Your customers are some of your most valuable leads. Marketers often focus on attracting new leads (which matters), but the customers you already have can be far more valuable to your business in the long run than the new leads you bring in.
That’s especially true when you offer a subscription product. You can’t just persuade your customers to buy once and consider your job done. You have to persuade them to buy again and again, every month and year.
That means more work, but it’s worth the effort. Increasing customer retention by 5 percent has been found to increase profits anywhere from 25 percent to 95 percent. In addition to getting the money that comes from those ongoing subscriptions, the customers you have who use and value your product may be inclined to talk it up to their colleagues.
Customers are valuable, but inspiring customer advocates is one of the best things you can do for your brand. People trust other people more than they do brands—nothing you say will be quite as powerful as the word of a current customer providing an honest recommendation based on personal experience. But before a customer can ever get to that point, they have to understand how to use your product to its fullest potential.
You already have a tool in your marketing toolkit that’s great for educating and informing. You just need to make sure the focus of your SaaS content marketing strategy extends beyond top-funnel activities, all the way past the point of sale and through the entirety of the (hopefully) long relationship with your customers.
Many of the same techniques and formats that work well for attracting new leads can be just as successfully applied to marketing to your current customers.
For a customer to get into the habit of using your software, they must be able to figure out how it works quickly and easily. From early on, you want them to gain a clear understanding of what the product can do for them and all the specific features that can make their life easier. Send a series of emails during their first few weeks as a customer that covers all those bases.
The grocery shopping list app AnyList helps hook new users with a series of emails that provide quick, easy-to-understand instructions on how to use the different features.
Most importantly, they keep the emails short and to the point, with the option to click through to a more detailed page if you so choose. The email therefore works as a reminder that you have the app (they wouldn’t want you to just download it and forget it!) and provides some valuable information on how to use it, all while being careful not to waste the reader’s time.
Ideally, your onboarding emails will do the double duty of being both useful to your customers and helpful to you in encouraging them toward regular use of your software. If they get into the habit of turning to your product on a regular basis in those early weeks, they’re much more likely to stay on as a subscriber in the months and years to come.
Like your onboarding emails, training resources can help customers learn the ins and outs of your product in their early days of using it (in fact, you probably want your onboarding emails to push people to these resources).
Training resources often take the form of webinars and product demos, which gives customers the chance to see in real-time how the software works and be proactive in asking questions that come up. But you have a number of other ways to approach providing training resources.
You can provide videos that demonstrate how to use your software. HubSpot has a video tour that takes customers through how to use the main features the platform offers.
You can also use web pages that include ample screenshots to visually demonstrate the processes you want people to learn. Wistia has a whole support hub of pages with instructions on how to use the product, like this one for the account setup process.
And of course, you can use blog posts to show customers how to make better use of the software. Wishpond created a handy blog for customers that provides ideas and examples of ways to convert their templates to a variety of uses based on the customer’s need.
When you have a question about software you’re using, what’s your first move to figure it out? If you’re like 90 percent of consumers, you head to the company’s website first to look for the answer there.
Having a good customer service team to deal with more complicated issues is important, but in the vast majority of cases, most customers prefer to figure out how to solve the problem themselves. This creates an obvious opportunity for content marketing.
You probably already have an FAQ page, but many of those questions could benefit from more comprehensive answers. Videos, blog posts and webinars all can provide customers with more thorough answers they need to get past any issues or confusion they have with your software on their own.
CoSchedule has blog posts and webinars that dig into questions their customers have, like how to manage multiple social media accounts at once and how to use their social templates to create a social schedule. Both formats give them the chance to dig deep to answer questions from customers, but the formats also make it easy to skim or jump to a specific section in the webinar so customers in a hurry don’t have to sit through a longer answer than needed.
You can’t focus on content that helps customers learn to use your product and then think you’re done. You should devote part of your content calendar every month to producing content specifically targeted at customers.
HubSpot has a whole blog devoted to content for their customers. The posts aren’t all dedicated to the product, but they’re all covering topics that HubSpot knows their customers care about. And often they’re topics that can help them use HubSpot to achieve better results.
And naturally, you should always use content to help promote product updates.
When you a sell a subscription product, you’re always working to make it more useful to your customers.The updates themselves are the job of the product design team, but making sure that customers are alerted to product updates and understand how the changes benefit them falls to the content team.
Blog posts, webinars and emails should all be used to help make sure that your customers know about the update, understand how to take advantage of it, and will hopefully appreciate the ways your company’s work is helping make their lives easier.
When Moz recently released its new Keyword Explorer tool, Rand Fishkin published a lengthy post that explained the benefits, described in detail all the features, and made it clear to customers that their feedback was encouraged and would help inspire future updates.
The post makes it easy for customers to know where to start exploring the new tool and answers most of the questions they’re likely to have right off the bat.
In a content marketing landscape dominated by digital, providing your customers with something in print is a good way to stand out. The Content Marketing Institute started putting out the Chief Content Officer magazine in 2011, and Joe Pulizzi has talked about regularly encountering marketers at conferences who tell him how much they appreciate the magazine.
Print magazines give customers something tangible they can hold in their hands. For many people who are inundated with digital content all day long, that feels like a more meaningful connection than getting another email or reading another blog post.
Producing a print magazine for your customers would be a big investment, but if you’re looking for a way to do something different that’s more likely to make your customers feel more special than one more email, the cost can pay off.
Your customers are the most important component to keeping your business alive and successful. Treat them that way. Figure out what information they need and work to provide it to them in formats they’ll find useful. The best way to lose a subscription is for your customers to forget about you and your product until billing day, so make sure you’re working to keep them throughout the year.