February 1, 2021 Content Chat Recap: Content Marketing for Customer Retention

A #ContentChat header image that says today's topic is content marketing for customer retention.

Content marketing is crucial for customer acquisition, but far too many marketers focus all of their energy on attracting new customers. This misguided approach neglects a very important part of your brand’s community: your existing customers!

Almost any content that a company creates should provide value to existing customers, especially if you co-create content with them—you just need to stay conscious of their needs throughout your content creation.

In this #ContentChat, we discuss the core elements of content marketing for customer retention. Read the full recap below, where we explain how content marketing can help with customer retention, the ways that companies can understand the content needs of existing customers, and how brands can co-create content with customers in a way that strengthens their relationship.

Q1: Why is it important to include customer retention as an element of your content marketing strategy?

It can cost much more money to attract a new customer than retain an existing one. But that’s not the only value of customer retention.

A1a: You’ve probably seen the stats that it can cost 5x more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. But that’s not the only reason why customer retention needs to be part of your content marketing strategy. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

A1: It’s far easier/less expensive to keep a customer than it is to recruit a new one #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) February 1, 2021

Research shows that customers judge brands based on the experience they provide, not just the quality of the products or services. And this experience continues well past when someone becomes a customer.

A1b: Your customers aren’t evaluating your company just on the quality of your products and services. @ServiceCloud research shows customers are measuring you based on all aspects of their experience with your organization. Ignoring them post-sale is a big mistake. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

Some great data here: https://t.co/G1SclrP1Ix #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

See also: https://t.co/qwqpGDia9t

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

Disclosure: I’ve been working with this data a lot recently, as part of a project I’ve been doing with an agency that is working with Salesforce. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

By focusing on your existing customer needs, your team can better serve your audiences and refine your content strategy.

A1: The why is simple –

1. It’s easier & more cost-effective to retain a customer.

2. It forces you to continue to define and refine your content to ensure you’re creating value, and thus referrals. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

A1 Knowing why clients aren’t returning can lead to finding and fixing potentially major issues with your business that were being overlooked
Is the client turnover rate due to an underlying problem, or were your services THAT good?
-Alyx #contentchat https://t.co/as9ejfrFAZ

— Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) February 1, 2021

Over time, happy customers are more likely to spend more with your brand or purchase products of a higher value.

A1: I’d also add that aside from saving $$, retained customers are more likely to spend more or purchase products of higher value. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 1, 2021

And customer retention strategies can bolster your reputation and build trust with your communities.

A1. Customer retention helps you build
👉 reputation
👉hence credibility
👉hence repeat business
👉and hence more revenue #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) February 1, 2021

Q2: What are the common types of content that are beneficial for existing customers of a company?

Some content types for customer retention include email newsletters with a mix of third-party and proprietary content (remember, the goal is to provide value, not sell your services)…

A2a: Customer email newsletters that have a healthy mix of third-party and proprietary content curated to their interests are a core element of a good customer content program. https://t.co/N8eGW0DGgL

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

On the B2C front, I love how @ContainerStore shares customer projects. They are so inspiring! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

Resources that show tips/tricks about a recent purchase, including how-to videos, FAQs, email walkthroughs, and more…

A2: I think there’s also a lot of opportunity for creating content (blogs, videos or webinars) that show customers how to get the most *value* out of their purchase. Show them hidden tips/tricks that they may not know about! #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 1, 2021

A2: I like “how-to” content for current customers, particularly content that shows how to get the most out of what they’ve purchased. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

I find this particularly useful for software products. As an example, I know I’ve never fully utilized all the features of any marketing automation software I’ve purchased… ever. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

A2: Existing customers may consume all sorts of content from a company. Generally instructional, best practice, or feature enhancement descriptions are a good start, but anything that builds the relationship between the org and the customer can be compelling. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) February 1, 2021

Long-form content types like white papers, ebooks, reports, or thought leadership content…

A2. Existing customers are down funnel, hence need long form content. This could be white papers, ebooks, reports, opinion pieces, thought leadership content and more #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) February 1, 2021

Product roadmaps…

A2: Roadmap content is also good for current customers – your next feature release may be the thing that keeps them around. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

Customer blog posts that discuss how to overcome business challenges…

A2b: I also like meaty customer blog posts that show how they’ve overcome business challenges, such as the ones the Slack team publishes on their blog. A unique use case can fundamentally change how you work. #ContentChat

(disclosure: I wrote a number of those for Slack)

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

And follow-up content that thanks customers and asks how you can better serve them.

