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BizReport : Blogs & Content : September 26, 2018

How to Create an Education Portal for Your Customers (and Why You Should)

Most modern companies are either engaged in a content marketing campaign, or are somewhat interested in starting one.

Content marketing has become one of the most reliable and cost-efficient ways to build brand visibility, showcase expertise, and influence customer transactions all at once. But not all types of content are of equal value to your customers.

If you want to be more competitive, and give your customers even more value, consider creating an education portal, filled with content specifically meant to educate or inform them on a given topic.

Examples of Educational Content

There are several types of educational content you could create, depending on the nature of your business:

● Topical guides. These resources tend to explain a broad topic to someone who's interested in learning more about it. For example, you might find a resource center specifically intentioned to help aspiring investors learn how to trade stocks and futures, like with RJO Futures's Learning Center.

● Product tutorials and troubleshooting. If your company offers specific products, services, or apps, you might use your education portal to provide specific tutorials or troubleshooting guides. For example, you might create a community of users and experts to explain how your product works, like SalesForce does.

● Skill development or training. You might also create content with the intention of helping your users develop a certain skill, or train them for a given field. Some organizations have built an entire business out of this model, like with Codecademy's programming tutorials.

Why Educational Content Is So Valuable

Educational content takes a lot of work, so why is it so valuable for businesses to use?

● Intrinsic practicality. When people read educational content, they walk away with new skills, new knowledge, or new insights--and those are inherently practically valuable. Customers appreciate practical value, and will be more likely to share that value with others.

● Discoverability. Educational content tends to address common user concerns, such as answering their questions or solving their problems. This makes your content highly discoverable, since people are going to seek it out.

● Authority and expertise. Educational content is also a great way to position your brand as an authority or expert on a given subject. If done effectively, you'll win more consumer trust--and therefore longer, more committed brand-consumer relationships.

● Calls to action. Educational content also presents great opportunities for strong calls-to-action. Depending on what you're writing, you could link readers to a specific product to buy, or encourage them to sign up to a newsletter for more tips without the need for a strong pitch.

Tips for Successful Execution

If you want to be successful in creating and distributing your content, make sure you follow these tips:

● Distinguish your educational materials. Don't make your education portal a simple part of your existing blog. Instead, create a different section for it altogether. This will distinguish it as a premium resource, and may help users see it as more authoritative than a typical blog.

● Emphasize quality and completeness. Like with much of your other content, your priorities should be on the quality and completeness of your work. Research your topic thoroughly, provide screenshots and videos when appropriate, and answer your readers' questions completely.

● Answer common customer questions. Try to frame your content in a way that answers common questions, including phrasing the title of your articles in the form of questions. It can help with SEO, and make it easier for readers to find what they're looking for.

● Give (most of) it away for free. Most of your educational content should be free. Otherwise, it won't reach many new readers.

● Offer premium content in exchange for something valuable. Reserve some of your best content, to use in an exchange; you can sell it for a fixed price, or provide a download link in exchange for customer information.

● Interlink your pieces. Make sure all your educational content links to other educational pieces. It will increase time spent on page, and provide readers with more value.

● Make your portal searchable. A good search function is imperative to your success. Make it easy for users to find the content they need most.

● Encourage user contributions. If possible, allow your readers and customers to contribute their own content. At a large enough scale, you could foster the growth of an entire community.

● Distribute and promote. Your content won't reach new audiences by itself. Have a plan to distribute your content through social media and similar networks.

● Gather user feedback. Listen to what your readers have to say about your work, positive or negative, and use those insights to improve in the future.

You may not see immediate results when you start creating your education portal, but the more effort you put into it, the more rewards you'll eventually see. Research your competition so you know what you're up against, and give your customers what you think they'd value most. From there, it's a matter of tweaking, trial, and error to get things just right.


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