Why educational content is a key to transforming prospects into profit
Ever heard of digital hugging?
This endearing term summarizes the goal every brand strives for: providing an ideal customer journey across all core marketing channels. Relevant. Fast. Accurate. And above expectations.
It perfectly captures the trifecta that guarantees success in any market — “right product, right person, right time”.
Fancy term aside, marketing trends come and go, the digital landscape is shifting as we speak and everything moves online in a blink of an eye. These are the facts. Tom Foremski perfectly captured this truth: “Every company is a media company”.
But what will never be obsolete is the need to align marketing efforts to the different stages buyers go through during their customer journey and being there every step of the way. To educate your audience, provide value and build trust and ultimately: sell.
Why is Educational content so important all of a sudden?
Publishing educational content instead of “salesy” or promotional pieces acts as a trust catalyst between your brand and the buyer. Recently this was framed as Content Marketing, but it’s not new.
Back in 1889, two brothers started their own tyre company. They had a great vision, good products, but stumbled upon a glitch of their time: there were fewer than 3,000 cars in the country.
To change people’s habits and nudge them to take more trips — thereby boosting car and tyre sales and in turn — they came up with the idea of a little red guide filled with handy information for travellers. Maps, where to stop for fuel, how to change a tyre.
For the next 20 years, the guide came at no cost. For the first time in the 1920s, it included a list of hotels in Paris, as well as restaurants according to specific categories. E voilá the Guide Michelin.
Badgering customers with ads and never-before-seen benefits is no longer the only way to go. Pumping budgets to fill internet space and fight for the same ad slot? Still a hard no if you want to engage customers in real dialogue. Instead, providing answers to people’s questions by carefully crafting educational content will improve customers’ overall awareness of and experience with your brand.
Educational content builds a bridge. Brand recognition and expertise are waiting on the other side.
If you build an authoritative voice within your niche, customers will naturally turn to you for advice. That means website traffic. Tons of it, if done well. When that happens and you see a spike in traffic, converting returning visitors into actual paying customers happens easily.
Educational content will be the reason people come to you in the first place, but also why they stay. Customer retention and deriving value from long-term clients are also attributes of the information you provide constantly.
No matter the buying stage in which a customer is found, sharing your expertise and educating the audience is the sine qua non nudge that can help boost a solid relationship between you and your potential clients.
Loved the Michelin story, but need a more contemporary example? Think Google.
The tectonic online ecosystem provides a plethora of tools to help people run their business more effectively. You get started with Google Mail and then have everything else: Google Drive, a Google Calendar, Meet, Forms, Chat and whatnot. They developed their offerings first by understanding what their clients are trying to achieve and then added services relevant to them. Google refined its marketing strategy to offer value that goes beyond the expected service/product delivery. The end result? Engaged and loyal customers that cannot think outside a Google Spreadsheet.
Before diving in the best way to approach educational content in 2021 (spoiler alert: it’s video!), let’s take a step back to take a look at a very important Funnel model
From Google to the STDC Funnel Model
Avinash is basically the go-to person when it comes to the marketing and analytics environment. His model is super simple, yet extremely powerful, because it addresses the gaps found in most users’ journeys. The STDC focuses on the consideration stages, when prospects are evaluating buying options.
In his own words, Avinash says: “We can actually talk to customers in all their moments, not just commercial ones. We can see the broad arc of their behavior. We can entertain them, inform them, and provide utility”.
In translation, in order for your brand to stand out, it has to go from a strong commercial intent — “Buy now!” — to educational content -“Provide utility”.
The best way to add engaging educational content: video first
Why? Because video is the last remaining medium that enables entrepreneurs to find their blue oceans.
Back in 2005, Professors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne introduced the notion of blue ocean strategy to the world, launching a business revolution.
Their international bestseller, “Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant,” (Harvard Business Review Press) is based on a strategy that is more accurate than ever and can be summed up easily: brands don’t have to compete for a small piece of the pie. But rather “create a larger economic pie for all”.
it’s easy to see that traditional advertising has already become a “red ocean”. It’s saturated. It provides limited space to grow.
“A blue ocean exists when there is potential for higher profits, as there is now competition or irrelevant competition.” Since we’re on our very own parallel here, allow me to set the stage. Video content, especially great educational one, puts brands on the map. More importantly, it puts companies right in front of customers.
It’s a marketing meet-cute: people are searching for answers and you’re the one who provides them. There’s a need and you’re stepping up to fill it, in the most related and helpful way possible.
Video gives people the chance to interact with your service, in an up close and personal way. The good news is that you set the tone — a remarkable blue ocean perk. YouTube is the perfect space for that, providing expanding numbers in terms of traffic, reach and engagement. Need proof? 90% of people discover new brands or products via YouTube. 70% of YouTube viewers have made a purchase from a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube.
How-to guides, explainer videos, customer testimonials or case studies persuade customers to act. They better understand how your product works and see what’s in it for them. 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching branded social videos. So it’s no wonder marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users.
Much like fortune favours the bold, users favor product education content over ads.
More so, educational and training content — product education — is one of the most in-demand types of video content.
According to Wordstream.com:
- 68% of consumers prefer watching videos to learn about new products or services, as compared to articles, infographics, ebooks, and presentations.
- 82% would rather watch live video than read social media posts.
- people retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text.
- 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service.
- consumers who end up on a site through a user-generated video are 184% more likely to purchase, and spend 45% more.
The shift from “content is king” to “video content is king” is undeniable. There’s no longer a question of should marketing people do this, but a “how should marketing efforts use this?”, or “in which part of the buyer’s journey should you introduce video marketing, especially educational video content?”.
The answers: Consistently. And everywhere. In every part of the customer’s journey and in account all the micro-moments needed to win over consumers.
When you launch, spend your time on educating, instead of selling — give them a taste of what they’ll have as a main course — how-tos, webinars, comparison videos. Bit-size info served as a video hors d’oeuvres, if you’d allow the Michelin metaphor to go on.
The think phase should be the main course of content. Be present at decision-making moments not only by providing information on what people are actively searching for, but serving up inspiration-based content to gain their interest.
When you’re on the scale, spend more time on caring and responding to clients’ needs — user generated content, video testimonials, and other things to stay top-of-mind as you continue to provide remarkable value.
In a post-purchase stage, claim more brand territory via content — the “free dessert” that people get at the end of the experience and that makes them go “Oh, la, la!”. The last impression is the lasting impression.
Brands who will exploit this strategy first and focus on creating engaging educational content, answering customers’ questions and providing digital inspiration, will profit the most. The winners will be the ones who understand that the future of marketing is an acceleration of what we see happening today and that will make use of that insight to provide value through content.
Sounds awesome, so what is the problem?
Still today a video production can take up to 4–8 weeks time and cost a brand $50k and more. Yet very often these projects rely on the gut feeling of a creative director. And all too often clients know what they would want to say — but have no idea what their audiences want to see/hear. That leads to myriads of costly produced videos with no views, no reach leaving their audiences frustrated and disappointed. More on how to solve that challenge in one of my next posts …
About the author
Dieter Rappold is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and co-founder of Speedinvest Pirates, the growth Marketing partner of the Speedinvest platform. He is an expert in digital marketing and growth with almost 20 years of experience in the industry. As a renowned keynote speaker in the field he holds several standing lectures at Universities for Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing and Content Strategy.