“Touch Factor” in Content Marketing Impacts Customer Lifecycle
Well, he may take your order and therefore “make the sale”, but, we all know sales are the result of ongoing, strategic marketing initiatives. The famous “Golden Arches” are equally famous for producing multiple customer touch-points throughout diverse media streams. This repetitive, multi-channel approach to marketing ensures your “Mac Attack” purchase when you pull into the drive-thru.
When it comes to selling the real work starts with the development and execution of a strategic marketing plan. There is no exception when you’re selling online. To do this most effectively you’ll need a content marketing strategy. “Content marketing” is an online discipline that oversees the development of highly targeted, specialized content that serves as a starting point for lead development, customer acquisition, and customer retention.
Let’s briefly look at each.
There’s no debate that today’s customers search online first for solutions and, as a result, discover products and services. Solving problems via search is fast, easy, and affords some measure of privacy. This is “touch point #1”.
Marketers who create “discoverable” content that educates leads are at the forefront of developing lifetime customers. Examples of lead generating content includes everything from niche-specific case studies, whitepapers, and seo-optimized blog posts, to multimedia video, audio, webcasts, or social media discussions. The key similarity between these diverse content formats is that each piece serves to educate a lead and present a solution.
Marketing costs are significantly less costly than launching and maintaining traditional marketing campaigns on television, radio, or in print. This minimizes business costs and increases overall sales margins.
Touch point #2 is broadly understood as the moment a customer makes a purchase – shifting him or her from “prospect” to “customer”. However, it’s important to understand this moment as a culmination of many “mini” touch points the customer experiences at any point leading up to, or after the sale, including: order processing, billing, fulfillment or support.
To maximize the probability of customer satisfaction careful thought and planning must exist. Here, too, content developed with strategic marketing objectives in mind has the opportunity to shine. Specialized content produced at all of these touch-points can anticipate and answer questions, extend a customer’s understanding of the product or service’s benefits, and validate a customer’s purchasing decision.
Again, where online content can adequately replace or supplement workforce overhead, costs are reduced.
Similarly, online content marketing is employed on an ongoing basis to retain customers and strengthen their loyalty to brand. Using the same tactical measures, successful content marketing continues to offer additional value. This value takes various forms. It could provide ongoing customer education, provide a sense of community, or even, occasionally, shape identity.
The costs to maintain this ongoing content development and deployment pale in comparison to traditional marketing campaigns while, in the case of social media, are highly targeted and measurable.
Companies must now evaluate business margins and profits against marketing initiatives online and offline. Unlike traditional marketing — where campaigns are short-lived — content marketing is an ongoing, measurable process. Carefully constructed content starts the lead generation phase and continues to build customer loyalty indefinitely.
Katie McCaskey provides content marketing consulting and related services. She is based outside Washington, D.C. More info at www.katiemccaskey.com