Building Customer Retention with Your Content

 

Content marketing is changing the way you talk with your audience. Through SEO, email marketing and social media, your content works hard to gather new prospects and bring them into your orbit. Where a lot of otherwise sound content marketing strategies fail is with retention, the ability to hang onto the customers you have and continue to keep them interested in what you have to say. It’s a real challenge, especially for companies that were early adopters of content marketing who find themselves reaching for something more to say.

If your recent SEO campaign brought in good traffic that has since leveled off, your content marketing team is straining for new ideas, or your customers feel as though you invest more in finding new business than in nurturing the clients you have, it’s time to focus on content marketing for customer retention.

 Branch out with Topics

Sometimes, marketers are too attached to the “marketing” part of content marketing; they want every blog post to lead customers directly to a landing page or an e-commerce listing. While it’s a good idea to lead readers to a relevant page or product, most of your blog posts should be informative, not ad-heavy. That opens your content creation team’s horizons and lets them write about subjects that interest all your customers, not just your newest visitors who are more sensitive to sales techniques.

An Italian restaurant’s blog doesn’t just have to focus on pizza and pasta, for example. Going farther afield to talk about how Parmigiana Reggiano is made or how the ancient Romans opened some of the world’s first fast food stands gives your blog lasting appeal. For B2B businesses, it’s even more important to broaden your subject matter. You see it in this blog too as we discuss everything from quirky grammar to SEO content to reputation management. Build variety into your blog, and it becomes a destination, a place your clients check regularly to learn something new.

 Reward Loyalty

Loyalty programs are a proven customer retention strategy. Companies that give their long-time customers an occasional free gift or discount encourage repeat business. Your content’s valuable too, and it makes an excellent way to reward your brand loyalists. Giving them a free white paper, e-book or magazine subscription that your newer customers have to wait to see is a worthwhile perk. If you have digital content for sale on Amazon.com or books in print, you have an outstanding opportunity to give your best customers a gift without costing yourself much.

The only caveat here is that your content needs to be worth your customers’ time. No one wants to get an ad in book form, and if you’re handing out information that does you more good than your clients, you’re breaking one of the primary rules of content marketing. If your content creators are on the ball, you’ll amass a respectable content library of relevant information you can gift-wrap for your most valuable customers.

Create a Support System

When customers pop out of the narrow end of your sales funnel, receipt in hand, give them a soft landing. FAQs, how-to videos and articles with tips on using your products confirms to buyers that they’ve made the right choice. When they know they’ve picked well, they’re more likely to choose you again, especially if they know you’re still there for them with answers to all their questions. The more complex your product or service is, the more your customers rely on the content you give them. There’s no substitute for live tech support and customer service, but a great content library can head off many customer concerns even before they pick up the phone to call your help desk.

 Establish Perceived Value

Even your best clients get value fatigue. When they first buy from you, they’re ecstatic – you’ve just solved a big problem for them and given them outstanding service. They can’t wait to tell everyone. After you continue to deliver, though, they tend to take that high level of performance for granted. The extraordinary has become everyday, and they no longer perceive the full value of what you give them. Content can change that by reminding them of what else you have to offer – your expertise, industry knowledge, customer support programs, loyalty benefits and access to your extensive library.

Email retargeting programs that maintain contact with your customers during those critical post-sale and between-sale periods are excellent for reminding your clients why you’re valuable to them. Marketing automation can orchestrate your retargeting efforts to ensure your customers get personalized information when they need it. For example, if you know your client places quarterly orders for supplies, your email marketing software can set triggers to send customized messages automatically. Establishing value isn’t something you do once but something you prove again with every contact you have with your clients.

It’s Time to Stop Verbing Nouns in Digital Content

Read most business content, and you’re almost certain to come across some impacting and trending. You might see leveraging, trialing and even dog-fooding if the content creator’s really fond of the corporate habit of verbing nouns. The problem with turning nouns into verbs isn’t that it goes against dictionary definitions; it’s that it weakens strong writing and obscures meaning. Here’s why your content should skip the corporate conventions and use straightforward language.

 

 What’s a Verbed Noun, Anyway?

