Today’s brands are facing a crisis of confidence. Two out of five consumers say they don’t trust that companies are accurate or honest in their marketing communications. Yet 81 percent of consumers say trust impacts their buying decisions.
As a business, focusing on buyer education is a great way to put customers’ minds at ease and instill greater confidence. Research shows that educational content helps brands be seen as trustworthy and leaves consumers with positive feelings about that company long afterward. Helping customers make an informed decision demonstrates that your business cares deeply about their satisfaction — not just the bottom line.
But buyer education shouldn’t just happen on the sales floor. It should be an ongoing process that starts as soon as the customer enters your sales funnel and continues well after she’s made a purchase.
Here are four ways to improve your buyer education every step of the way:
1. Distill Your Expertise Into Helpful Written Content
There’s a reason businesses are investing more in content creation: Content works. Dollar for dollar, content marketing generates three times as many leads as paid search. And after reading a piece of educational content from a company, consumers are 131 percent more likely to buy.
The best part about written content is that any size business can jump right in and reap the benefits. You can start a company blog, contribute to third-party publications, or create an educational whitepaper. All you need is your professional expertise and a willingness to help.
When you first start out, it’s a good idea to tailor your content to the most common questions your customers have. These can be questions that pop up before, during, and after the purchase.
2. Launch a Podcast or Video Series
If your company is already investing heavily in written content, you might consider branching out to audio or video. Both of these mediums are becoming more popular methods of educating consumers, and they both have their own unique benefits.
Research shows that shoppers who view video content are much more likely to buy, while audio creates a highly personal connection. While video makes it a breeze to educate consumers on complicated or highly technical products, podcasts are a uniquely portable medium.
Brands such as HubSpot and MOZ are known for their stellar video content. Meanwhile, LinkedIn, Blue Apron, Sephora, and Robinhood Financial have dipped their toe into the podcast sphere. But you don’t have to be a multibillion-dollar company to create helpful audio or video content. Chris Vallone, owner of Classic VW Bugs, has a business restoring classic Volkswagen Beetles. He also runs a successful YouTube channel educating collectors and Beetle-lovers.
3. Work With Your Sales Team on In-Person Buyer Education
Once you get a customer in the door, the education process doesn’t stop there. At this point, customers are still trying to understand their options. Sixty-two percent of shoppers say the reason they visit a brick-and-mortar location is to see, touch, or try out an item. Thirteen percent say it’s to ask the salesperson questions.
Even if customers don’t come in seeking expertise, a little education can go a long way. Most people visit a makeup counter so they can try on a new shade in person. Yet brands have long recognized the value of having beauty associates on-site to help customers choose the right products.
No matter what business you’re in, it’s important to train your sales team on how to educate your customers. That means providing information without being pushy and answering their questions in an honest, forthright manner. By helping customers fully understand their options and make the right decision, you can earn their trust and improve overall satisfaction.
4. Follow Up With Customers After a Purchase
In many cases, the buyer education process shouldn’t end at checkout. With small purchases, ongoing education can help solidify brand loyalty, introduce customers to new products, and prompt repeat purchases. With big-ticket items, ongoing education helps ensure a customer is fully satisfied and boosts word of mouth referrals.
After-the-fact buyer education doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. You can create an automated email sequence to introduce the buyer to helpful product features. With big-ticket items like a car, a phone call to say thank you is always appreciated. (If you can also help the customer configure her Bluetooth settings, you’ll have a friend for life.)
With consumers losing trust in brands and the Internet expanding purchasing options, buyer education has never been more important. The educational process gives you a chance to cut through the noise, earn customers’ confidence, and build loyalty. Best of all, education takes the “hard sell” out of the equation. You get to focus on being helpful and informative, and sales will naturally follow.