Product Education

What is Product Education

Product education — also known as customer education or product training — refers to everything you do to ensure your customers understand your software. That means more than simply knowing about the software’s features or how it works. A successful product education strategy also teaches customers about a product’s uses and benefits, all while moving them toward product adoption.

Why is Product Education Important?

Without product education, many of your users might never reach adoption. They’ll never get to the “aha!” moment when they start unlocking value from your software. And the longer they go without getting some return on their investment, the likelier they’ll become to abandon your company for a competitor. 

To put it another way, your software company likely won’t be able to retain customers if you lack a product education strategy. There are also numerous benefits to an effective product education strategy, including increased customer satisfaction, retention and engagement — which together translate to increased revenue growth in the long term.  

What Does Product Education Involve?

The first thing many people think about when they hear the phrase ‘product education’ is an instruction manual or an online knowledge base. While both are valuable in their own right, they’re also passive resources. They don’t allow a customer to gain any practical experience with your software, nor do they provide a particularly engaging learning experience. 

Both resources are also generally static. You cannot easily tailor them to a particular customer’s needs or use case, nor can you effectively deliver them at various stages of the customer’s journey. Instead, you’re forced to hand them to the user all at once. 

Effective product education is more extensive than a guidebook or manual. It requires a strategy. More importantly, it doesn’t occur entirely at the bottom of the sales funnel. Instead, it must be divided across multiple touchpoints:

  • Sales and marketing materials that give prospective customers information on your software’s value propositions and introduce them to your brand. 
  • Product demos or free trials intended to turn interested prospects into paying subscribers delivered at or near the point of sale. 
  • Onboarding that conveys the core features of your software and moves participants toward product adoption. 
  • Post-adoption training that promotes retention through education on advanced features and guidance from your customer success and/or customer support team. 
  • Content intended for upselling. This should only be delivered to customers who may be interested in upselling, typically identified via a combination of user feedback and analytics data. 

What Can You Do to Improve Product Education?

Better, more extensive product education begins with understanding where other product education strategies typically go wrong. Businesses new to product education often tend to make the same mistakes with their customer training strategies. The most common errors are listed below. 

Generic Training Content

Just as no two businesses are entirely alike, no two customers will use your software in precisely the same way. You cannot simply deliver the same training content to everyone. Tailor your training content and messaging based on the customer — their use case, their industry, and the size of their business. 

Takeaway: There is no one-size-fits-all option for product education. 

Too Few Stakeholders

It’s easy to assume that customer education should be left entirely to your training department or customer success team. While it’s true that both teams have a relatively significant stake in onboarding and product adoption, they are not the only stakeholders here. Everyone in the company needs to contribute in one way or another. 

Developers, for instance, might gather feedback from training and use it to improve the software. Your marketing and customer success teams will need to coordinate in order to ensure smoother handoffs. 

Takeaway: Customer education is everyone’s responsibility, especially during onboarding. 

Disjointed Experience

Omnichannel marketing is a good thing, allowing your business to reach prospects where they are and engage with them across multiple channels. Unfortunately, many businesses forget a key part of this equation is consistency. A customer should have the same general concept of your business whether they engage with you over Facebook or via email. 

And when it comes time to onboard new customers, don’t force them to jump between multiple training modalities — stick to one. 

Takeaway: Use tools such as CRM software to provide a unified, cohesive experience across channels, and avoid using too many training solutions. 

Information Overload

More is not always better. If you flood a prospect or customer with too much information, even a highly engaged one, there’s a chance they’ll cut and run. You want your customers excited and engaged, not confused and frustrated. 

Takeaway: Keep both your messaging and your training as focused as possible — identify the key features of your software for each use case, and make sure they’re front and center. 

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