HOW-TO CONTENT CAN BUILD CUSTOMER LOYALTY
In the pre-internet and early internet days, sales handled the sales, and marketing handled the marketing. Using the tried and true analogue model in a new medium worked for a while, but things have developed substantially. The lines between sales and marketing have blurred with the maturation of the net and the way people shop. 70% of shoppers conduct research online prior to making an offline purchase. That only leaves 30% of the decision making process open to the influence of your sales and marketing team.
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Some doors close, other doors open. Such is the ever-fluxing nature of the internet. It will continue to evolve far into the foreseeable future. As such, it will be the adaptable and creative company that thrives in this unpredictable environment. One such adaptation is creating “how-to” content, a way of engaging customers in a combined sales and marketing möbius loop during the pre-sale, at sale, and post-sale phases. Adaptable to each stage of the sales process, the how-to article or video can be entertaining, informative, and endearing. The visual medium also allows for carefully managed product placement and a solid brand identity.
HOW TO HOW-TO
The how-to isn’t restricted to a particular phase of the customer relationship. This type of content can be customized for attracting window-shopping customers, prompting conversions, and cultivating post-sale brand loyalty. The how-to is essentially a way of engaging with customers at every stage of the sales process. A good how-to program satisfies the parameters of this Google Speak sentence: I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy.
1: I WANT TO BUY
Developing shopping-related content is at the core of the how-to oeuvre. From the start, provide content that directly drives your business forward and leads to conversions. This is where the information that is most important can be highlighted. Product reviews and buying guides, product comparisons, and video vignettes of corporate identity each give reason for a customer to make a purchase.
2: I WANT TO KNOW, GO, & DO
The post-sale how-to will build a rapport directly with the customer. Answer their questions and demystify the items they have purchased from you. Care and maintenance instructions, set up and repair guides, step-by-steps, and hacks cultivate trust in your expertise. Helping customers use your product or service builds lasting brand loyalty. Create tomorrow’s customers with today’s content.
3: DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME
The between-purchases customer is the third layer of the how-to onion. Pre and post-sale content are packaged and bursting at the seams with brand confidence. Sales are being made, but then what? The how-tos will bring you back into the customer’s mind in the moment. They may not relate directly to purchasing decisions, but the trust built in your knowledge, and the willingness to not overtly sell, but provide useful information, will keep you in the mind. Activity hacks, tips and guides, skill acquisition, and advanced product knowledge will keep customers thinking about you.
There is no need for how-to articles and videos to be boring. They do need to be effective, efficient, and interesting. Don’t be afraid to put some zing and personality in there. Get people stoked about your product and brand identity. Get them to show their friends. With an overarching brand-related theme, your how-to content collection will stream like a lifestyle show, all about your products. The how-to provides both information and personality in one package. More subtle than an ad, but less contrived than an infomercial; be ready to work hard. Making quality how-tos takes a lot of time and effort. But rest assured, the results will speak for themselves.
From the top of the sales funnel to the continuation of a customer relationship, each stage can be accompanied by a series of interesting and entertaining written and visual touchpoints. Prompting the customer to make a purchase and continually interact with your brand builds confidence, loyalty, and widens your reach. Have the answers to your customers’ questions? Sharing your expertise with a how-to is a surefire way to benefit all parties and keep customers coming back for more.