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Customer Life Cycle & Content Marketing – Where Do You Stand?

Posted on Dec 7th, 2011
Written by Lee Odden
In this article

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    customer lifecycle marketingReaders of Online Marketing Blog know I have a bent for holistic SEO and the role of content marketing across the entire brand and customer relationship (customer life cycle marketing). A lot of commentary in the SEO world over the past few years has been about moving levers via site architecture / code / server / crawler / robot / markup / feeds / microformats as well as blocking and tackling with keywords and links. There’s even been a trend in attention towards social signals and an increasing perception of value for content.

    Understanding something as effective and tactical as search engine optimization is more than a moving target but with the right mix of human talent, adaptive strategy, hypothesis/testing/refinement and ongoing education through credible resources and a human network, companies can do exceptionally well with SEO.

    So where does this business of Customer Life Cycle and Content Marketing come in to play?  As companies realize the effort they’re spending on optimization of marketing content is mirrored by more and more competitors, it’s important to discover additional competitive advantages with those investments. Applying an “Optimized State of Mind” across the mix of digital content a brand publishes online is one dimension, but applying a Content Marketing Strategy that considers the totality of the brand and customer relationship is an even bigger opportunity that few companies are adopting. But they will.

    To help get our arms around what the notion of Customer Life Cycle Marketing means, here are some key questions to consider:

    Customer Interaction Audit

    • How do we connect with customers online with content throughout the life cycle?  Awareness, Knowledge, Consideration, Selection, Satisfaction, Advocacy, Loyalty
    • What do our customers think of those interactions?
    • How do they respond?
    • How does the brand measure up?
    • What are the brand opportunities to improve those interactions for mutual benefit?
    • Where is the brand missing out on interactions because there is no content being published for that phase in the relationship?
    • How can existing content marketing strategy be extended beyond the buying cycle to advocacy and loyalty?

    Most of our readers having marketing related objectives related to customer life cycle, so the emphasis might focus more on customer information behaviors (Discovery, Consumption, Engagement).  The resulting approach is to optimize the Content Marketing Strategy for those interactions.

    I admit this is a train of thought blog post, but wanted to share how the mechanics of SEO and Content Marketing can be applied to broader business and customer objectives.  We’ve been lightly involved with this type of work, but as our agency undergoes a bit of metamorphosis in 2012, it’s becoming more and more of what we’re good at besides customer acquisition and engagement (Search, Social, Email, Content, Online PR).

    Strategic Approach to Optimizing Connections Between Customers and Brand with Content:

    • Win internal support, develop effective process and share vision to scale
    • Communicate goals to teams involved
    • Assess readiness and skills internally
    • Develop training, process & support
    • Create feedback mechanisms to inspire continued participation (internally and customers)
    • Conduct customer research: Segments, profiles, personas
    • What are customer behaviors and expectations?
    • What preferences do they have for information & interaction throughout the life cycle relationship with the brand?
    • Develop a content strategy that identifies editorial, promotion and PR efforts
    • Coordinate Paid, Owned, Earned and Shared Media according to your Approach for Customer Life Cycle Marketing
    • Make sure content is findable, shareable, useful and actionable across the spectrum

    Assess Signals that Represent Customer Lifecycle Interactions & Success

    Key Performance Indicators:

    • Social KPIs: Fans, Friends, Followers, Comments, Likes, Shares, Votes, Ratings (Benchmark, Trends, Growth, Quality)
    • Social topics used in relation to brand name, sentiment (Relevance to Brand USP & Key Messages, Relevance to What Customers Care About & Pain Points, Solutions)
    • Search KPIs: Brand vs. non-brand search keywords, website content (Product/Sales Info, HR jobs, News, Customer Service/Support/FAQ/Knowledgebase)

    Business Outcomes:

    • Sales – Inquiries, up sell/cross sell, upgrades, order frequency, volume & net profit
    • Social Engagement – trend of brand mentions, referrals, endorsements, links/shares, sentiment over time
    • Public Relations – Unsolicited MSM news pickups, online media blogs, media inquiries, analyst inquiries
    • Human Resources and Recruiting – Candidate inquiries from search & social optimized content
    • Customer Service – Rate of traditional support inquiries vs. web visits to support content, service solutions delivered via social channels

    Have you implemented optimization (Search and/or Social) best practices outside of marketing (Products/Services) content? Do you see the value in doing so?