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 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.

Google Panda 4.1 Released

Google’s development team is constantly engaged in the Red Queen’s race, running as quickly as it can to keep pace with the spate of low-rent content that gets published constantly. Occasionally the Google team pulls ahead; when the search engine giant releases a new algorithm change, the SEO world scrambles to see what it needs to do to keep up.

The latest update to Google’s Panda changes that upended the SEO content industry, Panda 4.1 follows in its predecessors’ pawprints, targeting thin or duplicate content for harsh penalties to page rankings. By punishing low-quality content, Google in effect pushes high-quality sites to the top of the search engine results pages. De-indexing spam-filled sites and blogs stuffed with scraped, spun or plagiarized content stops the flow of traffic from Google to these pages, so it’s imperative not to be confused with them to avoid unwarranted penalties.

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5 Signs You Might Need a New SEO Content “Expert”

At this point, every business owner who has a website knows organic search engine traffic is important for success. Understanding how to optimize a site for search engines is a different matter, and many turn to SEO specialists to position their sites as high as possible on Google, Bing and Yahoo results pages. The boom in e-commerce and mobile connectivity has made SEO more meaningful than ever and created a boom in the industry, but as with any rapid-growth sector, not everyone in the SEO business is equally qualified. These phrases are warning signs for SEO content developers who may not give you the best deal.

“We guarantee #1 rankings on Google.”

A blanket guarantee of the most coveted spot on the search engine that accounts for more than 80 percent of searches is the very definition of over-promising. For one thing, it’s vague; taking the top spot for “yoga” is very different from achieving that ranking with “hot yoga class in Long Island.” If you’re first to market with a service and localize your content, you may well land the top spot for your chosen keywords, but a general guarantee of high placement is one no SEO company can deliver every time. Moreover, because Google changes its ranking algorithms hundreds of times a year, even a page that hits number one now could slide into second or third place next week.

Instead, look for SEO content providers who promise specifics: “We guarantee page-one ranking” and “we optimize your site for local traffic” are reasonable statements that a quality SEO content creator can back up with real results.

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Old Dogs, New Tricks: Building Lasting Loyalty with Content

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.

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Google’s Pigeon Update Goes Local

When Google releases a major update, it’s big news for content creators and SEO specialists. The search engine giant’s latest release may not be as large as some, but it’s still big enough to affect site rankings noticeably. Although Google hasn’t named the algorithm update as it typically does for major changes such as Penguin and Panda, the Search Engine Land blog has given the new update its own animal-themed name: Google Pigeon.

Google Pigeon’s name is a nod to the localized nature of the update. As homing pigeons can unerringly find their way to a given destination, Pigeon gives users a more fully localized experience. Unlike Google’s biggest and most famous – or for black-hat organizations, infamous – Panda and Penguin updates, Pigeon isn’t here to penalize low-value sites. It rewards local listings and ties rankings more closely to traditional search signals, including domain authority, quality backlinks and rich site content.

To make the most of Pigeon’s power to boost localized content, your site should reflect where you are as well as who you are. Potential customers don’t care about the best Indian restaurant in Ypsilanti if they’re in Yonkers, but they’re eager to know more about businesses in their area. By serving up more local content, Google hopes to offer its users greater relevance.

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What Is Original Content?

You don’t have to spend more than five minutes reading about search engines and how they work to know you need original content for SEO. Google and other search engines penalize duplicate content even if you own both the rights to that content. If your content creator has inadvertently borrowed – or worse, outright taken – that content from another source without owning the rights to it, you could get a DMCA takedown notice or even face legal action. Obviously, original content is important, but what is it? First, it might be easier to look at what it isn’t.

“Original” Doesn’t Always Mean “New” (And That’s Okay)

People watch more than 6 billion hours of YouTube videos every month. That’s about 685,000 years’ worth of adorable cats, product demonstrations and movie clips. The chances that at least two of those videos will feature very similar content are extremely high. The same goes for written content, especially in hotly competitive verticals. Even the best writer isn’t able to produce a startlingly new way of thinking about five ways to trim belly fat or how to keep your shop floor clean. Even if they did, those writers would sell their new magic formulas for millions instead of putting them into a one-off blog post.

What most content creators do instead is take a slightly different angle on a specific topic, giving a new perspective on an established theme and leaving room for future variations on it. Take that shop floor example; a blogger might write one week about how to remove minor oil stains from concrete and cover soaking up liquids efficiently the next. From Google’s perspective – and just as important, from your audience’s – these highly specific articles are useful and original even if someone else has previously written something on the general subject of keeping your shop floor in good shape.

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Blog Ideas Your Visitors Love

Having an on-site blog is vital for SEO, customer engagement and establishing authority, but too many businesses use it as an ad delivery system or a dumping ground for ideas that didn’t quite grow into feature articles. That isn’t why your blog exists, and if you’re spending more time talking about “we” than about “you” in your blog, you could be losing your visitors’ interest. On the flip side, some topics instantly attract more attention, more traffic and more social media sharing. Fill your blog with more of these posts and fewer ads, and you’ll see engagement metrics rise.


