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By Sharon Housley
Consumer education is something many small
software companies tend to overlook. While the benefits
of consumer education may not always be obvious, the
fact of the matter is that educated customers are good
customers, and happier customers. A customer who does
not understand an application's capabilities or features
is more likely to experience frustration with it, making
them less satisfied with your product and also potentially
draining your support time. Therefore, we've created
a brief guide to consumer education to help you enhance
Formats for Consumer Education
One of the great advantages to education
today is that it can be provided in a huge variety of
formats. Between text, video, audio, images, PowerPoint
files, flash, demos, PDF files, RSS feeds, and knowledgebases
and FAQs, you certainly aren't limited in terms of how
you can offer consumer education. You can even use rich
media to help explain the finer details of your software
About what can consumers be educated?
One way to educate consumers is to explain
to customers the benefits of your product. Such an application
of consumer education provides potential customers with
important information regarding your software and its
uses, and has the added bonus of helping you promote
You may also wish to provide an overview
of software applications. Doing so gives customers a
basic sense of what your product does and how it might
be applied without demanding extensive research on their
part, providing them conveniently with the most essential
information about your software.
In addition to broad overviews, explanations
of more specific features of your software can be of
great use to customers. Educating consumers in this
way can not only save your customers time and difficulty,
but help you cut down on support time as well.
White papers or case studies serve as
a more personal way to afford customers information
they need. Case studies convey the experience of a consumer,
helping other customers or potential customers consider
ways in which they might use and benefit from your product.
How can I implement consumer education?
Tutorials are a great way to introduce
potential customers to software features, and increase
their ease of use should they purchase your software.
Tutorials are therefore a solid means of creating better-informed
and happier customers. While a variety of media can
be used to make a tutorial, video tutorials tend to
afford optimal clarity and convenience to customers.
Online flash demos are another great
option for increasing your customers' understanding
of and ease of use of your software. They can be especially
effective in explaining more finite details of software
use that a general tutorial may not cover.
FAQ pages and Knowledgebases
Offering an FAQ page or a similar knowledgebase
to customers is a basic, helpful, and much-appreciated
way to provide consumer education. Inherently, FAQ pages
will answer your customers' most common questions, not
only saving them time and effort, but sparing you much
time on redundant support service.
Built-in software wizards are a great
way to walk customers through the software setup, saving
them time and minimizing any frustrations they may encounter.
Consider incorporating an installation wizard into your
software to increase customer satisfaction.
Reviews and Testimonials
Customer testimonials, regardless of the
media you use to share them, are another excellent agent
of consumer education. Hearing from fellow customers
who may share their needs and desires regarding software
provides customers with a consumer's perspective on
your software, and is a more personal way to teach potential
customers about the capabilities and possible uses of
Use tools like PowerPoint to help you
make screencasts as a visual and textual aid for consumers.
Screencasts are another useful, easy-to-follow way to
teach customers about the use and features of your software.
PDF application is another great way to
offer consumer education. PDF files are a good choice
for conveying textual information because they offer
you great freedom in terms of formatting and display.
While videos seem to dominate the world of tutorials,
demos, and explanations as of late, the clarity and
usefulness of text and images as a means of consumer
education are not lost.
Educated customers have better understandings
of the scope of a product's abilities; they know what
an application realistically can do, and what it cannot.
Educated customers are not only best able to make full
use of a product or software, but also appreciate the
transparency and convenience with which businesses that
endeavor to educate consumers provide them. Finally,
educated consumers drain far less support time than
a customer who is less familiar with the software and
its capabilities, making consumer education an all-around
wise choice for companies.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for NotePage, Inc.
, FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds
and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for
audio recording and editing software.
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