Brands that control consumer education portals in their industry have a huge advantage over their competitors—if they control the education, they control the conversation. Research shows, for example, that customers who are provided with the right educational tools are 94% more satisfied with their purchases and far more likely to buy in the first place. By providing consumers with (nearly) vendor-neutral information about subject matter, products, and capabilities, these brands are creating new value, cutting through the clutter of pushed-based marketing, and at the same time building their own brand equity. It’s a win for the consumer and a win for the brand.
So how does this consumer education portal make such a difference? One critical reason: the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT)—the instant when a consumer decides it’s time to learn about a product and goes online for information. The data shows that 88% of U.S. consumers now engage in ZMOT prior to making their final purchasing decision. In a few clicks or swipes, whether you like it or not, your potential customer is swimming through reviews, details, and data about issues, product specifications, and brand. Really, the question isn’t whether this is happening—it’s whether you’re brand is playing a role in the conversation.
Creating a consumer education portal about a topic or product type and not a specific brand or its products offers three specific benefits to companies: Increased brand awareness and perception, contribution to the user’s experience of the product, and a boost to the power of the brand messaging.
- Brand perception
Brand image drives new customers to a company’s products and reassures existing customers of their choices. A luxury skincare brand is now differentiating itself by educating consumers on what to look for in high-quality products. Their educational portal validates the high-quality of their product while engaging with and creating new brand champions.
- User experience
Capturing the attention of consumers at the ZMOT is not all that is required for brands to take the lead in educating consumers. Brands must also find a way to capture customers’ attention going forward. One technology company is helping consumers handle the rapid evolution of products, services, and delivery mechanisms. They have incorporated interactive elements such as a games and activities to help audiences learn about options and personalize their learning experience.
- Messaging power
Brands that focus on educating consumers about a specific topic can increase the company’s overall reputation as a trust-worthy brand—but only as long as the educational portal is free from the perceived commercial bias. By paying special attention to how and when users were likely to access their portal, an international healthcare company was able to design appropriate resources to meet audience needs and amplify their messaging.
In these days of media saturation and information overload, the moment a consumer decides to turn on the laptop or smartphone to start researching an issue or a product is the most important moment for a brand to reach that consumer. No matter the product or the industry, the first company to engage a consumer in a meaningful and relevant way is the company that most likely wins that consumer’s trust and loyalty.
[This is a reprint of an article that appeared on the Allen Communication website.]
Photo courtesy of tableatny