Why you should have a content strategy for retention

Freddie Ossberg14/05/2018

Today’s consumers have high expectations of businesses. Your customers will only stay loyal if you create a content strategy that builds long-term relationships.

Content marketing initiatives usually focus on one of three objectives: acquiring leads, shortening the sales cycle or building trust with prospects. But what about once a lead has been acquired, or after a customer has made a purchase?

There is a serious imbalance in marketing. The overwhelming majority of budget is spent on lead nurturing and acquisition and almost none spent on customer engagement and loyalty. This means marketers are missing out on the huge potential of creating content for customers, simply because the case for spending on content for other purposes is so widely accepted.

The business case for investing in retention

High‐quality content marketing initiatives are big projects. But today’s customer has too many choices, both personally and professionally, not to be tempted elsewhere if they don’t feel engaged with their current brand of choice. Given that loyal customers spend 5 – 9 times more than first‐time buyers, neglecting this group is risky.

Clients that have bought from you can also provide valuable insights to help you shape your offering. So, maintaining a relationship could also help you adapt your approach to win more business in the future.

B2B marketers are practised at creating content that’s customised to different stages of the buying cycle – 60 per cent of a prospect’s purchase decision‐making happens before they even encounter a salesperson. In rushing to fill that gap, marketers have created much content for top‐of‐the‐funnel. But the conversion isn’t the end of a buyer’s journey.

Post‐conversion opportunities to generate revenue

With multiple opportunities for generating revenue post‐conversion, including upselling, cross‐selling and repurchasing, many marketers are missing out on creating content to support future revenue streams from existing customers.

After all, once a sale is complete, there’s no guarantee your customer will stick with your product or service next time around.

Creating content marketing campaigns to engage current customers does more than ensure you’re delivering helpful information on an ongoing basis. It also encourages active product use, loyalty, understanding and advocacy while keeping your brand front‐of‐mind – and that’s without even exploring cross‐ or upselling.

Improving your bottom line with loyalty campaigns

To boil it down to numbers: a CMO Council study found that cross‐sells and upsells directly correlate to years of loyalty in the insurance industry. Consultancy Bain & Company says a 5 per cent increase in retention rate increases customer lifetime value by up to 75 per cent. What’s more, McKinsey notes that as much as 20 per cent of a company’s profits can be generated from smart loyalty campaigns.

Customer insights drive business performance

In 2017, the IBM Institute for Business Value surveyed 10,738 C‐suites globally. It found that the most successful organisations are those that collect and analyse data to personalise and better develop services, meet their customers’ evolving needs and drive loyalty.

Digital and social media democratised the relationship between brands and consumers, opening channels of communication so brands can interact, listen and learn from their networks. But not all brands take advantage of this in the right ways.

According to IBM’s survey, outperforming businesses are 68 per cent more likely than underperforming ones to loop all customer insight and feedback into planning processes. But that doesn’t just happen overnight. You need to grow and develop relationships over time to earn your audience’s trust.

The best way to ensure this happens is to publish regular, useful and interesting content and media for your customers. Ultimately, customer insights add to your bottom line by helping your business outperform its competitors. So, harvesting those insights with smart content endeavours should be a priority.

Powering your business with brand advocacy

In the era of social proof, word‐of‐mouth is among the highest ranking reasons that people make a purchase.

Brand advocates are essentially the most effective marketers a business can have. The more your customers believe in your expertise, the better they can advocate for you. If you make them a part of your world – by listening to them, empowering them, educating them and inviting them to help – you will be able to grow a stable of brand advocates that delivers real ROI.

Yet, despite the extensive advice available on how to turn customers into advocates, almost none of it focuses on doing so with content marketing. Only Salesforce reminds its blog readers to do so, suggesting in a piece earlier this year that they “create helpful content and offer it at relevant times”.

B2B brands like Hubspot embody this practice well, creating entire libraries of useful content to help customers better‐understand their products and get the most out of them. But that’s really only the first step. While useful information certainly helps with advocacy, information that’s at the level of the marketplace itself stands out above the rest.

If your brand is promising more than just great products, it had better be delivering on that through great content to your customers.

Creating content that supports client retention

The business case for creating serious content for your existing customers is clear. But what kinds of content initiatives are appropriate? And what will add value and contribute to revenue, insight gathering and advocacy?

The answer falls into two buckets: useful information that is business or product specific and knowledge creation projects.

The first refers to any and all quality information that helps your customers make better use your products. But the second bucket is specifically information (expertly produced and beautifully designed) that provides people with new knowledge and positions your brand as a thought leader. Both are important for the customer – but there is already a wealth of information available on how to create the former.

Creating the latter kind of content is a more difficult endeavour. It requires reaching outside the domain of internal expertise and adopting key principles of publishing, media and the information industry itself. This kind of content can exist and grow across multiple touchpoints, engaging customers and their networks alike in the worlds of information and exploration you have created for them.

What does this look like? It looks like Adobe’s CMO.com, GE’s blog GE Reports or a handful of other impressive examples emerging from the B2B world.

Creating knowledge of the markets and sectors your customers operate in offers them enormous value – and builds your authority. On the back of that authority, the kinds of long‐term relationships that ultimately impact market share become possible. When they receive worthwhile information on ideas and questions of interest, customers are willing to invest more in the relationship they have with your brand. Ultimately, the business case is clear: content marketing shouldn’t stop when the deal is done.