There’s an often-overlooked benefit of investing in educational, high-quality content. Given the feedback we’ve been receiving at ChartMogul, content has risen to become one of the most effective resources for educating customers and helping them achieve their goals with our product.
The best thing about this? You’re already investing in quality content (or at least I hope you are!). So all we’re doing here is putting that existing investment to work in ways you probably haven’t considered yet — more bang for your buck.
Educate and empower your customers with resources
Who’s the target audience of your content?
Most of the time, it’ll be the same as — or a subset of — your product’s target audience.
Well guess what? Your existing customers are also that same audience!
A truly effective content strategy is one that complements your product, by educating your audience on some of the same problems and focus areas that your product solves. It therefore makes complete sense that if you’re following this, your existing customers should be able to get significant value from your content, too.
At ChartMogul, we do exactly this.
- Our product mission is to help people build a better subscription business, through metrics and powerful analytics.
- Our content mission is to educate people on using metrics and data to grow a subscription business.
I spoke to Ingmar Zahorsky, ChartMogul’s Director of Customer Success, to understand how our content plays a role in his Customer Success strategy. It turns out that the Success team maintain a list of suitable content from our blog, that they use on a daily basis to send to customers:
“Our success team frequently shares content from our blog with customers during the entire customer journey. When explaining a feature or use case, content often connects theory and practice in a more engaging way than technical documentation can.”
To reiterate Ingmar’s point, our content is positioned such that it spans the gap between technical documentation (which can often be too inaccessible) and pure marketing material (which often doesn’t go deep enough). A great example of this is our series of metrics cheat sheets, which give a highly-condensed summary of a range of topics.
Answer real-world questions with your writing
For the most part, the most useful thing you can write is something that directly answers a question or leads to a positive action that your reader can take. At ChartMogul we launched a blog series called SaaS Q&A with the goal of doing exactly this. But how do you know which questions you should answer, and what problems your readers are experiencing with their business?
Quora is the ideal platform for us to gauge the feelings and frustrations felt by many of the SaaS and subscription community at any point in time, and to directly answer the most pressing questions — which we can then use for our SaaS Q&A series.
Using this technique, we’ve recently covered the following questions on our blog:
- How does annual billing impact a subscription business?
- How long should a free trial be for SaaS products?
- How do I calculate LTV when I have negative churn?
- What is the best way to build a product roadmap?
- How can I give a better product demo?
- What are the ingredients of a sustainable SaaS business?
- How to convert free trial users to paying customers?
These work so well because they’re relatable, simple and actionable. Read these, and many more answers here.
Use case studies to get closer to your most valuable customers
Case studies are one aspect of content marketing that still seems to be written to an archaic formula, with little regard for storytelling or engaging structure. Allow me to propose something different.
Start investing in good quality Customer Stories now
We use the term “Customer Story” at ChartMogul because it better reflects what we’re trying to achieve with this form of content — to dig deep and really tell the story behind our customers, and what makes them tick.
This is not a quick overview of how they “decreased churn by 19.2% using ChartMogul”, although it’s possible that some of those insights will come out of the story. What we’re really trying to do is empathise with our most valuable customers, and create good writing that helps the reader do the same, hopefully learning a thing or two along the way.
The amazing side effects of customer stories
I’ve spent some time over the last 12 months visiting some of our customers around Europe, usually spending the day with them to chat to different people, perhaps recording an episode of SaaS Open Mic with the founders to truly understand how they work.
I soon realised that the value of doing this is about 30% content-based, 70% in Customer Success.
From EVERY customer visit, I came away with:
- A massively-enhanced relationship with the customer. They were no longer “Customer X” to us, and we were no longer “Product Y” to them
- Satisfaction that the customer had learned at least one new and useful aspect of our product that they weren’t aware of before
- An understanding of any pain points in our product’s UX
- A list of the highest priority use cases for the customer
- Absolute confidence in my knowledge of the customers’ needs
- …And a great customer story, of course!
If you could put a monetary value on ticking all of these boxes for one of your biggest customers, what would it be? My guess would be something much higher than the cost of sending someone over for the day to carry out those things. In my opinion, it’s a win-win.
I’m sold. Where do I start?
Go ahead and read The LiveChat Story, to get a feel for what we’re aiming for. There’s no real shortcut to this — don’t bother outsourcing unless you can find an amazing writer (trust me, we’ve tried), and you’ll pay top dollar for those people anyway. You simply need to invest the time, do the research, and make the trip. If you do it right, it’ll pay off.
How we put our content in front of existing customers
Here are a few methods we use to make our customers aware what we’re publishing — feel free to steal them for yourself!
- Our weekly SaaS Roundup email (goes to both customers and non-customers)
- Our monthly ChartMogul newsletter (only for customers, focused on the product)
- Putting thumbnails and links to recent blog posts in notification emails from the ChartMogul app (we send thousands of these every day)
- In-app announcements and messages (usually through Intercom)
- Linking to resources from documentation in our Help Center
- Linking to resources and guides from within the ChartMogul app
- Distributing printable resources (cheat sheets, guides) in person at events
There many more ways do this. As long as the content is helpful and relevant in the first place, the rest is relatively simple.