Monday, April 29, 2013

7 Benefits of Providing Free Educational Content

nikon learningI came across a Google+ post today from Hashim Warren asking if the future of content marketing is education. Whilst education is not the whole future of content marketing it is clearly an important element. It got me thinking about the benefits of providing free educational content to your customers. 

I came up with the following 7 benefits:

1. Increases search and sharing

Providing educational content will increase your web content and hopefully your search results. Educational content is more likely to be shared with colleagues and across social media. Both of these have the potential to increase traffic to your site.

2. Generates goodwill

If you provide educational content which is just that, educational, not sales collateral; then you will earn a lot of goodwill from your customers. B2B customers in particular are keen to keep pace with developments and keep learning. At a fundamental level increasing their knowledge increases their employability and value.

3. Demonstrates expertise and builds trust

High quality educational content can demonstrate clearly that you are an expert in your field and start the process of building trust in your brand, services and products.

4. Provides additional engagement

The more a customer engages with your content the more they are likely to buy from you as they become more comfortable and familiar with your company and your role as an expert. This engagement can be increased through content backed up by forums or webinars.

5. Generates better inbound leads

Potential customers that access and use your educational content are likely to be better informed and to have made more educated choices before engaging with you.

6. Creates happier customers

In the world of pyschology there is concept of self-efficacy, which relates to person's confidence about their abilities. Educational content can increase self-efficacy as it can increase a person's knowledge and abilities. For example, they may learn how to use your products much more effectively which helps them to achieve their aims. This leads to happier customers.

7. Develops advocates

If you provide good educational content that helps customers become more knowledgeable and productive they are much more likely to become advocates.

Finally, if you also develop a learning community around your content you will find that some customers also become tutors and actively provide answers to questions raised by others. Articulate is a great case study of providing educational content and building a learning community around this content that shares and educates each other.

So? How well are you using educational content in your marketing?