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Train your customers before your competitors do

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The technology around us is ever-changing. Sometimes it changes seamlessly and unobtrusively — remember when we used to swipe our credit cards instead of inserting the chip or tapping for contactless pay? It was a smooth transition to get to where we are today. In other cases, technology changes in ways that are abrupt and unexpected, like when companies all around the world had to suddenly rethink their processes to accommodate the new reality of their employees working from home when the recent stay-at-home orders were issued.

When it comes to sales, changes in technology can also be seamless, or they can be abrupt. But this isn’t going to be an article about automating sales processes or implementing CRM systems. My expertise lies in educating clients and users, and I’ve noticed that many of my company’s clients take advantage of customer education to help solve sales tasks. That’s what I’m going to discuss in this article. Of course we’ll touch on marketing and customer success, too.

Stage one : Brand awareness

The first and earliest stage at which you should be educating your clients is when they know nothing about your product. In marketing, this is often called “brand awareness.”

What you should do:

  • Analyze the questions that your target audience asks, and figure out which ones get asked most often.
  • Decide which of these questions you can answer, thus bringing value to your clients.
  • Create a short, public course on this topic (we recommend making it free).
  • Share this course where your audience will see it — try newsletters, Facebook groups, paid ads, or forums. You can even use Reply to spread the word :-)

Example: Serpstat is a company that built an SEO-analysis tool. They created an Academy about their product so that clients could easily familiarize themselves with its features. They also created a general course about SEO, which they shared via multiple channels. This brought them thousands of leads, and 5% of those leads converted into paying customers (without ever talking to the sales team).

Main idea: The idea here is that you will be educating the market. You show them your expertise and provide additional value. People will trust you and be more willing to purchase your product/service. An interactive Academy looks much more impressive than an outdated ebook or whitepaper. Consequently, conversion rates are higher. Academies also give you access to far more stats on learners, as well.

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If you want to try AcademyOcean for this scenario (or any of the ones mentioned below) you can request a personal demo . Our team would be more than happy to get on a 1:1 call where we can share our best practices and show you our product in action.

Stage two : Product value

At this stage, you’re working with an audience that already knows about you. You need to be focusing just as much on WHY they should be using your product as on HOW to use it. There are tons of tools you can use to tell them HOW — knowledge bases, in-app wizards, etc. But those tools don’t help answer the question “WHY?” That is to say, they don’t convey the VALUE of your product. Academies, on the other hand, are perfect for answering both equally-important questions.

What you should do:

  • Think of the most important “value” that your clients or users can get out of your product
  • Describe it, focusing on the needs of your target audience.
  • Use this material to create a course, and use the course to educate your clients.

Example: Ajax Systems is the most distinguished security system in Europe. They created an introductory course that doesn’t start with teaching people how to use their service. Instead, it starts with why security systems are important. It talks about dealing with fires, dangerous gas concentrations, and flooding. By starting their Academy this way, they very clearly outline the value of using their company’s technology.

Main idea: Here, you want to help your clients answer their WHY questions, in addition to their HOW questions. Once they understand WHY they should use your tool, it will be much easier for them to learn HOW to use it.

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Stage three : Customer onboarding

The first steps your clients take with your product are very important. A first impression is everything, after all. Your Customer Support team could just help each client individually figure everything out, but that brings us to why I mentioned new technology at the beginning of this article. There’s so much you can automate and optimize when you use an educational course.

Example: Planfix is a multifunctional task management system and enterprise management tool. Products like Planfix are very powerful, and you can’t really just sit down and start using them. In order to make things easier for new customers, the Planfix team created a course called “Day one with Planfix.” They even conducted an A/B test, placing a link to this Academy in half of their welcome emails to trial users. At the end of the experiment, they saw that for those who had the link in their email, the number of people who converted from trial users to paying users was 38% higher than for the group that didn’t get the link. Once they saw the results, you can bet they created several more courses on various topics (for client employees, managers, and so on).

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You can read the full Planfix case study here.

Main idea: You should always be thinking of new ways to improve your customer onboarding process. Keep in mind that not all users want to talk to your Customer Support team — lots of them want to figure things out on their own. An introductory course is an excellent way to help those users, and it will help you increase conversion rates.

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Stage four : Customer engagement

So, let’s say you have customers who use your product. Of course the more actively they use it, the more value they will receive. It works like this: the more features your clients use, the longer they will want to use your product. The longer they use your product, the higher your LTV. You should tell your clients about the possibilities available with your product and teach them to get as much value out of it as possible.

Example: YouScan created several educational courses for their clients. In addition to a basic course, they also created an advanced course, where they delve deeper into what their product can do.

Or take Reply, for example — they can create courses on the new LinkedIn Email Search feature or the new Reply Now for Intercom.

Main idea: You should constantly be training your customers so they get the maximum value out of your product and stick with you for as long as possible.

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Stage five : Wow factor

This one isn’t so much a stage as it is an approach that can be added to up the “wow factor.” It’s also a great tool to use with larger clients. What you can do is create custom white-label Academies for each of your individual clients — it’s easy and effective. This is one of the features that makes AcademyOcean unique. Want to know about our other unique features? Book a 1:1 call with the AcademyOcean team.

With white-label Academies, each client gets their own environment, or educational portal, with personalized onboarding and even control over how employees are progressing through the material (if the client is granted admin access to the Academy).

Each of these portals can have their own branding, in addition to their own unique content. Content can easily be synchronized between Academies using a Content Bridge System, if needed.

Example: ZenGRC has created separate Academies in their AcademyOcean account for their clients. They did this by first creating “building blocks” — Academy components that help explain different aspects of their product. Then they created exclusive Academies for clients using only the building blocks relevant to each specific client’s needs. The company has already created over 300 Academies. An AcademyOcean PRO account  will let you build an unlimited number of Academies. 

Main idea: create an unlimited number of personalized white-label Academies within a single AcademyOcean account to train your most important clients.

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Two extra ways you can use AcademyOcean LMS in addition to when working with clients:

  1. You can create an Academy for educating your partners. It can be public, if you’re looking to find new partners, or it can be private and individualized, if it’s for partners you already work closely with.
  2. And, of course, the classic use of an Academy is educating employees. This should start with onboarding — maybe with courses like “Your first day,” “Important information for new hires,” or “Our company’s mission and values” — and it should end with professional development and developing the knowledge of your current employees.

AcademyOcean accounts are set up so that you can create an unlimited number of Academies for any of the scenarios mentioned above. 

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Request a demo , and our team will gladly give you a 1:1 tour of AcademyOcean in action and help you learn how best to use an Academy for your company. 

We have prepared 10 “coupons” for readers of the Reply Blog: we’re doubling the duration of your first payment period with AcademyOcean. That means that if you pay for one month, you’ll get two months for the same cost. And if you pay for 12 months, you get 24. Request a personalized demo here, and let us know you came from the Reply Blog.

Vladimir Polo

Founder and CEO of AcademyOcean.com , one of the easiest-to-use LMS for businesses, with corporate customers from 15 countries. AcademyOcean has been ranked TOP1 on ProductHunt and earned a 9.9 out of 10 for ease of use on G2Crowd.

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