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How to Build a Content Strategy for Customer Retention

March 1, 2021 5 min read

How to Build a Content Strategy for Customer Retention

Content marketing is all about generating fresh, new leads, right? Wrong.

As marketers, sometimes we get so caught up in attracting new customers with our efforts, that we forget about retaining the ones we already have. Yet, these customers are really the most valuable of them all. In fact, existing customers are 51% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more than new customers.

So if we want to be smart marketers, it’s time to ditch that myth. We should be equally concerned, if not more focused, on retaining our current customers. But how do we build a content strategy for customer retention while still generating new leads?

Here are some key insights we gathered from Lou Cimaglia, Senior Content Strategist at Liberty Mutual.

What is Customer Retention and Why is it Important?

Customer retention is known as the process of maintaining and growing an existing customer base. The key here is that it’s different from customer acquisition. These are customers that you’ve already converted at least once, and your goal is to retain them.

The idea of customer retention is to build lasting relationships with consumers, so they keep coming back. Brand loyalty is one of the most valuable things a company can have. If you do it right, they might even become brand ambassadors, and turn other potential customers onto your company.

Acquiring customers takes a lot of time and effort, plus it can be a major expense for businesses. It can be 5-25 times more expensive to generate new customers than retain current customers. Businesses can save a lot of expenses just by shifting their focus.

But to do customer retention right, it’s important to note that there’s not a lot of wiggle room. A PWC study found that 59% of customers who say they truly love a product or service will walk away from that brand after several bad experiences and 17% will walk away after just one bad experience. With this in mind, creating a better user experience can be well worth the investment. 

PWC Study of Brand interaction

Solution - Create a UX Content Strategy

Cimaglia’s strategy at Liberty Mutual has been to create a UX (user experience) content strategy which he defines as the creation, organization and deployment of content to improve the customer experience. Liberty Mutual has seen their customer retention grow because of it.

According to Liberty Mutual’s model, the best UX content strategies take a three faceted approach: to educate, advocate and reciprocate. When using these three aspects together correctly, they can create trust with the customer, ultimately leading to a better customer experience.

Steps to Building Trust from Inbound

It worked for Liberty Mutual. They saw dramatic results by implementing this into their marketing efforts, increasing time on site by 800%, cutting bounce rates in half, reaching 90% of their customers, and having a recommendation rate of 75%.

So how do we recreate this type of UX content strategy in our marketing efforts? Let’s dive in.

Educate

No one wants to feel stupid.

Education is a cornerstone of inbound marketing, so this shouldn’t be new to us, but sometimes we forget to look at content through the eyes of a new customer. And that’s where content strategies can go wrong.

Ever hear of the curse of knowledge? This happens when sales reps and marketers who are ingrained in an industry automatically assume their customers have the background to understand their language.

Imagine how you would feel if you knew nothing about cars, but when you went to the dealership to purchase one, the salesman started spewing all these jargon terms at you. You’d probably feel a little stupid. And that’s exactly the type of response we want to avoid.

We need to educate our customers, without putting them down with our knowledge. Part of building a UX content strategy is knowing how buyers are speaking about your product or service, so you're able to relate to them.

You also want to make sure your educational content has context. Seemingly good information given at the wrong time of the buyer’s journey isn’t good information.

Start reconciling this by auditing your current content. Think about what questions your customers would be asking at each stage, and if your content is adequately answering those questions. You might not even have to create new content. It might just be as simple as repurposing already existing content in a different format to make it more helpful.

Your customer should be able to confidently explain your product or service to someone else. That’s the goal of your educational content. If they have confidence in their understanding, they’ll have confidence they’re spending their money in a smart way, and therefore are more likely to do so again.

SEE IT IN ACTION:

Here’s a great example of content being used to educate buyer personas at the right place at the right time. 

Advocate

People don’t always do what’s best for them - especially if they’re confused, stressed, or need a solution as soon as possible. So to have an effective UX content strategy, it’s important that you make it super easy for customers to pick a good option. 

Advocacy for your customer means:

  • Working with their best interests in mind. 
  • Providing a solution at the right time. 
  • Making the buying process easier. 

So how do we achieve advocacy with our customers? These tools can help.

  • Chunking Information - Create short, digestible pieces of helpful content for your customers.

  • Progressive Disclosure - Provide step by step directions that make it clear for your customer what actions they should take next.

  • Plain language - Know how to talk to your customer and avoid jargon.

  • Reductionism - Only give the information a customer needs. Don’t overwhelm them with an overload of unnecessary information.

  • Defaulting - Use default options on websites to make the buying process easier. A Harvard University Study found that when users are presented with default options online, they change them less than 5% of the time. Set your customers up for success by defaulting the following: 

    • Payment details to speed up online transactions. 
    • Geographic locations to avoid making users scroll through lengthy drop down menus. 
    • Search auto completion to speed up online searches on your website. 
    • Reasonable suggested donation amounts for fundraisers or charities. 

By advocating for your customers with your content, you’ll set people up to succeed with the best possible outcome, thus creating a better customer experience that encourages them to return. 

Reciprocate

Brand Advocacy and Reciprocation Steps

People want to feel valued, especially when they give you their business. By rewarding your customers, you’ll show your them how much their loyalty matters. This is critical to turn buyers into repeat customers and - the ultimate goal - repeat customers into brand promoters.

Typically, businesses use a loyalty program or discount offers to check off the reciprocate step. But your UX content strategy needs to go deeper than this to really be effective.

Here are two ideas to help build upon customer loyalty.

  • Find common ground. People expect their brands to represent their values. By finding common ground, taking a stand on social issues, or supporting a cause, you’ll build deeper relationships with your customers. When customers feel connected to their brands, 57% will increase their spending and 76% will buy from them over a competitor. Use your UX content strategy to serve as a connector, by fostering relationships with your own customer base, and bringing people together even over difficult and divided issues.

  • Use Personalization. In marketing today, personalization is expected. If people feel like they are being spoken to directly, they are more likely to be comfortable and thus trust your brand. Trust leads to repeat buying, brand loyalty, and brand promotion.

Where to Start Implementing your UX Content Strategy

So now that you know how to build your UX content strategy, how do you start implementing it?

Start by analyzing where your current content strategy is failing customers. Take a hard look at the customer journey, and determine the points where people are falling off. Pay special attention to the points in the buyer’s journey where a specific decision needs to be made, and focus your education and advocacy efforts there.

Talk with customer service representatives, sales reps or account managers. Are there common questions or complaints that they are constantly hearing from customers? Come up with a strategy to address these issues before they arise in the future.

Finally, don’t be afraid to take a stand. Be clear about what your company values and represents. Use this identity to build personal relationships with your customers. By using your content strategy to put their needs and concerns above your own, your customers will put a lot more belief in the promise of your brand.

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This post was originally published January 19, 2021

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