How-to articles give readers evergreen content – that is, information that stays relevant over time – in a format they can immediately use. A great how-to article also demonstrates your own knowledge of the topic, and knowledge builds authority. Once you and your content creation team have pinpointed areas you know your visitors would like to explore in greater depth, coming up with a few related how-to articles is just the beginning. Those ideas can also become video demonstrations or form the foundation for a new white paper. One caveat: Don’t invest too heavily in how-tos that have already been covered extensively by content mills and crowd-sourced answer sites. Make your how-to content specific and focused, not shallow and broad. Sites such as eHow succeed on volume rather than depth, and no company site can match their output; instead, compete on quality, not quantity.


The opposite of a how-to list, an article that focuses on mistakes or problems the readers might be making can also have a powerful draw. Any reader who has a particular problem will read on to find the solution, while those who don’t know they have a problem will check out the post to see if they do. We all want to be a little closer to perfection, and finding out about the mistakes we’re making gives us a chance to improve. The concept of “new and improved” is powerful in advertising, and it’s equally potent in content; by giving your readers new ways to improve, you’re bound to hold their interest.

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How Is Online Content Different from Print?

Proper English grammar, syntax and spellings are the same whether the text appears in a book, on a website or as part of a social media blast. It doesn’t mean print and online content are the same, though. If you’ve been transcribing your tri-fold brochures verbatim to your website or repurposing blog posts as hand-outs at conferences and trade shows, you could be losing much of your audience. Writing that’s out of place is like wearing board shorts in the boardroom or a tie to the beach – it just isn’t comfortable.

Print Readers and Online Skimmers

When people read online, study after study has shown they skim or scan whole paragraphs instead of reading every word. They might read the first few lines of a paragraph to get the gist of it and skip the latter half; others don’t even make it to the end of the article, instead reading the salient information at the top and leaving the rest. A few only read the title before making judgments about what’s written, as this NPR post for April Fool’s Day showed.

Researchers tracking eye movements have found that people read books and print magazines in a column that looks much like a newspaper column or a page of print. The map of eye movements is the same width at the top as at the bottom. Online content is a different story. When mapped, online readers’ eye movements followed a capital “F” shape, taking in a few full lines at the top of a page, reading much of the subsequent few paragraphs and tapering off dramatically at the end. If you want readers to see something in online text, put it in that F-shaped zone. Otherwise, they may miss it entirely.

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Google’s Panda 4.0 Changes the Face of Content – Again

Google regularly updates its algorithms to keep ahead of spam sites and black-hatters. The company’s spam guru, Matt Cutts, estimated that the search engine giant performs somewhere between 400 and 500 updates a year. Why is Panda 4.0, the most recent update, such a big deal?

For one thing, Panda 4.0 is considerably larger than the little daily tweaks the search engine undergoes. Like software, Google algorithm sets are numbered, and they only get a new number if they make sweeping changes. Google keeps the specifics of its updates to itself, but the company did confirm the update went live on May 20. Data analysts already knew some major changes were in the works from the changes in traffic patterns, but with Cutts’ confirmation, they now know the source of the upheaval.

The original Panda changes launched in 2011 and targeted sites with superficial content, duplicate information and link-heavy but meaningless copy. It crushed some content mills and drastically curtailed others, leaving sites with custom-written content and insightful information on top of results pages. This is only the fourth full-scale update to Panda, and sites with low-quality content are once again feeling the pinch.

Another reason for the uproar over Panda is its almost concurrent launch with the Payday Loans 2.0 update, a new set of algorithms meant to attack the high percentage of spam in certain high-traffic verticals. Named for the industry most notorious for its bad web habits, Payday Loans 2.0 obfuscated the data returned from Panda 4.0, making it a challenge for website analysts to sort out which peaks and valleys could be attributed to Panda and which to Payday Loans. In some industries, site traffic see-sawed wildly throughout the week and is still settling down, but the news is good for many small and mid-sized companies’ sites – and bad for at least one gigantic one.

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Should You Say No in Business Writing?

When writing business content, many companies instruct their writers to avoid any negative words. Everything must be re-framed as a positive, they believe, as if the word “no” and its cousins, such as “can’t” and “not” and “never,” will taint the rest of the content like used motor oil in a bucket of paint. You’ve read here before about magic words and how they affect your content, but does that magic have a dark side? Can reading the word “won’t” subconsciously associate your content with negative emotions? Is there bad juju connected to “no?”

The Difference Between Negativity and “No”

Sales and marketing executives have an understandable aversion to denying their customers’ requests. No one likes to say no to someone who’s about to give your business money. The word “no” by itself, though, can sometimes be a positive in buyers’ minds. Think of phrases such as “no money down” or “no special equipment needed,” and you’ll see how powerful this short word can be in the right contexts. These statements describe positive benefits even though they contain a negative word. While your content creation team could recast these phrases in positive terms, the results sound wordy or awkward – and awkwardness is a content killer.

Negative statements, on the other hand, are something your content team should avoid, at least on persuasive copy. While some negatives are unavoidable on FAQs or in warranty information, the content your customers see first should have a positive spin. Assume visitors are there because they want to buy with positive phrasing instead of implying they’re there only because they couldn’t find what they wanted elsewhere. Tell people what you can do for them, not what others can’t accomplish.

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