Increase Customer Retention with Relevant Ideas and Education

Use educational content marketing to increase customer retention.

Both buyers and sellers have a stake in customer retention.

Buyers invested time and energy when they decided to solve their problem, select you, and become your customer.

They aren’t interested in a transaction. They want a relationship that will continue to deliver value.

And you have a stake too. You’ve invested resources to acquire this customer. It costs much less to keep a current customer than to find and win a new one.

So who in your organization is going to make sure this relationship grows and prospers?

Of course, Customer Support and Account Managers have major roles. But they are expensive resources that should only be used where the customer requires high-touch contact with you.

Content Marketing is a low cost, low-touch way to improve customer retention

Ardath Albee writes in her Marketing Interactions blog that B2B content for customer retention also plays an important role in B2B customer retention.

What does she recommend?

First, recognize that customers have different needs than prospective buyers.

  1. The status quo is different — They are customers, not prospects.
  2. Your customers want a relationship with you — The want to reap more value from your product and achieve their business objectives.
  3. They have higher expectations — Your customers chose you over your competition. Their expectations are high. Don’t let them down and give your competitors an opportunity to steal them away.

Second, think about this stage of the relationship as a continuation of the buyer’s journey. Your customers have completed the initial “Make Decision” phase and have moved on to “Implement and Integrate” and then to “Extend and Expand.”

The buyer's journey continues beyond the first purchase.

Albee describes these later stages this way:

  • Use and Rely Upon: Help customers get full value from their purchase as they address deployment, integration, and organizational change management.
  • Gain More Value: Once your solution is well-established, give them new ideas and education about how to extend their use. Use case studies to tell stories about what other customers have done.
  • Renewal or Expansion: Give them confidence in your solution roadmap and your company’s commitment to their future.

It doesn’t matter so much what you call the stages. The main thing is to understand your buyers’ needs at these stages and then deliver the content that will create value for them.

Measure the results of Content Marketing for customer retention

Which leads to the question: What should you measure to know what content is working and what is not?

Once again, look at your buyers. What are the problems they need to solve with your solution? What education are they looking for? What ideas will help them to see ways to extend their use of your solution?

Then think about each of these areas as a “stage” in their journey. Group your content accordingly. Develop content that will help buyers move through that stage.

Now measure the activity with this content using the same marketing framework you used for buyers that are not yet your customers:

  • Acquisition: Where did they come from?
  • Behavior: What do they look at?
  • Outcomes: What action do they take?

For each buying stage, measure acquisition, behavior, and outcomes.

Let’s say you decide to write a series of articles on change management that customers use to deploy your solution. The series includes education about the practice of change management, specific how-to articles, and case studies of customers.

Try these metrics for measuring acquisition, behavior, and outcomes

Some of your measurements might include:

Acquisition
  • Are they finding these articles from links on the site? Which ones bring in the most visitors?
  • What about site search? What terms are they using? Are those the terms you use in the articles?
  • How many arrive from outside your site? Is it mostly from search engines? What terms are they searching on?
  • Or are they coming from social media sites or specific industry influencers?
Behavior
  • Which articles are most read (frequency)?
  • Which ones do visitors spend the most time on?
  • When was the last time someone read the article (recency)?
  • Do they get all the way through the articles? You can use Justin Cutroni’s advanced content tracking with Google Analytics (Part 1 and Part 2) to find out.
Outcomes
  • Where do they go next? Other regions of your site? Or do they leave?
  • Should you deploy a simple questionnaire? One that simply asks “What did you come here to do? Did you accomplish your goal?”
  • Are you successful at encouraging people to a subscription that will periodically send them more information like this?

There’s a strong case to be made for using content marketing for customer retention. It will help your customers get full use from your solution and educate them about how to extend their investment. It will not only lower the cost of Customer Support and Account Management by reducing their workload, it will make these customer-facing functions more productive at keeping and building customer relationships.

Effective measurement will let you refine your content, making it easier for customers to extend their relationship. And building a wall around them that your competitors cannot surmount.

Photo Credit: David Jakes