The New Focus on Retention Marketing
Many brands pour money into attracting customers. But it’s just as important to put effort into keeping these customers.
In fact, these days, an increasing number of organizations are discovering it’s more important to focus their attention on retention marketing.
I see companies making this mistake time and time again. Incredible deals are offered to “new customers only” with no thought for those customers who have already committed their loyalty and their money.
This results in disgruntled customers who feel let down and ignored – and a good chance they’ll leave and go elsewhere.
As human beings and as marketers, it’s natural to want to focus on what’s new rather than what we’re already familiar with. But research shows that focusing your efforts on the customers you already have is a better long-term strategy that can generate a higher ROI.
- Research shows that existing customers are likely to have a significantly higher lifetime value than new customers.
- Content marketing can be used to connect with customers not only at the start of the funnel and at the buying decision stage but also post-purchase.
- Think about how to provide value for your existing customers with informational content as well as how to use them as a source of trustworthy content.
It can cost 5x more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, and increasing your customer retention rate by just 5% can result in a profit increase of over 25%.
Happy customers are also more likely to recommend your brand to others, bringing in new customers via word of mouth with no cost or effort on your part.
How Content Marketing Can Improve Your Customer Retention Rate
Many organizations see content marketing as a way to attract prospects at the very top of the marketing funnel – the awareness stage.
It’s true that publishing content can be a very effective way to grow awareness of your brand and attract more traffic to your website.
But if you’re only creating content for this end of the funnel, you’re missing out on the full potential of content marketing.
Many marketers go another step beyond this and create good content to meet the needs of prospects that are on the verge of making a buying decision. Informational content can be a great way to drive sales and conversions too.
But what about those customers who have just made a purchase and long-term customers who are between purchases? How do you interact with them, remind them that you exist, and keep them coming back for more?
Customers who engage with your content on a regular basis start to build a connection with your brand. This builds customer loyalty. It means they’re more likely to spend more too – when customers feel connected to a brand, over half will increase their spending with that brand, and over three-quarters will choose them over a competitor.
If you’re like most companies, your customer retention strategy probably involves email marketing and asking customers to follow you on social media. And social and email are certainly types of content marketing that can be very effective at improving your customer retention rate.
But it’s well worth thinking beyond the email newsletter and the Facebook post. Consider looking for other ways you can engage and delight your existing customers with your content.
How to Keep Your Customers with Content Marketing
Borussia Dortmund is a popular soccer team that plays in the German Bundesliga and despite a sub par 2014/2015 season, 54,907 of their 55,000 season ticket holders renewed for the next season.
Yes, you read that right, only 93 people out of 55,000 opted not to renew which amounts to a 99.83% renewal rate.
That is the type of customer retention and loyalty that every single company out there dreams of, so how did Borussia Dortmund achieve this?
I’d love to tell you it was all because of content marketing strategy, but honestly I don’t speak German so I have no idea what is going on, on their Twitter, Facebook or Instagram feeds, but what I can tell you is how we proved content marketing ROI with customer retention at NewsCred.
Clients that subscribe to the NewsCred blog:
- Have a renewal rate that is 41% higher than that of our overall client base
- Are 33% more likely to be upsold
- Pay 24% more in monthly recurring revenue than the average client
I regularly engage with prospects looking to implement a strong content marketing strategy and whenever I ask them how they are measuring the success of their content marketing efforts it always boils down to four things: thought leadership, demand generation, SEO, and brand awareness.
These four things are extremely important, but customer retention is also a powerful metric that content marketers can look to to prove the ROI of their efforts.
From a demand generation standpoint people are almost entirely focused on new lead acquisition, but according to a Bain and Co study, “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25-95%.”
It’s been said countless times by hundreds of marketing leaders that acquiring new customers can cost six to seven times more that maintaining your current clients, so while new lead acquisition is extremely important, retention is a powerful way of impacting your bottom line and proving the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts.