A2 Follow up content –
Thank you for purchasing out product!
How’s it working?
What’s next?
Are there other things we can do to help?
Follow-up surveys
Maintenance/update info

-Alyx #contentchat https://t.co/KhER5itbMq

— Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) February 1, 2021

Some companies host standing webinar times for new or existing customers to learn and ask questions, which is a valuable place to generate content ideas.

A2: This depends on your industry and your product, but I’ve always appreciated video tutorials/guides or actual in-person walk-throughs. Some companies also have standing webinar times for new/existing customers to learn and ask questions. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 1, 2021

Q3: What internal data sources should you use to inform your customer retention content marketing strategy?

Customer emails: What questions do customers ask most often? What content can you create to help them address these issues?

A3a: I have to channel my inner @crestodina and say it all starts with your and your customer success teams’ inboxes. What are the questions you get most often from your customers? Where are they encountering hiccups? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

Google Analytics: What topics are people searching for on your site?

A3b: Another valuable resource is your google analytics reporting for things people searched for on your site. What topics are people expecting to find that you haven’t covered yet? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

AnswerThePublic: What are people searching for in relation to your brand or key product areas?

A3c: You can also go to @answerthepublic and search for your brand or your key product area and see what people are searching for. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

Surveys: How do your customers feel about your product and services? Consider creating a regular survey cadence for ongoing feedback.

A3: If you offer surveys after a purchase, project close or after a customer leaves, make sure you dig into that data. If you don’t offer surveys, maybe consider creating one. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 1, 2021

Front-line workers (sales, marketing, product): What questions or challenges do we anticipate, and how can we address those ahead of time?

Often your front line is going to be able to anticipate content that might be valuable to customers that isn’t something they’ve been asked about yet. When your content strategy incorporates anticipating customer needs then you’ve reached the next level. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) February 1, 2021

Your CRM and ticketing system provide a wealth of knowledge.

A3: Your CRM is crucial to this. Also, if you have a customer service ticketing system, look at the common issues and read the notes. Also, for B2B customers, you should be looking at the content of your periodic business reviews. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

Q4: In what ways can brands ask customers about the types of content that would be most valuable to them?

The best way to learn what type of content your customers want is to ask them directly. Polls, surveys, and focus groups can all uncover new content ideas.

1. Ask them directly.
2. Polls
3. Surveys
4. Social listening
5. Focus groups…
6. All the other stuff we talked about in the “internal data” Q3. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

There were some real insights we got out of a focus group we did recently and very contradictory to what we had assumed before. #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) February 1, 2021

A4 I’ve found that your audience will respond best if you reach out directly and ask what they want to see from you
Surveys, chats, polls, etc. are all great methods
-Alyx #contentchat https://t.co/dOnQgTyodW

— Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) February 1, 2021

Ask questions in your content to gauge whether the piece met the reader’s needs.

A4: I like to take a just-in-time approach. Add in questions to your content, or have a rating system where you serve up content and ask directly if the content was what they were looking for and if not, what could be done to improve it or better meet their needs? #ContentChat https://t.co/vEyKrMhOur

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

In one of our email programs, we asked the question on a gated content- Why are you looking for this content- A) Personal, B) ongoing project, c) research for potential project etc. and the insights helped big time to serve the next piece of content. #Contentchat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) February 1, 2021

Content team members should join customer service calls or quarterly business reviews to better understand customer needs and the overarching business factors that can contribute to your team’s success.

A4b: Your content team should at least be offered the opportunity to listen in on Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs). If your customer teams aren’t having QBRs, they’re missing out on client penetration and customer service opportunities. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

A4 I’ve never tried this myself, but it might be a good closer to work into customer service calls. Showing customers you are interested in what they think and then be sure to f/u if content of that type gets published. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) February 1, 2021

Yes! this is something that could be alternated with customer satisfaction score questions. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

Q5: How do companies get started with content marketing for customer retention? What initial steps should they take?

Get started with content marketing for customer retention by asking your customers to opt-in for content emails at the time of purchase.

A5a: Start by asking them to opt-in to your content emails at the time of purchase. Too often, companies just assume that because you’ve provided an email address with a purchase, that they are welcome in your inbox—that’s not always the case! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

Next, let the customer customize their content delivery, including the cadence of communication and types of topics or content types they prefer.

A5b: Once you’ve gotten permission, let the customer give input that helps them tailor the content experience they receive. Some people like emails with daily deals, while others want a fortnight email newsletter. Let the customer set the pace of engagement. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

A5 Work on that relationship building w/ your customers
Follow-up emails/calls/surveys, have them sign onto your email list as part of the on-boarding process, have them tell you how often and what kind of content they want to see
-Alyx #contentchat https://t.co/Y8qkqWmo52

— Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) February 1, 2021

Document the various customer content nurturing paths, and refine these as more customers interact with your content and opt in or out of your communications.

