Content marketing: Where should you start?

content marketing - where should you start

So you’ve decided to begin a content marketing initiative. But where do you start? There are so many options. Which audience segment should you focus on first? What part of their buyer journey should you address with your content?

There is a simple solution: Focus the first phase of your content marketing initiative on a single, key segment of your existing customers. That’s right – instead of trying to discern the needs of prospective customers, why not focus on the ones you already know the most about – existing ones?

If you think about it in its broadest sense, the customer journey doesn’t end with the sale of a product or service. It continues on through the lifetime of the product. Customers have significant information needs after they have acquired a product:

  • Immediately after the sale they need product education: how to use it efficiently and effectively.
  • In some cases, customers may need advice on how to integrate the new product into their existing operations.
    Some products have seasonal requirements, such as preparing a piece of machinery for the winter season or operating it safety during hot summer weather conditions.
  • Throughout the post-sale segment of the lifecycle, customers always appreciate information on how to get more out of their product.
  • Toward the end of the product’s useful life, customers need help understanding when it’s time to consider buying a new one, as well as options for upgrading or refurbishing their existing product.

Why focus content marketing on existing customers?

One of the challenges marketing departments face when implementing a content marketing initiative is biting off more than they can chew. In such cases, the program can quickly bog down because of one or more unanticipated problems:
• Not enough staff and work hours to focus on the entire customer journey and all of the audience segments you need to address.

  • Not enough customer data to build accurate customer personas.
  • Making assumptions about the kind of information YOU think your customers need.
  • A lack of training, processes and governance to manage the development, approval, publication and measurement of the effectiveness of your content.

Focusing on existing customers solves many of these problems:

  • You already know a lot about your existing customers.
  • You should already have a deep understanding of what their challenges are.
  • You already have them on an email list, making it easy to communicate with them on a regular basis.
  • You have an opportunity to cultivate greater customer loyalty, which can lead to repeat sales.
  • You have ample opportunities to nudge them to consider purchasing related products or more of what they have already bought.
  • You have an opportunity to transform your best existing customers into advocates and evangelists, who can help spread the word about the excellent resources and solutions you provide.

The current state of customer communications

Typical post-sale communication consists of boring, verbose product information, instructions, customer correspondence and newsletters. Of course, you must provide your customers with technical product documentation and support materials, but they don’t have to be boring.

Why not take a fresh look at these materials, and brainstorm more engaging ways to deliver the same information? Why not ask your customers what else they need? Chances are, you will uncover ideas and opportunities that you had never considered before.

5 Great Ideas for Retaining Loyal, Enthusiastic Customers

Loyal, Enthusiastic Customers
Marketing is SO different than it was just a few years ago. While the Web makes it easier to start a company these days, 9 out of 10 startups still fail.

One way to claim a top 1% spot is to fully engage your customer base. A healthy bunch of repeat customers is one step shy of a wild band of brand advocates who will help you sell your product.

Hear that? Brand advocates are loyal, enthusiastic customers who sell FOR you.

No matter what you do, some percentage of your customers are only one-time opportunities. Others will appreciate your company so much they’ll become long-term customers, and they’ll recommend you to their family and friends. These are your potential brand advocates. It’s up to you to provide them incentive to continue to do business with your company.

Ask yourself right now:

  • What do we offer our customers that outshines our competition?
  • How do we show our customers we care?

Hint: If you can answer those two questions, you’re doing your part to generate a repeat customer base rampant with brand advocacy. Could you do more?

 

Try this:

1. Above ALL: Create Evangelists with Superior Customer Service

Loyal, enthusiastic customers don’t just happen. It starts with product and ends—or continues on and on—with exceptional customer service. Understand that customers don’t necessarily have to love you to continue to do business with you. Some will continue to buy your product or services because you offer something unique, because they’re resistant to change, or because your competition has a worse reputation than you do…but they’ll never advocate your brand.

Brand advocates are crazy about you. They love your products and services and their recommendations don’t come with an attached “but…”. As in, “The product is great, but the customer service is terrible.”

The first step to creating brand evangelists is to remove the “but…” with excellent customer service.

