November 29, 2016: Over the past several years, content marketing has been widely accepted as valid mechanism for B2Bs to attract qualified leads, sales, and interest. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 88 percent of B2Bs currently use some kind of content marketing to acquire new business.
Content marketing cano help you manage relationships with customers who’ve already come on board with you.
But one frequently cited issue among B2Bs is content marketing effectiveness. Is the time and money spent on social media posts, blog articles, white papers, and other content justified from an ROI perspective? Unfortunately, the answer to this question can rarely be answered in advance, because it can take many months to generate a critical mass of content and to build a community that regularly engages with it.
But content marketing isn’t just a tactic that can bring you new business (not that this isn’t an important goal). When used wisely, it can also help you manage relationships with customers who’ve already come on board with you. In this respect, content marketing represents an extension of your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) efforts, especially in respect to:
1. Avoiding “Buyer’s Remorse.” High-consideration buying decisions are complex and, even with the best due diligence, “Buyer’s Remorse” can set in post-purchase. The Wikipedia entry for this term notes that “factors that affect buyer’s remorse include resources invested, the involvement of the purchaser, whether the purchase is compatible with the purchaser’s goals, and what positive or negative evidence the purchaser encounters post-purchase that confirms or denies the purchase as a good idea.” (italics added). Marketers can deflect this negative emotion by supplying buyers with supportive content that shows them how to get the most out of their newly acquired product/service. So use appropriate content to reinforce the positive, forward-looking aspect of the purchase.
2. Converting buyers to “members.” The job of marketing doesn’t end once you’ve converted a prospect into a buyer, but its tone shifts profoundly. Your new client wants to be treated as a special person, and content marketing gives you way to make him/her feel that way. Consider repurposing some or all of the content you serve out to your blog or direct to your whitepaper library in editions curated specifically for your clients. Clients will appreciate hearing from you via e-mail, RSS, or social media from time to time, if (and only if) what you supply them helps them with their daily chores. The idea here is to reinforce – on a regular basis – the idea that your firm is “in the know” and, more importantly, that your clients have joined an “exclusive” club with continuing, material benefits ahead of them.
3. Upselling. While it’s a mistake to aggressively sell to the already sold to, there’s nothing wrong with illustrating – in a neutral, informative manner – the benefits of upgrading/accessorizing/enhancing the product or service. If you’re going to do this, you’ll need to rein in your natural impulse to be “salesy,” appealing to reason as the best persuader.
Client/customer acquisition is typically the most expensive single cost borne by any business, and content marketing has a central role to play in reducing these costs. But don’t overlook the possibility that your content – in addition to gathering inbound leads from search engines and social media — can perform “double duty” in terms of cementing relationships post-sale.
Properly curated and intelligently distributed, content can play an expanded role in your CRM, making it stronger, timelier, and more effective. And don’t overlook this added value when you make your pitch to the C-suite for an expanded content marketing budget for your own enterprise. While you may have to design your own custom metrics to make your case, factoring in the multiple benefits of content marketing – especially its CRM dimension — can make it more saleable to the C-suite.
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