A5c: Create a few different customer content nurturing paths, based on your different customer personas and their unique needs. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

Ask customers about their needs through a survey or quick phone call. Don’t view this as a simple transaction—get to know the customer, their needs, and establish more of a personal connection if possible.

A5: Depending on your product and team size, figure out a way to learn more about your new customers + their needs. Send a survey or schedule a quick phone call. Don’t be afraid to ask a few fun questions to get to know them more and build a relationship. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 1, 2021

And no matter what: when customers leave, seek to understand why.

A5a Bringing people back into the fold I think is one of the more challenging buckets to attack because they left you for a reason. If you know why they left that can be a good starting point for reengagement. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) February 1, 2021

A5b Social listening can be a valuable tool for reengaging customers that you’ve lost if you can identify they are back in the market. You might not have been the worst optoin for them after all! 🙂 #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) February 1, 2021

Q6: How can brands co-create content with customers in a mutually beneficial way?

To build a relationship with customers, you need to give them ways to interact with your brand. Provide multiple channels and opportunities for customers to get in touch, including through social media pages, hashtags, private communities, standing meetings, and more.

A6: Let your customers know you’re interested in hearing from them and then give them multiple channels and opportunities to connect with them. Try to use a consistent hashtag, for instance, for customers to share. #ContentChat https://t.co/cNW3sEelco

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

As an aside: I hate it when I’ve shared some brand love and tagged a brand with my content and don’t even get a like because they are only monitoring that week’s campaign hashtag. Make it easy for customers to connect with you! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

Offer opportunities for your customers to participate in your events, webinars, or conferences.

A6. Also using customers on webinar panels or round tables could add considerable value for prospects to engage in! #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) February 1, 2021

Co-sponsor surveys or studies with your customers. Alternately, anonymized and aggregate your customer data for a report, but ask customers to share anecdotes or stories to add context to the data.

A6: Case studies and conference/seminar presentations are a good starting point. I also like when brands can team up to do in-depth surveys or studies.Then, they release the data together in a robust report. It can be tough to tackle those alone! #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 1, 2021

Oh, love the co-sponsored report, that’s a huge win for everyone. #ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

Partner on case studies to showcase the success you have achieved together.

A6: Case studies showcasing both a clients’ success and the product.

Another one I like to coordinate are co-speaking gigs.

Mutual guest blogs. #contentchat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

Build and maintain social media communities for customers to connect, share ideas, and form relationships.

A6: Creating communities on social media is an excellent way to partner with your customers, too. These can also have a wealth of content opportunities. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 1, 2021

And consider integrating user-generated content into your content marketing strategy.

A6 Providing content that can directly affect the following content – anything that asks deeper Qs about why and what they’re looking for
UGC – turn your clients into advocates
-Alyx #contentchat https://t.co/UD7dOkF2Yx

— Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) February 1, 2021

Q7: What mistakes do brands often make with their content marketing for customer retention?

Avoid these customer retention pitfalls with your content marketing. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments.

A7: Being too pushy on the up-sell without explaining the real value. Also, not segmenting audiences well enough. There are so many times where I’ve received an email from a company I do business with and I don’t understand how I got into that particular funnel! #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 1, 2021

“hi! you’ve had our paid product for 24 hours. here is everything you can’t do unless you upgrade to our 5x more expensive version”— I hate you now. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

A7: The biggest two that I see are…

1. not addressing any content marketing to retention

2. not asking the customer if they’re willing to receive content#ContentChat

— John Cloonan (@johncloonan) February 1, 2021

A7a: Raise your hand if you can think of more than one brand that has a very polished and put-together prospect content machine, and all their customer content is served up via customer service FAQs software wiki type tools. #ContentChat https://t.co/kTNK30Kr1u

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

A7b: Another big mistake is locking customer content away behind a lead form. You know who I am and what I’ve bought from you. Assign me a unique customer ID or use a smart content server so you can learn from my content consumption instead. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Expert (@SFerika) February 1, 2021

I’d add that it’s important to show your brand values through this content. It can help your customers connect with you on a deeper level, which certainly helps with retention. Don’t just focus on selling 24/7. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) February 1, 2021

A7 Generally, when I do see these types of projects, which isn’t often, the biggest mistake is the company that lost the customer not really understanding why or not showing any interest in the answer to that question. #ContentChat

— Derek Pillie 🎯 (@derekpillie) February 1, 2021

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