2. Offer Up Relevant, Smart, Emotional, Entertaining Content Marketing

How do your customers feel when they use your products or engage in your services? What are your customers’ interests? How can you help your customers solve even more of their most pressing problems?

Most importantly: What do your customers WANT?

It’s your job to learn these answers and provide the information, authenticity, and powerful storytelling they seek through engaging content marketing. Provide the best content on the Web that meets and exceeds your customers’ expectations—and your customers will love you for it.

Bonus: Great content marketing is great for search engine optimization (SEO)—so not only does content marketing help you cultivate brand loyalty, it also helps you gain new prospects and customers.

3. Reward the Refer-A-Friend

Refer-A-Friend rewards both the person referring AND the new customer. Dropbox is a great example. By offering extra storage on both sides, Dropbox increased signups by 60% and went from 100,000 users to 4 million in just over a year. Bam.

4. Create an Exclusive Club

Asking customers to “buy” a “rewards card” seems like a bad idea, but it works, and it works well. Amazon charges $99 per year for its Prime membership, and the rewards are worth it to both customers and Amazon. Perks include free shipping, movies, music, books, early-access deals, and more.

Here’s the kicker: Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year, about $900 more than the average amount spent by non-member customers.

5. Give Back

TOMS is a company rooted in social good. The concept is simple: For every pair of shoes purchased, Toms provides a pair of shoes to children around the world most in need. The program has become so popular that Toms has expanded; now they also provide clean water, eyeglasses, training, and kits packed with items to help women more safely give birth.

 

Use these 5 great marketing ideas to inspire your customers to want to share their enthusiasm with others—so they tell others how much they like your products, your services, and the perks you offer to earn their business. This kind of ongoing customer lovin’ creates an emotional connection that’s difficult for your competitors to disrupt.

 
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Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Want to learn more about effective content marketing? Whether you decide to outsource content marketing or not, this eBook is chock-full of great information on content marketing. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how content marketing can help you ramp up your website and complete your marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
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Motivational Monday: Change the Conversation

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If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation. –Donald Draper, Mad Men

Your brand is your message. When customers see your logo or hear your company name, what’s the first thing that pops into their mind? Do you know? If they spend 30 seconds on your homepage, will they know what you’re all about? Can they access your site through their cell, on their tablet or via their laptop and be met with the same levels of service?

First impressions matter—especially when your customers are coming to conclusions about your business within the first minute or two (or less). Our future is dictated by customer satisfaction and reputation. When things are headed in the wrong direction, it can be hard to recover, redirect and right the ship. If things have already gone awry, it might be time to hit the reset button completely.

In the show Mad Men, Don Draper, a man who’s constantly reinventing and redefining himself throughout the series, offers up one of the best pieces of marketing advice. When his client is faced with the conundrum of how to direct a campaign that’s received some negative PR, Draper offers up this advice: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

Even if you aren’t facing resistance from the City of New York over the prospect of demolishing Penn Station, you might have your own dilemma: how to present your message in the way you WANT it to be received. Craft your message, make it clear and steer the conversation in the direction YOU want it to go. Here are some tips…

  • Is your brand unwittingly spreading an unintended message? Perhaps it’s time to get back to the basics. Brand colors are important and brand consistency is vital when crafting the brand message you want to spread.
  • Review these 4 ways you may have missed out on connecting with leads and customers.
  • No one wants to think about it, but brand crises happen. How the conversation is directed from that point forward makes all the difference. Chipotle’s recent crisis could actually strengthen the brand if handled correctly. On the other hand, Volkswagen’s recent missteps might prove detrimental to their brand in the long run.
  • One of the secrets to directing conversation is to steer it away from you or your company and move it towards the audience—your customer. Think of it like a cocktail party: the most interesting conversationalists aren’t droning on about themselves.
  • Conversation is two-sided. To ensure your customers are interacting with you in ways that meet their needs, choose responsive design for your website. Responsive design ensures your website renders beautifully and works great on any device.
  • Still looking for ways to shape the conversation? Study these 12 Greatest Marketing Campaigns of All Time for examples of simple messages engaging customers to change the conversation.

For more ideas on how to craft the conversation you want to have with your customers, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week.

 

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