A guide to building a customer education program that's laser-focused on software adoption

Every solution provider asks themselves the same 3 questions:  

  1. How can we keep more customers?
  2. How can we get customers to use our software more?
  3. How can we get current customers to buy more?

Seen as more of a cost center than a revenue driver, customer education has historically taken the backseat when it comes to resourcing. Product marketing and GTM enablement teams have felt it too.

But that may be changing. There’s a growing recognition that learning precedes adoption, adoption precedes retention, and of course – retention precedes growth. 2024 may very well be customer education’s moment in the sun.

Building Blocks

SaaS leadership is coming to understand that the difference between a product’s success and failure often hinges not just on the software’s capabilities, but on how well users understand and adopt it (and if they’re even aware of it in the first place).

So, let’s take a look at how to build customer education programs that are designed to drive the metrics that matter most to SaaS vendors – adoption and retention.

1. Define your goals 

Before selecting any educational tools or platforms, it is crucial to define the specific objectives of the education program, understand the audience's characteristics and needs, and consider the nuances of the product itself. 

Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). In the context of software, this might mean aiming to increase daily active users by 20% within three months post-training or improving feature adoption by 50% in one quarter. 

Traditional metrics such as course completion rates or quiz scores (learning consumption metrics) are often misleading and may not correlate directly with business outcomes. Instead, focusing on metrics that directly reflect software utilization — like license activation rates and active usage statistics — provide a clearer picture of whether an educational strategy is translating into business value. 

Why focus on activation & usage metrics? 

  • Direct correlation with ROI: Activation and usage are directly tied to the return on investment (ROI) from the software. If customers are activating and using the software, they are more likely to renew their subscriptions and recommend the product to others. 
  • Feedback for improvement: Usage metrics can help identify areas where customers might be struggling with the software, providing targeted insights for refining educational content. 
  • Customer retention: By monitoring how and how much activated users engage with the software, companies can proactively intervene to offer additional training or support, potentially reducing churn. 

2. Consider your product 

The complexity and type of software you’re creating education for should influence the approach you take. Highly technical or niche products might require more in-depth, technical training modules, compared to more intuitive software that might benefit more from brief, use-case-driven tutorials.

3. Understand your audience 

Different user segments might have different learning needs. For instance, new users might require comprehensive basic training, while power users might benefit more from advanced tutorials about lesser-known features. Understanding these differences is key to creating effective educational content. 

4. Select a learning model 

The effectiveness of a customer education program also significantly depends on the pedagogical approach or learning model adopted. Selecting the right model involves understanding the nature of the content, the characteristics of the target audience, and the desired outcomes.  

Read a breakdown of the 6 key learning models to select from here.

5. Determine your content strategy 

Develop a content strategy that addresses the entire customer journey—from onboarding to advanced feature use. Content should be engaging, relevant, and practical, ideally incorporating interactive elements like simulations or gamified learning experiences that mirror actual software use.

6. Select the right external LMS 

Choosing the right LMS is pivotal. The ideal LMS for a software adoption program should: 

  • Integrate seamlessly with the software itself, possibly offering in-app learning modules. 
  • Provide robust data tracking and analytics capabilities to measure education’s impact on software usage. 
  • Be flexible enough to accommodate different learning paths and styles. 

To really connect education programs with usage impact, companies should integrate their learning management system (LMS) with their product usage analytics tools through platforms like BrainStorm. These integrations can provide real-time insights into how education impacts software use and helps tailor the learning experience to drive deeper product engagement.

7. Community building 

Foster a community around the software where users can share tips, success stories, and even custom solutions. Community-driven learning can significantly enhance customer education by leveraging the collective knowledge and experiences of all users.

8. Market your education program 

Promotion is often overlooked in customer education. Marketing the educational offerings effectively is critical to ensure that customers are aware of and can access these resources. This might involve email campaigns, notifications within the software, or even dedicated sessions at industry conferences.

 9. Regular program updates & iteration 

Software evolves, and so should its education program. Regular updates to training materials are necessary to include new features and improvements. Feedback loops that capture user experience with both the software and its education program are essential for continuous improvement.

10. Measuring success & making adjustments 

Continuously measure the effectiveness of the education program through the usage and activation metrics set out at the beginning. Be prepared to adjust the educational strategies based on what the metrics reveal about user needs and behaviors.


A customer education program that is thoughtfully designed with a focus on the right metrics and tools can significantly enhance software adoption and usage. By aligning educational goals with business objectives, understanding the audience, and choosing the appropriate content and LMS, software providers can unlock the full potential of their products, ensuring both customer success and business growth.