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Voices of Search Podcast: Using content to retain post-purchase customers

Episode 41 Overview

Welcome back to Content Optimization Week. In our 4th episode, Marlon and Ben discuss how content can be used to create a virtuous cycle of customer retention, satisfaction and up-sell. Marlon also speaks to the similarities between content developed to educate and engage in pre-purchase phases and how it can be optimized for your customer’s needs. Join us to better understand how to be there for your customers with the content they need and the rewards that can be enjoyed with secondary and tertiary purchases, post-sale.

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Episode Transcript

Ben:                 Welcome back to Content Optimization Week on the Voices of Search Podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day, covering what you need to know to optimize every stage of your content marketing funnel. Joining us for Content Optimization Week is Marlon Glover, who is the Content Services Team Lead here at Searchmetrics. Marlon is responsible for shepherding Searchmetrics’ largest and most strategic clients to content marketing success.

Ben:                 Today we’re going to discuss optimizing your post-sale customer retention content. But before we get started, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We’re an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses, monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions. To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a complementary digital diagnostic. A member of our digital strategies group will provide you with a consultation that reviews how your website content and SEO strategies can all be optimized. To schedule your free digital diagnostic, go to Searchmetrics.com/diagnostic.

Ben:                 Here’s the fourth installment of Content Optimization Week, with Marlon Glover, Searchmetrics’ Content Services Team Lead. Marlon, welcome back to Content Optimization Week on the Voices of Search Podcast.

Marlon:            Hey man, good to talk to you again.

Ben:                 It’s great to hear from you. I feel like this is the part of the race where, it feels like we’re past the finish line. We talked about building awareness. We talked about building credibility. We talked about getting past the hurdle of the sale. We’re done, right? We don’t have anything else to talk about. Let’s just make it up.

Marlon:            Finish lines, hurdles, man, I’m ready to do an extra lap.

Ben:                 Well, what happens after you’ve finish the sale? We still want to keep the relationship going with our customers. Right? Doesn’t matter-

Marlon:            Follow them.

Ben:                 … ecommerce or any sort of business. You want to keep the romance alive.

Marlon:            Oh man, after the sale, that’s when the fun begins. That’s when the client is really experiencing our product.

Ben:                 Talk to me about, how you build a relationship and what you need to be building for your customers, on the content side.

Marlon:            Yeah, sure. This is when you start getting into their customer life cycle journey. If you’re a SaaS company, which we are, we’re thinking about onboarding. We’re thinking about making sure that first impression … You can argue that first impressions happened at the awareness stage, but we’re thinking that first impression with that product, and how they take it out of the box, figuratively speaking in some cases, what that experience looks like. We want to make sure that they have a clear understanding of how to get the most value out of what they’ve just purchased.

Marlon:            I would say that’s the first step in continuing our content strategy, post-purchase, is making sure that they have the information available to them to really solve the problem. I’m starting to think about some of these how-to videos or how-to pieces of content, the step-by-step guides, comprehensive guides that you see some of the more progressive organizations creating, post-sale.

Ben:                 To me, this is about documentation. Right? This is, okay great, you’ve decided to purchase a product or service. We’ve documented ways that you can get the most out of it, so you’re not going to have as many touches as you might if we just left you alone, that end up in customer services lap, that end up back in sales, that end up on your CEO’s desk with an angry customer not understanding how to use your product.

Marlon:            Yeah, that’s right. There’s some documentation. There’s the traditional user guides, and as I mentioned before, comprehensive guides, these robust pieces that may even come to play in some cases, earlier in the funnel. Sometimes you have very technical or detail-oriented folks that have pretty significant information around what they’re looking to solve for. They’re looking for specific details about your solution and how to use it earlier on in that process. As I mentioned before, that journey isn’t necessarily linear. Maybe you have individuals that have prior experiences with other solutions and products that they’re looking to these types of guides to help answer for them and uncover potential challenges that we have. But, then there’s other types of content too, that play a role in the retention in post-sales.

