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You Have 8 Seconds...

As short-form content explodes online, one of the more accepted myths is that training must also become shorter and shorter to be successful. But is runtime the driving factor in customer education’s success?
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As short-form content explodes online, one of the more accepted myths is that training must also become shorter and shorter to be successful.

But is runtime the driving factor in customer education’s success?

I don’t think so…

in fact neither does Fast Company.

Read below to see why 8 seconds is the magic number in your training content.

It’s not an attention problem, it’s an 8-second filter.

I came across this article published by Fast Company a few years ago while prepping for a presentation at a conference.

The article was on the “shrinking attention spans of Gen Z” and it debunked the notion that we simply can’t pay attention for long periods of time.

Instead, it highlighted that we’re developing and evolving highly adept “8-second filters.”

“They’ve [Gen Z] grown up in a world where their options are limitless but their time is not. As such, Gen Z have adapted to quickly sorting through and assessing enormous amounts of information.

Online, they rely heavily on trending pages within apps to collect the most popular recent content. They also turn to trusted curators,…. to locate the most relevant information and entertainment.

These tools help Gen Z shrink their potential option set down to a more manageable size.”

So, Gen Z's '8-second filter' is not about limited attention spans, but about their efficiency in assessing what's worth their time.

To get past this filter, we have to lead with relevance, storytelling, and perhaps even some entertainment to stand out in the sea of information.

Let’s explore some ways to do this.

Mastering the First 8 Seconds: Crafting an Unforgettable Hook

The key to conquering the 8-second filter isn't just about brevity; it's about instantly proving your content's worth.

This critical window is your opportunity to captivate your audience with an engaging story, a compelling question, or a provocative statement that promises value. 

Here's how to make those seconds count:

  1. Lead with a Strong Opening: Begin with a clear and enticing proposition.
    What will your learners gain from this content? How will it make their lives easier, their work more efficient, or their knowledge deeper? Answering the "What's in it for me?" question right away respects your audience's time and attention.

  2. Craft an Engaging & Relatable Narrative: Storytelling isn't just for fiction.
    Use real-world scenarios, challenges, and success stories relevant to your audience to frame your content. This approach not only engages but also helps learners visualize the application of the knowledge.
  3. Establish Immediate Relevance: Clearly state the benefits of the training upfront.
    Avoid burying the lead under too much context or preamble. If your audience understands the immediate relevance of what you're teaching, they're more likely to stick around for the details.
  4. Deliver the Key Message Early: Adopt a 'reverse pyramid' style for your content.
    Present the most critical information or 'punchline' first, then delve into the supporting details and context. This ensures that even if attention wanes, the essential message is received.
  5. Review and Refine Your Script: Before finalizing your content, review the script or outline. Ask yourself: Does it engage within the first 8 seconds? Is the value clear and compelling? Does it promise (and deliver) relevance?

Doing these things ensures your training content doesn't just capture attention but holds it, and provides meaningful learning experiences from start to finish.

Rethinking Run Time: The True Measure of Content Success

One of the most common questions I get from clients is: "How long should this video be?" or "What's the ideal runtime for our content?"

It's a valid concern, based on the idea that shorter content respects our learners' time and matches their attention spans. However, what this study (and other data) show, is that the runtime isn’t the most critical factor.

What matters is the content’s relevance and its ability to quickly provide access to valuable information.

The real power is the “both/and” - content must be “relevant” and “searchable.”

Here are some ways to optimize for relevance and discoverability:

  1. Design with the Viewer in Mind: Start with titles and thumbnails that not only capture attention but accurately reflect the content. This is the first filter of relevance—make it count.
  2. Embrace Structure: For more in-depth content (read “longer content”), incorporate timestamps or chapters directly within the video. This approach empowers viewers to navigate efficiently to the information they want most. If they find an answer that’s interesting or helpful, they can easily jump to other sections that matter.

  3. Guide the Journey: As each video or module concludes, don't just end; lead. Suggest the next piece of content that builds on what's been learned or offer a related topic that expands on the larger topic area.
    This strategy not only enriches the learning experience but also demonstrates the depth and breadth of your educational resources.

“Once something has demonstrated attention-worthiness, we [Gen Z] can become intensely committed and focused.”

The Power of Curation and Authentic Voices

The insights from the Fast Company study shed light on an often-overlooked aspect of customer education: the impact of curation and the authenticity of sources.

In an information-rich world, trust is the currency that sets brands apart.

Brands can use this as an opportunity to distinguish their customer education programs with the expertise and unique personalities of industry experts. These thought leaders can become the cornerstone of your educational content, through insights and on-demand content, programs, and resources.