Essentially, nouns are names, and verbs are actions. When verbs describe a particular activity, they sometimes expand into noun territory, becoming the name for that activity. It happens especially often with new activities because these actions don’t yet have names of their own. That’s how sending email or text messages have become emailing and texting. You’ll also see it often in sports where the name of the equipment becomes the verb, as in snowboarding or rollerblading. These verbs’ evolution into nouns expands the language and makes it easier to communicate. It’s shorter to say ″I’ll email you″ than ″I’ll send you an email,″ and everyone knows what it means.

Some verbs are the wallpaper paste of language, holding sentences together but without adding much interest of their own. Forms of ″to be″ verbs such as ″is″ and ″are″ have become practically invisible because we see them all the time. ″To be″ verbs also find their way into passive-voice constructions that sap the life out of any content if writers overuse them. To spice things up, business content writers reach for more interesting verbs – but sometimes they reach too far. Instead of letting verbs naturally shift into nouns, they force them into that mold, which is how dog-fooding and donutting happen.

 

Solving the Wrong Problem

Business writing isn’t always filled with page-turning excitement. PowerPoint presentations of budget forecasts and analytics of SEO content need something to keep corporate audiences engaged, and one way business writers do that is with exciting language. In a boardroom presentation, that’s fine; anyone who’s sat through a dry, passive presentation would welcome a few newly minted verbs. For digital content you serve your audience, including SEO, blog posts, white papers and other branded copy, these new verbs don’t add to the conversation. In fact, they take away from meaningful content by making the conversation about themselves.

We’ve used it as an example already, so let’s take a closer look at dog-fooding. It’s certainly memorable, but what does it mean? Dog-fooding just means using your own company’s products and services. You see it in action on this website and blog because the same writers who work for you create the content you see on the page. Unless you knew that, though, this verbed noun doesn’t make much sense. How about donutting? That’s just forming up in a circle and discussing a project.

These don’t work well in digital content your audience reads in SEO articles, email and blog posts because they divert your readers’ attention from your subject to the obscure verb they’re now trying to process. In worst-case scenarios, they may even go to another site to look up definitions – and you never want your audience clicking away from your page unless it’s to more of your content.

Your readers don’t need you to do verbal gymnastics to keep them alert during a meeting or condense concepts to fit a large amount of information into a brief PowerPoint presentation. They need your content creation team to speak clearly to them about what they need to know.

 

Start Making Sense

For some corporate content writers, verbing nouns has become so common that it’s now a textual habit they can’t break. When nouns that already have a perfectly good verb form transform into verbs again, they hide meaning instead of clarifying it. An executive signaturing a document instead of signing it, a group conferencing instead of conferring, a test audience trialing products instead of trying them – these uses are awkward and make readers wonder why the content creator didn’t just use the existing verbs.

A little verbing goes a long way in business content, especially if you’re reaching a diverse audience with your SEO articles and blog posts. The occasional leveraging is fine, but leave the dog-fooding and donutting out of your digital content.

Why Your Content Needs Better Writing

When article marketing first started shaping the digital landscape for B2B and B2C content, the language writers used shifted too. Many of them no longer billed themselves as writers; they were now content creators. Those shifting linguistic sands reveal a move away from narrow, isolated communications and toward a more holistic view of everything a company does to create a seamless digital and real-world presence. From that standpoint, content is a great thing. It’s inclusive enough to incorporate video, Pinterest, Instagram, infographics and other tools to get your message across in more than words. Content is writing’s revenue-friendly cousin. Content’s only missing one thing, in fact: passion.

 

Feeling the Passion

The Beatles didn’t sing about wanting to become a paperback content creator. No one calls a gripping novel, a moving opinion piece or lyrical poetry content. Writers write because they care passionately about the story they want to tell or the imagery they want to create with their words. Niche bloggers don’t devote hours every week lovingly discussing game consoles, gardening or golden retrievers because they want to produce content. They do it because they feel impassioned enough to share their thoughts on their favorite topics. That fervent devotion to a subject brings them an audience – an audience that feels just as enthusiastic as their favorite writers do.

You and your content writer can translate that kind of passion into business content, but only if you nurture that drive to create and share information about your subject. Everything from your SEO content to your social media presence to your email newsletter should contain information you and your writing team can’t wait to share with an audience that’s equally enthusiastic. We write about writing here because it’s what we love to do, not to fill space on the page.

