The way we learn is transforming at a rapid pace. Between technology, marketing practices, and the expansion of worldwide commerce, it was bound to happen. It’s also what makes this a pivotal time for brands to embrace and support a customer’s desire to be educated in simple, dynamic ways.
Why? It’s at the heart of each and every purchase decision your customers make.
The secret to building strong customer connection and a dedicated following is a simple yet essential idea—a feeling of empowerment.
What Is Educational Content?
Educational content embraces the customer’s desire to be taught, not pitched. It reveals new information in a digestible way and provides clear action items to capitalize on new learnings.
Customers want to feel empowered by a product or service and how it’s delivered to their inbox, doorstep, or online account. At the same time, they want to feel clear and confident a purchase was an educated choice, combined with the feeling they got the best deal possible.
When you bring together all of these elements regarding customer needs and desires, there’s more than selling strategies to consider.
Brands need to craft an approach to marketing that includes a consistent drip of useful, educational content designed to:
- Speak to the value of a product or service
- Explain how offerings work with current (and ever-changing) technology options
- Stay mindful of current social conversations and how they spark new ideas and questions relevant to their industry
I don’t know about you, but from my side of the fence, that’s a lot to tackle without using educational content as a practice and essential marketing tool.
Crafting Content for Diverse Consumer Touch Points
Brands are selling something beyond what a person can touch or feel. They’re selling a lifestyle, community connection, and confidence that investing resources in their offerings is worth it.
Each consumer defines what that value is for themselves at each stage of the buyer’s journey, which is what makes educational content so valuable.
Stats will tell you how many brand touchpoints were made to complete a sale. They can also tell you what drove someone to buy or commit their browsing time and resources.
What you may not be able to track is how many educational articles on third-party sites, customer reviews, or general research that was conducted off-site that also inspired a purchase decision.
And this question is what marketers need to plan for when building quality educational content—and where to feature it—as part of their consistent marketing practice.
An Effective Content Operation is Built on Diverse Evergreen Educational Content
There are lots of ways to look at educational content as a brand. There’s content strategy, key messages, the editorial calendar, consistent publishing of fresh content, and more. Yet, brand content has to act as more than a one-sided information feed. Education is multilayered, interactive, and community-based. And strategies around developing content that converts is a way of thinking beyond a one-use piece.
It’s about seeing each piece of content as a value-add towards creating an effective content operation, bit by bit.
To craft educational content and build it into a solid brand practice, start here:
1. Set a Consistent Publishing Schedule
If you want to establish a new habit, practice makes perfect. The same idea is true for crafting educational content.
To inspire new customers to engage with your brand on a regular basis, make it easy for them. Provide fresh content regularly, based on a schedule they can depend on and follow.
For example, many influencers and brands pick a day of the week when they feature new content and stick to a publishing schedule, sort of like a weekly TV show. Even if people aren’t free to read or watch something right away, you can offer an email list sign up to ensure they never miss a post and watch things at their leisure.
2. Mix up Topics to Cover
What you say is as important as how you say it, and there’s strength in content diversity. Whether a brand is focusing on written content, video, or a mix of the two, diversify the themes of content you create. Feature think pieces on industry trends, informational and how-to content, tips on how to get more out of a tool or product or create a regular feature where you answer a customer question or concern.
Remember, a large part of the content you create should be evergreen, meaning that it’s useful as long-term insight for anyone using your product or service. This approach gets the most out of content creation costs and is helpful for new customers as they enter the sales pipeline. Evergreen content also extends it’s value to conversations on social platforms where many customers go to learn and connect.
3. Diversify Content Channels, Platforms, and Styles
Educational content is only powerful if people are finding and using it. To ensure there are many access points to brand educational content, choose content platforms that make sense for the target audience and content style. Also, know your buyer personas, and clarify how you want to personalize your message based on key target markets.
Brands also need to create a presence in places where the platform is agnostic, that is, not exclusive to Android users versus Apple users (unless that’s your target market) and includes educational material that appeals to diverse learners. Some people like to read instead of watching videos; others enjoy engaging in community forums to contribute and build discussion.
It’s also important to think about being part of a super platform such as Google, Facebook, and up-and-coming Amazon. Each has its benefits and content strengths, as well as unique content marketing strategies
4. Think Mobile and Diverse Use Cases
Artificial intelligence is at it’s beginning stages in terms of marketing, but it’s slowly taking a foothold. From AI chatbots to voice activation and search, educational content needs to be written in a way that accommodates technology advances and their impact on consumer behaviors.
For example, how might you create content for a demo video or audio learning if you knew people would be searching for it using voice activation versus typing a search string into a browser?
5. Factor in Mission-Based Educational Content
In today’s social climate, brands have influence in big ways that go beyond self-serving efforts. Brands that align with a large scale social purpose have resources and a platform that goes beyond the reach of an individual and reveal to potential customers the value system behind the business.
It also provides a way to build a conversation around how a product or service contributes to a socially conscious mission and leaves room to provide educational content that supports the bigger mission, too.
6. Plan for the Unexpected
Going viral is great when it’s something reflecting your brand in a positive light. Not so great when there’s misinformation circulating online like wildfire.
In the case of an emergency or industry scare, it helps to have educational content that you can put into play quickly and easily. Make sure there are templates and people tasked with filling in the blanks with informative, educational content quickly, as well as a plan to circulate it.
7. Education Doesn’t Stop Post-Sale
What is the long-term content strategy for current customers? How do you continue to provide educational content that enhances their use of a product, service, or auxiliary product? How can you get them to share their experience to help educate others in a different part of the sales pipeline?
Crafting a post-sale education series can go a long way in keeping customers engaged and participating in social media as they discuss how your brand has gone above and beyond to support and educate loyal customers.
Taking the time to really think about how to create and implement educational content as a practice is one of the most powerful ways for brands to stay relevant with customers because it offers a reason to share and connect.
When done well, educational content dovetails into helping any brand create a well-rounded approach to content operations that serves all areas of the buyer’s journey.