I recently received an email from someone who's read my book. He asked how to go about creating content to nurture and retain customers rather than prospects. I love this question as so many B2B marketers are solely focused on lead generation at the expense of building relationships with customers.
Customers you have are highly valuable. Marketers need to start paying attention to the entire lifecycle - including the development of post purchase relationships.
Just as you'd map content to the buying cycle, you can create a content map for the customer lifecycle.
The major difference in getting started with a customer nurturing program is the starting point. Their status quo is different than a prospect's.
- They already have your product.
- The problem you educate prospects about solving is solved.
Given those assumptions, create a baseline for their current situation by considering what the questions are that they need answered to move them from the status quo of the points above. Examples could include:
- What opportunities are now available with that original problem solved? Fixing one can open up the possibility of fixing another that was unseen at the time.
- How can you help them move from "beginner" status to "expert" status in how they use your product? In other words, how can you help them get even more value than they ever hoped to get when they made the original purchase?
- Why should they ante up for a support or services contract?
- What other related products could help them achieve new strategic objectives?
- Were other departments affected by the change your product brought that you can now help to solve?
As you create your customer nurturing strategy, you need to consider that their expectations are different than your prospects. They expect you to know them, as well as their situation and which products they're using. And, rightfully so.
They expect personalized, valuable communications, not blanket emails that could be for anyone. (Okay, that's similar to prospect expectations) In essence, the threshold for screwing up is much lower, so take care and do the proper planning.
The one thing I want to make really clear is that the content you create for prospects is not the content your customers want or need. This should become obvious when you answer the questions above.
The best part about customer nurturing is that you can actually gain access to them to truly learn what content will be most helpful. You should have a way to segment them appropriately given what you know about them. You've also got access to the service people who support them. A veritable treasure trove of information exists if you'll just go after it.
Customer attrition is largely based on indifference.
Replacing customers is very costly.
I highly recommend that you put customer nurturing programs at the top of your priority list for 2011. If you want to prove accountability and contribution to revenues, this is a great way to gain traction with your company.
Don't forget that your customer content marketing strategy isn't just about marketing programs but can impact customer service and support interactions as well as account management activities. What content do those people need to help nurture your customers?
Don't forget about the word of mouth and referrals that can come from highly satisfied and loyal customers. Nurturing customers can also pay high dividends in net new business. Especially in a social business environment. Just saying...