If the main goal of your company is 'growth' right now, whether that's growing revenue or customers, did you know that a customer education strategy could help with that? Marketing and education colleagues are probably already working together to promote their education programs and to create new ones to support future marketing campaigns. But what else could these two teams learn from each other to promote company growth?
5 things marketing & customer education can use to promote company growth
1. Use gamification in customer education
Marketers love using gamification to reward fans and customers with discounts, badges, pictures, and more. Can CE use this idea as well in their work? You bet! IBM created an education program called CityOne for global employees. Since its launch in 2010, it has racked up 20,000+ "players" from over 130 countries. Employees are excited to dive in to the game and learn more about IBM, products, and more.
By introducing the idea of gamification to CE programs, you can educate customers while you engage with them, creating fans and future brand ambassadors for you.
2. Listen to customers to find ideas
Most good marketers and educators already do this, but it's such a good idea that it's worth repeating. By listening to customers, both marketers and educators gain insights into their customers that they can use for future work. Such as creating a new CE program to address a need that many customers are asking about or using customer feedback in a marketing campaign as social proof of the value of your products.
Where you can really help promote growth is by listening and speaking with customers and prospects outside of the customer lifecycle. This is what Caterpillar (the manufacturer of heavy machinery) does. They created an online community through their forum where people who work with Caterpillar equipment exchange information, find answers, and get expert advice from their peers. This expands your sphere of influence beyond immediate leads and prospects, and gets your brand name in front of people who may not have known you otherwise.
3. Use related topics to get known
Chances are your target market knows all about you. So how can you get the word out to those who don't know about you? Perhaps in related markets to your own where you could offer a lot of value to prospects?
This is usually the domain of marketing, trying to get the word out to new prospects, however CE can help with this as well. Just look at what General Electric (GE) is doing with their Ecomagination site. It's a website that helps familiarize consumers with different aspects of its business by discussing science and innovation. So it's more about science, innovation, and how to embrace "big" ideas that will create a better future. If it's with GE products, great! If not, that's okay because we all benefit. The site has a great mix of bright visuals, videos, and cutting-edge articles, and has become the go-to site for anyone interested in the latest environmental issues.
Marketing and CE teams could partner to create educational content that does the same thing. By getting the word out about your company through a related topic, it's a subtle way to show how helpful and valuable your products are without be sales-y. Prospects will appreciate that and will remember your company when it comes time to buy.
4. Target your education programs like marketing
Marketing teams are the experts at creating content targeted to very specific audiences and markets. CE pros should get just as specific in their work too. It's not just a matter of creating an education program for on-boarding; how about one for executive on-boarding at companies who have never used this type of technology before?
By creating an ultra-specific CE program, you'll not only educate your customers more completely, but you'll also increase the chances that customer will stick with you for a long time. (Various surveys and studies put it at anywhere from 10-20%.)
5. Create THE program for your industry
By creating a company- or industry- specific term for your products and CE programs, you ensure that you're the first one everyone talks about when referring to that topic or term.
For example, just look at the term ZMOT, or “Zero Moment of Truth". It's a phrase used to define the key activities online consumers take before making a decision to purchase. Google developed ZMOT for consumer purchase patterns in various eBooks, research reports, and videos. Today, their research is quoted in almost every article on the subject of consumer purchase patterns.
6. Combine CE stats with other key company metrics for more impact
Generate as many KPIs as you can with regards to your products and CE programs. Then share them with your marketing colleagues who should include it in their content too. When you share data with your prospects, you're clearly communicating that you've the best products to help customers become more successful. Try organizing them into short, consumable bites of information to make them easy to read and digest.
7. Show how much your customers love your CE programs
Testimonials aren't just for marketers; they're for CE programs too! Your CE programs could be a competitive differentiator for your company. Customer quotes are the most concise way to share the value your CE programs bring to customers and demonstrate the value and helpfulness of your programs. So go on, start sharing them!
8. Give prospects access to your training BEFORE they buy
Sometimes, no testimonial or stat will be as good as giving customers and prospects access to your learning materials. Letting them dive in to your foundation-level material can be a great way to generate engagement and excitement. Marketers use this with the try-before-you-buy idea, and it can work with learning programs too. Prospects learn a lot about you and your products, but also about the industry too; something that's important for building a business case for a new software category. Cloudera did this with great success. [link]
Marketing + CE help your company grow
While each department is good at growing your company by themselves, there are many ways they could help each other to expand on that growth. Instead of working in isolation from each other, why not have them learn from each other? Use tactics from one discipline in the other to generate even more growth? Sure, not every tactic will work, however based on the ones you've seen in this article, we hope you give it a try.