There are many different applications for content. In terms of digital marketing, you can use content to make people laugh, draw attention to a serious issue, or even persuade someone to make a purchase. But the most valuable and noble use of content is for the purpose of education.
The Case for Educating Customers Via Content
Joe Pulizzi over at Content Marketing Institute is widely considered to be one of the foremost leaders in the content marketing industry. He’s often on the leading edge of new trends and has been pretty good about knowing when to invest in a strategy and when to avoid something. In essence, he’s a pretty reliable thought leader and it pays to listen when he starts talking.
Having said that, Pulizzi is a big proponent of
If your content marketing only revolves around your brand and what you’re doing, then you’re missing the point. Occasionally, customers might be interested to know what’s going on behind the scenes, but that’s not what gets them excited. They’d much rather consume content that teaches and entertains.
But education doesn’t just make customers happier and more engaged. Education also gives you the opportunity to build stronger business relationships. For example, let’s say your company sells high-density foam rollers that are designed to ease back tension and achy muscles. It’s fairly easy for you to create a persuasive ad and offer a coupon that closes a quick sale, but is that really a win for your company? What you want is for the customer to become a highly profitable repeat customer.
In this scenario, it would be much more beneficial for you to educate the customer on the benefits of foam rollers and how different materials, shapes, and densities scientifically improve certain conditions over time. Once you educate the customer, they understand how the product works and are more likely to make another purchase in the future.
See, an educated customer tends to be a more profitable customer. They’re also much more likely to tell others about what they know, which is a form of word of mouth marketing. So, instead of using content to procure quick sales, maybe it’s time for you to consider educating via content?
3 Tips for Creating Valuable Content That’s Educational
Now that you understand the why behind education, let’s take a look at the how. Here are a few specific tips and methods that industry leading brands use to engage with readers in meaningful ways.
#1. Courses and Guides Work Well
There’s subtle education and there’s direct education. While subtle education has a place, today’s customers are actually pretty receptive to direct education in the form of online courses and content guides.
This futures trading guide from RJO Futures is a good example. The company, which sells a trading platform, uses the guide to reach people and familiarize them with core concepts. The hope is that it ultimately generates monetizable leads for the company’s products and services.
#2. Benefits Over Features
One of the bigger mistakes businesses make is thinking that customers care about the features of their product, when the only thing that really matters is how these features benefit the customer.
“A webpage dedicated solely to the features of a product will not be successful on its own,” entrepreneur William Craig points out. “Customers want context; they want to know about the product as it exists in the real world. They want to know which problems that product will solve, and what experts in the field think of its merits.”
As you craft your content, make sure you’re developing it around the benefits of your product – not the features. Take a vacuum cleaner as an example. Talking about the turning radius and suction power is worthless. Instead, you should be developing content that explains how the turning radius improves the ability to reach tough spots and what sort of materials the suction can pick up.
#3. Invest in Case Studies
In highly technical industries where customers are forking over large sums of money, few marketing tools are as important as case studies. With a well-developed case study, you can show customers exactly how your products work in a real world situation and why they’re worth the investment. The more context and numbers you can provide, the better. (And it’s also worth noting that you can usually hide these case studies behind some sort of subscription form that allows you to capture valuable leads.)
Here are some examples of case studies from National Instruments, which specializes in producing test, measurement, and control solutions for customers in a variety of industries. The content in these case studies is far more specific and beneficial than any blog post or generic piece of content could ever be.
Education Breeds Long-Term Customers
You’ve heard people talk about the profitability of repeat customers, but you probably don’t recognize just how beneficial they truly are to the bottom line. According to research conducted by Smile.io, repeat customers are usually responsible for generating 40 percent of a company’s revenue. That may not sound like a lot, but when you consider that only 8 percent of customers tend to be repeat customers, that means the other 92 percent of customers are only generating 60 percent of the revenue.
The research also indicates that repeat customers are a whopping 9-times more likely to convert than a first-time shopper. And when they do convert, the average order value is significantly higher.
When you consider that an investment in education breeds long-term customers – and that repeat customers are more profitable – it becomes a no-brainer. A content marketing strategy rooted in education will benefit your brand in more ways than one!
Image: Author’s Own