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A residual message across every company, regardless of the product or service they provide, is to make people happy. Sounds a bit too simplified, huh?
But really think about it. Your company mission ties back to being the best at what you do. And to be the best, you need happy potential customers looking to make a purchase and happy current customers continuing their business.
As a marketing expert, you split your time between targeting both audiences through lead generating, pre-sale marketing efforts, and repurchase, customer marketing efforts. The latter is where most marketing experts get hung up.
With only 45 percent of marketing execs in a 2014 survey from SAP and the CMO Council feeling their levels of customer centricity were good, if not high, and only 45 percent believing their customers would say customer centricity levels are good to high, there’s an obvious need to figure out where to start with customer marketing.
This is one of those times where you do NOT need to call a meeting and have everyone brainstorm for hours on end and spend half of the year’s marketing budget on analytical reviews looking to predict what will keep them in the buying cycle.
It’s far easier than that.
Ask yourself — what got those customers into the buying cycle initially? Now, move on to your sales team — ask them what is getting leads to convert. From there, go to your client/customer leads and get their feedback. And of course, don’t neglect the most important group to ask — your customers!
Once you’re done with that, come back and continue reading on how to now develop your post-sale customer marketing strategy.
Developing the Strategy
As with any good marketing campaign, you need to start with identifying your goal. In this case, we’ll start simple with our earlier residual message: you want happy customers.
Happy customers spend more money. In fact, repeat customers spend 67 percent more than a new customer according to research by BIA/Kelsey and Manta.
Happy customers are more engaged. And when they’re more engaged, they’re going to communicate their needs with you so you can be the first to help them, versus having them looking elsewhere for a solution.
Now, you can set more specific goals tied to retention, spending, and engagement.
How to reach your customers
Lead capturing is a staple for most sales and marketing teams. A very standard process is to look at what content a lead was willing to give you their email address for, then funnel them into a tract based on a similar content topic. This email campaign funnel is just as valuable for your current customer marketing.
From Day 1, begin with personalized emails thanking your customer for choosing you. Use the initial email to open the door to them providing you feedback on what types of content interest them most.
Keep the personalized messages from the marketing team going. If you’re using an email program like MailChimp or an all-encompassing program like HubSpot, you’ll be able to easily keep track of what correspondence is going out from your team.
Or, if it’s determined to keep the personal email campaigns with the sales or customer service team, ensure you’re providing them collateral that is targeted at your current customers. For example, as a thank you for their loyalty, directly email them advance access to a new report that covers the challenges they are facing. Don’t make them go through gated material time and time again.
Your marketing team should also use email campaigns to simply check in. While you may already ask upon sign-up what types of content they prefer, how often they prefer to be contacted, etc., checking in throughout the year provides them an opportunity to a) change their mind (while they once liked podcasts, now they’re on the road less, so prefer written content to read over their morning coffee) and b) provide feedback on timely topics and trends.
Your check-in email campaign can be as simple as:
We’ve noticed two trends recently in the HR industry that we’d love to get your feedback on. Which is of greater interest to you so we can ensure we’re providing you with the most helpful topics and trends, delivered to your inbox?
a.) Diversity and Inclusion
b.) Government Regulation
For providing your input, we’ll automatically enter you into a drawing for a summer fun pack gift exclusive!
As always, feel free to reach out to anyone at XXXX with insight into what topics and challenges you’d love to know more on.
Your summer fun pack gift could include vouchers to a local baseball game, some sunblock that’s branded with your company logo, an inflatable beach volleyball, lemonade packets, and a light fleece blanket. Total cost will vary, but you can likely keep this basket under $150. And when you’re looking to retain clients that are likely spending far more than $150… the ROI is there.
Finally, don’t neglect using your email campaigns to simply share information. You can include anything from company news to latest new content created specifically for your customers to users guides, tips and tricks, and industry-wide news.
Just focus on catering the content to your current customers. That’s the most often overlooked aspect of an email campaign. Anything you can provide to make their life easier — and provide it right to their inbox — is going to be greatly appreciated and lead to happy customers.
Your blog is already serving its purpose in helping drive new leads, but make sure it also adds value to your current customers. Those same initial goals you have when looking at the blog — showcase your team while establishing your team as thought leaders — can now be combined with customer interaction.
The key here is to again consider your audience. You know how important your audience is, but with so much focus on lead-gen, love is lost in targeting your current customers.
While you never want to be overly salesy about your platform/product, setting up a customer advocacy program will feature your customers’ accomplishments and showcase where they saw success by choosing your product. It will provide a perfect outlet to engage current customers (who doesn’t love free PR?) as well as showcase you to potential new customers.
Social media strategies are undoubtedly time consuming, and now I’m suggesting you consider another ‘target’ audience to throw into the mix and thus expand the strategy. But the truth is, if you’re targeting your current customers correctly, it’s easy to add them into the mix and the ROI will soon come.