 

Exciting Writing

As writers and content creators, we can tell you it’s easier to write compelling prose about some subjects than it is about others. Anyone who tells you that writing about electronic components can be just as emotionally charged as writing a good love story either has a limited understanding of romance or is a lot more interested in capacitors than anyone else in the world. That doesn’t mean B2B content writing has to be dull or dry, though. With a shift in focus and a real enthusiasm for the subject, B2B blogs, trade journal articles and industry newsletters benefit from lively writing too.

Here are some of the ways a capable writer can turn plain content into engaging writing:

  • Narrative – Tell readers a story about how that product or service changes customers’ lives. When you turn the facts into a story with a beginning, middle and end, you tap into something deep in the human psyche. Narrative structures make us want to turn the page and see how the story turns out.
  • Lists – You’re reading one now, and chances are good you’re going to finish reading every list item. There’s something satisfying about the organization of a written list, which is why so much content focuses on numerical lists. Top five and top ten lists naturally lead readers to the next item.
  • Step-by-step instructions – Tell your readers how to do something, and you’ve earned their interest, especially if the writing catches their attention. Simple, well-organized how-to pieces are especially valuable for B2B content writers because they tie in easily with what companies have to say.

 

Care Enough to Share

Writers communicate their enthusiasm for a subject instead of just fitting text around keywords. The SEO content industry is full of content creators who start with keywords and retro-fit articles around them, but that strictly utilitarian, least-common-denominator approach doesn’t win you an audience. Instead, choose an SEO team that brings ideas to the table and incorporates keywords naturally. You want your writer to tell your customers, ″we have something really cool to tell you – listen, and we’ll share.

We came up with this article because we’d read one too many tired SEO pieces this morning, and we wanted to share some thoughts on how to make content better. We’re writers too, and it’s okay to express a little passion for our subject.

 

4 Content Marketing Mistakes You May Be Making

Content marketing has become the keystone to modern marketing strategies, especially for brands with a strong digital presence. It’s not as easy as finding some white space and filling it with SEO content and a few video clips you hope will go viral. If your content isn’t giving you the return you expected on your investment, here’s where you may have taken a wrong turn and how a talented content team can change your course.

 

Making It All About You

The biggest issue novice B2B content creators and do-it-yourselfers have is confusing content for advertising. Ads are wonderful for building brand recognition, but they aren’t something your potential customers seek out to educate themselves or inform their business decisions – and that’s where content marketing excels.

Instead of using your content to blast advertising, think of it as a way to help your customers and prospects make important decisions and stay current with industry news. They’ll look to you as an authoritative information source and seek you out when it’s time to buy. You don’t need the hard sell to get them to listen; you just need engaging, creative, relevant content.

 

Not Enough Content

Audiences are voracious beasts, and they have an almost insatiable appetite for novelty. A weekly or bi-weekly blog, a corporate website, SEO – those are just the beginnings of an overall content strategy, not the destination. Human readers aren’t the only ones who crave newness, either; Google values sites that feature regular content updates and ongoing growth more highly than static pages. Your audience will treat you as a destination site instead of a stop-over when you offer them plenty of content.

By giving more to your audience, you can also ask for more from them. Give them new white papers to download, new case studies to pore over and new blog posts to retweet, and they’ll be more likely to share information and referrals with you.

 

Too Much (Low-Quality) Content

At the other end of the spectrum are companies that pump out endless SEO articles and blog posts that do little more than fill white space. If you can’t get your message across effectively, repeating it more frequently and at higher volumes won’t help. Bad content is worse than no content because it actively diminishes your authority with both search engines and your audience. Typos, egregious grammar mistakes and tissue-thin subject matter are sure signs of a company that’s misspent its content marketing budget.

Great content is less expensive than you think, especially when you work with a company that specializes in B2B content creation. Don’t choose a cut-rate content provider for something that defines your company’s brand; saving a few dollars on your weekly blog post isn’t worth losing even one potential customer.

 

Undifferentiated Content

Modern marketplaces are becoming increasingly fractured, and that means an increasing need for better segmentation of your audience. Instead of addressing your whole audience with one piece of content, you want to deliver customized content to each segment. This boutique approach works especially well with B2B companies that serve a wide range of clients in different industries.

All your audience segments want to believe they’re your highest priority, and content tailored to them makes it happen. One newslettter may not be enough to satisfy your whole audience, so your B2B content creation team might write two or three each week. A manufacturer who specializes in HVAC equipment and serves a national audience, for example, might send AC-related newsletters to clients in the south while focusing on ventilation and air quality in regions where air conditioners are a relative rarity.

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