Crafting a Personalized Learning Experience

Consider these questions as you refine and curate your customer education offerings:

  1. Diversity in Representation: Does your program feature a variety of voices and perspectives that resonate with different segments of your target audience?
    The relatability of the presenter is key to developing a connection with the viewer and helps to develop trust.
  2. Tailored Content Libraries: Are your resources organized in a way that anticipates and addresses the specific needs of your users?
    By categorizing content according to role, feature area, difficulty level, or certification path, you make it easier for learners to find exactly what they need, when they need it.
  3. Beyond the LMS: Have you explored creating content outside the traditional Learning Management System (LMS) to reach a wider audience?
    Platform-specific content that's easily discoverable by those searching for solutions can significantly expand your program's reach and impact.

Creating a Trusted 'Face' for Your Brand

Explore the potential of engaging with influencers within your industry, enthusiastic customers, or even professional talent to embody the spirit of your brand in your educational content.

Two SaaS companies stand out in recent content and illustrate the effectiveness of this approach:

  • Webflow Academy: Webflow has won the web design community over with their entertaining and helpful training videos. Their content stands out because it's hilarious, cinematic, and helpful.
  • Go High Level: This CRM and marketing automation platform has mobilized its user base by rewarding them for producing high-quality training videos. This approach builds their content library with diverse perspectives and also fosters a sense of community and creativity among customers.

By engaging influencers in your industry, customers who love your product, or even working with actors and talent to create personalities that build trust and relatability, you can create a customer education program that's engaging and trustworthy. If you are lucky enough to have internal subject matter experts or industry thought leaders, you can collaborate with them to design and curate content that speaks directly to the needs of your audience.

In Summary

Capturing and maintaining your audience's attention is both an art and a science.

It starts with debunking the myth that “shorter always equals better” and recognizing the power of the 8-second filter as a tool, not a barrier.

Challenge yourself & your team to pass the 8-second test -
Review your most recent training content together and rewrite the opening hook so that it immediately grabs attention. Ensure the remaining content has the relevance that keeps attention and the depth that rewards it.

8 read

Aligning Customer Education to Business Goals

Without alignment between your customer education programs and the current business goals, it’s nearly impossible to move the business forward and show success (the right kinds of success) in your training programs.
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Considerations for Aligning Content to Success

Without alignment between your customer education programs and the current business goals, it’s nearly impossible to move the business forward and show success (the right kinds of success) in your training programs. 

This article highlights the ways to align Customer Education activities and output so that you can move the business toward its goal without wasting tons of time and energy on content. 

To explore HOW to create this alignment between the goals of the business and the goals of the education team, we’ll explore the following in this article:

  1. Goal Setting With Leadership
  2. Customer Education’s Impact on the Customer Journey
  3. Aligning Content, Customer Journey, & Business Goals
  4. Planning Your Educational Content and Formats

But first a story - imagine this…

You’re walking into your quarterly review with leadership and have prepared a few slides highlighting how many new courses your team has produced, the number of hours of content created, and the total growth of your training catalog. 

You’ve also pulled the learning data that shows how many people are enrolled in programs year-to-date and have even grabbed some screenshots from LinkedIn where peers and learners have shared great feedback after participating in one of your courses. 


When you sit down with leadership, they applaud your efforts and the quality of the craftsmanship of the materials - however, it hasn’t “done much to improve the business” and “shown the results they were hoping for…”

This scenario (while exaggerated) highlights a very real problem that teams launching customer education experience, which is - tons of energy and output, but very few results. Not from a lack of consistency or effort, but from a lack of ALIGNMENT. 

The Core Problem is that education and content teams weren’t aligned with leadership goals. Content is created, distributed, and repurposed across every imaginable channel, but leaders don’t see the meaningful results they’re looking for from the investment in content.

Only when the team responsible for content creation is brought in and shown how their efforts haven’t produced “X or Y results” do they then realize they’ve been working in the wrong direction. 

Goal Setting with Leadership

The example story highlights how important Goal Setting and regular communication with your leadership teams are throughout every stage of building a Customer Education program. 

All of the activities of a customer education program fit closely together with other departments. For example, educational resources may also be great candidates for marketing assets, videos and tutorials may be extremely beneficial for customer support, and technologies used may integrate with product teams.

Defining the relationships between these teams, understanding what each team is working towards, and then looking for opportunities to share and collaborate can reduce the overall operational drag of development - and increase efficiencies in all areas of content development. 

So it’s important to understand what the overall goals or themes for the month, quarter, or year will be.

For example, 

  • Is the sales team pushing for enterprise accounts instead of mid-market? What support assets will they need to onboard or engage organizations with that many potential users?

