Inbound marketing, content marketing, or digital marketing, it really doesn’t matter what you call it, we’re all doing marketing; and some of us are trying to drive traffic to our site with such a laser focus that we forget to look around to see what else is going on.
What’s happening with those MQLs that you handed over to the sales team? Where are those trial customers and what is their experience with your product or service? How is your customer experiencing your product or service over time? You’re probably going to tell me that knowing all that is not your job, right? You did your bit, and now it’s time for someone else to pick up the ball and run with it.
Hold on and consider this, how much easier is it to impact the bottom line with someone who already wants your product than with someone who is still not sure? It’s commonly accepted that it takes 5 times as many resources to acquire new customers than to retain the ones you already have. So, now let’s consider turning some of our focus toward avoiding customer churn and completing the journey from lead to customer. You already have the content marketing super powers; you just have to use them in another way.
From Inbound to Inner-bound
Typically, we measure our content marketing success with metrics like increased traffic numbers, reduced bounce rates, increased conversions, and improved channel performance as a result of our outbound efforts. While those metrics are very good at measuring how well we’re engaging new audiences, they don’t give us a lot of insight into how well we’re serving the audiences we already have.
You can use many of the same metrics you’re already using, just focus on different aspects to determine how well you’re providing customers with a positive experience. To begin, you’ll want to include things like reduced churn rates and higher instances of upsell and cross-sell as KPIs for your content marketing initiatives and set measurement parameters to know what content is engaging customers and what isn’t.
Customer engagement metrics may include:
- Specific landing page engagement
- Increased traffic
- Lower bounce rate
- Longer dwell time
- Search data
- Top product-related terms
- Top non-product related terms
- Customer email opens and clicks
- Educational material engagement and downloads
- Social media likes/follows/retweets
- Customer subscription data
- Blog subscriptions
- Email subscriptions
- Newsletter subscriptions
Be a mind reader – know what questions to answer
You’re already using keyword research to find the most common terms used in association with your brand. Expand your keyword discovery efforts to identify which words and search phrases are used when asking product or service-specific questions. These might be the words and topics your prospective customers or current customers are using when looking for answers to questions associated with using your product or service.
Keyword discovery will help you understand what questions you need to answer to help prospects complete the journey from lead to customer or retain customers still experiencing challenges. From here, create a list of keywords and topics to address with additional content.
In addition to using keyword discovery tools, look to customer service and customer success teams for the most frequent questions and challenges your current customers face. Use your content marketing super powers to produce engaging, interesting, and educational materials to answer those questions.
Dedicate content hubs to your customers
Instead of throwing your customer support content in with the rest of the content on your website, create discrete sections of your website dedicated to your existing customers. Develop content hubs for customer training and customer support with a wide variety of mediums, including:
- Slide decks
- White papers
Consider each phase of the customer journey once they’ve bought your product or service. The new customer will most likely have different needs than someone who has been a customer for a couple of years. When you design your customer content hub, create visual cues to lead users to the content best suited for their needs based on their current phase in the journey. Provide materials for a variety of purposes including:
- Improved onboarding success
- Feature best practices
- Industry thought leadership
- Case studies for improved results
- New feature tutorials
Track engagement on product feature pages, help center content, and FAQs to measure engagement with existing content and inform future content decisions. Use keyword tracking to make sure your content is updated to use the language your customers currently use to describe their challenges.
Establish a dialogue with customers
Keep the lines of communication open by being both responsive and proactive in your customer communications. If it’s not already in place, set up a workflow to manage both outgoing and incoming customer emails.
Email is still one of the most effective marketing communication methods. You’re already using it with your prospects; now use it sparingly with your customers. You don’t want to start spamming your customers with a lot of unnecessary emails, but you will want to keep them informed. Make sure your customers don’t find out about new product features or company news from someone else. Keep them in the loop by crafting emails to be delivered at the same time as press releases and other announcements.
You might also consider delivering personalized emails to customers based on product usage. Knowing how and when your customers are using your product or service will help you set up a flow of emails to keep them engaged with your brand and using your product to get the results they were seeking when they first bought your product or service.
Create an internal workflow to facilitate customer success
Ideally, your brand will already have an established workflow and possibly a content center of excellence to insure that all messaging at all stages of the buyer and customer journey are aligned. This kind of alignment also creates an atmosphere where cooperation and collaboration between sales, marketing, customer service, and tech support can participate in an easy flow of ideas and content creation.
One of the greatest strategies of a customer success program is listening. Create a message board or other system for recording and sharing customer questions and concerns. You’ll want to know how customers are talking to sales teams, customer service representatives, and tech support and how they’re talking to each other and the community on social media. The topics of these questions can be compared against keyword discovery and content insights to determine where you might have holes in content assets or places where providing support might result in more upselling or cross-selling opportunities.
Beyond selling more product or services, use content marketing to communicate value and trust to new and existing customers. Use thought leadership pieces to identify new industry trends and challenges that your product or service can solve. Establish a dialogue with customers that leads to nurturing brand evangelists who will help tell your story and create trust for your brand.
Use search and social insights for customer retention
Once you’ve established a content hub for customer-facing content, you can start measuring the effectiveness of that content in a couple of ways. First, track visits and interactions with customer content to understand how much your customers are sharing or engaging in specific content and to determine which content is most valuable to them. Secondly, create keyword and content groups around customer topics and subjects to track overall engagement and keep all your data in one place.
Use content insights to track evergreen content and to point you toward content that isn’t performing well and may need to be updated. Keyword tracking and keyword discovery will help you to continue to speak the language of your customers to keep content fresh and engaging.
Keep track of customer content separate from other campaigns by creating keyword and content groups for the content you’ve developed specifically for customer support and customer success. Track the landing pages and any interactions within a single group to determine the success of your customer-facing campaign.
Besides keeping tabs on how well your customers are engaging with your content, keep an eye on competitors and see how they’re addressing the same issues and questions. Use competitor discovery to find other sources where your customers may be going to get their questions answered. You’ll want to make sure your customers aren’t getting their answers from your competitors or when it’s time to renew their contract, you may experience the pain of customer churn.
You’ll also want to keep track of your customers on social media. How are they talking about problems and solutions in your industry? What questions are they asking? Keeping tabs on current customer pain points will help you address them with the customer as well as inform future product roadmap decisions.
If you’re already using content marketing to attract, engage, and convert new clients, use those same methods and mediums for customer retention. Track your customer’s content consumption to identify and respond to their current interests and needs and identify future needs. Your content marketing campaign to retain customers will not only provide them with useful information, but it helps build relationships to keep your brand top of mind.