Content marketing tends to be front and centre when companies talk about their strategies to boost lead generation and attract new prospects. But when the conversation turns to customer marketing — the activities you do to drive loyalty, advocacy and maximizing relationships — it may not be immediately apparent where content marketing fits in.
To some extent, it’s easy to understand why content marketing and customer marketing seem to have little to do with each other. After all, you don’t need white papers, ebooks, blog posts and infographics for people who have already signed up for your products and services. On the other hand, customer marketing is a vital part of retaining the 20 per cent of your installed base that probably drives 80 per cent of your revenue. Neglect them at your peril.
Part of the key difference between the content you create for customer marketing vs. leads and prospects is that it doesn’t need to be gated. In other words, they don’t need to fill out a form with their contact details to access an asset, because you already have that data. However you can still use Marketing Cloud to track their engagement with those assets and ensure that you’re delivering something of value to them — and ultimately to your company’s own future.
Even if you’re a small or medium-sized business without a dedicated customer marketing team, you can still create content that matches that of a much larger organization. It may also turn out to be some of the most enjoyable content you create.
Start with some of the ideas outlined below and brainstorm more with your team members:
Case studies are a hallmark of customer marketing, but they don’t always have to be hundreds of words long and require an in-depth phone conversation that takes up a lot of a client’s time. Think about the details you’re most likely to skim when you look at a comprehensive case study and encourage your customers to send them to you. Use e-mail, social media or whatever channel makes sense to drill down on the following:
What are the top three return on investment (ROI) stats you could offer from using our products?
What feature would you most likely recommend to a peer?
What’s the best quality about the product — speed, ease of use, flexibility, etc.?
You can feature these as simple graphics on your site or social channels, or you could tally up some of the most popular responses to have a more holistic look at what your customers are telling you. Put them into a deck and post it on SlideShare for greater visibility.
Are you too small to host your own user conference? No problem. The point of such gatherings is to outline your product roadmap, but also to showcase the best of your customer’s successes. You don’t always need a convention centre to do that.
Instead, look for inexpensive but engaging ways to let customers demonstrate how they’re using your products — and to let the community share feedback. Some examples:
Host a Twitter chat where they tell their story via prompts you offer them, sort of like a B2B version of Mad Libs
Have a webinar where customers can feature the best thing they’ve accomplished using your product, or show off how fast they can do something with it. Use polls to let others vote on their favourite demonstration.
Offer up a prize for those who contribute a one-paragraph “what I’ve learned” insight from their job (perhaps as they’ve used your product). Put the results into a long form blog post or deck that you share back with them.
Whatever route you take, make sure you put whatever resources you have to promote the visibility of those involved, the same way you’d be sure to feature their head shot, bio and other details if they were a keynote speaker at a user conference. This is all about turning customers into the stars of your show.
You know when you come across something that’s described as “By (Target Market), For (Target Market)?” It doesn’t matter what you put in those brackets — it’s immediately credible when you’re getting content from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.
Your customers are the ones who know the short-cuts, the workarounds and the “hidden knowledge” that only comes from getting your hands dirty with a particular product. Make them look like the experts they are by finding clever ways to leverage their proficiency. How about:
Building a quiz about your product, or an industry issue, based on questions your customers suggest
A cheat sheet on getting up to speed faster with your product based on experienced customers’ tips
An FAQ list of common troubleshooting solutions, based on answers your customers provide.
Bear in mind that, whether you try any or all of these things, customer marketing is as much about giving back as it is drawing more out of your customers besides money. You should also look for content opportunities that reflects the value of your relationship with them and the time you’ve spent with them.
At the end of each year, for instance, think about creating an ungated ebook that looks back on the highlights of the past 12 months, with milestones sprinkled with comments or stats from your case study library. Or maybe send customers a calendar marked with key events in their industry — and some of the opportunities they’ll have to connect with your firm on a daily basis.
As with any form of content marketing, this is all about being genuine in your effort to educate and show appreciation, relevant to their interests and needs and consistent in your approach.
Customer marketing can’t be relegated as something you’ll do when you reach a certain threshold of buyers. In fact, the earlier you start the quicker you’ll learn what kind of content makes sense for your customers — and perhaps that will lead to more advocates who refer you to their colleagues and peers.
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