Nurturing the existing customer – maximising the customer lifecycle.

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‘One of the biggest complaints customers make about marketing messages is that they’re all about selling something. The best sales pitch is a good customer relationship.’ (siriusdecisions.com). This is very true. Nurturing existing customers and ensuring their ongoing repeat business always represents a far lower cost per sale than a brand new customer acquisition. Of course you have to constantly be growing your new business pipeline, but it is amazing how many companies fail to maximise the value of existing clients or very warm prospective customers – people who may have bought once or have not bought, but who are regularly visiting your site or clicking on your email communications. Maybe a tailored offer or reward is all it would take to keep them coming back and purchasing again?


Build Advocacy and the customers will come

Brand loyalty builds advocacy and advocacy grows your customer base. Look at your relationship with your customers and ensure that you consider the customer lifecycle and apply it to your marketing strategy. Many brands are happy when a consumer reaches the purchase stage as success has been achieved, but a surprising number of companies consider ‘job done’. The next three stages; experience, retention and loyalty and word of mouth are however vital. 
  
Connect…don’t just collect!
When it comes to applying this cycle to social media, one of the biggest misconceptions that companies make is that they collect consumers rather than connecting with them. ‘Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who signed up just to win a free iPad from you.’ (forbes.com). Many companies believe that the more fans they have on social media the better and they use lots of different competitions to try and get people to follow or sign up to their pages, however if they are not engaging with them ongoing then it is pointless.

It is similar to advertising in a public space where thousands of people can see your advert and putting no engaging tagline or image on it. People will see it and completely forget about it a few minutes later once they have walked past. You need to make time to engage with your consumers rather than spending all your time marketing to the masses just for most of them to drop away before committing to a purchase or purchasing and forgetting about you.

Reward Loyalty
Odeon does a great job of nurturing its consumers. They offer a loyalty card, which consumers can use to save points each time they spend money on tickets or food. With this card consumers must confirm their email address which Odeon uses to send out monthly newsletters and information on up and coming events. They also offer special deals, early screenings and free merchandise to their members to say thank you for being loyal to their company. This scheme encourages card holders to visit Odeon cinemas over others in order to collect points. By offering complimentary tickets or early screenings they are not only keeping their members happy but are advertising to new consumers through word of mouth.

Nurture – don’t sell
‘The biggest mistake you can make is to turn customer relationship nurturing into an ongoing stream of sales pitches.’ (Siriusdecisions.com). By churning out messages to the masses you are essentially training customers to ignore your messages. By ensuring that you communicate and listen to what your customers have to say and tailoring content exclusively to different customer groups you make them feel valued. A personal approach will help your social media status, and result in customers seeing your messages as worth reading and of value.

A brilliant example of working with customers you have already, is the Walkers ‘Flavour’ campaign. This encourages consumers to recommend new flavours of crisps to the company, the top flavours are then produced as limited edition and another poll is sent out to consumers to pick which flavour they want to make into a permanent one. This campaign encourages people who eat Walkers crisps to choose a new flavour, making them feel valued because they are included in the company’s decision making process.

Maximising the customer lifecycle has multiple benefits. It lowers your cost per sale, it helps create advocates and engaged customers. All this encourages new customers to your brand, which in turn reduces your cost per new customer acquisition. Rather than investing all your time and money in brand new customer acquisition, take time to look after the ones you already have and they will more often than not reward you for it.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Paul Stephen
Paul Stephen
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
With over 25 years in marketing, Paul is one of the UK's leading experts on digital marketing. He oversees the agency and often lectures and consults within the industry on digital and marketing related subjects and has a particular interest and skills in the travel and tourism sectors.

Paul operates nationally and internationally, helping brands to think outside the traditional horizontal and vertical channels and transform their business with creative multi-channel marketing and digital re-invention.
Paul Stephen

Paul Stephen

30 Oct 2014 - 5 minute read
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