Teach customers with your website: why and how

Teach customers with your website: why and howWhat expectations do you have from your website? Whether you have an established business or are just starting out, it’s almost for certain you have one. Should it be a digital business card?  Should it be a lengthier version of your advertising brochure? Or could it be much, much more? If 57% of the average business-to-business transaction happens before buyers engage your salespeople (more on this later), is your website simply a commercial or is it a source for these buyers to educate themselves? The Internet has evolved, and your website should too. This article will show you why you should use your website to teach your customers.

For purposes of this article, whether it’s writing, producing audio recordings or video recordings, we’ll refer to all these mechanisms collectively as, “content.” Content will also encompass all of the existing verbiage on your website as well. Regardless of what we’re using to communicate on your site, when it comes to producing content, we should begin moving from playing the role of salesperson to the role of teacher.

Bonus Benefit – have you ever wondered what your company should be sharing on social media? Producing great educational content is the first step to an easy social media strategy.

Teach customers the basics first

Oftentimes, we face apprehension when it comes to producing content because we drastically overthink the process. The biggest mistake we all make – thinking we’re writing for our peers. When we try to write for our peers, we oftentimes make the material too complex. Why? We’d like to impress those in our industry while – at the same time – showing everyone else how smart we are.

We should all take the following approach – write for the person who knows nothing about your business. Do you know why? Because the vast majority of people know nothing about your business. We all suffer from the Curse of Knowledge. When we assume our potential customers are as well-informed as we are, we tend to write content (and teach) with too high a degree of complexity.

Our customers don’t care how smart we are (yet). Our customers want to educate themselves before making that ultimate buying decision, and ever-improving technology has allowed everyone to do this. Think about how our Google search queries have evolved over the past decade. Say you’re a parent of a toddler, and you’re searching for a car seat online. Here is the evolution of search queries in that brief period –

2005 – Car seats

2010 – Best car seats

2015 – What is the best car seat for my toddler?

In sum, our customers are looking to us to provide answers to their very specific questions. When we use our website to provide these answers – if we use our expertise to teach – we will be the trusted source of relevant and trustworthy information. Our business and our website will receive more organic (free) search traffic from Google and the other search engines as we continue to provide answers.

Why you should use your website to teach your customersYour customers are doing their research before they contact you

The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) and Google partnered to poll 1500 CEB members and asked the following – “How far do you get in the decision-making process before you start contacting potential suppliers?” Regardless of price point or complexity of the purchase, their research shows 57% of the decision is made before even talking to vendors.

So what does this mean to us? It means that due-diligence (i.e. research done independently) has now moved to the very front of the sales process. Instead of starting to shop for a car at the dealership itself, customers are researching vehicle options, prices, and potential inventory before stepping foot on the car lot.

Omnichannel marketing

During a lunch conversation today with Tom Zimbrick, CEO of Zimbrick, Inc., a Wisconsin-based car dealership with 17 locations, he called this “Omni Channel Marketing.” He said customers previously engaged with their company when they walked in the front door. Now, almost every single customer has done at least some research ahead of time, whether it be on zimbrick.com, or another website. The Omni Channel concept refers to accommodating all shoppers via all means (computer, tablet, smartphone, email, live website chat, etc.) to be sure Zimbrick is the one educating this potential customer on their purchase.

When it comes to people buying homes, instead of touring open houses as a first step, purchasers are researching school districts, sales trends, and new vs. existing homes before putting on those little blue booties to protect the carpet from their dirty shoes.

Customers now know exactly what they’re looking for before they even talk to you. So, the most important question for us is –

Teach customers to earn trust

If your company’s website is simply a way for you to toot your own horn, then you’re missing the boat. The more quickly your site evolves to become a teaching tool – instead of simply an advertisement – the more quickly you’ll start to win more business. Begin producing content to put on your website today by starting with the following question – “If I was a potential customer of my business, what are the first things I need to know?” Start there, and your educational repository will begin to grow.

Bonus Benefit – have you ever wondered what your company should be sharing on social media? Producing great educational content is the first step to an easy social media strategy.

Spencer X Smith

Spencer helps you save time through teaching digital marketing and social media strategies in plain English, after proving they actually work for himself first. He also is an instructor at the University of Wisconsin and a columnist for InBusiness.

  • Spence
    This is incredibly insightful information about what our website content could /should be doing for our customers. I initially didn’t understand why I needed a business Facebook page and a blog on my website, and had resisted doing this until I attended your excellent workshop on Social Media. You “connected the dots” so that I no longer felt I was “promoting my business” but rather “educating” potential customers. That shift in perspective made a huge difference to me, and allowed me to actually publish a blog that allows potential customers to see how my own financial education has evolved, rather than just promote my business. I can really embrace this concept, as it is in line with my personal mission statement (to provide service, advocacy and education to consumers) and eliminates my discomfort with self-promotion.
    This post does an excellent job of examining how we use our website marketing, and puts the focus back on our customers, where I believe it should be. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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