Investing in content for customer education is almost always a worthwhile initiative. It’s scalable, cost-effective, and content compounds over time.
Since you’re here, I won’t waste your time listing the benefits of customer education – you already know those.
Instead, I’ll share a ton of real-world customer education content examples that you can get inspired by. We’ll look at:
- Online academies
- Knowledge bases
- Courses & certifications
- Long-form articles
1. Online academies
An academy generally refers to a series of video content or courses. It could be tutorials on how to use a product, or general strategic advice to help customers succeed.
Creating an academy makes sense if you intend to create structured series on several topics, and the format is not only written blogs (e.g. videos, courses).
They can be gated or ungated. Gated content might require you to be a customer, or simply to sign up with your email (e.g. HubSpot’s Academy).
Modash, an influencer marketing tool, has an example of an ungated academy.
It’s ungated, available for web visitors (customer or not). Theirs is simple to replicate for your company: YouTube videos, embedded on a website, in a particular order. Nothing fancy, but effective.
Ungated content has the potential to rank in Google, and drive organic search traffic too, for an additional benefit.
SurferSEO’s Academy is another good example. Their space (AI SEO tools & content optimization) is relatively new, and many users don’t know how to use this type of tool yet. Customer education is important for them, and it shows – they have an academy, a blog, a knowledge base, a Facebook group, and 2 courses.
Here’s more academies you can check out:
2. Knowledge bases
A knowledge base is pretty much the bare minimum standard for customer content. It almost always makes sense to have one, and maintain it.
Knowledge bases enable self-serve customer support. Creating a good one takes time & resources, but it relieves load from your customer support team, and lets customers get answers much faster. Good for everyone.
You’ll notice that many knowledge bases look very similar, and that’s fine. The common traits of well-liked knowledge bases are simple:
- A search bar
- Most asked questions
Here’s some knowledge base examples you can check out:
And here’s some popular knowledge base software you can use to create yours:
The more brand awareness you have in your industry, the more effective creating a certification can be.
The motivation behind getting a certification has two sides: one is learning, just like the other content formats in this list. The difference here though, is that people getting certifications mostly do so to further their career. To make their resume more attractive, or to seek promotions.
With that in mind, your brand needs to have some clout for that to be effective. HubSpot’s Inbound Certification is desirable, because HubSpot is an authority on inbound marketing.
SurferSEO created a certification that aims to help writers (one of their target customer profiles) to upskill, and win more clients. For writers that use SurferSEO, the more clients they can win, the more they use SurferSEO, and their average revenue per customer grows. Win-win.
You can create certifications that are based on your product (like SurferSEO), based on the category generally (like HubSpot Inbound), or even based on specific roles. Procore (a construction management software) has a good example of role-based certifications.
Here’s more examples of companies that created their own industry-recognized certifications:
4. Live or recorded webinars
If you find that personalized support is most effective for your company, but your ARPC is too low to offer 1:1 calls, perhaps webinars are the answer.
Webinars let you offer tailored assistance in a 1:many format, which keeps time input & salary costs lower.
You can run them live as a one-off (e.g. to promote adoption of a specific new feature), on a fixed schedule (e.g. for all new customers each week), or simply have a library of recorded webinars.
If you’re running live webinars, it makes sense to record them and make them available as resources for other customers. Just like a knowledge base, this type of content could reduce the success/support workload, and enable customers to get their answer faster.
Later also have a great example of a product training hub that includes webinars. Mostly pre-recorded, Later have webinars for a general overview/introduction, and for specific features & use cases.
While podcasts aren’t usually introduced as a customer education play, they can be very effective for that.
Inside a lot of SaaS companies, genuine industry expertise is often lacking. It can be difficult to offer true forward-thinking thought leadership & new, controversial viewpoints if you’re not out in the trenches. The easiest way to solve that, is to interview those people who do have that knowledge, and distribute the insights in a convenient way for your customers to learn from.
