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Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Should Go Past the Sale

target customer retention

In last week’s CMI #CMWorld Twitter chat with Ardath Albee on B2B content marketing, participants discussed whether our job as content marketers goes past the sale. The consensus was that it should.

Why?” you may ask.

My response is that you should have a content marketing strategy for customer retention if you want to convert customers into evangelists and, ultimately, extend the reach of your brand. 

This is in line with CMI’s philosophy and definition of content marketing as well:

Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall content marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it.

As content marketers, especially in the B2B world, we invest a lot of our energy in converting a prospect to a customer by working through the following steps:

  • Researching our target audience
  • Getting to know our targets through social media and other means using the three-pronged approach of listening-engaging-helping
  • Segmenting those targets into specific groups
  • Crafting specific personas
  • Providing created and curated content to build trust and to nurture our prospects through the buying cycle path to purchase

But providing relevant content shouldn’t stop once you win a customer’s business. Similar to lead nurturing, you should have a plan for “customer nurturing” in which you continually earn your customer’s trust — and hopefully turn them into evangelists:

  • Continue to provide relevant and timely content to prove to the customer they made the right decision in choosing you.
  • Add value to their existing investment.
  • Provide even more value by giving them additional tools and insight to help them do their jobs.

Here are tips to help nurture your customers to become evangelists:

1. Create a blog for customers

Blogs created specifically for customers need to be different than blogs you create to nurture prospects through the sales cycle. For instance, you may want to include information that helps customers “get more” from your product or service, such as:

  • Vertical-specific case studies
  • New feature updates
  • Specifics on how to use a current feature of the product
  • Surveys to get customers’ input, such as asking them to prioritize features for an upcoming product release or the type of content they want to see

You may also want to include curated content — such as latest industry trends and analyses, and other information that may be of interest to your customer.

Even though your customers now have access to your solution, you can’t assume they are using it actively. Therefore, it is vital that marketing collaborate with sales to figure out how to retain customers’ trust. This is accomplished by continuously listening, engaging with them, and helping them to do their jobs.

You may also want to segment your customers by region, industry, or other criteria, and provide relevant content targeted to those segments. Relevancy is the key. Test different things. And don’t forget to involve your customers in the types of content you plan to provide. Your customers want to be collaborated with — not talked at.

Example: Evernote’s blog is filled with quick tips and community stories, designed to help users use the app more frequently — and become product evangelists.

evernote blog-quick tips
The Evernote blog

2. Provide customer-specific content on your YouTube, Vimeo, or other video channels

Chances are your “explainer video” helped get at least some of your current customers hooked on your product. Once you have converted prospects to customers, use video in ways that can provide added value, such as:

  • Providing tutorials on new features and product updates
  • Highlighting a feature and creating a mini tutorial on it
  • Interviewing current customers on how they are using your product, the results they are getting, and so on

Examples: Box and Apple are almost militant in their use of videos, especially to announce new products and features and explain how to use them.

box videos-the box channel
Box’s video page
apple-featured videos
Apple’s video page

3. Engage customers with customer-only content such as analyst reports, webinars, or live customer seminars

Help your customers stay updated on the latest industry trends and the latest thought leadership by providing them with premium content, such as analyst reports, special webinars, and live seminars.

Examples: Character Counts!, a character education program run by The Josephson Institute of Ethics, conducts continuing education webinars and seminars for its member companies and educational institutions.

character counts!-josephson institute
The Character Counts! continuing education program

4. Create an online customer community or a special interest user group 

Create a customer community where you not only deliver content based on your customers’ needs but you also create an environment where customers can contribute and share their own content, exchange ideas, and learn from each other. And don’t forget to “customer”-ize your social channels. As an example, consider creating customer-only groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to share information, provide new insights, tackle customer concerns, etc.

Examples: HubSpot and SAP have very strong customer communities and provide resources to help customers do their jobs.

sap user groups
SAP’s user groups

Continuing to listen to, engage with, and assist your customers on their terms will help you strengthen your current customer relationships and convert your customers into your evangelists.

Want to learn more about using content marketing for customer retention? Join Ardath Albee at Content Marketing World on September 10, when she presents, “Customer Retention: The Imperative for Creating Market Advantage.” You can also help Ardath with her session by completing this quick, 2-minute survey:

Read the full transcript from last week’s #CMWorld Twitter chat about B2B content marketing, or view the highlights in the SlideShare below — if you are interested in learning about more companies that are using content for retention, see question 6 (Q6). 

Cover image via Bigstock