In most industries, the biggest focus for content marketing is to attract prospects, and convert them into paying customers. The idea of spending time, energy and money to keep your existing customers can be hard to swallow—but customer marketing strategies are so important.
A CMO Council study found customers who have been loyal to a SaaS brand for 3+ years tend to spend 67% more than customers who have only been using a service for less than six months.
Customer marketing strategies for engagement and retention use some of the same marketing tactics as “top of the funnel” marketing. For example, customer success content should be crafted to nurture, care for and feed your subscriber base. Regular helpings of your insights will keep customers engaged, inspired and focused.
You may ask yourself, “What kind of content should my company create for existing customers? Didn’t we already convince them of the value of our services before they became customers?” In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of creating customer marketing strategies and content that keep your customers loyal for longer.
Here are five content-centric customer marketing tactics your company should try, and reasons why they work so well.
1. Enriched case studies and testimonials
Case studies are a great way to convince a prospect to contract your services, yet they also play an equally important role after a customer subscribes. New customers need guidance on how to set realistic goals for the business improvements your application can deliver. Case study content can also play a very important role in their SaaS onboarding process. They can provide new customers with creative ways to set up and use your software.
Email campaigns targeted at existing customers should include case studies and testimonials for the purposes of retention. Case studies are great topics for email newsletters, as they don’t come across as “salesy”, and are good ways to tell stories about how your product provides a variety of benefits to different businesses.
Case studies should be written like the hero’s journey and describe how a customer was successful in their SaaS adoption. They demonstrate your commitment to successful deployments even when there are obstacles and forks in the road. They inspire and enlighten companies with common challenges and goals.
Case studies should also include descriptions of benefits like:
- productivity improvements
- profitability gains
- ability to meet compliance requirements
- improved communication and collaboration
Our client Okta has made excellent use of case studies, and they are able to leverage their strong customer relationships to help convert prospects to customers, while inspiring existing clients to broaden their use of Okta’s security and identity services.
2. Product datasheets and professional services sell sheets
You may have tiered (standard, professional or enterprise) or industry-specific versions of your service. Product datasheets are helpful for existing customers if there’s a functional gap that could be addressed by a plan upgrade or a complementary service to augment ongoing use of your services.
Datasheets can help customers understand the benefits of your tiered subscription models (like in the case of Office 365 or QuickBooks). A SaaS upgrade is much less disruptive than a migration, so informing your customer base about expansion options is a good way to minimize churn.
Further, you likely offer consulting services to tailor your SaaS application to unique customer requirements. Datasheets present the features, benefits and use cases for what you have to offer—without the depth of a white paper. Sure, you could (and likely should) provide similar content on your website, but datasheets and sell sheets are easy to print, share and use at trade shows, conferences and user group meetups.
Though a customer is already using your software, they are still a prospect for professional services, success management, training and partner services. Some SaaS companies have plug-ins to third-party products, or enhanced service tiers which address specific use case requirements.
Sell sheets for consulting services communicate how your team knows your application better than anyone. They should let your customers know that by contracting your customer success team, it will accelerate the process of mapping how their business runs in the real world to how your application works in the digital realm.
3. eBooks and white papers
Your white paper library should provide timely resources to educate your customers on how they can either broaden their use of your product across their company, or discover new ways to use the functions provided within your software. For example, some SaaS CRMs can be customized to support business functions like event, volunteer or partner relationship management.
A new customer may have bought your SaaS software because of its integration capabilities with their accounting system or ecommerce website. eBooks and white papers play an important role after the sale by educating your customers on how to integrate your application into their application ecosystem so as to make your solution an indelible and integral part of their business.
Shopify publishes a broad spectrum of guides, ebooks and white papers on topics ranging from creating a business plan to shipping and crowdfunding. Even though some of these topics are outside the scope of the services they provide, Shopify demonstrates they care about their customers’ total business success with their content assets.
4. Knowledge base and support articles
Empowering customers with conversationally-written support resources can motivate them during the onboarding stage and beyond. Support content shouldn’t just describe how to use your product—it should also explain why a certain feature is important from a user perspective. Customer marketing to cultivate customer loyalty and engagement helps at renewal time, and drives more SaaS utilization.
For example, a sales CRM user that learns why they need to move a sales stage forward to convert it to a “Win” will find it easier to remember how to do it. The “Dummies” book series is a good “physical world” example of how clearly written educational content helps to increase engagement.
When you have a customer who is frustrated by an administrative function of your cloud-based app, a well-written knowledge base article can alleviate exasperation, and divert calls from your support center.
SaaS companies that offer limited-time trials or demos of their application often provide unlimited access to self service support, without access to live agent support. A ZenDesk survey found that 67% of customers prefer self-serve support over calling a support center.
Expertly crafted support articles help to convert tire-kickers to paying customers, and motivate paying customers to broaden their investment in your services. They can also be optimized for SEO and used as social media posts.
Mailchimp and Zapier have some of the best SaaS support sites in the business. They are written in conversational language, are easy to navigate and they provide thorough how-to information without getting too complex. User experience is a key ingredient in SaaS customer engagement. A KissMetrics study shows that the more customers log in and use a SaaS product, the less likely they will cancel it and move to a competitor.
5. Inspire customers to interact on community forums
The best SaaS portals for paying customers focus on making visitors feel like they are part of the family. Salesforce.com often uses the term “Ohana” or “family” when it refers to its employees, partners, employees, customers and broader communities. Producing content that makes users feel like they are part of a family or community encourages them to participate and share in community events like user group meetings, in online forums and on social media.
Community portals can be a captive audience to share surprise promotions, such as free storage, discounts for add-on users, or no-cost feature enhancements. Gamification strategies like digital trophies or badges can also incent participation in online user communities.
Community forums for user groups are fertile sharing grounds for partners, end user customers and your employees to share articles they find valuable. Public social media websites like LinkedIn and Twitter are great for publicizing content to convert prospects to paid subscriptions. Yet for existing customers, sharing customer success content within the “walled garden” of a community site or forum is a great way to increase engagement.
Microsoft’s Dynamics 365/CRM User Group community portal is a great example of a SaaS company leveraging their customer and partner ecosystems to amplify their content for great customer marketing.
Over to you
Does your SaaS content marketing strategy grind to a halt when a prospect is converted to a paying customer? How much effort do you put into your customer marketing?
Let’s discuss how customer success content can help you foster longer customer retention and stronger partner relationships.