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6 Steps of Building a Knowledge Base for SaaS

 Customer self-service is an ever-growing trend for SaaS products. In-app guidance and chatbots are a central part of offering customers a way to resolve issues on their own time. However, a knowledge base portal helps you go the extra mile by providing help, troubleshooting, how-to articles, and more.

A good knowledge base has a lot of benefits, such as:

  • Increased user retention

  • Improved SEO

  • Fewer support tickets

  • Better customer satisfaction

While the benefits are well understood, many businesses don’t know where to start unlocking them. Thankfully, customer onboarding self-service software like Usetiful is here to help.

Here’s how you can build a knowledge base for your SaaS product in six simple steps.

Image by benzoix on Freepik

#1. Research and planning

All projects need to have a clear goal right from the outset. Building a knowledge base portal is no different. So, the first thing you need to do is identify the needs and goals behind your knowledge base project. 

Here’s a quick checklist that you can use in this research stage.

  • Clearly define what objectives you want from your knowledge base (i.e., retention, revenue, lower support costs).

  • List the areas of your product that you want to educate your user on.

  • Document the most common questions or points of friction your users have within your product.

#2. Build the framework

The next step on the road toward building your knowledge base portal involves constructing a framework for the information you want to share.

The first thing to do is look at your existing help content. Most SaaS businesses will have articles, FAQs, tutorials, manuals, technical documents, how-to guides, and more. Collect all this content on a spreadsheet and start categorizing it.

Next, perform a content gap analysis. Compare what you have against what you need per your goals and objectives in step 1. This process should give you a clear idea of what type of content you need to create for your knowledge bases. Again, write all that down in a spreadsheet so you can keep track of everything.

Finally, it’s time to think about how to structure your knowledge base. A logical hierarchy of broad topics that contain individual articles is easy to maintain and add new pieces to. It’s the most popular way to organize your help content because it works!

#3. Write new articles

In the previous step, you’ve gathered a list of topics from your content gap. Now, it’s time to fill these pages with the self-service content your users want.

Each SaaS business has its own brand tone of voice. However, it’s important to keep in mind that help content is something you need to think of a little differently. 

Remember, users are approaching this content because they can’t do something or they have an issue. They might be very frustrated. Your content should be conscious of this and make things as frictionless as possible.

So, write in a clear and concise way that is easy for anyone to understand. No jargon, no overly complicated instructions, just nice and easy language that is focused on solving problems.

Another thing to consider is how you structure your articles. It’s important to keep a tight focus on the particular problem you’re trying to solve. If you have related information that your customer would find helpful, link out to it. Similarly, structure your articles so that they are easy to scan and find information. 

Finally, ensure you spruce up your content. Images and screenshots are a great way to bring a bit of life to your pages. However, you should also consider incorporating video for more complex instructions and concepts.

#4. Choose the right knowledge base solution

Publishing and maintaining a knowledge base requires the right kind of software. Choosing the right tool comes down to a few different factors. 

Some of the things you need to consider include:

  • ✅ Ease of use: You want as little barriers as possible toward making content. Look out for no-code tools that let non-developers publish pages quickly and easily.

  • ✅ Cost: A knowledge base can quickly pay for itself. However, if you’re conscious about your budget (and who isn’t these days?), look for customer self-service software tools that can do more than just be a knowledge base.

  • ✅ Customization: A knowledge base is an extension of your brand, so it’s important that you can customize things like text and color, as well as add your branding and logo.

  • ✅ In-app capabilities: While your knowledge base portal will have its own URL, the best customer self-service happens in-app. To ensure your users can get instant help, look for an in-app widget that is connected to your knowledge bases.

  • ✅ Personalization: Great customer self-service software allows you to push recommended articles to your users based on personas. Look out for knowledge base solutions that facilitate this. 

  • ✅ Feedback: Knowledge-based solutions that enable you to gather user feedback on articles can help you understand what you’re getting right and what you’re getting wrong.

Each attribute is important. Don’t compromise. Usetiful’s Knowledge Base Portal hits all the spots.

#5. Design and distribution

Once you’ve settled on the right customer self-service software, it’s time to start putting it all together. 

So, think about the look you want from your knowledge base. It’s important that it chimes with your overall aesthetic, so use appropriate colors and font and find a place for your logo. This process is especially important if your knowledge base is available in-app. 

Think about the search function and test how well it turns up results. Tagging articles with the right keywords is important here.

Once you’ve done the above and added and organized your content, you should let your users know all about your knowledge base. 

#6. Maintain and optimize

Building your knowledge base portal is just the start of a continuous process. The final step involves maintaining and updating your knowledge base with more articles as you add features and functionality to your product. 

Keep an eye on which knowledge base topics your users search for or visit frequently. This information can give you ideas about what to cover next and which articles you should expand on. It can also provide your product development team with feedback they can use to improve your product. 

Great knowledge base portal examples 

We all need some inspiration to reach our potential. Now it’s time to learn from the best knowledge base portals.

Microsoft Support

One of the best examples of using a knowledge base portal comes from one of the world’s biggest companies, Microsoft.

There is a lot to love about this knowledge base. The Microsoft ecosystem is huge and full of a diverse range of products. However, the search function is lightning fast; there is a virtual AI Agent option, and best of all, it recommends articles based on your past searches. 

You have to admire the functionality and organization.

Mailchimp Help Centre

We love Mailchimp’s Help Centre because it’s a great example of getting the content just right. You can easily search for articles on a wide range of email-related topics and find some excellent how-tos, guides, and tips.

It also comes with some great video content that helps users with marketing automation and other step-by-step guides. Great content helps users get the most from the product, and the Mailchimp Help Centre passes that test with flying colors.

Wise Help Centre

The Wise Help Centre is a masterpiece of efficiency. The simple lime and green aesthetic is great, and, as befits a company that operates in over 160 countries, information is tailored to the regulations and currency within specific regions. 

Other stand-out features include a comprehensive FAQ section and a fee calculator that lets you find out what it will cost to exchange particular currencies. 

Basecamp Help

Basecamp Help opens with the line, “There are no stupid questions.” That attitude sums up the project management software's commitment to building a knowledge base portal that can influence customer success.

There are some great guides on project management, tips on improving workplace communication, and links to the Campfire Stories blog, too. However, best of all, they also link out the Basecamp 101 course, which supports new users in mastering the software.

Final thoughts

Now that you're packed full of inspiration from our knowledge base portal examples, it’s time to think about how you can bring the same great experience to your customers. Usetiful is not just a customer onboarding self-service tool. It also allows you to create your own knowledge base with a handing no-code editor. 

The best part? You can even make one with a free Usetiful account. So sign up for a free account today and start taking your customer success to the next stage.

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