Can you build a successful business without successful customers? Most people would agree that the answer is no. But, most companies (both large and small) don’t invest enough time and energy in customer education — actually helping their customers learn to use your products.
Customers feel anxiety when they try a new product or service. Even if you believe your product is the simplest on the market, a new user will still be intimidated, at least at the start.
And that’s why creating high-quality customer education content that addresses your customers’ needs, pain points, and knowledge gaps matters. It helps turn customers into people who truly love your products and will continually grow their skills.
Jon Leh, a learning industry analyst, describes the situation this way: “In a world where customer success increasingly determines overall business success, customer education has become an imperative.”
In short, customer success = business success. And you can deliver more value to your customers and business by creating customer education content at scale.
What is customer education content?
TechSmith Customer Education Manager, Doug Brunner believes customer education content is about more than training or tutorials — but about helping users help themselves.
“Think of customer education content as empowering,” he said. “It’s content that is designed to help customers successfully use your product to solve their problems. For us, this takes the form of tutorial videos, help articles, in-product onboarding, webinars, blog posts, and more.”
Other types of customer education content can include things like:
The good news: Creating effective customer education content doesn’t have to be a grind.
With updated technologies and tools (like TechSmith Snagit and TechSmith Camtasia) to help you create professional-quality video and image content, the main question now isn’t, “How do I create engaging content?,” it’s “What content should I make?”
To answer that question, it helps to look to professional trainer. Trainers know that the best training content has a specific goal and solves a particular problem. And the best trainers ask five key questions to help them discover that goal and what problem they’re trying to solve.
Think like a trainer
Chances are, if you’re not a professional trainer, you don’t consider “training” to be part of your job. But, if you’re in a sales, marketing, or customer service or support role, it’s a safe bet that you sometimes (or even often) have to create content that shows your customers how to accomplish a specific task or solves a specific problem.
Sometimes it’s easy to know what kind of content to create. If a customer emails you with a specific question, obviously your response should answer that specific question. But what if you’re asked to create something new? What if someone comes to you and says, “Hey, can you create some content that explains X feature?”
How to get the most out of your customer education content
For TechSmith Academy, we asked some of the best trainers in the world how they successfully educate and train customers and employees. They discussed many ways to find your content compass, but the best of what they had to say boiled down to five questions.
And here they are:
Five questions for better customer education content
1. What is the goal of the content?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how often content gets created without a specific goal in mind.
Sometimes, it may even seem like there’s a goal, but is it really a goal? For example, it’s not uncommon for someone to say, “I need a 10-minute video about X” or “Let’s do a one-hour webinar about Y.”
Setting time parameters or a target word count is not the same as knowing the problem you want to solve. The content itself should determine the ideal length of a video or other piece of content.
Instead, it makes more sense to say, “I need to show our customers how to do X,” or “Let’s do a how-to on Y feature.” Then, create the customer education content around that specific goal.
Focus on achieving the goal in the most efficient use of time, rather than setting a specific time or word limit. Solve the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible so your customers can get on with their lives.
2. What are your audience’s expectations and needs?
Just like with any type of communication, it’s best when it’s done with the audience’s needs in mind. There are always things we want to tell our customers about our products or services, but those things aren’t always what they really need to know.
A product how-to that talks about how awesome the features are, but doesn’t show how they work or how to use them probably doesn’t satisfy a customer’s needs. We all love to hype our product’s features, but that’s likely not why your customer went looking for a tutorial.
If the title of your video or other customer education materials doesn’t match the actual content, that’s also a problem. In fact, a recent TechSmith study on video viewing behavior found that the most common reason people stopped watching an informational or instructional video was that the content wasn’t what they expected.
You have to deliver what your title promises.
But, how do you know what your customers want to know? Pro tip: Your customers will tell you.
Here are a few good sources of information:
Your tech support team
They field questions all day from customers who are having trouble using your product. It’s likely they have a list of frequently asked questions or top user requests to help you get started.
If you have an online forum where users can discuss your product with each other or get answers from your team, that’s another great way to see what’s being asked and the most common pain points.
A quick customer survey can be a great way to gauge customer satisfaction, as well as find out where they may need extra help. And there’s no need for anything fancy. Even a Google Forms survey sent to a select number of customers can do the trick.
Internal survey or user group
If you have a staff, chances are that some of them are more adept at using your product than others. Gather those with the least amount of experience with your product and give them some time to use it. Afterward, find out where they needed more help and create content around those issues.
3. What are the processes people currently use?
This question is really about changing behavior. If you’re courting new customers, your content should highlight how and why using your product will help them achieve their goals. If you’re trying to help your customers understand why they should update to the latest version of your software, it’s a similar goal.
But if it’s just someone incorrectly using your product, it helps to know what they’re doing wrong so you can show them a better way. Again, this goes back to talking with your customers via survey or other means, or finding out from your support team what they hear from customers on a consistent basis.
Then, create content that addresses those concerns.
4. What is your audience’s current experience?
You can’t know what content to create until you know what your audience needs. You need to understand not just how much your customers like your product, but their whole experience. No product is perfect. I know from personal experience that even the products and services I love most have room for improvement.
Find out how your customers actually use your products, not just how you intended them to be used. Customers can be pretty ingenious when it comes to finding workarounds to meeting their individual needs.
Discover what they do to cope with your product’s perceived shortcomings and you may be able to introduce (or reintroduce) them to features or services that can help them have a better experience.
5. What will resonate with your audience?
Like some of the questions above, this one can relate to the content of your customer education materials, but this can also relate to the type of content you create.
For one, is this a simple how-to for a particular feature, or is it more robust instructional content covering more ground? Is it a formal piece that will go permanently on your website or is it a quick one-off response to a customer question?
Knowing these things will help you figure out not just what you want to explain, but how long that content will need to be.
Also, what content format will you use? Are you planning a text-only document? You might want to think again. Our Value of Visuals research found that people learn more quickly and retain information much longer when that information is presented with images or video.
And, more and more, people are turning to video for their learning needs. In fact, in the 2018 study mentioned above regarding video viewing habits, 55% of people reported viewing instructional or information videos two to five times per week. That’s up from 45% in 2016 and 28% in 2013.
People don’t just enjoy video and visuals more — they expect to see visuals and video used in instructional content.
Customer education is all about the customer
The best trainers know the most effective training has a goal and solves a problem. It’s about what their audience needs to know and how they need to learn it.
It’s no different for customer education. Learn more about customers’ needs, how they need to receive it, and how to best address their concerns.
By tailoring your content to what’s most helpful and effective for your audience, you’ll not only have more productive users and customers, you’ll create a better brand experience that they’ll likely find good enough to share with their friends.
Start creating better content
Luckily, creating great customer education content with visuals and video is easy.
Create visual documentation
Quickly and easily demonstrate a process or create clear how-to and tutorial content.
- Knowledge base articles
- How-to content
- Job aides
Create professional-looking tutorial and training videos
Easily record and edit videos for educating customers.