4 Steps To Use Content Marketing For Customer Retention

November 27, 2013 Mark Sherbin

Customer Retention

Are you running a comprehensive content marketing program? Or are you ignoring half the battle and missing out on one of content marketing’s biggest benefits?

Many of today’s best articles about content marketing zero in on lead generation and conversion. This is definitely one of the main benefits of strong content marketing — but there’s a whole other facet that can drive amazing results for your top line: customer retention.

Using your content hub for retention can help create a recurring stream of revenue (depending on your business model). It also helps create brand loyalists that contribute to referral sales through reviews, endorsements, and shared content.

How do you get started creating content for your customer base? Below is a high-level step-by-step explanation.

Step 1: Find out what current customers want to learn

Like all good marketing, your content must say something that your customers actually want to hear. It should also say something creative and unique.

Therefore, approach content focused on retention the same way you’d approach content for lead gen: find out what your customers want. Getting your hands on this information might require:

  • Interviews: Have customers you interact with on a regular basis? Interviewing customers one-on-one can give you great insight into what your customers want to know about your product and the market in general.
  • Surveys: Asking happy customers to perform a quick survey is a tried-and-true tactic in the marketer’s playbook. You won’t get everyone involved, but you’ll get some great feedback on what kind of content will perform well.
  • Focus groups: Get a bunch of customers (or other stakeholders) together in a room. Prompt them to interact around their responsibilities and needs. Take notes.
  • Independent research: Find forums, social networks, blogs, and other websites where your customers interact with each other or industry thought leaders. Find out what people are (and aren’t) talking about.

Step 2: Understand your content segmentations

Creating content for retention can get tricky, especially if you have an active content program for lead gen. The best way to attack this is to understand the different segmentations that make up your content marketing.

Here are three different segmentations around which you’ll need to build strong walls.

  • Audience: Which content makes the most sense for potential customers? Which content impacts current customers? Do customers work in different industries and are you creating industry-specific content? Create and organize your audience segmentations for a stronger handle on effective content distribution.
  • Product relevance: Most of your lead gen content is product-agnostic. With current customers, there may be a greater need for product-specific content. Segment product-specific and product-agnostic content where necessary.
  • Channel segmentation: Which channels make the most sense for your retention-focused content? For example, you may have a knowledge base and forums that are separate from continued industry learning but equally as important for retention. Or you may find customers engage with email content more often than they find your blog posts through Twitter.

Step 3: Get customers to opt-in where necessary

Sometimes, you need to prompt your customers to opt in for continued learning or risk alienating them. Forcing content on your customers can have the opposite effect if you end up annoying rather than helping.

This could be as simple as asking your customer to check a box “yes” or “no” for periodic emails while they’re in the process of buying from you. Consent is already built into your social channels, of course, because customers choose whether or not to follow you.

Step 4: Gather feedback to measure consumption and retention

Think you can create content, publish it, and move on to the next thing? Think again! You need to measure whether or not your retention content pushes the right buttons

Here, you’ll want to look at surface metrics around consumption. These might include:

  • Social sharing statistics
  • Whether visitors are bouncing or perusing other pieces of content
  • Opt-ins and opt-outs
  • Evaluating channels by finding out how visitors are finding articles
  • How often individual visitors return to content pages

You’ll also want to dig deeper to find out whether or not your content is actually impacting retention. These measurements might include:

  • Who is actually consuming content—non-customers or customers
  • Qualitative feedback from customers through surveys and direct channels
  • Whether or not customers interact in comments sections and forums
  • Tracking the entire customer journey from initial purchase through content consumption and final purchase or end of subscription

Sound off

How does your organization promote customer retention? What else do you think content marketers need to know? Share your tips with us in the comments.

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