  • Or, is there a big push to extend renewals? Maybe retention is the primary goal to build a safety net for the business’ ARR.
  • Perhaps product has a series of major developments for a platform that really needs to see adoption for the company to remain competitive.  This could introduce new use cases that need to be thought of and explained to a new audience. 

Customer education is a perfect vehicle to support all of these goals, but it takes an understanding of what the business is trying to achieve and then building towards that goal. Determine what the focus for the year or the quarter is, put a plan in place, and schedule check-ins.

Customer Education’s Impact on the Customer Journey

The possibilities of “what Customer Education is used for in your organization” are limited only by your imagination and resources. 

But to maximize the effectiveness of Customer Education for your business (and revenue), it’s important to explore the Customer Journey, their process of Discovery, and the Obstacles that exist in their world. 

What is the Customer Journey?

According to the definition used by Hubspot: 

"The customer journey is the series of interactions a customer has with a brand, product, or business as they become aware of a pain point and make a purchase decision. While the buyer's journey refers to the general process of arriving at a purchase, the customer journey refers to a buyer's purchasing experience with a specific company or service."


By designing these customer interactions or “touchpoints,” you can choreograph the experience that potential customers have with the business and achieve more intentional results with new customers. 

The general model for a Customer Journey involves 5 key stages:  Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Retention, and Loyalty.

  1. Awareness - In the Awareness stage, customers realize they have a problem. At this point, they may not know that they need a product or service, but they will begin doing research either way.

  2. Considerations - In the consideration stage, customers have done enough research to realize that they need a product or service. At this point, they begin to compare brands and offerings.

  3. Decision - In the decision stage, customers have chosen a solution and are ready to buy.

  4. Retention - In the retention stage, customers have now purchased a solution and stay with the company they purchased from, as opposed to leaving for another provider."

  5. Loyalty - In the loyalty stage, customers not only choose to stay with a company — they actively promote it to family, friends, and colleagues. The loyalty stage can also be called the advocacy stage.

Aligning Content, Customer Journey, & Business Goals

Now that we’ve outlined the stages of the Customer Journey, it’s possible to map the business goals and objectives to the Stages most closely associated with those goals and focus our content efforts on those stages.


So first, identify the goals of the business in practical terms - get specific. 

  • Is the goal focused on “new business”?
    For example, “ increase new customer signups, plan upgrades, a particular service package, etc.?”

  • Is it related to retention or incremental growth?
    For example, creating predictable monthly/annual revenues and reducing churn?
  • Are the goals related to a particular point in the buyer’s experience?
    For example, Increase conversions of free trials to a paid plan by 20%?

Getting specific with the desired outcome can help identify where you need to leverage customer education, content development, and other tools to achieve those goals. 

So identify where in the customer journey, you will be focused for some time.

Examples of Aligning Business Goals to the Customer Journey stages and content -

If the goal is Awareness:
You’ll be speaking to the key problems that individuals face, which ultimately your product is a solution for.

Your content may be written, video or audio content that’s distributed across external channels and pages on your website so that they are easily discovered and consumed by potential customers. 

If the goal is Consideration: 

You’ll be supporting potential customers with resources and toolkits to help guide their evaluation process. This often looks like workflow guides and tutorials, solution comparisons, expert sessions and case studies, and more. 

If you’re focused on Retention: 

You’ll want to create content that’s tailored and nuanced to the obstacles that your current customers, partners, or resellers face. This could be onboarding and setup support, knowledge base content, templates and tools that make adoption easier, in product tooltips or guides, and regular email communication and support. 

If you’re focused on Loyalty:

you’ll want to align customer education and possibly other incentives that help foster a strong sense of “advocacy” for your products and services. This may include partner programs, reseller /affiliate programs, product communities, live events, and more.

While all stages of the Customer Journey are important, the movement of the last thirty years away from the ownership model towards the subscription and consumption models has made the last two stages, Retention, and Loyalty, the areas in need of the highest amount of focus and attention for many organizations.

Planning Your Educational Content and Formats

Now that we understand our business goals and the stage(s) of the customer journey we’ll be focused on, we can start to plan content that helps customers move from one stage of their journey to the next with our product.

Content planning is one of the more overlooked steps in many projects, as once the initial brainstorming sessions happen around Customer Education, it’s a race to see how quickly content can go live. But, understanding what formats you have at your disposal to accomplish your goals is critical. And, knowing “why certain formats are being used” for these particular education goals is the starting point.

Planning Content Types & Purpose

Content planning begins with defining the purpose for the pieces of content, or identifying why you are selecting certain formats over others. 

