This guest blog was provided by Julia Clem, a member of the marketing team at Best Pick Reports.
One of the most useful elements of the internet age is the availability of information. Most of us carry a handheld computer on our person at all times, so if we want to look something up’whether it’s directions to the nearest coffee shop or the lyrics to a song you just heard on the radio’the data we want is quite literally at our fingertips.
Of course, there is a downside to this instant gratification: A lot of what’s on the internet is wrong, put into digital form either intentionally or by a well-meaning person who simply got their facts mixed up.
How does this impact the home improvement industry? Well, most people do at least a cursory Google search when something goes amiss with their house, but they may be misled or find very little information at all.
Here’s where education-based marketing comes in. If you provide accurate, helpful information that is easily accessible to potential customers in need, you’ll become their go-to source for information and service.
Benefits of Customer Education
If you’re wondering why you should allocate resources toward creating educational material for people who may or may not turn into paying customers, take a look at the benefits outlined below.
1. Customer education fosters trust
When you provide helpful resources for your customers without aggressively selling your own services, you build trust’an essential component to keeping the customers you have and expanding your customer base.
Remember, too, that customers who trust your company not only as a service provider but also as a source of reliable information are likely to recommend your business to their family members, coworkers, and friends.
Will every recommendation result in a sale? Probably not. But a little work on your end to develop and maintain resources for your customers will pay dividends over the years.
2. An educated consumer will be ready to buy
While this may not be the case 100 percent of the time, in most circumstances, a customer who is knowledgeable about the services they need is more likely to hire your company or be ready to sign a contract.
On the other hand, a potential customer who has not had access to trustworthy, helpful sources may contact your company when they’re in the very beginning, information-gathering stages of the sales funnel.
In either case, you’re faced with a great opportunity:
- Make a sale and cement a relationship with a customer who knows that your company is a trustworthy source.
- Educate a prospective customer and help them understand how your company sets itself apart from competitors.
3. Your customers will be happier
When you take the time to help your customers learn about the product or service they’ve purchased, you have the unique opportunity to address potential customer service issues before they happen.
Imagine, for example, an HVAC company that has just installed a new heating and air conditioning system for a customer. The new HVAC system is highly rated for energy efficiency’an important part of the customer’s buying decision’and the new thermostat is a smart, programmable version that is completely different from what the customer had used for decades.
Unfortunately, the install crew left the customer’s home without explaining how the new thermostat works or suggesting temperature settings that will maximize the new system’s efficiency.
The customer is understandably frustrated, and they becomes even more irritated when they find that your website provides no information about how smart thermostats work or how to maximize an HVAC system’s efficiency.
This unhappy customer may or may not communicate their displeasure directly to the company. They might leave a negative online review, or they might tell everyone in their social circle about their experience.
Neither case is ideal. The good news is that the entire situation is easily avoidable when you make customer education a priority for your business.
4. You’ll increase customer retention rates
Most sources agree that keeping the customers you have is far more cost effective than acquiring new customers. So how does consumer education fit into the customer retention equation?
The simplified answer is that educated customers are happy customers, and happy customers stick with you. But it’s a little more nuanced than that.
Research shows that customers are more likely to view a brand or company as trustworthy and positive after reading educational content produced by that brand or company. Once a customer knows that you’re a trusted authority on a particular topic and won’t lead them astray when they’re in a vulnerable situation, they’ll be far more likely to continue to use your services.
How to Add Consumer Education to Your Customer Service Strategy
Now that you know the benefits of educating your customer base, you might be wondering exactly how to get the right information in front of the right people. Take a look at the following strategies:
Create a resource center
Online learning is the new standard when it comes to consumer education, especially in the home services industry, so your company’s website is a great location for a customer-focused resource center.
The nice thing about a resource center is that you don’t necessarily have to create all of the content from scratch. Should you only include links to other sources and websites? Definitely not. But if making infographics isn’t your strong point, there’s nothing wrong with linking to a fantastic one you found on a different site (with credit to the source, of course).
Make sure that the majority of the content on the resource center is created by your company, however, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of content. Customers respond especially well to video and images, as long as they’re well executed.
Maintain a blog
Plenty of companies let their blogs fall by the wayside, and while that’s not good, it is understandable. Writing original content takes time and effort, and getting in over your head with blogging can happen quickly.
Bear these tips in mind to keep blogging productive and manageable:
- Decide on a posting schedule, and stick to it. You don’t need to post every day. In fact, once per week is perfectly sufficient. Aim for quality, in-depth content over frequent posting.
- Write what you know. It’s a bit cliche, but this is an important tip. You need to establish yourself as an expert in your field to gain trust. A good place to start is creating a list of in-depth answers to common customer questions.
- Share your blog posts on your company’s social media platforms. Tools like HootSuite and Buffer make sharing the same post across multiple platforms very easy. Be sure to use engaging images, and make use of hashtags to target your audience.
- Use web marketing tools. Take advantage of resources such as Moz, Google Search Console, and Google Analytics to help you reach your target audience.
Think outside the box
If you have the resources, look beyond the traditional article and blog post as your only means of educating your customers. Webinars, for example, are a great way to offer educational sessions to customers.
Webinars, or virtual learning sessions, combine the feel of an in-person class with the ease and convenience of online access. They’re also easy to record and upload to your resource center, so customers who aren’t able to attend the live session can still access the valuable content.
Stay Ahead of the Curve with Education-Based Marketing
Traditional sales pitch-style marketing campaigns are everywhere, and consumers are becoming immune to them. It’s time to try a different tactic. Rather than focusing on the mind-blowing benefits of your company or service, try a gentler, more helpful approach.
Education-based marketing puts the customer first and attends to their need for information and guidance. Leverage your expertise and your years of industry experience, and share the knowledge you’ve gained over time. Present yourself as the trustworthy authority that you are, and watch your customer retention rates and profit figures soar.
Julia Clem is part of the marketing team at Best Pick Reports. Best Pick Reports utilizes consumer satisfaction research to evaluate the performance of home service providers, such as plumbers, roofers, and painters, in metro areas across the US. After compiling surveys from thousands of homeowners who have had direct experience with local service companies, Best Pick Reports connects top-rated companies with their ideal customers by promoting them in its annual publication, website, and mobile app.