Old Dogs, New Tricks: Building Lasting Loyalty with Content

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You may have heard the joke about the dog who chases cars: “Sure, he goes after them, but he wouldn’t know how to drive if he caught one.” In marketing, your efforts are often aimed at increasing your reach, expanding into new markets and generating new leads, but acquisition is only part of the story. Your content strategy must also address customer retention. Once you’ve upgraded your SEO to draw more traffic, what’s your customer retention plan?

Content marketing should be featured prominently in your retention strategy because it’s one of the biggest things that keep people coming back. Great content is sticky; people return to it often as a reference, a source of inspiration or a link worth sharing. Once they know they can rely on you to give them usable information, entertain them or inspire them, your visitors will come back. Break that trust with low-value content, and you may have done lasting harm to that relationship.

These tips aren’t tricks. They aren’t short-cuts, and they won’t work instantly – but they will work and increase your customer retention dramatically.

Maintain High Standards

The days of quantity content publishing are past. Google doesn’t reward a spate of low-value copy from content mills with high page ranks, and your customers won’t reward that with their attention. If you wouldn’t read it unless you had to, don’t feed it to your customers. The web is saturated with semi-knowledgeable articles and satellite content that’s derived from a respected primary or secondary source yet lacks the original’s authority or interest.

Sheer numbers aren’t enough for your traffic, either. Anyone can get clicks, at least until the search engines shut down the latest SEO loopholes exploited by low-value sites. What’s rare is real engagement. You want your visitors to spend some time with you once they encounter your site. If you’re focusing too much on getting traffic and not enough on the quality of that traffic, you’re lowering your site’s overall value. Tip the scales in favor of retention, and while you might not have the vanity traffic numbers on your site analytics dashboard, your engagement signals will soar.

Keep in Touch

Whether it’s with your spouse, your customers or even your pet, every relationship needs a little attention to thrive. If you’re expecting your customers to do all the work to find you, they’re going to feel their relationship with you is one-sided. Email is an outstanding tool for building a loyal audience and staying connected with them. Because you can personalize your contact and address audience members one on one, you have a great opportunity to strengthen that relationship. They’re your partners; welcome your customers and give them the attention they deserve even after you’ve secured the sale.

Test the Waters

For long-term customer retention, you have to keep things fresh and exciting, and that means testing what your audience wants. People’s tastes and needs shift over time, and the audience you have right now may want something very different from you in a year. A/B split testing of content in your email and direct mail lets you take the temperature of your audience and learn more about what they want to hear from you.

Think about what happened when computers first became common household items. Originally advertised as ideal for tracking expenses and writing the occasional book report, they’ve become an entertainment hub, information center and source of social interaction. A company that stuck to the tried and true method of marketing the practical features of those big beige boxes as they evolved into sleek gaming rigs would have been lost once their audience changed – and many such companies did fold. They failed to retain their market because the market had moved on without them.

Reward Loyalty

Loyalty programs typically cost you little, but they pay tremendous dividends. When you release a new white paper or publish your latest e-book, give your best customers access for free. You already have their business, and letting them have access to your best content is an outstanding way to repay them for their loyalty.

After being barraged daily with requests for their information, your customers will thank you for giving them opt-down choices on preference pages. Let them tailor their experience of your content, and you’re far more likely to retain them. They may want to get your newsletter but skip getting daily sale emails, and that’s fine. They’ll seek you out when they’re ready to take advantage of your latest special offer, and in the meantime, they’re remaining engaged with you.

Don’t Be Boring

You know what it’s like to slog through content that’s stuffed with buzzwords and empty of meaning. It’s why people fall asleep in business meetings when they hear phrases like “leveraging paradigms” or “collaboratively utilizing vertical technologies.” Don’t leave your audience stranded in the Atacama Desert of dialog; talk and write like a human being, not a corporate jargon generator. Even if they like you, they won’t return to your content if it’s awful, and disengaging with your content is the first step in disengaging from you.

There’s no such thing as a 100 percent success rate on customer retention. If there were, no one would be free to discover and become loyal to you. With these tips, though, you will see your site become “stickier” and retain more of your visitors. Don’t chase cars – take driving lessons by improving your content.

© Business Content, Inc. 2014 All Rights Reserved.

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