Ben:                 Help me understand first off, how do you figure out what content to create to keep a healthy relationship with your existing customers?

Marlon:            I think it’s still important for us to do some of those things we did earlier on. Right? I mentioned in our first conversation earlier this week, that that keyword research is still pretty important. Right? I mentioned before that it was important in the consideration stage that we separate the branded contend from the non-branded content. At this stage we’re looking at the question modifiers that I mentioned before, the who, what, where, why, when. When should I consider doing X with this product, for example?

Marlon:            We start taking those branded terms that are related to our company or our solutions, and products, and we start identifying the questions that are searched the most for that. I would start there, to give me some guidance in terms of the content and the questions that have the most demand for our customer base. That’s where I would start. Again, I mentioned in our second conversation, is that we should also be thinking about leveraging our internal teams, the folks that are having conversations with our customers, our clients, the customer success reps that are getting these questions. They don’t necessarily need to pick up the phone and have those questions answered. They’re able to have a very easy access to the information that they may be seeking when they purchased our product, the solution.

Ben:                 The interesting thing to me about this type of content is, not only how do you understand what to write, but how are you harvesting your organization for some of the pain points customers have had so you can help answer those questions in advance, but also where does it live and what’s the experience? This is where you get into, how are you building and monitoring communities? Do you have special onboarding section? You’ve got to get a little creative in terms of how you’re getting this content to your customers, so they don’t end up in, like I mentioned, your customer service, your sales, or your CEO’s lap. Talk to me a little bit about the format of content that use see being useful when you’re going through your retention type content.

Marlon:            Yeah, sure. The way I typically think about it is, there is public-facing content, so again, if we find that there is significant demand and questions being asked that are related to our brand and products, I believe that content should be open to the public. It should be indexed by Google and searchable. You bring up a good point around these community forums. What we’ve seen with some organizations, and one particular technology company comes to mind. They have great community forums that are behind, within a client portal. It allows individuals to be able to speak a little bit more openly about some of the problems that they are having and challenges they could be facing, not necessarily with our product, but just in the task that they’re looking to accomplish.

Marlon:            When I think about this, I’m thinking about it applies to both B2B and B2C, but folks that are superusers of a technology, or our folks that are key users of a product, and fall within this specific lifestyle, so path runners that may have a benefit from leveraging insights from their community. I believe through that community engagement, if it lives within your site, then you become the moderator for that. You become sort of the ambassador for that community as well.

Ben:                 I think building a community is an interesting idea here. Not only does it solve multiple places, it gives your customers a place where they can interact with your customers in a place that they’re creating valuable content, allows you to continue to build their experience, but it also allows them to answer other leads questions. When we talk about community and building the relationships with your customers, this reminds me of something that we talked about yesterday. In our last episode where we were talking about getting reviews, and building those relationships and getting your customer’s feedback. Talk to me a little bit about just some of the ways that you’ve advised people that are interested in developing more content, to get the most out of their customer relationships.

Marlon:            Sure. We mentioned harvesting information from our internal teams is still very important, whether it’s through our communities, if we have the resources to build that up, or whether it’s through individual touchpoints to really surface insights from our customers. That’s one of the places I go to is, if we have the benefit of having a community forum, it allows us to touch our customers, to get information to them and to receive information from them based off of what they’re discussing in those forums, and then to have a more one-to-one relationship with those individuals, to cultivate new content.

Marlon:            The other thing I’d say is that, there was a point in time, I believe about eight years ago when a lot of marketers wanted to gravitate away from direct marketing and email marketing. Well, I still very much believe that this is still a very relevant channel. When we talk about really identifying some of those challenges, whether it be through our search data, to determine what questions folks are asking related to our products and brand, or whether it be through our community forums, or our internal teams that have direct relationships with customers and answering those customers, we need to be aggregating that information and distributing it out to our existing client base. Email and newsletters is another great channel for us to distribute that information to our existing customers because if we are identifying the common pains, then we can be pretty sure that the rest of our customers could benefit from hearing how they could be addressing challenges that they may be having, or they may be facing in the future.