How many of your current clients engage with your blog? How many follow you on your various social channels or regularly await your newsletter each week? Whatever that number is, write it down and focus on growing it.
At NewsCred, one of our old partners, salespeople regularly share blog content with new clients during onboarding and encourage them to follow us on our various social channels because it allows us to be more than just a software platform to them.
The sales team will even ask prospects over the phone if we can sign them up for our newsletter. Through your content you can be the sherpa in their journey of launching or optimizing their content marketing strategy. If your sales team is in talks with them, a newsletter in their inbox a couple of times a week is a great reminder to stay in touch.
Focus on retaining customers with content specific to their industry and pain points, product updates, training, and special customer-centric events, webinars, and mailings. Content marketing should always be a way of making your brand useful to an end-user beyond what your product offers.
We regularly publish content around marketing best practices because our mission is to make prospects and clients better marketers and move the needle on good content marketing across the industry. Were not looking to simply provide you with a “system of record” marketing platform, we want to empower marketers to be better at their jobs and we do this primarily through the content.
If you look at a brand like Red Bull that is viewed as one of the kings of content, you’ll notice that they are a media company that just happens to sell an energy drink. I absolutely love the Red Bull brand and it’s because of their ability to consistently be useful to me when learning about new music artists. Great marketing is great storytelling and by putting a focus on telling your brand’s mission effectively you can build a symbiotic relationship with your clients.
The core idea of inbound marketing is to create a steady stream of valuable and relevant content that your audience really cares about. In doing this you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can eventually convert into paying customers, but there’s a massive role that this “steady stream of valuable content” can also play in customer retention. By reducing churn, creating brand advocates, and increasing up-sells you can vastly impact your company’s bottom line and further prove the positive impact of your content marketing efforts.
Ideas for Using Content to Improve the Long-term Customer Experience
So beyond sending out regular emails and posting content to your social media channels, how else can you use content marketing to engage your customers and build your long-term relationship together?
Offering content that explains how to use and get more value out of the products and services you provide is an excellent way to improve the experience for your existing customers.
For example, Ahrefs, which offers a suite of SEO tools for website owners and marketers, offers a 5-hour video course on using the tools to do keyword research, competitor analysis, link building, and SEO audits.
The information included in this free course is on par with content in premium SEO courses costing thousands of dollars.
Ahrefs shows that it values its existing customers by helping them to get as much out of their product as they possibly can – it’s not just a case of getting the sale and then leaving them to their own devices.
For an example of this strategy in the context of physical products, take a look at outdoor gear retailer REI’s Expert Advice library.
Covering everything from how to use a compass to how to clean a tent, REI’s content is just as effective at engaging its existing customers as it is at attracting new ones.
Celebrate Your Customer Success Stories
One of the most effective ways of building a strong relationship with your existing customers (particularly in B2B marketing) is to actually involve them in your content production process.
Sharing customer case studies and success stories is a win-win for everyone. You get to demonstrate how great your products and services are, your customers get more exposure for their business, and new potential customers get a sneak peek into what they can expect when they choose to buy your product or work with your company.
Using your customers to source content ideas and inspiration is also a very cost-effective form of content production. In many cases, for this kind of content you don’t even need to hire a writer – you can simply interview your clients or customers and publish the interview as a written article, podcast, or video.
Working in this way often results in more engaging and authentic content. It also makes these content contributors feel more connected and loyal to your brand.
Asking your customers to be “brand ambassadors” and share photographs of themselves using your product on social media is another effective way to harness the power of user-generated content. This type of strategy can be so effective that many brands pay their brand ambassadors five-figure sums to promote their products and services.
Create Problem-Solving Content for Your Customers
In many ways, it’s easier to know what kind of content to create for your existing customers. This is because you already know them. If these people have made at least one purchase from you before, you already have some information about them.
