Teach Before You Sell with Educational Lead Generation Offers
Does this situation sound familiar?
Your AdWords campaign is live, but it is as effective at driving sales as Kanye West is at letting people finish award acceptance speeches.
Users type in your keywords and click the ads, but when they are taken to your landing page they don’t convert. It’s not a matter of having a product or service that people want – you have customers who have purchased offline and rave about your solution. However, when you try to advertise your product or service via AdWords the orders dry up.
Instead of the sales you imagined, you are now paying for users to view the landing page and leave. You have a poor conversion rate, an expensive cost per acquisition and your user’s time on site is minimal. You adjust your keywords, put new images on your landing page, and bid higher and still….nothing. All your AdWords campaign does is drain your bank account and leave you frustrated.
You know there are AdWords campaigns that do produce revenue – consistently. These AdWords campaigns are not for products or services that are all that different from yours. So what is their secret?
Those advertisers are doing something different and it is not what you think, but to understand their solution you must first understand your problem.
The Problem: You’re Attempting To Sell Before The User Understands & Trusts Your Company
The problem with the immediate sales mindset comes from not putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Companies live and breathe their product and service. They speak the jargon and they completely understand the intricacies of how their product can help potential customers. They also know what they stand for and that they are a reliable company that is not out to scam the user. However, once they launch their AdWords campaign they seem to forget that users are not as intimately familiar with both their solution as well as their company.
The way a typical AdWords campaign is set up, a user is taken to a landing page that asks for an immediate sale. The problem is, often the user is unclear about the value of what they are being asked to purchase. I have even seen cases where the user doesn’t even understand what is actually for sale because the product or solution is so new, technical, or specific. On top of that, you are asking for the user’s credit card information when the user has no concept that you are a trustworthy company.
It is no surprise that the users bounce from the landing page (without making a purchase) and never come back.
The Solution: Educate Before You Sell To Showcase Your Solution And Build Trust
Image via Wikimedia
What AdWords advertisers need is to educate the user as to why their product or service is the right solution and build a relationship before they even attempt to make the sale. This education can come in the form of e-books, webinars, fact sheets, slide shares and other lead generation offers. Educating your user before you try to sell has a variety of benefits:
- Allows you to position yourself as the subject matter expert – By educating the user, you position yourself as the expert in your particular field. The user learns to trust and value your knowledge, opinions and recommendations on the topic. When it is time to make a purchase they go to the thought leader that has educated them up to that point.
- You utilize the law of reciprocity – Providing education for your user creates value and your potential customer will reward you for it. According to the author Robert Cialdini (who literally wrote the book on Influence, creatively called Influence) there are 6 laws of influence and one is the law of reciprocity. The law of reciprocity states that when a person or company provides something of value, the other side will want to return the favor. For AdWords advertisers that means that because you give away education for free, users feel the need to repay you for it. This repayment can be in the form of a purchase.
- You educate the customer on how to use your product and why your product is the right solution – When the user consumes your educational materials, they become invested in your product, service and company. They learn your jargon and your way of solving their problem. This investment is something they consider when making a purchase.
- You engage with the user and build trust – When the user first clicks on your ad they are a cold lead. They know very little about your company or particular solution. However, as they go through the educational process they warm up to your company. Educating them is your chance to engage with the user and build trust and positive emotions towards your company. By the time they are ready to make a purchase, the user is already warmed up to the idea of buying from your company.
How to Use AdWords To Educate Before You Sell
Step 1: Find Out What People Want To Know About Your Product Or Service
The only way to be able to effectively educate your potential consumer base to drive more online leads is to find out what they actually want to know about your product or service. There are two main ways to do this:
First person interviews – If you know who your ideal customer is you can invite people who fit those demographic and psychographic profiles into your office and interview them. You will be surprised at how eager people are to give their opinions. You don’t need to promise expensive gift cards; I have found that people will come in for interviews for a small token of appreciation such as free food! You then talk to them and find out what questions they actually have regarding your solution.
Have an honest and open conversation where the potential customer is comfortable asking questions. This is key: do not make them feel stupid about asking any question at all. You should never get exasperated or think they should know something. That is not thinking from the customer’s point of view.
Research – This is where you find questions that your ideal customer has by looking at online resources. A good place to start is Quora, a question and answer website. Quora is real people asking other real people real questions. It is safe to assume that if one person had a specific question that others may have it as well. Another online channel to investigate for real questions is Twitter.
Step 2: Use Those Questions to Create an Educational Lead Generation Offer
What you are creating here has many names – a first impression incentive, a lead magnet, a lead gen offer, etc. Whatever you call it, you want to make a piece of content that actually answers a relevant question you have found and educates the user who consumes the information. The purpose is not meant to be promotional, it is meant to be educational. Imagine you are creating a book rather than a brochure. There are many different forms for first impression incentives, such as an a white paper, an email series, or an informational video.
Creating the lead gen incentive can seem difficult, but if you break it into small bits you can create one. I wrote our first impression incentive Make Internet Advertising Work For Your Small Business in about 20 hours by breaking it up into 2 hours per day for about 10 days. If you honestly believe that you cannot create the content you can try a writing service – but make sure that the content you receive accurately reflects your company and educates the user.
Step 3: Be The One Who Answers The Questions with AdWords
Run your AdWords campaign (you can use the actual questions as your keyword phrases for a high quality score) and send users to a landing page that collects their email addresses in exchange for your educational lead generation offer.
There are a variety of services you can use to create landing pages – WordStream has a great landing page tool, and Unbounce is another good one. At this point, do not even ask for the sale – you will do that in step four after they have consumed the content and you have built engagement and trust.
Step 4: Teach & Build Trust Until The User Is Ready To Make the Purchase
Once the user downloads the educational offer and has consumed your content, continue to provide education and build trust with them until they are ready to make the purchase. There are a couple of ways to do this:
- Reaching out to them individually – You can individually reach out to the user via email to see if they have any questions or if they need any more information. This is a great tactic (especially at the beginning of the campaign) because it will help you to further connect, understand and engage with your audience. You will get to educate them one on one and show that your company is made up of real people and not some faceless corporation.
- Auto-responders – This is when is when you create a series of educational emails that are sent out in an order and along a specified time frame. This tactic is better when you have larger AdWords campaigns and cannot respond to every user. At Nerds Do It Better, we use aWeber (which I recommend) but there are many excellent email service providers – it is just a matter of personal preference. Auto-responders are out of the scope of this article, but if you want to learn more about how to run an auto-responder series this is a good article from CopyBlogger. Just make sure that each email provides some sort of real educational value.
As you continue to educate and build trust with the user, they move from cold leads to warm leads to a paying customer. You didn’t use your AdWords campaign to ask for (and not receive) the immediate sale, instead you used it to provide education and build trust with the user until they became a paying customer.
How have you used education to improve your return on ad spend?
About the Author
Adam Lundquist (@adamlundquist) is the CEO of Nerds Do It Better, an Internet advertising agency for small businesses. He has been featured in The Harvard Gazette, Search Engine Journal, PPC Hero, KISSmetrics, Certified Knowledge, Mtv, Vh1, Sports Illustrated, and Moz.
(Top two images used with permission of Shutterstock.)