Marketing to Customers: The Continuum for Content Marketing

Updated: June 08, 2010

To construct a continuum for content marketing with customers, consider the following:

Status Quo
Once a prospect becomes a customer, their status quo is different. They no longer have the problem they set out to solve as a prospect. Any marketing content developed must take into account the customer's current situation as the foundation from which to address why more change is beneficial to their future success.

Needs and Priorities
Given the customer's status quo, what new needs or priorities were created once the original problem was solved? What features might they not be using that can help them reap even more value than they originally required at the initial purchase? Are there industry trends that point to the need to proactively take next steps that you can help them achieve? Create content that showcases your company's expertise in helping them meet their future business objectives. Use in-depth customer success stories that show just how you've expanded your role to create richer, enduring value for other customers.

Your company already has an established relationship with your customers. Unfortunately many companies act like they've never met their customers. This is evidenced by sending them information that's no longer relevant to them after the purchase or pushing up-sell offers without foundation. Even worse, acting like you don't know them diminishes your credibility as a partner and works to establish that perception of indifference that leads to defection. Our customers are our greatest asset and the importance of continuous engagement across the entirety of the customer's life cycle cannot be overstated. Marketers need to focus on continuing to grow the relationship established during the pre-sale instead of starting over once the ink has dried.

Ability to Target
During pre-sale marketing, it's a challenge to target and personalize our marketing content appropriately. With customers, marketers have the data to do so. Or we should. If marketers are leveraging their marketing automation systems for customer communications, continuing to expand profiles, monitor interests and respond to online behavior is less complex. The integration with CRM systems will help us work with account managers to increase visibility into how we can best provide continuous value to each customer. With the ability to use marketing automation technology to finely tune our customer segmentation, messaging can become highly relevant to each niche a company serves.

Here are a few tips for creating a strategy for a content marketing continuum:

Make sure your marketing automation system is monitoring your customer portal.

  • Tracking and responding to customer behavior is one key to loyalty and satisfaction.
  • Knowing which content they engage with will help you determine and meet ongoing needs with customer engagement programs.
  • Continuous profiling will help to keep your database clean.

Approach customer marketing programs just as you would prospect marketing programs.

  • Develop customer personas. You can likely modify prospect personas, but the key is to realize the differences between prospects and customers.
  • Determine what needs arise after the original problem that caused the purchase is solved.
  • Develop a series of questions your customers will have about answering those new needs. Remember that what they know now is more than they knew before. That changes the stakes.
  • Answer this new slate of questions with content designed to be highly relevant to specific segments or niches. There are a variety of choices for segmentation given the vast amount of data you have already collected.

Expand your collaborative efforts. In pre-sale marketing, you likely worked with salespeople. In post-sale marketing, you need to collaborate with salespeople, account managers and your service and support people.

Talk to your customers. This should be much easier than trying to talk to prospects. The key here is to ensure that you ask questions about them, not just about how much they like your products or how satisfied they are with your service. Find out how their situations have changed and what new needs have arisen now that the original problem is history.

Create a new lead scoring model for customers. The way you score customers will be different than the way you score leads. The triggers are different and their behavior must be interpreted from a different perspective. For example, is their behavior indicative that they might benefit from outreach by customer support? Or is it indicating that they may have a need to purchase additional services that your company provides?

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