Virtual training

How to Implement an Effective Product Education Strategy

The CloudShare Team

Nov 02, 2023 - 5 min read
How to Implement an Effective Product Education Strategy

There are few experiences more frustrating than not understanding how to use an app – particularly if said app was supposed to make your life easier. It’s enough to make you want to quit using the software altogether. And that’s likely what many of your customers are doing if your company lacks a product education strategy.

It’s also why product education is such a critical stage in the onboarding process. Consider, for instance, that according to a survey by Gitnux:

  • 76 percent of customers will continue using a product after a welcoming onboarding experience.
  • Up to 60 percent of customers will abandon software with a poor onboarding experience post sign-up.
  • Companies that invest in onboarding and product education may see 5-10 percent increased revenue.

All this is to say that particularly if your software is technically complex, user education must be a priority for your SaaS company. A strong onboarding process plays a key role in both attracting and retaining customers. Similarly, ongoing SaaS product training keeps customers satisfied by providing them with both a refresher on existing functionality and an introduction to new features.

This blog post will explain why customer education is important and then dive into how your business can implement an effective strategy.

Understanding the Value of Product Education for SaaS Companies

Providing customers with software training benefits a business in a few ways.

Faster Product Adoption is, in many ways, the golden metric of SaaS. It’s the point at which a prospective customer becomes truly engaged and begins using your software on a regular basis. Product education helps customers more quickly reach that point, coaching them on best practices, use cases, and core features.

Reduced Churn

Poor onboarding represents one of the three leading causes of customer churn, representing an average of 23 percent of lost subscriptions. Product education can greatly reduce this figure. More importantly, a well-educated customer will have a better experience overall, and be more satisfied as a result.

Streamlined Support

Combining a customer education program with a self-service helpdesk can greatly reduce the workload of both your support and customer success teams. Because your customers have a better understanding of your software, they’ll need less assistance, particularly if they can handle issues such as password resets themselves. This frees up your support team to focus on more complex questions and concerns.

Improved Reputation

Providing not only an exceptional onboarding experience but also excellent ongoing education demonstrates commitment and dedication to your customers. Consistently displaying those characteristics will help you develop a reputation for being both trustworthy and reliable.

A Step-by-Step Process for a Product Education Strategy

Step One: Identify Your Audience

Before you can start educating your customers, you need to understand them – which means answering the following questions:

  • In what industry do they operate?
  • Are there multiple segments in your target audience, or is your focus relatively narrow?
  • What is their level of expertise?
  • Who are the key decision-makers?
  • What are their primary pain points?
  • How does your software address those pain points?
  • Where and how do they engage with your company?
  • What does the user journey look like for a typical customer?

Step Two: Assess Your Current Resources

Once you’ve determined your core users, your next step is to perform a product education audit. Compile a high-level overview of every single education resource available to your users and all associated messaging. Map each resource to a point in the user journey.

Step Three: Assemble Your Team

Next, look at who’s currently involved in your customer training program – and who should potentially be involved. In a typical SaaS company, this might include salespeople, account managers, customer success managers and support personnel. Ensure they can all operate as a cohesive group, with no data or communication silos between them.

Step Four: Determine Your Value Metric

Now it’s time to answer the most important question – how will your customer education program define success? What core feature, function, or touchpoint causes someone to go from a prospect to an engaged and dedicated customer? Structure your training to get customers to that value point as quickly as possible while still providing them with a thorough overview of how to use your software.

Step Five: Decide How You’ll Educate Your Customers

Traditional customer education is relatively static and passive, typically consisting of a slideshow, video presentation or guided walkthrough. While this can still work in some scenarios, most B2B users now demand something a bit more personalized and engaging, such as a hands-on training environment or an interactive product walkthrough.

While it’s possible to leverage self-paced training, you may want to choose instructor-led training if your software is particularly complex. In some cases, on-demand learning is also a possibility. You’ll need to exercise your best judgment based on your industry, use cases and feature set.

Step Six: Select a Training Platform

Now that you’ve done all the groundwork, all that’s left is to choose your training software. In the interest of keeping your technology stack both lightweight and manageable, choose a solution that you can use for both sales enablement and training. You should also prioritize the following features:

  • Analytics
  • Integration with other software such as CRM.
  • No-code or low-code functionality.
  • Cloud-based
  • Sandboxing
  • Support for multiple training modalities (VILT, self-paced, etc.)

Step Seven: Iterate and Improve

Customer education is a process, not a project. More importantly, it’s part of your software’s overall product experience – and, as such, should evolve with it over time. Leverage usage metrics and user feedback to identify potential bottlenecks, and always be on the lookout for things you might be able to improve.

Best Practices to Improve Product Education

When creating and developing your product education program, keep the following best practices in mind.

First, personalization must be your top priority. Tailor materials and experiences to each customer’s unique environment, challenges and needs. Do this with the understanding that customer education does not solely occur during onboarding, but rather spans the entire customer journey from first contact to final sale.

With this in mind, remember that product education and product experience are two sides of the same coin. Your marketing materials, sales process, website and customer support process are all major touchpoints in the educational journey and should be treated as such. This also means ensuring you provide information to your customers when it’s most useful to them.

You’ll need to employ comprehensive analytics, as well – customer education, after all, is inherently data driven.

Finally when developing training content, adhere to the idea that less is more. While you can and should provide deeper training for those who want to seek it out, your core educational materials should focus exclusively on those features you’ve identified as critical.

Level Up Your Product Education Strategy

The most successful SaaS companies all have one thing in common – in one way or another, they’ve nailed product education. They understand that customers who don’t know how their software works won’t stick around. Similarly, they know that customers who know how to get the most out of their software are more satisfied, more engaged, and ultimately more loyal.

While every SaaS company should have a product education strategy, not every SaaS company needs comprehensive product training. If your software is simple enough, your product education could easily consist of a short introductory video. The most important thing, at the end of the day, is to develop both your strategy and your content based on what your customers need – after all, they’re the whole reason you’re doing this in the first place.

Looking for a new training platform to support your customer education strategy? CloudShare can help. Book a free demo to learn more.