Educational content: Show how much you know (without giving it all away)

Educational content is a key part of content marketing, but some businesses are still scared to use it. Educational content

“Why?” we hear you cry! It’s because they think they might give everything away for free and be left empty-handed.

Now we know that’s not true, so we’ll address these fears and explain exactly why educational content is just so damn good!

What is educational content?

We’ve covered this before, so here’s a quick recap:

Educational content addresses the challenges faced by your customers and provides tools to overcome them.

It’s the second highest ranked goal for content marketers, so should really be part of your overall strategy. Only lead generation beats it, and it helps with that too!

We suspect that content marketers prioritising content that teaches, not sells, could be behind the massive shift we’ve seen towards long-form content in recent years. You need a much longer word count for a piece that packs an educational punch!

Why does it scare businesses?

There are a few reasons for why businesses are scared to put out educational content, but here are our top three:

1. It doesn’t sell (overtly)

Educational content doesn’t go “buy me, buy me, buy me”, and doesn’t use conversion copywriting techniques either.

This can make marketers feel a bit queasy when it comes to putting this content out. How will the reader know to buy the product/service unless we tell them?

Luckily, most customers are pretty smart. They’ll use your extensive educational resource, clock that you’re the best in the biz and then decide to continue through to purchase your solution. That’s how educational content works!

2. Hard to calculate ROI

Like with all content marketing, one of the biggest challenges of educational content is determining its return on investment. After all, it’s not as a straightforward as sending out an email campaign and counting how many replies you receive.

However, there’s a really simple way to track ROI for your educational content: every time a new lead or client comes your way, ask them if they have read your content, and whether it had an impact on their decision to get in touch. Speaking for ourselves at Write My Site, our content has helped generate the majority of our new business.

3. They don’t want to give away their knowledge for free

This is the biggie. Most businesses spend years, even decades cultivating their knowledge – and now they’re being asked to “give it away for free”.

It can feel a bit like when a magician says they never reveal their secrets. If they do, they spoil the magic because the audience knows exactly how it works. But here’s the good news: business and magic are different! In business, customers need to feel like they’re buying from an expert – and the best way to prove expertise is to share knowledge.

Think of when you’re making a considered purchase (i.e. something that costs a reasonable amount of money). Are you more likely to go with a supplier that takes a “trust me, I know what I’m doing” approach, or one that shows you what they know? It’s a no-brainer when you think about it.

7 reasons to bite the bullet and use educational content

Regularly sending out any high-quality content is great. It helps your website be discovered by customers and search engine crawlers, and will (hopefully) mean more traffic to your site.

Educational content, however, turns things up a notch. Here are just seven reasons why you should be producing it:

1. Gives the people what they want

When people have questions about complex or confusing topics, they look for expert and authoritative industry voices that can explain what’s going on – your company could be that voice!

Two thirds of consumers prefer content that educates and informs them about a subject or product. That’s a massive proportion of your audience that you shouldn’t ignore.

Chuck in that modern millennials don’t respond to ads and you’ll soon see that educational content is the way to go.

2. Builds a relationship with your customer

Once your reader has found a source of expertise that answers their questions, they’ll keep coming back.

If you consistently offer actionable and accurate solutions to their problems, your customers will begin to trust the brand. It will also make them think of you when it comes to purchase.

Top tip: Figure out what your audience wants to know and give them the solution.

Yes, it’s your expertise you’re demonstrating, but it has to be relevant and valuable to your audience. Use customer research and audience personas to figure out which questions to answer.

3. Generates PR opportunities

You have all this knowledge pent up inside of you. Create educational content to display your expertise and position yourself at the forefront of your industry.

Regularly publishing high quality thought leadership content often leads to invitations to speak at conferences, host webinars, provide training and contribute to industry publications – all fantastic PR opportunities!

Just take a look at Neil Patel. He’s a top-notch marketer who offers a range of educational content to help businesses to succeed. He now hosts huge training sessions, blogs for top publications and speaks at conferences all over the world. It’s worth taking a leaf out of his book!

4. Provides more shareable content

94% of people who share posts do so because they think it might be helpful to others. Ergo, if your content is genuinely helpful, it will be shared online!

Buzzsumo has a great feature that shows you the most shared content on certain topics. We picked content marketing. Take a look at the top three:

  1. 8 trends that will shape content marketing in 2017, Forbes – 26.6K shares
  2. How much do people trust your content?, Forbes – 25.3K shares
  3. Stop trying to sound smart when you’re writing, Harvard Business Review – 21.7K shares.

As you can see, these are all classic examples of educational content.

Done correctly, educational content will expand your business’ reach and generate brand awareness beyond your direct network.

5. Increases the chance of qualified leads

Educational content encourages readers to move down the sales funnel, and turns them into informed, interested and qualified leads.

By the time they get talking to a sales rep or browsing your online store, they’ll know everything they need to know in order to make a decision. This means they’ll only require a slight nudge to get to the point of purchase.

The best thing about it? It happens without actively pushing customers towards a sale. They feel in complete control of their journey, and they already have a large degree of trust in you by the time they give you a call/drop you an email.

6. Strengthens your marketing strategy

Educational content puts meat on the bones of your marketing strategy, and makes it interesting. Just check out Mint – the online banking site. One of their latest blogs is about how to save money making fancy coffees at home. It doesn’t directly relate to the product, but is a fun way to relate back to the customer’s core need – saving money.

7. Makes your customers happy

We all like happy smiley customers, and educational content will put big fat grins on their faces. It’s a great way to start building that positive brand reputation.

That’s it – a complete roundup of what educational content is, its potential pitfalls and the top seven reasons why you should move forward with confidence. Now it’s time for you to get writing. Good luck!