This is in contrast to your audience of potential new customers who, in reality, you know absolutely nothing about. You can make an informed guess about the information they’re looking for, but the only way you can really know how to solve someone’s problem is to ask them.
So get in touch with your customers. Email them or quiz them via social media. Ask them about what challenges they’re facing and what sort of help they need to overcome these challenges. Then create content that addresses this need.
Digital marketing intelligence tool SEMrush (competitor of Ahrefs that we mentioned above) has perfected this process with their consistent series of webinars. Recently I was part of their “5 Hours of Content Marketing” webinar which addressed the pain points and questions of their core audience as well as biggest customers.
This kind of content succeeds in two ways. First of all, your customers will feel more loyal to you and are more likely to come back and consume more of your content if you’re actually helping them. Secondly, simply asking them what kind of content will help them shows that you’re listening and care about their needs.
Use Your CRM to Create Personalized Content
In 2020 and beyond, consumers are expecting more personalized experiences. Personalizing content makes it more relevant to your audience and therefore provides a better experience.
While personalizing content for new audiences has its challenges, it’s much easier to achieve personalization in content targeted at your existing customers.
This is because you already have a significant amount of data about them in your CRM. At the very least, this includes their name and address. But if you’re savvy about data collection and train your sales and customer service team to collect data at every opportunity, you can collect a wealth of useful information that can be used to personalize content at a later date.
On a very basic level, you can suggest relevant content to individual customers based on their purchases and interactions. But you can also develop smart content that changes dynamically based on data from your CRM to create a more personal experience.
Produce Content that Reinforces Your Shared Values
In a survey of over 7,000 consumers across the US, UK, and Australia, 64% of customers stated that “shared values” was the primary reason they stayed loyal to a brand.
These values probably helped to attract your customers to you in the first place – over 80% of millennial consumers say it’s important that brands they buy from have values that align with their own.
But if you’re not focusing on retention marketing and your values are hidden away on your website’s “about us” page, there’s a good chance that those customers will forget why they chose to shop with you in the first place. They may also be easily lured away by a competitor with a flashy marketing campaign.
Make sure your values are clear in every piece of content you produce. Look for content opportunities that will help you to put these values front and center in your marketing strategy.
For example, Starbucks underlines its values of inclusion, accountability, and courage with its “Stories” blog, which has recently published articles celebrating Latinx Heritage Month and stories of Starbucks partners with disabilities achieving success in their careers.
How to Ensure Your Customers See Your Content
There’s no point in dumping resources and budget into creating content for your existing customers if they never see it. So you need to make sure your retention marketing plan includes a strategy for content distribution and promotion.
Content promotion for existing customers is very different from the strategy you might follow for customer acquisition. You don’t reach your existing customers through SEO (although they might be more likely to click on your site if they recognize it in their search results). While you can have some success in ad retargeting, it usually doesn’t make sense to pay for clicks when you have a number of other ways of reaching your customers.
So how exactly do you make sure your customers see the content you produce? Knowing where they are is the first step. When you acquire a new customer, make sure you collect data on how they prefer to be contacted and the social media platforms they’re most active on.
Your mailing list is one of the most obvious ways to get content in front of your customers’ eyes. The content within your emails is valuable in its own right of course, but make sure you’re also sending your readers back to content on your blog and social media channels.
Creating multiple types of content to suit different audiences can ensure that you have the best chance of reaching all your customers. Some might prefer to read blog posts, while others will sign up to your YouTube channel or subscribe to your podcast. Make sure to cross-promote content on different channels to maximize your views.
Remember, the best incentive to tempt customers to keep coming back to your blog is simply to produce high-quality valuable content on a regular basis.
Plan Your Retention Marketing Strategy Today
Content is just one part of a successful retention marketing strategy, but it’s certainly an important part.
If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.
Set up a quick consultation and I’ll share with you my process on how we get traffic and leads for everyone from local real estate agents to tech startups to enterprise behemoths.