With customer education being such an amazing way to gain and keep customers, why isn’t every business doing it? Well, a lot of businesses are under the false assumption that doing quality marketing is sufficient to keep customers informed.
This line of reasoning says “We just need to tell them why our latest products, services, and features are oh so awesome, right?” Wrong! That’s a very limiting view.
Some even go so far as to believe that customer education would hurt their business. This line of reasoning goes as such: “If I educate my customers to understand everything better, what stops them from going to my competitor?”
Well, I’ve got news for you. Today, everyone is proficient at using the internet and educating themselves. They’re going to educate themselves on the ins and outs of your market with or without your help. And if you are not offering that education, they might decide to put their trust in a competitor who does offer it.
Understanding what customer education is
In a word, it’s a process that empowers customers to make more informed choices and purchases. There are many customer education channels that you can use. Companies frequently use e-learning, virtual meetings, videos, manuals, seminars, web pages, blogs and phone support.
Some people think that customer education is the same thing as marketing. But there are notable differences. Marketing is explicitly and directly revenue-oriented. It stimulates sales by directly promoting the advantages and benefits of a specific product.
Of course, the bottom line of customer education is that it does generate demand and increase profit anyway. But its subtlety works because most people dislike the blunt approach of traditional advertising. Direct marketing is becoming less effective than ever, and the sooner you accept this, the better.
Ways to educate your customers
Smart business owners recognize the power of customer education in lead generation and business growth. In addition to building trust, it can also boost referral rates and customer satisfaction. So, let’s take a look at some proven ways you can use to deploy your customer education strategy.
This interactive medium is a widely used avenue for customer education and lead generation. People can attend webinars from any location, allowing companies to expand their market reach.
Webinars allow you to educate your audience about your product and its usage in a visual, understandable way. They often feature prominent industry experts who share their knowledge and experience about a product.
Also, when registering for attendance, people leave their name and address. This gives you an opportunity to create a mailing list for your lead gen efforts. In fact, some businesses build their email lists primarily through webinars.
Webinars are well received by customers. This is because they provide educational benefit without the pressure of making a purchase.
To make your webinars more attractive, include some form of interaction. For instance, people can ask questions or take opinion polls. This will give you valuable insight into potential user issues and concerns. You can then devise a strategy to address these issues through further training and education.
White papers are very popular marketing tools when it comes to B2B marketing. This is especially true when it comes to technical and software related industries.
But what is a white paper, and why is it so powerful? Well, in its simplest sense, a white paper is a short document that outlines a problem, and then proceeds to provide a solution. Writing white papers requires expertise and thorough research. In terms of quality, you can think of them as academic-style, serious problem-solving guides.
And it is this serious nature that makes them so powerful. When someone is reading your blog post or watching your videos, they’re distracted. They’re rarely fully committed to what you’re saying, and most likely they’re skipping most of the content.
When people download and commit to finishing a white paper, they also commit to trusting your authority. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure that these white papers are professionally done. Hire a graphic designer to handle the layout, fonts, and colors; Just like you would do for a brochure. And then, hire a high-quality editor to review it for grammar and readability.
To get the most out of white papers, do this:
- Before you write anything, identify the biggest pain points for your customers. Choose one of these topics and set out to create the ultimate authoritative guide on handling it.
- Do your research. Make sure to get all the data you need to back up all of your claims. You want this to become an authoritative piece on the subject.
- Once you have a quality white paper, invest time in promoting it well. You want to spend as much time on the landing page as you would for your flagship product.
eBooks are similar to a white paper, but somewhat different. Whereas a white paper focuses on a single problem and outlines a solution, eBooks can be wider in scope. Ebooks focus on a more general topic or concept and discuss it in length.
While usually longer than white papers, eBooks are actually easier to produce. This is because they don’t have to be as thoroughly researched or “definitive”. Whitepapers involve a lot of quantifiable data, charts, and formal claims.
An eBook is more like a long opinion piece and you can be more casual in your tone. Meanwhile, a white paper is more like a dissertation you create in college. You can even think of an eBook almost as if it were a very long blog post or a collection of blog posts. In fact, that’s often how many free eBooks are created. A marketer will simply compile their best blog posts together, give them a fancy name and call it an eBook.
Should you do eBooks or white papers? You will have to experiment and see if eBooks work better for you. It will depend on your industry and potential customers. But it will also depend on what you do best. Perhaps you get much better ROI from casually written eBooks than definitive authoritative guides.
Some people claim that eBooks are generally better anyway. Others claim that you have to publish authoritative white papers to be taken seriously. You will want to find out what works best for you through experimentation. It is, however, true that it is much easier to get started with eBooks. So, if you’re not ready to do a white paper yet, feel free to start experimenting with more casual eBooks.
Customer education videos
Videos are a great way to establish a deeper connection with your audience and grow your customer base. Also, many people find video resources easier to follow and more helpful than text.
You can use this medium to share stories of customers that are satisfied with your product. Customer stories are beneficial for two main reasons. First, they help reaffirm the benefits of your offer. More importantly, they teach people how to get the most out of your product.
- Your videos can also include answers to FAQs, problem troubleshooting or be designed as a “how-to” guide.
- It’s a good idea to include a transcript below the videos so people can find the part they need if they are in a hurry.
- Avoid lengthy videos. If you have to post sizable content, break it into several smaller videos. Otherwise, people will likely disengage since they’ll find some of the content irrelevant.
Everyone knows that Google is the number one search engine in the world. But do you know what is the second biggest search engine in the world? It’s actually YouTube. And if you factor in that there’s less competition on YouTube than in Google rankings, you might want to consider uploading your videos there.
When you upload a customer education video on YouTube, there are many benefits. You can still embed the video on your website and share it with your email list. In addition to this, you will get “discovered” by many new people who would not have found you otherwise.
When it comes to customer education through content, blogging is the most convenient approach. It can also be a key contributor in your internet marketing strategy. Your blog shows people you’re an active business that wants to interact with its valued audience. More importantly, it helps you get discovered more easily by improving your search engine visibility.
But, keep in mind that your content should aim to educate, not advertise. Don’t turn your content into a sales pitch or a sales letter. People expect that you’ll mention your products or services, but they shouldn’t overshadow your main content piece. The primary focus is on delivering great valuable knowledge. You only want to make your product fit into the picture organically, at the end of the piece.
Blogs are a place where you can keep the tone more personal. You don’t need it to sound like a tutorial. Write about topics of interest to your audience. Share helpful tips and show people you’re a reliable and trusted resource of knowledge. Scatter a few hints here and there about how your product can be the best solution for their needs. But again, keep it subtle.
Overall, customer education is a great way to drive up demand and increase sales. It should definitely be an integral part of your lead generation efforts. And when coupled with other lead generation strategies, it will help you get plenty of quality leads fast.
Yet, most businesses are failing to utilize these strategies. The most common reason is a faulty belief. Perhaps you think that your business isn’t ready to educate customers. You don’t have fancy video editing skills, aren’t good enough at producing content, or your website “isn’t ready”.
But none of that is true. You don’t have to be perfect to start. Just start somewhere. Even if you produce one small PDF that you give away to people – it’s a good start. Even if you produce one simple webinar a month in which you only answer questions, it’s better than nothing. Don’t think you should always have the most impressive and most valuable information to share.
But if you really do feel overwhelmed and need some help, consider asking for help. The team at DemandZEN has plenty of experience in helping businesses just like yours devise and implement marketing strategies. Whether you need help on starting with customer education or marketing in general, we might be able to help. Just let us know what you need help with.