A knowledge base is an important marketing asset in a B2B or B2C environment and a must for companies who offer software applications, managed service platforms (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, etc.), and other digital products.

Why You Need It?

As I also explain in another blog post, by providing instructions, use cases, and a general domain information, your knowledge base:

  • enables users to understand advantages of your product
  • motivates them to subscribe to or buy your product
  • increases the number of retained customers

If you do not know how to eat a lobster, you’ll grab something else. Help your users to get to the meatiest part of your offering. One day, they will realize that it’s tasty!

Creating Trust Through Free Knowledge

A knowledge base shows your customers that you have thought on their needs and not only on selling your product quickly. Besides, it helps you to position yourself as a trusted advisor and expert in your own field.

A product website stripped from any additional information makes an impression of half-ready product that was developed in a rush and without a long-term intention.

Main Elements of a Knowledge Base

A knowledge base includes sections of your website that provides information about your product or service, its usage, and a context of its application:

  • user-facing documentation
  • developer documentation
  • training materials
  • FAQ
  • case studies
  • white papers

Optionally, your blog can count as a part of your knowledge base. Indeed, it depends on the quality of its content and its tech-savviness.

Technical Documentation

In a few blog posts, I try to broadcast some technical documentation basics and best practices.

This document can be of two types: user documentation and developer documentation. Indeed, sometimes developers are users of some application or service. But, the actual difference is that

– a developer documentation explains how a developer can customize your product by changing its source code or contribute to an open-source technology;

– a user documentation appeals to the end users. Depending on the product, they may need programming knowledge but they won’t impose significant changes on the application.

However, the border between the two definition often blurs, as in the case of Salesforce developer documentation. It encourages developers to create their own applications using the platform, but they cannot access the underlying source code.

Training Materials

A knowledge base goes beyond a technical documentation. It must be more interactive and available in multiple formats.

Video format is the most popular one. It is much easier to grasp a workflow if you can watch someone going through it.

Quizzes are a great tool for products that suggest user certification. Look at Salesforce Trailheads. I find it a benchmark for training materials. Every tutorial tells a practical story, then provides step-by-step instructions, and ends with a quiz. Moreover, once you answered all questions correctly, you earn a badge.

Gamification sells. Gartner has proven it.

Badges and other rewards are a perfect strategy for motivating users to complete the training. Did I tell you that Salesforce offers numerous paid certifications? A possible nice side hustle for your main product!

Frequently Asked Questions

A lot of users can better locate information if it is formulated as an inquiry. Besides, the FAQ section is a proper place for questions that your support team had to answer more or less often.

Here, you can also park dummy questions or questions regarding your pricing or other things that did not fit into the technical documentation.

Compare these two pages on a managed Kubernetes service website:

Whereas the benefits page makes visual elements its design prerogative, the FAQ pages provides similar content in a visually dry form. By doing this, the vendor serves both types of readers

expanding the outreach of the same information.

Remember that every user is different. That’s why you need more than one format for your knowledge base and maybe a few repetitions of the same meaning in different places.

Case Studies

With case studies, you can show your potential customers how someone else already could profit from implementing your product. Indeed, a case study must be more than “Customer X subscribed to our Premium plan”.

Case studies must provide insights into industry specifics and deliver comprehensive success measurements. For instance, your customer could catch more bugs and increase the rate of bug-free deployments winning more customers.

Remember to make case studies more oriented toward business decision-makers, such as CEOs, CTOs, project and procurement managers.

This kind of content is less interactive compared to the training materials but must offer a similar level of takeaways as the documentation does. It must shows customers how to use your product in a certain business case.

Case studies may be anonymous but may contain your customer’s name and thus become a business reference contributing to the trust in your product.

White Papers

White papers are downloadable PDF documents. They can have a colourful design with the content expressed only in infographics and short text sections. But they can also be completely serious documents close to a university term paper.

White papers can contain results of a study that you’ve conducted or a broader overview of a certain tech trend that inspired your business model.

Their main advantage is that they allow to

generate leads directly since you can require contact information in exchange for a download link.

They are perfect for companies who plan an outbound marketing offensive or want to grow their contact database.

Blog

I love blogging since this format is very flexible. You can publish articles about everything that you could not put somewhere else in the knowledge database.

Blog posts allow you to address new target audiences quickly by integrating new freshly found keywords. It is easier to publish a blog post than trying to fit new information into the core part of your knowledge base, especially if you are not sure this will fit with the format.

Industry news and tips and tricks are the best candidates for a technical blog.

A blog has a high lead generation potential: you can offer readers to subscribe for it or attach your contact form at the end of each post. And that’s what I am going to do now!

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