When it comes to most of the marketing and advertising you’re doing for your business, the ultimate goal is making a sale.
That’s the holy grail. It’s what you’re after.
It’s the fruit of all that hard work you’ve been doing to promote your brand.
Chances are, you’ve got a sales funnel set up.
So when a customer makes a purchase, they’ve hit the very bottom of that funnel.
Where do they go from there?
The sale is not the end. In fact, it’s the beginning of a new phase in your brand’s relationship to that customer.
You want to keep them coming back.
You want them to become an advocate for you, spreading positive word of mouth as you carefully nurture your long term relationship with them.
In a recent blog post, The Content Marketing Institute explains how to do this effectively.
Aim below (or low on) the marketing funnel
IBM marketers are not alone in discovering the value of content that converts customers to advocates.
This final stage in the customer journey – also referred to as retention or loyalty – is the stage where the fewest marketers focus, according to CMI founder Joe Pulizzi.
Some marketing funnels include these stages; others stop short of them.
Either way, the point is to think about content that serves people beyond the sale as part of your marketing strategy.
Several speakers hit on this theme at Content Marketing World 2017.
- Todd Wheatland, in a talk called Marketing Below the Funnel, argued the best way to fill the top of the funnel is to cater to the content needs of people who already bought from you; happy customers bring in new customers.
- Marcus Sheridan noted too many marketers start at the top of the funnel rather than answering the questions the sales team gets asked every day, questions that appeal to serious prospects and customers alike: How do I solve problem X? How does X compare with Y? What does X cost? What’s the best way to do X or Y?
- Eric Hess gave examples of how REI content teams build loyalty and stay relevant between purchases by producing what he calls utility content: checklists, how-to-use guides, care and repair instructions, DIY hacks and tips, location guides, product reviews, buying guides, and videos that pass on skills and knowledge – for example, a video on how to replace a bike chain (as shown here).
Too often, Noz Urbina says, content marketers underestimate the potential of task-related information, which “helps audiences get things done and advance their objectives, creating real value in their lives.”
Andrea shared proof that when you focus on customers’ content needs, you attract prospects.
Almost a decade ago, IBM spent several years surveying its customers to determine to what extent prospective buyers value a company’s high-quality technical content – primarily product documentation, the post-sales content.
IBM’s findings: Most customers consider high-quality technical content “important” or “very important” in shaping four things (bolding is mine):
- Perception of the company (84.9%)
- Satisfaction with the product/solution (92%)
- Perception of product/solution quality (96.3%)
- Initial purchase decision (87.3%)
“The survey results opened our eyes,” Andrea says.
The data – especially the percentage of customers who said high-quality technical content had influenced buying decisions – left no doubt in IBMers’ minds: Content that helps people get value from what they’ve bought is content that attracts new customers.
You can read more about how to turn your customers into lifelong brand advocates in the full article from The Content Marketing Institute.