3 Tips for Getting Customers to Read Supplemental Information

Anna Johansson
Guest Contributor

Whether its how-to-use, how-to-care-for or any other useful product information to share with your customers, the best way to get them to engage is to break free from the paper instructions of the past and embrace the power of online content.

Sometimes you need to provide customers with additional information that doesn’t fit on the product label or in the box. Many retailers package their products with tiny pamphlets or inserts. Although it seems like a great solution, printed inserts can be impractical if the information frequently changes.

Fifty years ago, people took the time to read instructions and manuals that came with the products they bought. Times have changed. While some people do read inserts, many don’t.

Today’s consumers are largely made up of the millennial generation, which, according to Pew Research, is expected to rise to 73 million by 2019. Millennials grew up with computers in their pockets, and don’t know what it’s like to live in a world without the internet. They rely on Google and Alexa for everything, and want to take photos of their goods right out of the box.

Millennials aren’t the only generation that likes to access information online. Statistics show 40 percent of the world population uses the internet. That’s over three billion people (and counting). Based on this data, it should be no surprise that the best way to reach people with supplemental information is through your website. Here’s how to do it:


1 – Make the information simple and easy to access

When a customer opens your package, the materials you include to direct them to your website should be clear with easy to follow instructions.

For example, say your website contains video tutorials to care for and clean your product. Create a simple printed insert to let the customer know the tutorials exist, and where to find them. Avoid publishing just your domain name with navigation instructions. Instead, send the customer directly to the tutorials page. Use a clever heading to capture their attention, and keep the insert clutter-free.

This is executed well by a company called Java Presse. When a customer buys their manual coffee grinder, a well-crafted insert directs the customer to a series of helpful video tutorials reserved only for customers.


2 – Publish research and complex information on your website

Sometimes a product lends itself to extensive research and customers want to understand what they’ve bought in-depth. When a product is popular, people may buy it before they fully understand it. For instance, hemp oil is a popular product because it contains CBD, a natural anti-inflammatory used to treat a variety of symptoms. Since there’s so much to learn, people often buy CBD while still in the research phase.

The research and information on CBD is far too extensive to stick in a box. Healthy Hemp Oil created a guide to make it easy for customers to learn more about the oil, and get answers to their questions.

When applicable to your product, directing customers to your own informational guide will do wonders to help them with their research.


3 – Avoid printing information that frequently changes

If product information is updated regularly, avoid providing that information in print. It will cost you money to keep reprinting, and the information will quickly become outdated. You’ll have no easy way to update past customers. Someone might end up accessing information that’s 10 years old.

Also, when your products are seasonal or sold in variety packs not chosen by the customer, it’s easier to make supplemental information available on your website.

For instance, say you sell vegetable seeds for the garden. Customers need plenty of information about how to care for each plant. When you sell seasonal variety packs according to growing region, packing every order with the same booklet forces customers to work hard to find their varieties.

With the availability of multiple varieties for each vegetable, you could have thousands of seeds to document. That’s a big booklet! Your customers only need the information that applies to the seeds they’ve purchased. This information is easier for them to access online.

For ideas on organizing a complex hierarchy of information, check out how the Urban Farmer organizes their seeds and supplemental information.

Create new supplemental content regularly

Each time a customer brings a new problem to your attention, create a how-to video or article to address possible solutions. Use this content to create a self-help section where customers can browse by topic, and get their questions answered. Some customers will be more likely to try your solutions before returning the product.

About the writer: Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.comForbes.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter @Number1AnnaJo and LinkedIn.

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