We know that the purpose of marketing is to influence customer behaviour to such an extent that, not only are your target clients made aware of your products and services, but they’re also persuaded to choose them and your company over all others.
But how exactly can educating consumers and decision makers about your product and service deliver your company a real advantage when a client is near to or at the point of purchase? Moreso, what content is likely to make those same customers stay around after they’ve bought from you or signed up for a free trial?
As you know, the goal of content marketing is to engage with customers in a personal and emotional way.
Education can be a valuable part of this process as done correctly, greater customer understanding and knowledge of your products and services provides them with the reasons they need to justify a purchase in their own minds.
So what is a customer education program and how does a customer education program work?
What are customer education programmes?
Customer education programmes is a text-, image-, and (often) video-based way of sharing information with customers to equip them with more knowledge of a particular product or service.
A customer education program can be presented in a variety of different formats.
One popular (pre-purchase) approach is to shoot webinars where you can discuss the benefits of your products and services in detail and demonstrate how easy it is for customers to use. During the filming of the webinar, you may have a guest speaker from your customer services team and you may choose to allow customer questions at the end of the talk. You can then make this video available on your website, on YouTube, and on social media platforms.
Customer education programmes should share information with target consumers of real value to them – not only showing how simple they are to use and to integrate into everyday life but also to show how they provide clients with what they actually want.
What is the power of education in marketing?
Education and marketing used to be two separate entities. Now, we find the lines are blurred.
Catering for well-informed customers means that we need to include detailed information within our marketing campaigns or else fear losing out to a company that has done exactly that.
Educating your customers is a powerful tool with many benefits. What are they?
It builds trust between your company and your customer
Today’s consumer is bored of traditional marketing ploys and expects a more interactive experience. Companies who take advantage of this will reap the rewards of increased brand loyalty and awareness.
Customers appreciate it when a brand extends their reach beyond just selling a product.
Furthermore, customers are more likely to trust a brand who has fully explained and described their product in multiple ways rather than relying on a simple product description with room for misunderstanding.
Using customer education programmes reduces the amount of complaints you may have
This is simply because the customer is fully aware of what they are buying beforehand, which reduces the risk of misinformed purchasing, as well as being a platform that provides troubleshooting solutions explained.
Using tools to educate your consumer on how best to use a product will ease up the amount of time support staff use to answer customer questions.
You may even be able to lessen the number of sales support team members simply by using educational tools and programmes – as there are no longer numerous calls about basic issues.
They increase customer loyalty
Who do you think a customer is going to pick – a business who provides basic information on a product or a business that takes the time to explain various elements and methods of using a particular item? Educating your customer instantly provides a huge pull for a customer to pick you again.
When a customer knows they can count on you for authentic and helpful information, they will keep coming back to you time and time again. Crucially, it provides them with a realistic expectation of your service that you know you will deliver.
How can you educate your customers?
Education needs to be exciting and focused. There’s little point in creating dull educational programmes – in fact this is likely to serious hamper your brand image.
Customers are curious so keep it entertaining when you’re presenting informationa and answering their questions. As ever with content marketing, each part of your customer education story should be built around a story with a beginning, middle, and an end where the client benefits.
Here’s our top five approaches to building a successful, engaging, and profitable customer education program for your products and services.
1. Create online tutorials
Depending on the nature of your business, your consumers may find online tutorials really useful in making a purchasing decision and also how best to use your product once they have bought it.
Learning the different ways in which your product can be used is likely to make your items more valuable, reach a wider audience and eliminate potential problem solving. It’s best to use platforms such as YouTube for this, with links both to and from your website.
2. Host online webinars
Again, these can be uploaded onto YouTube for viewing at a later date – but advertising and hosting Q and A sessions about products raises your brand above the rest – as well as offering customers a chance to interact with you and other loyal fans.
3. Offer your educational programmes for free
Unless your product or service is education-related, you should never charge clients, prospects, or visitors for access to your customer education program.
You should consider the extra traffic to your website and the additional sales, social media follows, and email newsletter subscriptions as payment in kind.
4. Always share useful original content.
Knowledge is power, and those who share it are always respected. By creating your educational tools and programmes from scratch centred on improving the value of your products and services to your clients, they’ll buy from you. If they’ve already bought from you, they’ll stay with you.
Similarly, by making sure the content you create can easily be shared on social media platforms via buttons and links, you increase the possibility of being discovered by many new people.
5. Be patient
Putting the work into your educational resources will take time. You will be faced with obstacles and developing original content requires energy, application, and creativity.
And, as with all content marketing strategies, it will take time before you start to see the rewards.
Keep going to see the return on your investment and make sure that you focus on content distribution just as much as you focus on content creation.
Top 5 tips for best practise of customer education programmes
Once you have identified the key aspects you want to educate customers about, use your creative skills to master the art of telling a story in which the benefits of dealing with your company and purchasing your products and services are subtly added throughout.
Here are our top tips for producing fresh and captivating educational programmes:
Use your buyer personas
Use your buyer persona profiles (more on B2B buyer personas and B2C buyer personas) to work out what each group of customers might like to see and how.
Would a younger customer prefer a ‘tips and tricks’ video and an older user enjoy a chat with an expert in the field?
Match the content and the delivery method to the insights you’ve uncovered in your buyer personas.
Tell, don’t sell
Stick to educating, not selling.
A customer education program is not the time for a sales pitch becuase that’s not what the customer signed up for.
They chose to interact with you to learn and whether or not that results in a sale is their call. It’s up to you to do your best to make them want to invest in you!
It’s a fine balance between telling and selling – send what you want to publish to one of our account managers for feedback.
Getting more students on your programmes
If possible, work with professional associations to increase the number of participants on your custoner education campaign.
Networking with others in your field is a great way to enhance the community that surrounds your particular product.
Inviting a specialist in your sector will show your audience you are credible and worth taking the time getting to know.
Be aware of wider pressure on students’ time
Online learning courses can vary in content and length.
Whether you choose to use infographics, videos or webinars, don’t overwhelm your audience with lengthy and complicated work.
Not only is this likely to put them off spending time with you but may intimidate them and push them to your competitors instead.
As a general rule, webinars should be no more than an hour, and other educational tools take less than an hour to complete.
Only include the most valuable information
Densely pack information into your program but be conscious of how much time your audience really has free to participate.
Courses should be fairly brief but still include a wealth of information. This way, readers or viewers feel they are really getting value for the time spent on your brand.
If you choose to host a webinar, we recommend rehearsing first to smooth out and kinks and make sure you keep the conversation flowing.
Using a customer education program in your content marketing campaigns
Customers use search engines to find out answers to questions they have about products, services, and companies that previously they would have spent hours on helplines for.
To discuss what you might include in your customer education program and how to make sure that as many people and business decision makers in your target audience see it, please get in touch with our team by calling us on 0330 010 8300 or click here to email our inbound marketing team.