If you have ever planned a wedding, welcomed a baby, or landed the job of your dreams, you may have experienced a letdown after the big event. People tend to fix their hopes on a specific goal and forget that the event is simply the beginning of a much longer journey. A wedding is a front door to a marriage, a baby requires 24/7 care, and that job of your dreams comes with a full docket of new responsibilities and goals to meet.
It’s not a surprise that we also find this pattern in business. Companies do the heavy lifting to acquire new customers, make the sale, ring the bell, and then may drop the ball on the honeymoon and the long-term relationship, aka the customer success after the sale. Nurturing the customer relationship after the sale is a big opportunity to boost revenue from future referrals and repeat purchases.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is familiar to marketers – the concept that a customer can contribute revenue for a business beyond the initial sale. We can easily see the promise; the challenge is making it real. A survey by Econsultancy showed that 76% of companies see CLV as an important concept, but only 42% could measure it accurately.
The good news is, improving the customer retention rate represents an opportunity to improve the bottom line that doesn’t rely on new sales. But how? Read on to learn more about using content marketing to turn new customers into valuable loyal advocates for your product or service.
Content Marketing’s Value in the Buyers’ Journey
Marketers clearly understand the value of customer journey mapping and content marketing in the awareness through decision phases of the buyer’s journey.
The Content Marketing Institute’s survey of marketers shows that the most effective formats for content by stage are:
Early-stage (awareness / interest) – blog posts and articles 73%
Middle stage (consideration / intent) – white papers 53%
Late-stage (evaluation / purchase) – case studies at 40%
But what after the purchase?
Why Devote Marketing Resources to Existing Clients?
There is a lot of pressure on high-growth companies to increase sales. Understandably, they may overlook customer retention strategies.
To support the case for customer retention initiatives, McKinsey used their database tracking key metrics across nearly 200 growth-stage SaaS businesses to perform an analysis that shows a focus on customer success is critical to decrease customer churn and improve top-quartile growth.
McKinsey’s study points out that retaining top customers is also critical to revenue growth. As the report states, “Once you have invested the time and money to acquire a new customer, you lose out on the full revenue potential of that customer if they leave, or churn, earlier than desired.”
Statistics from Invesp echo this finding across industries:
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, vs. 5-20% for new prospects.
- Current customers are 50% more likely to try new products, compared to new customers.
- Increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.
Clearly, a customer retention strategy can be a powerful source of untapped revenue. Companies need differentiated content for existing customers with a tone that reflects a more familiar relationship. Staying in touch with helpful, relevant content after the sale shows empathy, too, an essential ingredient to building trust.
Three common goals to start with a customer retention strategy are customer first impression, referrals, and converting buyers into loyal fans, advocates, and brand evangelists over time.
Customer Retention Step One – First Impressions Matter
Can you imagine how someone who just got married would feel if their partner ghosted them on their honeymoon? That is how a customer feels if a company drops the ball on communication after the sale.
Start by meeting your buyer where they are on their journey with you. They have just purchased a product or service. They need guidance and reassurance to ensure that they have the best experience possible in these early moments.
The first few days and weeks after a sale are a critical opportunity to strengthen customer relationships. It’s not easy to repair the damage if things don’t go well. American Express found that 33% of customers will consider taking their business elsewhere after one bad customer service experience.
Here are some suggestions for a happy honeymoon phase with new customers:
- Say thank you several times and in unexpected ways. Examples include a pop-up thank you page immediately after purchase, sending a coupon, company swag, virtual greeting cards, or highlighting a customer on social media.
- Create straightforward, accessible onboarding and training materials written with the ideal user in mind.
- Create a content series for new customers on how to get the most out of their new purchases.
- Include QR codes or product information links on receipts.
- Create a detailed, well-organized FAQ for new customers.
- Create “quick start” videos, webinars, or email series.
- Share other customers’ stories about using your product or services.
Once you have made sure your new customer is satisfied, it’s time to introduce the idea of asking them for referrals.
Customer Retention Strategy Step Two – Generate Referrals
As you continue to support customers after their purchase, make it easy for them to tell family, friends, and the world about how happy they are with their decision.
Design a simple program to reward existing customers for referrals. Make it easy for customers to use the referral program. If appropriate, provide sample copy for emails, referrals, testimonials, and social posts. Can you make them feel exclusive with “partner only” referral incentives?
Another key to generating referrals is to create shareable content. Enliven customer success stories (case studies) with storytelling techniques. Share them with your email list and include a referral bonus offer.
Create entertaining guides or videos for referral partners or affiliates to share with family or friends. Using humor and behind-the-scenes stories are two ways to create highly shareable content.
Even if every happy customer doesn’t turn into a referral source, it is still important to nurture the relationship to encourage future purchases.
Customer Retention Strategy Step Three – From Buyer to Loyal Customer
Now we are moving into building a long-term relationship. In this phase, you have the opportunity to deepen your brand’s story. This is content that highlights shared values you have with your customers. This content will also build trust with prospects, as they see you maintain a consistent connection after the sale.
The content should have a consistent brand voice and create emotional engagement. The undertone of the storyline is that the customer is the hero, and your product or service supports them. Airbnb’s ads and social media campaigns are examples of compelling brand story content.
To get started converting buyers into loyal customers, collect data from your current customers. Create a client interview series to gain more insights and collect testimonials, too. Survey your existing customers regularly for new insights.
Using insights from customer data and surveys, create a blog and email nurture series about topics that matter to them. By this point in the customer journey, you “know” each other. The tone of these posts is warm and authentic, not promotional or salesy.
Retention topic content ideas include:
- Keep them updated on new product developments that matter to them.
- Anticipate what they will need next and create offers.
- Stories of long-time customers’ experiences.
- Educational content mini-series.
- Behind the scenes content from the founders or team members.
- Details about company “give-back” projects for charity or community.
Consistency Is Key for Retention
Tracking customers from initial contact to purchase to retention is a complex process. At the same time, just like in any relationship, consistency is the key to a good relationship. Marketers can leverage marketing automation for customer retention to manage the complexity.
Automation tools like CRM and email marketing software help companies create a closed-loop system that tracks individual customer interactions with content. Marketers can set up triggers to automatically send specific content series based on how customers interact with emails, social posts, landing pages, and other content.
Moving Ahead With a Customer Retention Strategy
When you look at the complexity and steps involved, it’s understandable why some companies don’t have a strategy in place to increase client retention rates, even though they know it’s important.
Many of the clients we work with just don’t have time to keep up with a basic weekly publishing schedule, let alone create different content threads for a customer retention strategy.
Are you ready to take your customers from the honeymoon phase to the golden anniversary and beyond? If you would like some help with a content strategy to help to improve your gross revenue outside of new sales activity, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.