By Ritika Puri
There’s a hidden story to branded content.
While many companies think of their blog content, e-books, infographics and other content marketing assets as top-of-funnel awareness-building tools, they may be missing out on a powerful growth driver: existing customer relationships.
These days, market fragmentation is the norm rather than the exception. At any given moment, online audiences have untapped access to every single resource that they could possibly need – your competitor is just a Google search away. Not to mention, at any given time, brands are vying for the same audience’s attention.
As a result, distribution opportunities are becoming competitive. Take Facebook, for instance. In the past, marketers were able to drive traffic by simply publishing a status update linking back to their content. But now, pay-for-placement is the new norm: to reach target audiences, brands will need to commit to an ad spend. How do you make the most out of your investment?
An effective way to stand out and spark engagement is to invest in nurturing your existing audience relationships at scale. Here are three ways that content can help you deepen those relationships.
1) Create Content Based on Past Purchase Trends
One of the most powerful resources that brands have on their side is customer data – and when you remarket to customers based on this data, your chances of influencing a purchase are likely to be high. In a study from several years ago, Adobe analyzed 33 billion visits to 180 online retail websites (representing $51B in annual online sales) in Europe and the United States and found that 40 percent of all revenue comes from returning or repeat customers. And several years ago, Deloitte and Touche studied Fortune 500 leaders across industries and found that “customer-centric companies were 60 percent more profitable, two times as likely to exceed the return on shareholder investment, and twice as likely to exceed goals for pretax returns on assets, sales growth and market share.”
These trends represent good news for content marketers: customers who have done or are already doing business with your company are prime targets for the pieces you’re writing and content you’re creating. Not to mention, you already have purchase data on hand to tailor your content to actual purchase behavior—whereas with brand-new audiences, you’re often relying on guess work until your readers sign up for an account or make a purchase on your site.
How to Get Started
Here are some tips for creating content based on past purchase trends:
· Create buying guides that feature your highest-value products. Especially if you’re part of an e-commerce company, you can round up popular products and explain how customers are using them. Aim to spark engagement with these resources.
· Develop tip sheets, resources and educational content that help existing customers make more out of their purchases.
The key is to be helpful and empower your customers to become more successful. Using data from past purchase trends, you can make sure that your recommendations are on point.
2) Integrate Content with your Transactional Messages
From sign up confirmations to purchase receipts and reminder messages, companies of all shapes and sizes send transactional notifications to existing customers every day. And these communications tend to be sales-driven, matter-of-fact and to-the-point.
Why not use these opportunities to delight your existing customers? With every transactional email that you send, include a few links back to your blog to show that you truly are humans on the other side of the screen. With existing customer data and content speaking to past purchases in hand, you’re in a great position to share resources that are not only interesting to read but will be helpful in informing future purchases as well.
How to Get Started
· Conduct an audit of your transactional emails to identify potential content optimization areas. Figure out what messages you’re sending and to whom, in addition to where it makes the most sense to incorporate your blog content.
· Identify your existing customers’ greatest needs and pain points. Create more content around these topics, and integrate them with your transactional emails.
· If possible with your CRM or marketing automation software, take a look at your customers’ purchase activities on an individual level, and tailor your content to their exact needs.
3) Personalize Your Content to Your Audiences
At the end of the day, audiences want to read content that’s relevant to them. This unspoken rule of marketing especially holds true for existing customers who have gone through the process of vetting your company already.
Why not personalize your content to these audiences? Monitor their pain points, answer their questions and give them the resources that they need to make more informed decisions about their purchases and future relationship with your business.
Don’t be fooled: while personalization is a simple idea, execution can be a tough challenge. Focus on taking baby steps and ramping up your content program over time.
How to Get Started
· Using your CRM, identify your highest value customers. Take a look at the products they’re buying, and identify any patterns that you see surfacing.
· See if it’s possible to group these customer bases into specific segments. Conduct research on these segments to strategically identify content topics to create.
· Create content topics that you can send directly to specific audiences through a combination of your existing email newsletter, transactional emails and direct outreach.
While awareness and acquisition are important parts of the content marketing equation, don’t forget about your existing customer relationships. They’ve already bought into your company, which means that they’re likely to pay attention to the messaging that you’re putting out into the world. Focus on the questions that they have, and come up with solutions. Give them content that they’ll not only read – but that they will share with new audiences too.
Ritika Puri is a marketer turned entrepreneur and writer. She is the co-founder of Storyhackers, a business storytelling consultancy. After years of creating profitable multi-million dollar growth campaigns, she is passionate about helping her fellow marketers achieve the same.
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