Are you making a mistake by focusing solely on new customers?
It's easy to get caught up in trying to acquire new customers. But columnist Rachel Lindteigen explains why your content marketing efforts need to address the needs of your current customers.
Most business owners are focused on acquiring new customers, and due to this, our content strategies often target new prospects. What about the customers we already have? Should they be part of the equation? Definitely.
A new customer is great — it’s an opportunity to expand your overall customer base, and hopefully, grow your revenue. However, your current customers probably drive a bigger portion of revenue than new ones.
Customer retention represents a big opportunity
Research shows the benefits of focusing on customer retention in addition to customer acquisition:
- Increasing retention rates by 5 percent can increase profits by up to 95 percent, according to a study published in the Harvard Business Review.
- Acquiring new customers is far more expensive than retaining an existing one.
- Customers who are highly engaged with a brand make 90 percent (PDF) more frequent purchases and spend 60 percent more for each transaction, Rosetta Consulting found.
Customer retention also allows you to budget more easily— you’ll have a better idea of what your income levels will be from quarter to quarter or year to year based on your customer retention rates.
Even with the obvious benefits of customer retention, a 2013 report found that 44 percent of companies admit to focusing more on acquiring new customers than retaining current ones, according to Econsultancy. Only 16 percent of companies focused more on retention.
You can easily see the opportunity for businesses when they focus on customer retention. But many wonder how to achieve retention, engagement or loyalty through content marketing. Honestly, it’s easy.
Content marketing should be about education, engagement and information. If you’re creating content that your customers want or need, you should be able to do the same for your loyal audience.
Which channels are the most effective for retention marketing? According to research by Gigaom (PDF), the breakdown is as follows:
- Email: 56 percent
- Social media: 37 percent
- Content: 32 percent
What does this mean for your content marketing program?
When you’re planning your content, do you have a persona that aligns with your current customers? You may have more than one persona for current customers. You want to be sure you’re creating content that will address their needs, too.
Don’t stop at the first conversion — a loyal customer can drive more revenue over time. As you plan your content calendar each month, make sure you’re including topics that address the needs of all of your buyer personas.
Content opportunities by channel
Email — Email presents the biggest opportunity for customer retention marketing, and that makes perfect sense. In most cases, you don’t have an email address unless someone shares it with you. (People buy lists, but we’re going to assume you got the email addresses from a customer, not a list seller.)
An email newsletter can be a great opportunity to connect with your current customer base and share information that’s relevant to them. If you have a new product or service, this is a great place to launch it, too.
Consider a welcome sequence for new email subscribers or a thank-you email that’s sent out immediately after a purchase. Maybe even send a customer-service-based email — answering most frequently asked questions or sharing instruction tips or providing a guide if it would make sense for your business.
Think about it from the point of view of your customer — if you had bought your product or service, what else would you want or need to know?
Social media — This is another great way to connect with your current customers. Many people who follow brands on social media do so to support businesses they like and want to connect with. They’re looking for inside information, special offers, behind-the-scenes content. By providing additional content that’s special to your followers, you can stay top of mind, and hopefully, be there to make a sale when they’re ready to buy again.
One of the most important reminders for social media is to be active in the conversation. If you’re going to have social media channels, provide valuable content, respond to your customers’ questions, and remember — it’s a two-way conversation. Social media should never be used as a one-way mass broadcast channel.
Ask questions, engage your audience, and let them feel that they’re part of something special.
Content marketing — In general, content marketing can work great for both new and current customers if you create content that addresses the needs of both audiences. New customers need to learn about your product or service and understand how your solution can serve their needs or solve their issue. A current customer already knows about your products or services because they’ve bought from you before.
Your current customers need to know that you’re there for them, to answer questions that may arise, provide great customer service, and take care of issues that may pop up after the initial sale. The great thing about this type of content is that it can help both new and current customers feel more confident buying from you.
By addressing the needs of your current customers, you’re helping prospective customers see that you’ll be there for them after the sale, too. And that’s big for a new customer. Many people are concerned about buying from a company and having an issue, and not being able to get the help they need.
Should your content marketing program include content for your current customers?
It’s highly likely that your business could benefit from an additional focus on customer retention and loyalty. If you’re not addressing your current customers in your content marketing efforts, it’s time to start.
Add a new customer persona to your targeted audience. If you don’t know for sure who your current customers are, dig into your analytics to determine a starting point. If you have a customer service or sales team, ask them what questions come up the most from your customers.
Addressing these items across your content channels will help you stay top of mind for your customers. Engage with them on an ongoing basis. Don’t just close the sale and move on to find the next new customer. Build a relationship through quality content that will help them.