For example -

Do you need certification courses or do you need short-form written content with screenshots?

Both can meet the need and help your MVA reach success, but they have different levels of complexity and output. 

Here’s a quick matrix that can help you identify possible content types for your needs and common delivery methods.

Content Matrix
Complete Customer Journey Content Chart
Stage of Journey Content-Type Content Format Effort to Consume Delivery Method
Awareness Educational content to diagnose a problem and offer possible solutions. How-to Articles and Guides Low Website
Knowledge Base
White Papers Low/ Medium Website
eBooks Medium Website
Social Media Low LinkedIn
Reddit, Substack
Free Micro-Courses Medium Learning Platform
Consideration Product marketing content to compare and choose service. Product Comparison Guides Low Website
List Articles Low Website
Case Studies Low Website
Interactive Demos Medium Website
Decision Easy purchase or upgrade process Free Demos / Consultations Medium Website
Implementation Guides / Fact Sheets Medium Website
Retention Onboarding experience and customer success Product guides (in-app) Low Knowledge Base
In-App Guide
Product Documentation Low Knowledge Base
In-App Guides
Tutorials and videos Medium Knowledge Base
In-App Guides
Workflow Training / Industry Certifications High Learning Management System
FAQ’s Low Website
Knowledge Base
In-App Guides
Social Media
Loyalty Enhancing the customer experience Easy to navigate resources online Low Website
Knowledge Base
Opportunities to engage with product team via Live events / Virtual Medium Website
Community connections of other users Medium Website
Industry designations and specialization acknowledgments High Website


Back to our story at the beginning of this article, it all starts with knowing “where the business is focused” and “why customer education programs or projects are needed.” Instead of conversations about “volume of content” or “number of enrollments”, you should be having meaningful conversations about the goals of the business & the impact of your programs.

Customer education programs can collect all sorts of helpful data and insights related to customer challenges, opportunities to develop or test new ideas in products, and even assist in “upselling” or “cross-selling” opportunities by presenting clients with new capabilities and features that deliver even more value.

In your next meeting with leadership, understanding these goals will allow you to speak “their language” and articulate your plans in a way that highlights the alignment of education content, the business goals, and how success can be measured. 

To recap: 

  • Customer education can support many of the goals of the business - customer acquisition, retention, and market awareness.

  • Educational content should be crafted based on the stage of the customer.

  • Use a matrix or guide to help determine the types of content you’ll create, based on the specific purpose of each type of content. 

In our next guide, Identifying Your Minimum Viable Audience (MVA), we’ll explore the process of designing and testing customer education materials with a targeted audience before scaling production efforts.

If you would like this article or future articles in the series delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to the Customer Education Blueprint for free today.

8 read

Defining Customer Education : A Strategy for Retention, Adoption, and Success

A clear definition of “Customer Education” and the individuals served through the education team output is critical for the success of your customer education work.
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A Strategy for Retention, Adoption, and Success

How can effective Customer Education increase the overall success of your business, beyond just the “user experience” of your product?

In this article, we'll:

  1. Redefine Customer Education from our work building out customer academy programs and product certifications for global SaaS and technology organizations.

  2. Highlight use cases for implementing Customer Education to achieve your unique goals. 

This article is the first in a series on effective Customer Education strategies. Subscribe to the Customer Education Blueprint to have this delivered to your inbox.

The Rise of Customer Education

If you’ve been on LinkedIn at all, you’ve likely seen the rise of Customer Education professionals, communities, groups, and others publishing content on everything from “supporting your learner through personalization” to “AI and Learning.” 

Other posts focus on technologies that deliver and track learning content.

Some teams focus on “product training.”Other teams say “product training isn’t enough.” 

Then there are discussions on certifications, communities, and learning journeys. And of course, debates on whether your training programs should “be paid or free.”
But, Customer Education is one part of a Customer-Led model that can make a difference in your customer relationships - and your revenue.

Customer Retention vs. Acquisition

The premise of this guide is that often “Retained ARR > Leads.” 

Meaning - it’s often more valuable for SaaS and B2B organizations to excel at customer retention. Rather than expending all resources on acquisition alone. This doesn’t discount the work of marketing and sales but rather highlights why Customer Education teams and programs need to be integrated into the other departments.

To better understand this strategy and perspective, we should define “Customer Education.”

Defining Customer Education

Customer education is a framework for many customer interactions. And it's part of an overall customer success ideology.

But, it’s not just a “customer success” function. As teams work together more closely, much of what was “education” should become “marketing,” “sales,” and “success.”

As a result, having a clear definition of “Education” and the individuals served through the education team’s output is critical for scoping the initiatives and success of your customer education work.

