By Joe Gillespie

GettyImages-612837422.jpgYou probably have seen this marketing statistic cited on the blogosphere at least once: Acquiring a new customer costs, on average, six to seven times more than simply retaining a current customer. Although this stat reinforces the importance of strong, innovative marketing strategies to bring customers into the fold as cost-effectively as possible, it also shows that keeping those customers is the ultimate boost to your organization’s bottom line.

Alas, many marketers feel that once a lead becomes a customer, their job is complete. Let sales, operations, and customer service build loyalty with clients, right? Wrong, at least to an extent. Granted, the quality of goods and services your company provides go a long way to determining if customers remain customers, as does the experience you offer after the purchase is made or the contract is signed. However, robust marketing initiatives, including blogs and case studies, can also boost customer retention. Here’s how:

Operation Delight

You might be familiar with the inbound marketing methodology: Attract, convert, close, and delight. This methodology focuses upon acquiring leads, convincing those leads that your product is the best solution to their problems, completing the deal, and keeping them as customers. Attract, convert, and close often command the majority of your inbound initiatives, and rightly so—delighting customers is all but impossible if you don’t have customers in the first place. Subsequently, ignoring the delight goal becomes all too easy, and the bottom of the funnel is lopped off once a lead becomes a customer.

Unfortunately, marketers miss a tremendous opportunity when they fail to delight. First, customers will stay customers if you continue to provide answers to their problems. They will buy additional products and services as needed, and they will trust you as experts. Connecting with current customers not only reminds them that they haven’t been forgotten, but also informs them you offer plenty of other solutions to contribute to their success.

Second, delighting customers potentially turns them into promoters who tell others about the excellence you provide. These customers refer you to friends and associates, share your social media posts, leave positive feedback on review sites, and maybe even agree to be the focus of a case study (more on that later). In this way, delighted customers are helping you with marketing. Congratulations: You just created a powerful cycle in which loyal clients are singing your praises.

Blogging for Customers

Solid delight strategies include focused email campaigns, customer-only promotions, surveys, product updates, and videos. Smart content allows you to segment emails, calls to action, and offers to only the customers it makes the most sense to target (after all, blasting customers with dozens of inapplicable emails every week tends to frustrate them rather than build loyalty). Amid these great strategies, blogging can become an afterthought, which is too bad, because creating this sort of content with the goal to delight is a powerful opportunity to turn customers into lifelong customers and advocates.

Naturally, blogs to delight will differ from the blogs you write to attract and convert—which is possibly why marketers may feel challenged to produce this sort of content. Here are some examples of blog posts to write for your customers to build loyalty:   

  • How-to posts: Offer advice on how to use and maximize the goods and services that the customer has purchased from you. Highlight features the customers might not have known existed but can help them save time and money. Present innovative ways your product goes above and beyond solving the customer’s original problem.
  • Accessories and other services: If you are introducing a new product or selling existing accessories and services that complement your customer’s purchase, a blog post is a great way to promote those offerings. Moreover, you can approach these posts the same way you did to market your primary products: Your customers have a problem, and you offer information on how to solve that problem.
  • Thought leadership: Use blog posts to further establish yourself as an authority in your given space. In this way, you become a resource for customers to consult when they are seeking advice, as well as an information outlet for customers and non-customers alike. (This truly works—SmartBug’s own humble blog was recently named among the “Top 100 Social Media Blogs” by a WordPress plug-in company.)
  • Industry news: Write about developments, innovations, and news within your chosen industry. We at SmartBug do this as well: Our “This Week in Inbound” posts are a go-to resource for marketers who want to read about the latest in our niche.
  • Helpful FYIs: Step away from your core product and write a blog post that provides general information on something that is somewhat related to your industry but also hits home with your core demographic. For example, we work with a home improvement contractor and, for the holidays, wrote a guide to holiday-light displays in the client’s geographic area. The client loved it, and the post drew a big number of page views—many from customers who might have shared the helpful link with friends and family.

Remember: Many of the posts you write will not appeal to prospects and leads, so don’t overwhelm your workflows with them—segment to customers and then further segment to what you know about your customers (if they are considering additional purchases, if they are more apt to read your blog after purchase, and so on). Also, don’t go bonkers with a sales pitch in these posts; just like earlier goals of inbound, you want to provide information and establish yourself as a trusted partner—not put on the hard sell.

A Case for Case Studies

Case studies are great decision-stage content, helping you close the deal with leads. That said, when you partner with a customer to create a case study that highlights how you helped that partner be successful, loyalty builds.

For starters, for a customer to agree to be the subject of a case study, a high amount of satisfaction with your company must already exist—you’ve impressed the customer, and it wants to return the favor (and more than likely, the customer has already been touting your outstanding service to others).

Furthermore, a case study is more than a testimonial: It’s a chance for others to see that a customer is committed to excellence as well. In a B2B space, this is a bit of free advertising for the customer—a lead may see the case study and think, “Hey, if it’s good enough for Acme Company, it’s good enough for me…and I wonder what Acme is all about as well.”

Finally, a case study simply shows that you value the customer enough to highlight it in an important piece of content. The relationship strengthens even further, loyalty is built, and, perhaps most important, you have fulfilled your mission to delight.

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Joe Gillespie

About the author

Joe Gillespie is a Senior Brand Journalist for SmartBug Media. He graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in journalism and is a two-decade veteran of the newspaper industry. As a Senior Brand Journalist, Joe writes and edits inbound marketing content for SmartBug's clients. Read more articles by Joe Gillespie.