There’s a well-known fact in business that no matter what shape or size an organization may be, it will always be more expensive to land a new customer than to keep hold of an existing one. In fact, some studies have estimated the cost of generating a new client is anywhere from three to over 30 times higher, proving what a huge deal a solid retention strategy can be.
In today’s digital world where competition is fierce and can potentially come from anywhere in the world, B2Bs just cannot afford to lose track of their retention levels and ways to improve them. This is where content marketing comes in.
Whilst the popularity of content marketing for generating leads and bringing in new clients has soared, it can often be overlooked further down the pipeline. However, it’s important to keep the flow of content going long after a sale has been made.
Using content marketing for the purpose of retaining customers should also never be seen as an isolated activity. It needs to be a continuous strategy that will provide clients with valuable content to keep them engaged and loyal.
In the end, it all comes down to deepening the trust that you have built throughout the sales process. There’ll always be somebody waiting to fill your shoes and take your customers for their own order book, so what can you do to prevent that from happening?
The 3 keys to success
- Have an excellent product/service
- Provide great customer service
- Offer an amazing customer experience
Getting these things right can be easier said than done, but that shouldn’t stop you aiming for excellence. In the end, you’re the one who will benefit. Not only because it is easier to up-sell and cross-sell to an existing client, but also because you’ll secure the strongest form of marketing there is – word of mouth.
If you create an amazing customer experience your clients will be happy, making them more likely to stay with you and become brand ambassadors. Having others spread the word and talk positively about you is really the holy grail of marketing.
We’ve previously given you some general ideas for how to retain customers but here we’re going to focus on content marketing and how it can help you.
Before the sale
In order to retain clients for longer, you need to start working at it long before they’ve even bought from you. Any questions you can clear up before a purchase is made will help make service and delivery far easier. For this purpose, think about producing content that is broad and helpful, such as FAQs. Include all of the questions that prospects and new customers are genuinely asking, along with the most common objections your sales team hears.
For bigger objections, create content that can help address and dispel them straight away. For example, if prospects frequently say “but I’d rather go with the plastic version than the metal one” then address the topic head on in a blog post, or offer it as a pdf to download.
This is the kind of content that will not only help your sales team close sooner (because it educates the client) but will also create trust, which is crucial for ongoing business relations.
During fulfilment & delivery
When you’re busy providing a client with the service or product they have purchased, you should have one primary goal: to make them happy they chose to go with you.
Content can support your customer services team by providing them with materials and information for onboarding new clients. Depending on the nature of your business, you may wish to dedicate a longer or shorter amount of time to this phase. Either way, a lot of education is usually necessary and having the right type of content to hand will help greatly. Don’t just limit yourself to blogs and downloads, think about offering videos, webinars, call-ins, user groups, etc.
Any content you produce that is based around product information should always be made available in multiple formats, so clients can choose how they access it and go with the way that suits them best.
If you are providing an ongoing service, then one important piece of content to have is ‘How we best work together’, or something similar. This content should explain in detail what you need from them and what they can expect from you, including how you are going to communicate with each other and how the project will be managed. This content will also have uses before a sale is closed, as it ensures everyone understands what will be involved.
Other helpful pieces of content to consider at this stage would be product guides and a who’s-who of your company.
If you are a software company like we are here at Lead Forensics, then the onboarding process is going to be crucial. We’ve got a great team in place who look after new clients and help them get everything set up right to ensure they are using the software to its full potential.
Another option to consider is introducing your own educational library. This is something we have started building ourselves and all our customers have access to it automatically. It contains a lot more information than just how to use our software. There is content we hope will help our customers in building their businesses and growing. It goes far beyond simple product descriptions and is something you could look into for your industry.
Once the honeymoon is over
Once the sale is complete, the service is up and running and the period of onboarding is over, the aim of your content should change again. At this point, you should aim to provide content that either keeps customers entertained, or makes their lives easier. It should help you stay top of mind and establish you as a great service provider who offers ongoing added value.
It’s important to factor in the customer’s history here. With the right handling, even an unhappy customer can be turned into a fan, so you should aim to create a special nurturing workflow just for these types of customers. No matter how strong your product or service may be, things can still go wrong and complaints will happen. The best thing you can do is be pro-active with your content and use it to help educate and inform.
Depending on what they bought from you, continue delivering quality information. The key word here is relevance. If you cover a broad range of needs and have clients in many different industries, then it makes absolutely no sense to lump everyone together for a general customer newsletter. Sending out this kind of generic catchall mailer just won’t do anything for you.
Instead, continue to segment your customer list and create special nurturing workflows for each segment. This will lead to far higher engagement levels and also increase the chance of repeat sales. You probably segmented your customer list long before they ever bought from you, so check it now you know more about them and make sure your content marketing is tailored and will be of interest to them. Pinpoint what their individual needs are and ensure you’re catering to them.
Then follow these top tips to being super successful:
Top tips for success
Quality over quantity
The same principle applies whether you are trying to attract new leads, or want to retain existing customers – your content needs to be high quality so it stands out and is of value.
It’s about them, not you
Along with being high quality, remember your content needs to continue to be about them and not about you. Yes, they may be interested to know about your latest award but they’ll be even keener to be told about an impending regulation change that may affect them. Always put yourself in their shoes.
Steady wins the race
Send out regular communications. This can be hard to achieve, especially if you only have a small team and limited resources to play with. To make it happen, try putting reminders in your calendar and force yourself to take time out for this purpose on a regular basis. If time is a huge issue, then remember to go for quality over quantity. Make it worth your time and theirs.
Address the elephant in the room
If there’s an elephant in the room, then everyone will know about it. Don’t make the mistake of just ignoring it and hoping it will go away, as newsflash – it won’t! Instead, score points by addressing it head on and offering proactive solutions.
Storytelling shouldn’t stop when someone becomes a client. Continue using stories as they, in turn, will help your customer continue along their journey, this time moving from a client to a fan who will tell others good things about you.
Depending on the nature of your product or service and who your customers are, some form of user group or exchange could be beneficial. You could, for example, create a LinkedIn group. However, if you are running a group or forum of this nature, remember to keep it active and responsive. People expect open channels, whether you’re a B2B or B2C.
Create special nurturing content
Which other products and services that you have to offer would be useful to your customers? Or is it more about just holding on to them so they keep purchasing again and again? Think strategically about special sales funnels for your existing customers. You have already won their trust, now you need to work on deepening it and helping them find more of your services useful.
The most important factor for your success will be remembering that content marketing doesn’t stop when a sale is made. In some ways, that’s when the hard work really begins. Often the content you create for your customers can be modified and used in the sales funnel too, so make the most of everything you are producing. Mix and match the delivery formats you use and gage what works best and what doesn’t for particular clients.
With a clear focus on retention and providing added value through valuable, timely and helpful content, you’ll soon see your retention rates go up.