Here’s the fact bomb: More important than finding new customers is keeping the ones you already have.
But contrary to how content marketing is generally practiced, the buyer journey doesn’t end with a purchase. It continues indefinitely as long as your customer trusts your brand and remains open to your value chain. That means you need to ditch the myth that the primary function of content marketing is to generate fresh new leads.
Buyer-centric operations designed to keep your brand relevant and extend customer life cycles should be among the top stakeholders on any agenda with “business profitability” or “growth” in the title. And that means content marketing should align well with — and reflect elements of — customer service, tech support, customer happiness, and other after-sales departments.
Comparative costs for new customer acquisition versus retaining existing customers. Image source: Invesp.
After all, customer engagement goes beyond your product. It thrives on pre- and post-sale conversations that focus on your buyers’ problems and successes, with or without your product at their disposal.
Only targeted content — the kind that genuinely shows the remedy to pain points and the roadmaps to happiness — can drive those conversations and strengthen your relationship with customers throughout the buyer journey.
The numbers don’t lie. Customer acquisition costs are skyrocketing. Brand loyalty is eroding. And digital marketing has become more difficult and costlier than before.
HubSpot recently published an eye-opening report that highlights these alarming trends. It might surprise you but the report’s conclusion boils down to one statement: invest in customer service.
I think one of the best ways to do that is to execute a customer retention strategy that leverages the sweet spot between customer service and content marketing.
When I say “content marketing” – I do not mean ads, email campaigns, newsletters, or any type of mass mailings. I mean to ensure the content inside each and every message your company sends to customers is designed to bond and engage them.
- Example: Virgin Atlantic Airlines uses negative customer feedback to bond with their customers.
Most of the messages you send customers in your website copy, email, chat, text, calls, at events, or in person should be designed to engage them, even if they’re already a long time customer.
Why you ask?
Because unfortunately, your customers also possess the permanent option to jump ship and switch to your competitors.
As Salesforce discovered, churn — the process where a company slowly dies from runaway customer attrition rate — is a real thing and can literally lead to corporate doom.
You don’t want that to happen.
So here are five ways to reframe the content/copy in all your messaging in order to improve customer service, retain more customers, and — who knows — even unleash an army of brand ambassadors.
Tip 1: Involve customer support, service, and happiness teams in content development.
Your peers from after-sales operations know a lot — perhaps more than anyone else — about what customers really want from your business and which features and benefits will keep them satisfied enough to stay around longer. (In fact, strategic improvements in Customer Service alone can double customer loyalty and retention rates.)
These teams hear tons of complaints and praises, answer queries of every kind, troubleshoot usage issues, and receive constructive advice (on best practices, feature wish lists, and other crucial customer issues) every single day. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to infuse your marketing content with needle-moving insights and real-world customer data from these units.
Image credit: Nextiva
Tip 2: Make case studies, testimonials, and success stories a staple presence in your editorial content calendar.
Nothing resonates with customers as much as compelling stories about customers like themselves who face and solve similar — if not identical — problems.
Make an audit of customer reviews about your product or service in third-party platforms or review sites. Find out what makes your product tick or tumble and use that to develop customer-centric content.
Use issue resolution reports or incidences as the backdrop for useful, relevant content targeting your broader audience.
And unless they’re discussing a known issue without a proper workaround, never leave negative reviews unanswered. Create content that specifically addresses the negative issue and makes a solid counter-case for your product.
Effect of positive reviews on consumers. Image source: BrightLocal
Tip 3: Transform your website into an easy plug-and-play, DIY resource.
Your clients need people from customer care to be there when they call. But they also want to do things on their own whenever they can.
That means your website should be easy to navigate and include not only chatbots, Help Centers, and FAQ pages but also regular content that focus on directly helping customers use your product or service better, easier, and with more impact.
High-quality content that uses your customers’ own language should provide practical answers to real-world questions before they are even asked by your buyers. The first two items on this list will help you anticipate and answer many of these questions.
These days, you certainly need to go beyond just a killer FAQ in order to update and refresh customer engagement. For starters, go for tips-and-tricks type articles or blog posts that enable your customers to glean more value from your product.
Tip 4: Purpose-driven content to energize your communities and drive advocacy programs.
Online communities that connect your product with customers help keep your brand relevant. Whether these communities are officially sanctioned or just a hodge-podge of connected users of your service across different platforms, your participation should go beyond simple posts and lip-service concern.
Your marketing team should develop purpose-driven content for these communities. Remember that the more active these communities are, the better they serve as platforms for brand advocacy and evangelism.
Be sure to make relevant content that is immersive, experiential, and authentic. Show customers that you genuinely care about all their issues.
Image credit: Nextiva
Finally, don’t ignore fun surveys, quizzes, and games. And remember to reward loyalty with gamified tokens, real discounts, and compelling prizes.
Tip 5: Develop an omni-channel, multimedia mindset.
There’s no going around this reality. The business world is on full throttle heading towards digital.
But more importantly, customers are already there. Which means they’re basically everywhere all the time, discovering products on social media and posting service queries from their phones.
They understand and consume articles, newsletters, and infographics. But they also seek crisp videos, webinars, and engaging podcasts.
Don’t discount any channel or medium unless you’re sure no one from your customer base uses it.
For content developers, this omni-channel and multimedia environment necessitates the embrace of responsive design and multimedia messaging.
Millennials — the largest customer demographic — are said to be “tech natives.” Generation Z goes even further — they’re virtually born with tech in hand and matured being heavily dependent on their personal gadgets.
These generations will account for the bulk of customers and decision makers in both the B2C and B2B markets for years to come.
Despite the growing interest in brick-and-mortar experiences, the future of customer engagement remains overwhelmingly digital. And by nature, digital is omni-channel and multimedia. Content can’t afford to be any different.
Business is not as easy as it used to be. It’s getting harder to get new customers and easier to lose the ones you already have.
Given this climate, content marketers need to align their strategy and editorial calendar with the goals of their peers from customer service and customer success who own customer retention.
This alignment is no longer a strategic move but an existential imperative.
But there’s good news: The seeds for compelling content are already there in the reports, metrics, and data of after-sales customer care units. Digital marketers only need to harness this rich trove of data and transform it into content that provides a) practical answers to customer issues and b) clear pathways to their success.