According to a 2015 study by digital marketing company Regalix, the following are listed as the top content marketing objectives for today’s B2B companies:
1. Nurturing prospects and influencing purchase: 90%
2. Generating leads: 83%
3. Generating awareness: 76%
4. Thought leadership: 71%
5. Engaging customers to build loyalty and advocacy: 56%
6. Website traffic: 51%
7. Generating sales: 44%
Notice anything missing? Aside from objective number five, content objectives revolving around post-sales initiatives are conspicuously absent. That strikes me as odd considering the fact that it is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. Not to mention the fact that existing customers are also likely to spend 33% more than new prospects.
Going the extra mile to retain these customers seems like a no brainer to me.
While lead generation is frequently the top priority for content marketers, its effectiveness as a customer retention tool is often underemphasized. Let us not forget that the pioneers of content marketing as we know it today originally began using content as a tool for education, not selling. (For those of you who missed our article on John Deere’s entry into the content world with Furrow magazine, you can catch up here.) It’s important for today’s content marketers not to get so caught up in the hype around lead generation that they forget their roots — or forget how much they stand to gain by catering to existing customers, not just new ones.
Wondering how you can start developing content for post-sales and begin building a loyal fan-base of satisfied customers? Here are a few ideas:
Build a customer forum.
One of the best ways to empower your customers is to build a community around their thoughts, opinions, feedback, and ultimately, their success. Giving them a voice so that they feel like their input is appreciated and valued (and hopefully, it is!) goes a long way toward building goodwill toward your brand. A great way to do this is to create a customer forum where users can communicate with each other and your company. At Pardot, we developed an Idea Exchange to help us interface with our customers, and many of the ideas submitted to us via this outlet are turned into a reality.
Create a hub of training and enablement materials.
Want to minimize the number of calls to your customer support team? Give your customers the resources they need to learn how to use your product — and troubleshoot issues on their own as they come up. Having training and enablement content like user guides and self-help articles can make the difference between your customers feeling fully supported by your team and feeling completely ignored. Keep in mind: customers that don’t feel as though they’re a priority won’t be customers for long.
Design checklists, handbooks, and other how-to content.
If we look at instructional content as the foundation of your customer-specific content strategy, then how-to materials and editorial content would be the next step up. Your customers don’t just want to know how to use your product, they want to know how to use it well — and best practices materials like checklists and handbooks are the perfect way to solve this need.
Even content like a company blog can be geared toward helping your customers get the most out of their investment (and customers who are getting the most out of their investment are more likely to become brand evangelists and references in the future, which is another value-add).
Produce webinars and videos.
Many of today’s B2B companies are incorporating webinars and videos into their lead generation strategies. Why not extend this to apply to the full customer lifecycle? Ask your internal team members to host webinars on best practices related to your product, or film short, 1-2 minute videos to explain how to use new features or certain functionality. These are simple extensions of your existing strategy that will majorly benefit your existing clients in the long run and can easily be featured or linked to from your company newsletter and customer communications.
Host a user group or customer conference.
While this strays slightly from the realm of content, user conferences are another great way to show that you’re still investing in your current customers — and have a stake in their success. If a full-blown conference doesn’t seem feasible, consider smaller scale user groups in cities with a denser population of customers. Fill these meetings and sessions with helpful how-tos, product roadmap previews, and customer success stories so that your customers leave feeling motivated and inspired.
What other ways are you using content to enable your customer base? Let us know in the comments!