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3 Ways to Educate Buyers Online With science on your side, making the effort will pay dividends.

By Lucas Miller Edited by Eric Peck

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While many customers make purchases based on an emotional response to your brand, you cannot underestimate the value of educating online shoppers.

When someone shops in-store, they have the opportunity to touch a product and physically examine it. Online, that interactive experience has been removed. Brands need to replace that tangible experience with meaningful customer education.

By giving customers relevant information about your products and services, and showing them how you can help solve their problems, you will make more sales in the long run. In fact, research has found that educating customers has a direct correlation with increased customer loyalty. Here's how to do it.

Related: Online Shopping: Evolving Consumer Behavior Amid the Pandemic

1. Build social proof with true testimonials

One of the best ways to educate your customers doesn't require any copywriting from you at all — instead, you simply need to tap into the power of your existing customers. Ninety-two percent of buyers trust recommendations from their peers, far outweighing the level of trust in advertising.

Your current customers are ultimately going to be far better salespeople — and educators — than your own team ever could be.

Social proof is one of the most powerful sales tools in any brand's arsenal, in large part because it fills an important educational role. Uncertain buyers look to their peers for guidance in making their decision. Testimonials serve as a powerful case study for the benefits your product or service can provide for its users.

The more specific and detailed a testimonial can be, the better. More information provides more value to your buyers, helping them build confidence in what you can provide. Beginning an outreach campaign to get reviews and testimonials from previous satisfied customers will go a long way in providing impactful educational materials.

Related: 18 Ways to Use 'Social Proof' to Boost Your Marketing

2. Give meaningful education with insightful articles

Of course, you don't need to rely on your customers' words alone. When you make educating your customers a central part of what you do online, you can establish your niche authority and gain the trust of your audience. Reliable, informative articles break down what can sometimes be a confusing process into something more manageable — and the brand gains customer trust in the process.

This taps into the idea of "giving something for nothing." Customers feel good when they are able to get something of value (in this case, information) without paying for it. Interestingly, research has found that when this happens, many consumers still end up wanting to pay for the value they have received.

While you may technically be giving away free tips or information, consumers feel a desire to reciprocate, developing what is almost a sense of obligation to your business. As a result, they become more likely to buy from you, rather than a competitor.

Related: Giving Away Your Content and Marketing to Gain Customers

3. Create interactive experiences when possible

As convenient as online shopping may be, many find that it doesn't quite match the experience of shopping in-person. Trying to replicate that physical experience in any way possible can have a powerful psychological impact on your buyers.

As Kelly Azevedo of She's Got Systems explains in an interview with the Huffington Post: "We're all busy people. Reading about something new feels like a chore. Most people are visual or kinesthetic learners, who need to see, feel, and have their hands on something to really learn how it works. Set up ways for clients to watch your new service in action with a live demo, video guides, or sample products for clients to test out themselves."

Live streaming has proven to be a real boon for educating customers in a more engaging manner, especially with Facebook and YouTube live streaming becoming more easily accessible for brands big and small.

Related: Stop Selling to Your Network Group and Start Educating Them

Many of the best practices for educating customers in a way that appeals to them psychologically aren't that complex in practice. But they do require consistent and authentic effort on your part.

When you seek to provide helpful education for your customers, they will be more inclined to trust your brand. They will feel better-informed and more confident in buying from you.

Lucas Miller

Founder of Echelon Copy LLC

Lucas Miller is the founder and CEO of Echelon Copy LLC, a media relations agency based in Provo, Utah that helps brands improve visibility, enhance reputation and generate leads through authentic storytelling.

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