A quick Google search will bring up all sorts of variations of what “customer education” is:

  1. The learning platform, WeSchool, provided this definition of the Customer Education process -
    “Customer Education is a dynamic process that empowers users with the knowledge and skills not only to navigate the features of a product but also to explore complex topics related to the industry and solve day-by-day challenges – which is, in the end, what learning is all about in the end.”
  2. Thinkific, a learning platform for monetizing education, defined customer education as -
    “the process of enhancing your customers’ knowledge about your product or service to help them achieve value faster and better scale user growth.”
  3. The Customer Education Playbook written by Daniel Quick and Barry Kelly, defines it as - a discipline where “companies train their clients and customers on how to extract value from the services they provide…”

I’m a huge fan of these two authors, and the other referenced companies, but through our work at ThinkThru we have slightly adapted these definitions through the lens of the entire customer journey. 

So for this guide, we’ll define Customer Education as follows - 

Any educational activity that guides someone toward success in achieving their own personal, professional, or organizational goals as a result of a relationship with your product or service.

Notice the key points in this definition - 

  1. "Any educational activity."
    This opens up the world of content and training to any number of unique experiences. From content experiences like videos, audio, or written content, to interpersonal experiences that occur in community groups, chats, and messages that advance someone's success.
  2. "Guides someone toward success."
    Guidance is one of the best ways we can think about education. Often customer education isn’t there to be “prescriptive” for every individual, but rather it’s a framework for supporting current customers, future customers, potential customers, or fans toward success with the tools or unique mechanisms your product or service delivers.
  3. "Personal, professional or organizational goals."
    Depending on the types of products and services being provided, there are multiple motivations for someone “wanting training” or “upskilling.” Generally, enrolling in “customer education” has little to do with your specific platform/ product/ service, and is more about a person’s interest in being more successful, getting their job done more easily, getting a promotion, having more time to focus on their family, etc. Stacking these motivations and perspectives into your course offerings will make them even more successful. (go beyond “admins and users” and think about the actual humans in your programs.)
  4. "Relationship with your product or service."
    A relationship doesn’t have to be a “customer” necessarily for the “Customer Education” department to include them in scope. Education is one of the best ways to create a market for your products and services and as a result may overlap with “prospects or leads” who are engaged in content, conversations, or community but haven’t yet become customers.

Implementing Customer Education: A Tailored Approach

With such a diverse range of applications, implementing Customer Education in your organization demands a customized strategy.

Let's consider a few scenarios:

1. Market Education & Category Definition

If your goal is to establish market leadership and build long-term trust, your approach might focus on comprehensive educational content that positions your brand as a thought leader.

For example, a previous client, Reveal Data, uses Reveal Academy (their customer education platform) to launch new platforms and features to the market - as well as certify individuals in their respective skills. The academy went from 0 students to thousands in the first year, our collaboration helped them create one of the most recognized and in-demand training academies in eDiscovery.

2. Revenue Generation & Resource Optimization

For those aiming to boost revenue or streamline resources, shorter, targeted training modules designed to quickly upskill users or free up your team's time can be more effective.

Another one of our previous clients, Cellebrite, created an industry-leading training and certification program that drove an entire business line complementary to their software and hardware product lines. These certifications are some of the most recognized in their industry, and they provided significant revenue before taking their company public.

Or People3, a consulting firm that needed a way to scale their consulting cooperation and provide flexible solutions to clients. Implementing online versions of their consulting programs and services unlocked a scale that they hadn’t previously experienced, and it gave them a platform with which to engage and retain customers.

Each of these organizations and objectives requires a unique combination of content, community involvement, and structural design.


The possibilities of “what Customer Education is for you and your organization” are limited only by your imagination and resources. 

To recap: 

  • Customer education is “any educational activity that helps guide someone toward success in achieving their own personal, professional, or organizational goals as a result of a relationship with your product or service.”

  • This perspective is tailored by our thinking that it is more valuable for SaaS and B2B organizations to excel at customer retention than acquisition alone (Retained Revenue is greater than Leads.)

  • It enables organizations to use content, community, and experiences as a way to build knowledge, impart skills, and build trust with customers at every stage of their customer journey with your product or service. 

In our next guide, Identifying the Role of Customer Education in Your Organization, we’ll expand on the process of using our definition to scope implementation, its impact on the customer journey, and more.


  1. WeSchool: There is a reason why it’s called Customer “Education,”
  2. The Customer Education Playbook, by Daniel Quick and Barry Kelly. Wiley Publishing, 2022.
  3. Thinkific: Customer Education 101: How To Kickstart Your Program,
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