Driving awareness of your product when it’s part of a restricted market is no easy task, as we discovered when we worked with blu e-cigarettes.
Regulations mean that there are strict do’s and don’ts on your marketing activities, with some industries even being banned from running paid digital advertising.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and marketing restrictions simply mean there’s a need for a different approach, one that’s less reliant on big budgets and more focused on organic visibility and educational content.
What is educational content?
When applied to brands, it’s aimed at giving readers information and helping them learn something about that brand and its products. For example, a beer brand might run content about their product’s alcohol content, while a financial business might produce a glossary of complicated terms.
Just because it’s informative doesn’t mean educational content should be boring. In fact, it needs to be as engaging as any other blog post, Tweet or Facebook update as it should play a part in the sales funnel, helping gain awareness and push visitors through to your chosen goal.
Educational content can cover any subject related to your company. It therefore needs to be considered part of a wider content strategy, along with any other kind of content you’re pushing out.
For brands working in a restricted market, it should be more prominent as so many other potential subjects (news about brand sponsorships, lifestyle content) are out of bounds.
Why is educational content important?
Search has changed dramatically over the last few years. Where once, we used to search by typing in individual words and fragments of sentences, now we’re more accustomed to using long-tail searches and questions.
This has been aided by the rise of voice activated technologies and voice search, which make it easier than ever to make complicated searches, whether you want to know if that skirt goes with that top or the best restaurants to visit in Paris.
However it’s being done, search remains the dominant channel to conduct product research through, and that doesn’t change just because some brands happen to be working within restricted markets.
What needs to change is the approach a brand affected by those restrictions takes, and educational content is the most effective way to make that change.
By conducting keyword research, finding the questions people are searching for and creating clear, concise and deeply useful content built around those questions, brands can tap into user interest and drive people through to their website.
Best of all, as educational content is dealing with the facts, it’s largely free from restrictions (facts are facts, regardless of limitations) and it can gain traction without the need for paid promotion.
How can educational content help drive loyalty?
Educational content can also help drive loyalty. Google research has found that 9 out of 10 customers are not absolutely certain of the brand they’re looking to buy from when they start researching a product on their smartphone.
That means they can have their head turned and be persuaded by any brand out there - most likely the one that’s most clearly and simply meeting their needs.
What’s more, 80% say that they’re more likely to purchase from companies that help them find quick and easy answers to their questions.
As Sara Kleinberg writes on Think With Google: “Marketers should always make the research process as easy as possible throughout the entire shopping experience. That means being present — and useful — along the way. “
Our work with blu is a good example of educational content in action. Unable to make any claims about the health benefits of e-cigarettes or compare them to traditional cigarettes, we had to get creative with what we wrote.
We therefore focused purely on educational content. This meant that we could produce high-quality content that attracted a large number of searches, but didn’t break any rules.
As a result, we addressed product information (for example, ‘What’s new in the latest blu device?’), general e-cigarette functions (‘How do I refill my clearomiser?’) and e-cigarette usage regulations (‘Can I vape on a plane?’).
This boosted organic traffic in the US, Italy and France, and built a bond with blu’s customers that inspired them to return time and time again.
Educational content should be a key part of any digital strategy, especially for brands who are working within a restricted market. By answering users’ questions clearly and concisely, brands can generate visibility, visits, purchases and loyalty from new and existing customers.