to-understand, engaging educational content. Update content regularly to keep it accurate and relevant. 
  • Technical experts: They provide in-depth knowledge of the products or services being taught. They help in creating accurate content by offering deep insights into the product or service.
  • Customer marketers: They promote the educational resources to customers and gather feedback. They create awareness about your educational resources among existing users.
  • Customer success reps: They track and analyze how customers use the support materials and the impact on customer satisfaction and product usage. They leverage product analytics tools and conduct surveys to get a pulse of the users.

Once these roles are established, you can go through the next steps to materialize your customer education strategy.

2. Create multiple personas to segment users 

Creating multiple personas can help you design educational content and experiences that resonate with different segments of your audience. By understanding the distinct challenges, motivations, and behaviors of various user groups, you can create more relevant and impactful resources. 

We created a template user persona to give you a reference frame for this exercise:

  • Name: Alex Johnson
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Job role: Marketing Manager at a mid-sized tech company
  • Industry: Technology
  • Company size: 200 employees
  • Goals: Increase brand awareness and lead generation through digital marketing.
  • Challenges: Limited budget for marketing initiatives and finding the right tools to measure campaign effectiveness.
  • Learning preferences: Prefers short, practical video tutorials and case studies.
  • Product usage level: Beginner
  • Motivations for using the product: Looking for an affordable, user-friendly marketing automation tool that integrates easily with existing platforms.
  • Pain points with the product: Struggles with understanding advanced features and integrating them into current marketing strategies.

Remember that user personas created for customer education will vary from those created for sales and marketing. 

3. Map out the user journey for each persona

When you’ve identified all possible personas, visualize the path these personas take from discovering your product to becoming power users. This step will help you identify key touchpoints where educational content can make the most significant impact. 

Understanding the journey is critical for designing targeted content to:

  • Guide users through your product
  • Address their challenges at the right time
  • Help them achieve their goals effectively

What’s more, tailoring the content to the user's exact stage in the journey makes the learning experience more intuitive and satisfying.

So, start with any of your personas and break down their journey into different stages, such as Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Adoption, and Mastery. You can define these stages based on your typical user journey. 

For each stage, identify where users interact with your product or service and what challenges they face. Then, align your educational materials with the specific needs of each stage. For example, introductory product tours for beginners and advanced webinars for more experienced users.

4. Develop persona-specific support resources

Revisit the personas you've created, focusing on their goals, challenges, product usage level, and preferences. This understanding is the foundation for tailoring your support resources.

Then, work with different teams to create a matrix and strike balance between different parts of the process. Here’s how each team can contribute:

  • Product: Provides deep insights into the product features and roadmap, ensuring the support content is accurate and forward-looking.
  • Marketing: Helps to understand the personas better and can advise on how to communicate effectively with each segment, as well as assist in distributing the content.
  • Customer success: Offers frontline insights into common questions and challenges faced by customers, which can inform the types of support content needed at various journey stages.
  • Content: Responsible for producing the diverse formats of content preferred by each persona, ensuring it's engaging, informative, and accessible.

Now, let’s look at what the matrix will look like for each persona. 

SaaS user education

💡 Want to learn how to create product tutorials for all stages of the user journey? Check out our start-to-finish guide.

5. Monitor engagement and effectiveness 

Your customer education strategy is incomplete without the right metrics to track the impact. Here’s how you can measure the effectiveness of your strategy and make necessary adjustments:

  • Helpdesk ticket volume: The number of support tickets submitted related to topics covered in your educational resources. A decrease in ticket volume can indicate that users are finding the answers they need through your educational materials, reducing the need for direct support.
  • Product usage: Changes in how users interact with your product, including feature adoption rates and usage patterns. Increased or more effective product usage after engaging with educational content suggests that your strategy is successfully helping users get more value from the product.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): User likelihood to recommend your product or service to others, which can be influenced by their educational experience. Improvements in NPS can indicate that educated customers feel more confident and satisfied with your product, making them more likely to recommend it.
  • Retention/churn rate: The rate at which customers continue using your product or service versus those who stop. Improved retention and reduced churn can be indicators that your educational efforts are making users more successful and less likely to leave.
  • Time to value (TTV): The speed at which new users achieve their first "success" with your product after engaging with your educational content. A shorter TTV suggests that your educational content is effectively accelerating user proficiency and satisfaction.

Over to you: You’re ready to educate and empower your users

In the fast-paced world of SaaS, guiding your users effectively through your product is crucial. Just like a good driving instructor makes learning to drive easier, a solid customer education strategy helps users understand and use your product better. 

This isn't just about cutting down on support calls. Your focus should be on empowering users to make the most of your product and maximize customer delight. 

With the right approach, you can convert beginners into experts, fostering a community of satisfied, loyal users. Let's gear up and create a journey that turns your users into champions of your product.