Cognism has a successful podcast that is relevant for both customer education, and customer acquisition.
For context, Cognism sells sales data (e.g. emails) for prospecting & enrichment. In order for people to keep buying such data, it’s critical that those customers have success in their sales processes. Therefore, it makes sense to heavily invest in this direction – otherwise, no matter how good their product is, customers can churn due to poor performance.
6. Long-form articles
Last but not least, the classic blog. Or, it doesn't need to be a company blog, per se -- you can host customer education articles anywhere you want.
Like podcasts, long-form content (if ungated & publicly available) doubles as a customer acquisition & education play together. 'How to' posts are some of the best topics for this. They can help customers with understanding the use cases of your product, while also making you discoverable for people who are searching that challenge.
Here's an example by Piktochart: How To Make An Infographic In 30 Minutes. Creating infographics is one of Piktochart's top use cases, so it's important for customer activation & retention that they help people make the best infographics they can. Again, if customer infographics aren't impactful enough, they'll churn -- regardless of how good the product is.
It also happens to rank on Google, driving (probably) hundreds of trial sign ups per month.
Here's one more example from Modash: How To Check Influencer Audience Demographics. The business case is the same: the article is discovered in Google by people who need to solve this problem, and the content is available for customers who need a walkthrough of this use case. That makes this content format easier to pitch as a joint initiative between customer success & SEO/marketing.
Repurpose educational content for maximum impact
Content repurposing has gained popularity in the marketing world, but not so much for customer education. Google searches for ‘content repurposing’ have quadrupled since 2020:
In a nutshell, it means: create once, reuse many times.
Let’s say you invest hundreds of labor hours into creating a gated course for your customers. You can unpack that, and with minimal additional effort, create:
- Several blog posts for each sub-topic
- Quick tips & tricks to include in a customer newsletter
- Organic social posts for LinkedIn, Twitter threads, & other channels
- Knowledge base pages
- Scripts for webinars & YouTube videos
- … and more.
If you record a podcast interview, you can pull out the key insights to add to existing materials, create blogs, social posts, etc.
It works in reverse too.
If you’re working in customer success, and your marketing team already created tons of blog content for SEO/acquisition, you can repurpose those into a course for customers.
Objectives of educational content
Before you start producing content for customer education, think: what’s your desired outcome? Don’t skip this step.
You should have a specific metric you’re trying to improve, or a hypothesis to make a business case. Any investment you pitch here needs to link back to profitability in some way.
Imagine you’re an AI writing tool like Jasper. Based on customer exit interviews & feedback, they might learn that 50% of voluntary churn is due to users failing to get their desired results from AI. If that’s the case, then Jasper might invest heavily into teaching users how to write better prompts, with the goal of improving successful prompts & reducing churn.
Other goals might be to:
- Increase adoption rate for a specific feature
- Reduce support ticket volumes, so you don’t need to hire more support staff
- Drive expansion revenue by teaching customers about premium features
- Pivot to a low-touch customer success model
Educational content KPIs
I'd suggest tracking a few carefully selected KPIs: some for business impact, and some for content engagement.
Examples of content engagement metrics would be:
- Course enrollments
- Total views/sessions on educational content
- Total minutes/hours watched for video content
These give you a granular view of how each content type is performing, for analysis within your own team.
For higher level impact, and reporting to c-suite/managers, track 1-2 core business impact metrics. As above, those should be things like:
Make sure they're aligned with your objective.
From there, you're good to go (strategically). The next step will be figuring out the actual resourcing and ownership. Who will do what? Do you need to hire? Full-time, freelance? What's the minimum content required to launch your initiative, and start measuring the impact?
As ever, the quicker you can get the ball rolling, the quicker you'll learn about which content is the most impactful.
Content is the perfect tool for low-touch customer education. It lets you keep teams lean, salary costs lower, and customers happy. It can't replace 1:1 customer contact entirely (in most cases), but it sure can free up some time for your team to focus on the highest impact customer success work.