Content marketing: great for generating and nurturing leads. But what about customer retention? How does the content your organization produces affect customer success?

Finding ways to reduce churn and retain customers is the backbone of customer success: increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase your profits by up to 95%. But surely content marketing and customer success don't go hand-in-hand. Bear with us...

When most people think about the goals of content marketing, it’s mainly about customer acquisition, with the goals of lead generation and nurturing leads, and with a bit of post-sale onboarding taken into account.

But this focus on new customers could be actively harming your ability to retain customers. 68% of customers have stated they would go elsewhere if they felt a company didn’t care about their business.

That’s where the marriage between content marketing and customer success comes into play: adopting a customer retention content strategy. You’ll produce content aimed specifically at existing customers to let them know they matter to you. But what does this content look like?

What do your customers need?

Step one for developing content for your existing customers is finding out what they need from your organization to make the most out of your products and services. This can broken down in different ways.

Content writers publishing articles, advertisements or social media posts can either talk to the customers directly or sit down with their colleagues in customer success to find out the main issues people are having with your products and services. You can then be proactive and produce content that addresses those concerns.

Content writers ought to speak to the product team and find out what products or features aren’t being used correctly by their customers – they might not even be using them at all. Your company should be producing content that shows people how to get the most of those products/features and highlight how you can help your customers meet their goals.

By liaising with customer success, content marketing teams can find out what the customers’ goals are and develop content that shows how your products and services can help them meet those goals.

With these overarching themes in mind, let’s take a look at some specific forms of content that can help increase customer retention.

Be proactive with educational content

Poor customer service is one of the main ways you can lose customers: 68% of B2B customers will avoid vendors after just one case of poor customer service.

But what’s this got to do with content?

Well, by producing content that tackles common issues, you’re proactively removing the need for them to go to your customer success and/or support team with a problem.

If you have clear answers to frequently asked questions and tutorials for functions on your site, then your customers will have everything they need to tackle common problems. This means your customer success and/or support teams have more time to devote to more critical issues. Plus, your content will also show your customers you’re being proactive in helping them make the most out of your products and services.

When it comes to tutorials, think hard about how your products and services are going to be used, particularly in relation to other things within your customer’s businesses. For example, if you’re a SaaS company, your tutorials don’t have to stop when it comes to your platform. Explain how your customers can integrate the software with other systems. This will show a broader awareness of your customers’ needs and their industries.

Keep them up to date with company newsletters

Email newsletters can be an effective way of maintaining frequent contact with your customers. Just keeping track of which customers are opening your emails can be a good measure of how happy and connected they are to your brand. The ones who open emails frequently are likely to be more susceptible to further marketing activities like cross-selling and upselling. The ones who aren’t might require some more concentrated re-engagement tactics.

In terms of the content of the actual newsletters, this will vary depending on your brand, but it can be a mixture of many things. Company updates and staff profiles can be a great way to humanize your brand and build more emotional connections between you and your customers.

But of course, you’re going to want to include content related to your products and services. This could include how-to-guides related to your current products, highlight how your products integrate with others, showcase new products, and more. The important thing is to make sure you’re putting the right product-related content in front of the right customers. You can use certain email automation systems to populate the newsletters with personalized content, specific to your customers’ needs.

With the right customer data, the newsletters could wind up being practically unique to each customer. If a customer has already purchased a certain product from you, the emails will be populated with content related to making the most of that product, while any up/cross-selling will highlight products related to it. A customer who purchases different products would have newsletters populated with different related content.

This kind of personalization can be extremely effective. 88% of users have stated they respond more favorably to emails that look like they were created just for them.

Encourage user-generated content

Building a community among your customers can be an effective means of retention, as it adds an extra incentive for them to stick around. If they stop being your customers, not only will they lose out on your products and services, they’ll miss out on the connections they’ve built in your community.

An effective way to build a community is to encourage and leverage user-generated content (UGC). This is a pretty standard social media strategy, where you’ll give direct shout-outs to your customers and engage with them when they mention you. But you can also collaborate with your customers to produce content for your site.

This could just be quick user reviews (the positive ones you’ll share on social media), or you could go further and develop case studies on how they’ve utilized your products/services. Case studies are incredibly useful for B2B marketing and customer retention.

Firstly, it highlights success among your customers. This serves double duty as both retention and acquisition. Your current customers will see the great work you’ve helped one of their peers with and be more inclined to stick with you so they can get the same benefits. It could even serve as a cross/upsell function if you highlight products and services they haven’t bought from you (yet!). It’s pretty much the same with acquisition, where it can be an extremely valuable piece of content: in fact, it’s the most valuable form of content to B2B buyers.

Secondly, your successful customers could want the same promotion that comes from being highlighted in a case study. At the end of the day, a case study is just one big puff piece, an article to highlight a big success, and you’re providing your customers a platform to boast about it for free!

Thirdly, offering to collaborate with customers on this kind of UGC will help them feel valued. You’re basically saying that you’re so impressed with what they’ve achieved using your products and services that you want to show them off, which will make them feel special. It will also act as a reminder of how effective your work together was, which will encourage them to remain your customer and spend more money with you.

You can also host articles written by your customers about their industry on your blog. This will increase your thought leadership status, make your customers feel special because you’re valuing their ideas, and encourage other customers to get involved too: once again you’re providing them a platform to show off!

Final thoughts

Content isn’t the be-all and end-all of retention marketing, but it can play an important role. The content you publish is one of the key components of your brand, and the topics you cover are a big reflection of your priorities. If all your content is devoted to attracting new customers, then it will make your current customers feel less valued and more likely to take their business elsewhere.

This is where content marketing can learn a thing or two from customer success: it’s all about being proactive to make your customers feel cared for, rather than just reacting when they have problems.

What types of content are most important to your customers? Got questions about customer retention? Share them with the Customer Success Collective community on Slack!