Through a social media strategy focused on customer marketing, you can share and show the love you have for your customers. When you see a customer post about a new funding announcement, a ‘best place to work’ award, whatever their success is, acknowledge it. Engaging with them via a simple retweet or a like to show you’re taking notice of what they’re doing will show you’re invested in more than just how they’re using your product. You, too, are excited by your customers’ success, and in turn, your potential new customers will come to see this.
Through social media you can also show your accessibility. As the marketing expert, you may not be as familiar with the technical components to troubleshoot a problem, but you’re surely great at knowing who is! Opening the door for customers to contact your team through social media further adds a component of you being accessible by whatever means is most convenient for them.
Social media also provides the opportunity to set up forums or dedicated chats where your customers can engage with each other. For example, the People Geek community has a dedicated Twitter account, then utilizes a Slack Channel to stay connected. For the Culture Amp team, they’re able to stay connected with customers, potential customers, and all around People Geeks, yet provide a forum where these people can interact with each other.
But really how?
By creating strong marketing content to drive your blog and email and social media campaigns, you’ll be able to easily plan campaigns that you can rinse, repeat, and tweak as you see greater success.
Original research is the ultimate strategy item that can serve as the foundation for each complementary tactic. With this research, again keep in mind the audience needs only to be new customers.
To start, look at the state of the industry research. Can you identify what research is lacking? Think through your current customer buyer personas — what challenges are your customers facing? Is there research to support the needed changes in the industry?
A great place to look if you have no idea where to start is at the current research being produced by your competitors. Where is it lacking? What can you provide that’s stronger? By asking yourself these questions, you’ll start to identify the opportunity to conduct original research that can then be used in your email campaigns — start by releasing the original research to your customers first. Cater those email campaigns to how the research applies specifically to them.
This release can include white papers, reports, blog article content, and more.
Finally, original research can be used to engage your current customers. By using your customers as your survey poll, you’re providing an opportunity to let their voice be heard, while engaging directly with you.
White Papers, Reports, E-Books
Your marketing campaign likely contains white papers and e-books that look at generating awareness and providing tips and tricks, but your current customers already know the 101.
Knowing your customer, identify what they are looking to improve. Tip: You can always ask them! Are your current customers looking for tips and tricks? If so, provide them!
By helping your customer stay informed, you’re going to help them continue to beat the competition. For example, Spark Hire, a video interview solution used by more than 3,000 companies across the globe, has a resource section that includes white papers for varying levels of current customers or potential customers and caters the content further to specific industries, as they identified the content that would be most valuable to those users.
Bonus tip: Your white papers will be even stronger when they’re created from the original research you conducted. For example, Quantum Workplace, an employee engagement software company, creates a white paper/report that highlights their most recent original research findings that includes tips and takeaways on improving, implementing, etc. the findings.
While blog articles were already noted as a main strategy item to consider when building your customer marketing strategy, they’re noted here as well, as not all blog articles are created equal.
Consider what forms of blog content your current customers will find the most value from. It may require some A/B testing to determine the best approach, but you don’t always need to rewrite the wheel when starting to think through your blog being for your current customers as much as new potential users.
With blog articles, consider long-form content. While 500 words used to be the norm, longer form content — closer to 2,000 words — is starting to grow in popularity. This length content allows for a deeper dive into a topic, which when done well, improves the value to the reader.
If you already have an influencer marketing strategy in place, it’s a perfect opportunity to engage with these experts on content for your current users.
Bonus tip: Use your original research in your blog articles. Dive deep into a key finding that is most relevant to your current customers, then package it up and deliver it to their inbox (email campaign) and to their account rep (to have on hand for distributing, when fitting).
An e-course used in your customer marketing campaign will again be looking to be ahead of what your customer needs. You’re already doing so much of this research for your pre-sale content marketing strategy, so it will just take a few extra minutes to analyze and consider what tips, tricks, and challenges are new for your current customer.
Again, consider the power of asking your customers what they want before you cram their inbox with a lesson a day, or spread them out to one lesson a week over 5 weeks if they do want a crash course lesson at a quicker interval. There isn’t one set method that works best for all companies, but a 5-8 lesson course spread out once a week on a set day and time is a great place to start with seeing how your customers respond and what they prefer.
Visuals actually need to be a staple in all of the aforementioned strategy items — not just thought of as a standalone item. Undoubtedly, you can create visuals to tell both your company and your customer’s story. Using your original research, you can create full infographics or simple charts/graphs. In your written content, adding visual elements will help bring the story to life.
You’re in the role you’re in as a marketing exec for a reason — you’re good at what you do. With customer marketing, all it takes now is focusing once again on the target audience and ensuring your team keeps the goal in mind — make people happy.