Customer engagement and experience get plenty of attention but don’t let the third ‘E’ – education – become the forgotten stepchild of the bunch. Customer education should be a major part of your retention strategy to depict your brand as a thought leader in your industry. This technique also helps you inform customers about how and why to use your products and services, no matter where they fall in the sales cycle.
The better your customers understand your brand, the more loyal they will be. Some companies have gone beyond the loyalty and retention basics and made customer education an art form. They have seamlessly integrated the practice into all their strategies – with spectacular results to prove it. Check out five brands that are creating the masterclass on customer education.
You can’t talk about customer education without mentioning one of the brands that does it best: Apple. While the company has changed the phone, tablet, and computer industries with their innovations, they’ve proven that success doesn’t always come from being the first to release a product. You just have to be the best at educating consumers on it.
Take the iPod for example. Other companies offered mp3 players before Apple released their version. But Apple’s is the one that sold more than 28 million devices in a year, giving them a 75% market share for digital music players at the time. So what set their device apart?
For starters, Apple’s ads depicted someone using the device and its key features so consumers would understand what it actually did and how it worked. But beyond ads, the brand also offers its version of easily accessible customer education classrooms: its stores. Customers are greeted by knowledgeable employees, can schedule an appointment with someone at the ‘Genius Bar,’ or can sign up for a free workshop. But the main educational component is the product itself. Store visitors try out the different devices, learn what they do, and ask questions. What better way to explain the benefits than to allow consumers to take the product for a hands-on test drive? For a brand that depends on customer education and buy-in, Apple leads the way in creating this type of user experience.
The world’s largest furniture retailer, Ikea brought in revenue of 38.8 billion euros last year. They’ve seen growth year-over-year for more than a decade, and have built a loyal customer base. But while consumers may like Ikea’s products, there’s one thing they universally don’t love: assembling them.
The brand used this issue as a starting point for their customer education campaign, which includes seven YouTube videos on their company channel. Ikea released “How to Build” videos for some of their more difficult-to-construct pieces, signaling that they heard and cared about customer concerns. These educational videos have more than 2 million views combined.
It’s clear that brands are putting an emphasis on customer education, and videos are an ideal outlet to get that message across to a large audience. The Top 5 types of videos businesses are investing in are product videos (63%), demos (59%), explainer videos (54%), webinars (45%), and how-to/educational videos (42%).
The No. 2 lip-balm brand in the United States (second only to ChapStick) also uses videos, but instead of the how-to route, they talk about their company’s history and about the bees that make it all possible.
These videos go back eight years and have millions of views. Some are product-focused, but many of them share information on bees (like the lighthearted “Burt Talks to the Bees”), messages from Burt, and general tutorials. The company carries their educational content over to their site, with the “About Us” page serving as a place to share its story, purpose, practices, and how they source materials and standards. Burt’s Bees also shares these messages to its social pages, creating cohesive branding with a focus on informing their audience.
Education isn’t just about explaining what your brand does – you also need to show consumers why it matters to them. Customers don’t care all that much about the ins and outs of GE’s technology, for example, but they do want to know how that technology will help them. The GE “What Matters” campaign is a great example of a company recognizing and speaking to that customer value point.
With more than 1.3 million views, the ad tells about the company’s technological advancements but then turns that information into real-life applications. For example, the ad mentions GE’s work with incubators – but then points out that what’s really important is how it helps babies. They connect their products with consumer-relatable situations, emphasizing how they can help. GE doesn’t force the technical aspects of their company onto audiences. Instead, they focus on humanizing their brand – not always the simplest task.
Brands like Weight Watchers aren’t just selling a product or service: they’re promoting a lifestyle. To achieve that goal, the company produces a variety of educational blogs and other online content pieces. Their site features content on recipes, how to eat better, exercise tips, customer stories, and how to live a healthier life. Their daily feed covers the different aspects of a healthy lifestyle, including the physical and mental components needed to succeed. By encompassing these different health aspects, they’re able to explain the benefits and process.
Creating informational blogs can be a major selling point for your brand: consumers were 131% more likely to buy after reading a piece of educational content, according to a Conductor study. Align your online branding strategy around content pieces discussing how consumers can use your products or services, answering FAQs or addressing any other common misconceptions.
Don’t give a boring lecture
Most consumers don’t want to feel like they’re overtly being taught something, so make sure your educational campaigns are valuable and use a light, uncondescending tone. The content should help them solve a problem, answer a question, explain a product/service, and overall make your brand easier to understand – which in turn makes it more relatable.