Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 | 6 min read
Creating more engaging content is a top priority for marketers this year. No surprise there; it was a key focus last year, too.
There’s a reason they want to get it right.
Many companies are using content to generate leads and obtain new customers. But the customer journey doesn’t end there. There’s a big opportunity for both B2B and B2C marketers to use content to engage with customers past acquisition and drive retention and loyalty.
Customer service has always mattered, but it’s becoming more important than ever—especially since people have an increasing amount of outlets to share how they feel about a company.
Even just one poor experience or negative perception can escalate quickly on social media and cause some serious damage to a brand’s reputation. The good news for brands is that a positive interaction can be just as powerful. According to a survey by Ipsos, 52% of consumers shared a bad experience, but 56% shared a good experience.
By marrying content and customer service, marketers can directly shape public perception of the brand and tap into the power of advocacy to drive new business opportunities.
Too many companies think that the customer journey ends with the purchase, but in reality that’s just the midpoint. Companies can ask themselves the questions below to ensure they provide thoughtful and relevant content across the entire journey.
What problems will our customers run into?
Answering this question requires being upfront about potential issues with your products, yes, but it also means thinking ahead to anticipate problems that are out of your control.
Say you’re a tire company and winter is approaching. While you can’t prevent seasonal problems such as dead batteries and frozen gas lines, you can send content to customers to help them avoid these issues.
What content will help solve these problems, or even better, prevent them altogether?
Customers today require a high level of personalization from brands. Companies can solve issues by generating content that is specific to the exact product that a customer has. It may require a bit more legwork than goes into broader materials, but the payoff will be higher.
Sticking with the tire company: if your customers live in a region with harsh winters, you can address a problem you know they may face by creating instructional content that shows how to put chains on tires or provides advice on shopping for the right winter tires.
How can we best distribute the content to customers? Should we be reactive or proactive?
This is a fine line to walk, since companies don’t want to inundate their audience and turn customers into detractors. If the situation calls for it, however, proactive outreach can be the right approach.
A car manufacturer with vehicles that detect problems internally, for example, can send a customer a follow-up email about steps to take regarding their check-engine light that just turned on.
Existing technologies can help you implement a customer-service-driven content strategy. Social monitoring tools, for example, can help identify conversations targeted specifically at your brand—giving you insight into what customers need and want from you. And social listening tools can be used to develop a holistic view of what your industry, customers, competitors are talking about—helping you identify broader topics relevant to your brand.
But as you adopt new technologies, keep integration in mind and ensure that both teams have access to a singular platform. It’s crucial to give your content team visibility into customer care issues, and your customer care team visibility into your content calendar and brand assets. If your software is integrated, it’ll be easier to coordinate your processes and people.
Your marketing team and your customer support team must be aligned because both sides can learn quite a bit from one another. If your support team tells your marketing team that customers have been concerned about a specific issue in recent weeks, the marketers can quickly produce content that addresses the need.
This achieves two important objectives: it equips the marketing team to produce material that’s relevant to its audience, and it can help customers solve an issue, thus lightening the load on the customer care team. It’s a vital, symbiotic relationship.
The content you provide for your customers should spur them to engage with you, return to you, and ultimately depend on you. Achieving this requires a sustained, strategic effort to generate content that addresses customer needs and meets them on their terms—beyond the moment they walk out of the store or press “pay” online.
With customers empowered and connected at an unprecedented level, providing relevant content at all stages of the customer journey becomes all the more important. The advice laid out above can allow you to chart your content strategy of the future, and reach your audience with more success than ever.