Marketing teams often spend a good chunk of time and resources on efforts to get new customers—think top-of-funnel blog posts, sales collateral, and everything in between. But creating post-sales content that helps improve the experience for new and long-term customers is just as crucial.
This is especially true in a post-pandemic world. The changes and financial challenges companies have faced over the past few years have highlighted the importance of getting repeat business and building long-term customer relationships. In fact, acquiring new customers can actually cost more than retaining them.
Customer success in general was a growing field before 2020, but COVID-19 exacerbated the need for these functions. At the outset of the pandemic, some businesses faced difficulties getting new customers and instead began focusing on improving the customer experience. Today, as we face a recession and even tighter budgets, customer experience and retention continues to be a top priority.
Shep Hyken, chief amazement officer at Shepard Presentations, wants to create a customer experience that encourages buyers to return. “One of the ways to do that is to understand the customer at a level where we can deliver content to them that’s relevant and useful,” he says.
Take the Mailchimp website as an example. It’s evident the company’s marketing goals go beyond brand awareness and lead generation. Free resources like Mailchimp 101 help new users get up and running by explaining the basics of using the email platform. Clearly, Mailchimp wants to boost the success of their current customers—and they’re using content marketing to do it.
Why post-sale content marketing matters
Content marketers need to create an exceptional experience for those who have transitioned from sales prospect to customer—and could potentially help spread the good word about your company.
“The challenging part for a marketer (or the whole company, to be honest) starts post-sale because now you need to prove the value that you’ve promised,” says Philipp Wolf, CEO of Custify. Wolf says you can publish content that guides buyers through the adoption phase of the product. This method is like how you might use social media, search engine optimization, ads, and sales documents to initially land a customer.
This type of content, Wolf says, should aim to:
- create product stickiness
“Retaining customers has a direct impact on business ROI and influences the cost of acquisition,” Wolf says. He points to Hubspot research that concludes that growing businesses (compared to struggling businesses) are 21 percent more likely to say customer success is critical. And customer success may very well be a differentiator for companies across industries as it can contribute to business value and growth.
Heidi Cohen, chief marketing officer at Actionable Marketing Guide, says customer success content may play the most significant role for expensive products or services. While this applies to both B2C and B2B sales, experts say that failing to keep a customer in the B2B space can have particularly dire implications because you often have many end users.
“To understand onboarding, you have to understand that you’re making a huge investment, and if they don’t buy from you again, it’s gone,” Cohen says.
Types of content that fuel customer success
Customer success in the B2C vs. B2B spaces can look very different, so the content you create for each may differ. In the B2C space, where the sales process is generally shorter, you may have more customers overall making a purchase. Also, resolving an issue with a product is usually simpler and more likely to involve automation.
B2C post-sale content
As a specific example of B2C post-sale content, Hyken points to buying a pair of golf shoes from a company such as Nike. First, you make the purchase and maybe sign up for a membership or loyalty program. Then you might get emails about golf shoes—perhaps about the latest and upcoming products in the space.
“Based on (my) buying patterns, they’re able to deliver information that’s relevant to me, interesting to me, and might get me to want to come back and do business with them again,” Hyken says.
The form and amount of customer success you create will depend on the product purchased and your audience’s needs, Cohen says. High-priced, high-involvement consumer purchases—like a car or financial products—may need more extensive information.
For more complex products (think IKEA furniture), “Smart marketers will work with product and operations people across their organization to facilitate the use of this type of content,” Cohen says.
But for many low-priced, low-involvement products, you can deliver customer success content via information (printed pieces, infographics, audio, video, etc.), URLs, text codes on the purchase receipts, or email follow-ups, Cohen says.
B2B post-sale content
Building a solid relationship is of the utmost importance when appealing to B2B customers. Conversely, losing the customer is likely to have more significant consequences. B2B customer success—for instance, a large company rolling out software to a team of employees—depends more on long-term business growth of the customer.
Often, B2B customer success content is needed to walk through adoption and onboarding for the product—and then how to use it on an ongoing basis.
Wolf (of Custify) says the best examples usually fall into categories including:
- Video tutorials or case studies showcasing how other clients used the product
- Product feature tours, which are documents or videos explaining how to use certain functions
- Use case guides, which can be documents explaining in detail how to integrate and configure the product for different use cases (for example, how to set up customer success software to reduce churn through automation)
- Product articles, such as how-to articles exploring new features or explaining how to use the product in different situations
- Battle cards or one-pagers that compare your product to one or many competitors, are typically used in pre-sale. But they can also be used post-sale to remind customers why they chose you in the first place.
- Whitepapers and e-books that, for example, can be shared during onboarding to showcase the user or team experience and explain how the product works.
Tips for creating content to improve the customer experience
Keeping the pipeline full can feel like an impossible task with a seemingly endless demand for content within every part of the marketing funnel. Still, there are a few steps you can take to stay inspired and plan an effective content calendar.
1. Approach content creation from a holistic perspective
Plan content for the different stages of the entire customer journey—including after the sale—from the start. “You want to be able to build all the content together,” Cohen says, especially if you’re leveraging video or other pricey content formats.
Start building a relationship with your customer by using what you learned about them while creating pre-sale content. It can help inform what formats and topics will resonate after the sale.
2. Prove to your customer that your product solves their problems
You sold your product to the customer by mentioning their pain points. At this point, you need to prove your product effectively resolves them. “The content you develop needs to talk about solutions, examples, use cases, best practices, and knowledge sharing,” Wolf says.
3. Focus on maintaining a relationship with the customer
Especially for a big B2B sale, it’s important to establish and maintain a strong relationship with the customer.
“When they start to engage with your company and your product, you want to make sure the experience is great,” says Stephanie Diamond, president of Digital Media Works, her marketing and content consultancy. “You want to develop that relationship; you want to make sure they’re coming back for more information.”
4. Don’t overwhelm the customer
While post-sales content is essential, you should try to be helpful without being too overbearing or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, ignoring the customer. Diamond, who also wrote Content Marketing Strategies for Dummies, shares a few ways to strike the right balance:
- Anticipate customers’ questions and create content to demonstrate you understand their needs
- Create a community where customers can interact with others who may have the same questions or interests
- Continue to send discounts and offers to show you still care about customer needs
- Respond to questions quickly and ask for feedback
- Hold live webinars on a regular schedule that gives customers the opportunity to ask questions
So the next time you’re mapping out your content journey, remember to keep your current customers in mind, too, with the goal of improving their overall experience and perhaps even creating raving fans for your brand. We live in a time where shoe-string budgets and smaller teams still need to produce (a lot of) quality content that converts. Creating deep relationships with happy customers is as crucial as getting them to buy in the first place.