Ben:                 I think you’re talking about a distribution lever for sending your content out, which is-

Marlon:            Absolutely.

Ben:                 … something that’s applicable across the entire funnel. To me, when we’re thinking about what the content SEOs need to create to maximize the value of the post-purchase relationship, the onboarding process, making sure that people are happy, making sure that you’re building good customer relationships, showing people that you’re going to take care of them after they’ve made the purchase, is something that’s going to help you with your pre purchase conversions. Building a community, cultivating user-generated content, harvesting your existing customer relationships to get your testimonials, all things that feed back into the front end of your marketing funnel.

Ben:                 Then, using email, as you mentioned, as a distribution lever to get that content out there, to make sure that it’s well-trafficked. Mostly like driving engagement to your forums by emailing people links and questions, that’s going to get them to create more content, to give you more testimonials. There’s a lot of value there.

Ben:                 We talked about creating forums. We talked about your onboarding content. What are some of the other formats or topics of content that you recommend SEOs and content marketers produce to make sure they build healthy customer relationships?

Marlon:            You brought up a good point before, and we typically think about this funnel as sort of this, one way in, one way out approach. But, if we look at this type of content as a cycle, this retention type of content can cycle back towards the front end of that process. I think it’s important that we don’t lose sight of that. I don’t think that this type of content should be significantly different than the type of content that we’re looking to create in the earlier stages of the funnel, because if we’re effectively onboarding, we’re engaging, we’re helping them use our product technology, and we’re showing that we’re there for them, at some point they’re going to be looking to make another purchase.

Marlon:            Now, whether that’s a cross-sale, or whether that’s, this product has reached its expiration date and they’re looking to make another purchase, we should be effectively teaching them in a similar fashion as we have before. When I’m thinking about different types and topics, the types aren’t significantly different, because again, we’re talking about the same buyers. We’re talking about some of the same solutions. But, we should think about the type of content that we create, or at least the topics that align with individuals that have used our product. We need to understand in some form or capacity, the experience that they may have had in using that product and how they can enhance that experience the second go-around.

Ben:                 What I’m hearing is, you should always be selling. Right? You have a customer. You’re more likely to get a repeat buyer, or a higher value of a customer if they already have a relationship with you. Even though somebody is post-purchase, keep your foot on the gas, so that you can continue to upsell, offer more value, create more content that’s going to have them deepen their relationship. That provides more value to the organization, so building-out the product pages for people that are already your customers. Special experiences, replicating some of the things that are already on your website, but under the guise that it is for a specific person that is of high value, also has value to you.

Marlon:            Yeah, that’s right. Always be selling. Always be closing. The Glengarry Glen Ross approach to content marketing.

Ben:                 Put that coffee down. Coffee is for closers.

Marlon:            That’s right.

Ben:                 Okay, on that note, I think we’ve covered enough about how to use your post-purchase content to both drive people back into your marketing funnel, how to cultivate your existing customer relationships to create more value, to build more credibility with your leads, and also to continue to sell and make those relationships more valuable. On that note, that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search Podcast.

Ben:                 Thanks for listening to my conversation with Marlon Glover, Searchmetrics’ Content Services Team Lead. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Marlon, you can find a link to his bio in our show notes, or you can contact him on Twitter, where his handle is @Marlon_Glover.

Ben:                 If you have general marketing questions or if you want to talk about this podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can tweet me @BenJShap. If you’re interested in learning more about how use search data to boost your organic traffic, online visibility or to gain competitive insights, head over to Searchmetrics.com/diagnostic for your complimentary advisory session with our digital strategist team. If you liked this podcast and you want to regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow to discuss optimizing your brand building and navigational content.

Ben:                 Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast, and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you leave us a review in the iTunes store or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Okay. That’s it for today. But until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.