How to Use Content to Drive User Education During Onboarding

Written by: Walter Chen Walter Chen 

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Your product’s features are great, but they aren’t the key that gets a user to convert from trial to paid. Relying purely on the features of your product or service during customer onboarding will actually prevent you from building lasting customer relationships.

What’s going to make a user onboard and buckle in for the long haul will be your core value.

Think of your new users as educated individuals who genuinely want to learn about your product. Without understanding your core value, they won’t understand the context behind the features you offer and why they should use them.

Teaching customers your philosophy builds a smart and loyal user-base. Saying it in your marketing isn’t enough—you have to weave it throughout your product and the onboarding experience. You have to motivate users to act and dig into the product by educating them with your content.

Teach users why and how your product benefits their lives and that’s how you’ll get them to the activation point. Appcues calls this the “WOW” moment. It’s the moment that acts as the catalyst for their allegiance to your product.

Getting them to WOW

According to the Appcues User Onboarding Academy the WOW moment is the most important moment to the user onboarding experience.

home alone time to wow

WOW happens when a user realizes that your product or service is integral to their life in some way. It’s a moment in which they learn that your service or product improves their lives.

Find your WOW. Once you do, you can start catering your content to educate users about your core values, all the while leading them to their own personal WOW moment as quickly as possible.

Creating content that will educate your users is less time consuming and far simpler than you may think. Rather than consistently turning out new content, it’s just as effective to leverage content you already have produced.

How to leverage existing content

There are 3 simple steps to using existing content to educate your users. All you have to do is compile the best marketing content you have, repackage it, and get it in front of customers during onboarding.

1. Determine your best content

There are several analytics tools that can help you pick out your highest performing content. You can determine which posts were the most read or had the most shares in order to pick out the content that deserve to be repurposed.

First, use Google Analytics to show you your top 10 performing posts.

identify your top posts in ga

Running analytics on your content is important because it tells you exactly what your audience finds useful and what ideas stuck with users.

Next, use Content Analytics by Sumo, to tell you exactly which posts readers liked as well as the place where they stopped reading your content. This shows you what content snippets engage your users and what bores them.

sumo.me reader behavior

Now you have a clear template of what really works and you can get started on creating your new and exciting educational content based on something that has already proven successful.

2. Repackage your most successful content

Once you have established what your most popular content is, you can start to repackage it into actionable and concise forms of content including eBooks, other actionable products like checklists, cheatsheets, and data templates, and finally, into product copy.

Ultimately, these content products should act as guides that help to lead users to their WOW moment with your product or service.

eBooks

eBooks are a great way to educate users. What’s even better is that they can be a collection of previous blog posts so they are extremely easy to publish. Ideally, they should illustrate your core value, and teach readers an abundance of information about one topic.

All you need are at least 10 medium sized blog posts on one topic to get started. Next, go through your content and change your posts from articles into chapters and place them on a single page with different chapter headings and subsections. Depending on how much curating you want to do, this process could only take one hour.

Once you finish with this, all that is left is to publish. You can use Print Friendly & PDF, which is a great Chrome extension or bookmarklet that allows you to publish your web pages as PDFs.

If you really don’t have the time, an even easier way is to use SketchDeck. They are a wonderful online design team that produce amazing content for a number of things, one of them being eBooks. They also work for a reasonable price.

Actionable content

Once you have created your very own eBook, consider also creating some bonus content like checklists, cheatsheets and data templates. These tools help transform the information that your reader just learned into actionable next steps.

They should also serve to highlight your core value and reflect what it looks like to act on your philosophy. Users love this type of bonus information because it is extremely helpful for them to have specific guidelines. It will show that you care about their success with your product or service.

For example, Buffer wrote post and included a package of bonus material that supplemented their core values.

Buffer's free social media kit

Buffer’s core value promotes being successful and organized on all social media platforms. Their package includes checklists, cheatsheets and data to help further their user’s educational process in understanding how to be successful on social media in general, and in part by using their product.

Buffer's education package

These supplemental tools are easy to create within Microsoft Word, Excel, or any other document software that allows you to create pdfs and convert to zip files for your users to download and use.

What’s great about these packaged products is that your customer can share them around the team on their end and it’ll present the case for using your product.

Plaintext snippets

You can also pull interesting content snippets from previous blog posts to add to your product copy and throughout your customer’s experience with your product like in the help section.

These snippets have proven to be engaging and they’re part of the reason why your customer signed up, as you pulled the plaintext snippets out of your most successful content marketing.

Here are other forms of content to turn your blog posts into for onboarding:

  • Webinars
  • Walkthroughs
  • Training sessions
  • White papers

3. Make this content part of the user onboarding experience

Now that you have some meaty packages of educational content, it’s time to distribute it to reach your user onboarding experience.

Here are 3 ways to distribute your content to help users reach that one true WOW moment.

In-app messaging

You can use Appcues in app messaging features to customize onboarding messages to users. Appcues makes this extremely simple for you. You don’t have to bother yourself with writing a single line of code. Just choose the most elegant and best designs and start sending targeted messages, including your educational content, to your in-app users.

Drip emails

Drip emails are crucial to the onboarding process. You want to use onboarding emails to show customers how to achieve their personal objective by using your product and service.

Drip emails have been shown to be incredibly effective as targeted emails generate 18x more revenue than general broadcasted emails, and they also get 119% the click rate.

The first onboarding email Freckle sends you includes an educational webinar to teach you about their product.

The webinar, whose content you’ll base on your repurposed content marketing, will educate the trial customer on the “why” of your product and how they can achieve success with it. If you dive too deep into features, you’ll risk boring your customer to sleep because the trial customer won’t know why she should care about the feature.

Their next email offers a detailed explanation of why you might have arrived to their site and why you signed up. They give you their core value to remind you why you thought using their app would benefit you in the first place.

Like Freckle, you can include your educational content in one of the drip emails as a way to address any questions they might have about your product. Then follow up with some more educational information and some benefits (for Freckle, it will save you time and effort) as opposed to features of your product.

Customer.io is an excellent tool that will help you design personalized and effective drip emails that will guide users to experience WOW.

Help section

At iDoneThis, we include valuable and educational leveraged content in our help section to answer any questions that onboarding users might have about our product.

idonethis educational content in footer

When new users are navigating your site, it’s common to go to the help section to see that invaluable list of “most asked questions.” A visitor usually arrives at this page as a last ditch effort to determine whether your product will help them so it’s critical that your help page is educational and effective.

You can maximize the effects of your help page by including snippets from your most successful content designed to teach onboarding users about your product.

We did this for a very successful blog post we wrote.

popular blog post

Already you can see that the post received 39 comments, a lot for a company blog. It also produced a ton of shares on social media.

popular post comments

We recognized that there was clearly something special about this post, which ended up being the main statistic in the headline, so we decided to include that in their help section as leveraged content for users curious to learn more about them.

content in help section

What’s even better is that this statistic reflects the core values of iDoneThis, which is to get people to feel excited about the work they accomplish on a daily basis. Our help section is a great step for users to take to get to the WOW moment.

Empower customers through your content

Your content marketing is where you don’t just talk about your product, you talk about your mission and the reason why your company exists. But if you only talk about that in your marketing and not in your product, your customers will be in for a surprise when they do sign up.

Your content provides the backbone to getting trial customers to WOW with your service as quickly as possible. It gives them the context that they need to start actually using your product, trying the features, and becoming successful.

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