Hello Mr. Customer; It’s Me…Your Vendor

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According to research by BtoB Magazine, 58% of B2B marketers say that marketing involvement never stops and must continue across the entire customer lifecycle. Be that as it may, marketers are focused on driving qualified leads as their most important mission.

So where does that leave customers?

Research from the CMO Council finds that companies lose 10% of their customers each year, on average. Would it shock you to learn that 68 percent of customer defections occur because customers perceive “an attitude of indifference?” (American Society for Quality)

Content marketing across the customer lifecycle can play an important role in reversing this perception of indifference. Considering that even a 5% reduction to churn can increase profitability by at least 25%, it’s definitely time for marketing to create a continuum for content marketing that reaches beyond the sale.

Thankfully, there may be a change brewing. I certainly hope so.

According to Google’s 2011 B2B Marketing Outlook report:

87% of marketers invest in customer retention, and 2/3 say that this is where the majority of their marketing dollars will go in 2011.

To use content marketing for customers, marketers must consider the differences between content designed for prospects and content designed for customers.

This is easier when marketers realize that their marketing automation platform is not just for pre-sales use. By using the profiles and activity histories developed during the customer acquisition process, marketers have great visibility into the intelligence they need to continue to deliver relevant and valuable communications after the deal closes.

In fact, given the data marketers should have available, it should be even easier to develop relevant content for customers than it is to do so for prospects.

To construct a content marketing program for customers, do the following:

Reset Their Status Quo
Once a prospect becomes a customer, their status quo is different. They no longer have the problem they set out to solve as a prospect. Any marketing content developed must take into account the customer’s current situation as the foundation from which to address why more change and evolution is beneficial to their future success.

Define New Needs and Priorities

  • Given the customer’s current status quo with your solution in play, what new needs or priorities have been created now that the original problem was solved?
  • What features might your customers not be using that can help them reap even more value than they required during the initial purchase?
  • Are there industry trends that point to the need for customers to proactively take next steps that you can help them achieve?

Create content that showcases your company’s expertise in helping your customers meet their future business objectives. Use in-depth customer success stories that show just how you’ve expanded your role to create richer, enduring value for other customers like them.

You DO have a Relationship, Right?
Theoretically, your company already has an established relationship with your customers.

Unfortunately many companies act like they’ve never met their customers. This is evidenced by sending them information that’s no longer relevant to them after the purchase or pushing up-sell offers without foundation. Even worse, acting like you don’t know them diminishes your credibility as a partner and works to establish that perception of indifference that leads to defection.

Our customers are our greatest asset and the importance of continuous engagement across the entirety of the customer’s lifecycle cannot be overstated. Marketers need to focus on continuing to grow the relationship established during the pre-sale instead of starting over once the ink has dried.

Zap the Excuses Limiting Personalization
During pre-sale marketing, it’s a challenge to target and personalize our marketing content appropriately because we’re often using a number of assumptions.

With customers, marketers have the data to do so. Or we should. If marketers are leveraging their marketing automation systems for customer communications, continuing to expand profiles, monitor interests and respond to online behavior is less complex.

Integration with CRM systems will help us work with account managers to increase visibility into how we can best provide continuous value to each customer. With the ability to use marketing automation technology to finely tune our customer segmentation, messaging can become highly relevant to each niche a company serves.

Leave No Customer Behind
Growing revenues is not just about net-new customers. It’s about extending the lifecycle with those we have and increasing the value that we provide to them over time. Let’s face it, a customer relationship is a terrible thing to waste. Especially when we’ve got the tools and the data to create content and conversations that increase loyalty and spend from those we’ve already sold.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.

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