One of the most basic elements of selling a product is helping consumers understand what the product is. For software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, this can prove to be an obstacle, as many have complex, technical applications or market themselves to an unfamiliar audience.
This is where technical writers come in. Technical writers help SaaS companies develop better product documentation that can, in turn, aid in marketing and customer service efforts. Let’s break down how product documentation helps SaaS companies improve their marketing and customer service efforts.
Documentation refers to a series of documents created to accompany a product or software. They’re designed to provide guidance for proper implementation, use, and maintenance. Documentation allows consumers to drill down into the finer details of a product’s capabilities and understand what they can expect in terms of support from a SaaS product post-sale.
SaaS companies can hire writers who previously held technical roles, or outsource to third-party agencies. No matter the process, proper documentation can provide positive effects across a myriad of business objectives, including the ones below.
Kickstart Content Marketing Strategy
SaaS companies are largely built on relationships, specifically those whose business models fall into subscription services. Continuous marketing to existing customers is a pillar of lead generation and sales strategy. Beyond demonstrating continuous value to an existing consumer base, SaaS companies must also be able to prove their mettle to prospective customers. In a sea of competitors, it can be incredibly difficult to stand out. It can be even harder to market to developers and B2B consumers, who have a higher bar for investment than traditional B2C customers.
Product documentation can be used to strategically elevate a company’s content marketing strategy, as well as improve its SEO. This can be done in a variety of ways, including:
- Using it as sales collateral
- Recycling it into shareable infographics, videos, datasheets, and ebooks
- Optimizing technical content geared towards competitive search terms.
Methods such as these help extend both the lifecycle and reach of technical content. They can also help inform customer service strategies, as outlined below.
Help Reduce Customer Churn
Customer churn, also referred to as attrition or turnover, is the number of lost customers in a given period. Many SaaS companies operate on a subscription-based, or pay-as-you-go model due to the nature of the cloud. Thus, retaining and upselling their existing client base is crucial, as is maintaining a healthy pipeline of potential leads. Product documentation helps break down complex topics and contractual language into digestible points of reference. A SaaS product is a considerable investment for a buyer. This is especially true with B2B buyers, who are more likely to shop around since they’re responsible for maintaining a budget.
Research shows that 45 percent of B2B consumers were “spending more time researching purchases compared to last year.” This, coupled with a vast majority of surveyed buyers reporting between one and six stakeholders involved in the buying process, means SaaS companies have their work cut out for them. For SaaS companies with multi-use or diverse applications, documentation is critical to capture the attention of the various stakeholders responsible for purchase decisions. For example, sales teams looking to market a comprehensive suite of ERP products like this one will rely on documentation to help educate customers on their diverse product offering, improve trial conversions and optimize the user experience.
Documentation also provides a forum for customers to learn, grow, and provide feedback. This builds a solid knowledge library for users, which can lead to “case deflection.” Case deflection is when customers are able to find answers to product-related questions without contacting customer support. Deflection reduces staffing costs amongst support teams, but perhaps most importantly positively impacts customer retention. Of course, case deflection isn’t possible unless accessing the information is effortless, which makes documentation instrumental.
Reduce Friction Between Teams
At a SaaS company, there will likely be separate teams for product, marketing, and customer service. Without the use of communication and collaboration tools, information could become siloed by discipline, and both the business and customers would suffer as a result. Immediate access to documentation information drives value for each department’s distinct business objectives.
Many SaaS companies leverage software documentation tools to create efficiencies and enable access to product materials across teams. These tools contain capabilities including multi-authoring and collaboration, translation, and custom themes or domain names for a company’s online documentation portal. These tools take much of the legwork out of developing and maintaining a documentation library while giving company stakeholders and consumers easy access to the information they need.
Proper documentation helps strengthen the consumer-brand relationship. SaaS companies that hire technical writers or invest in content management systems are better able to maintain and update their resource library in tandem with the ever-changing software market.
Meg Farrow is a content marketing specialist who writes about the latest technology tools and software trends.