As a software company, lifelong customers are your bread and butter.
They’re the people who subscribe to your product for years, and provide consistent (and reliable) revenue.
Who wouldn’t want that–especially when companies in the U.S. lose $136.8 billion per year due to avoidable consumer switching?
When people think of a great customer retention strategy, after-sales support and loyalty programs usually spring to mind.
However, you might be missing a trick; content marketing is a great customer retention strategy that could convince existing users to stick around for the long-run.
Here’s how to use it effectively.
1. Go through your onboarding process with “fresh eyes”
Did you know that it takes 75% of people less than seven days to abandon a new piece of software?
That first week is a user’s first date with your app. If they’re not convinced from those early days, they’re not going to stick around and become long-term customers.
You can prevent that from happening by analyzing your onboarding sequence.
Sign up for a new account, and force yourself through the automated email series with “fresh eyes” to see the content a new customer would see. Highlight anything that you wouldn’t already know if you weren’t working on the product–from the order confirmation email to the upsell emails.
(You could ask your sales team to do this, too. Encourage them to sign up to your software again, and make a note of anything they’d be confused about if they didn’t have their existing knowledge.)
You should be left with a list of things that could be contributing to confusion, and resulting in high onboarding churn rates.
- You used the referenced the advertising metric “ROAS” in your onboarding email, but customers don’t know what that is. (You’ve been cursed by your knowledge; assuming your customers know more than they actually do.)
- Your order confirmation page doesn’t tell people they need to confirm their email address before gaining access.
- Your confirmation email thanks people for signing up to your software, but it doesn’t contain any information about setting up their account.
The fix for each of these problems is pretty self-explanatory. You could change the language, remove jargon, link to help docs, or add a video (like Basecamp, shown below):
The bottom line is: Your new onboarding sequence should everything a new user would need to know. Any piece of content that sparks an “errmm…” needs a second look… Pronto.
2. Create a help center
Even if you have the best-designed app in the world, people are still going to get stuck. Whether that’s throughout the onboarding process or when users start using a new feature, you don’t need to rely on your customer support team for customer retention.
A help center on your website, which contains documents to solve common problems your customers face, can do the trick.
Take a look at Zendesk’s help center:
If you click the Help section of Zendesk’s website, you’ll easily be able to find an answer to the problem you’re struggling with–either through the list of suggested questions, or the search bar.
Zendesk customers don’t have to reach out to their customer support team and wait hours for a response.
Solving these answers within a help center is a win-win for everyone involved.
Customers can search their help center and find their answer within a matter of seconds, and Zendesk’s support team don’t need to spend time answering the same questions repeatedly.
3. Publish “how to make the most of our software”-style content
Everyone wants to make the most out of the money they’re spending. That’s especially true for B2B businesses, where customers want to make sure they’ll get a return on their investment.
A superb way to do that is by creating “how to make the most out of our software”-style content.
The businesses purchasing your software might do so to gain access to one feature. That’s great, but by showing them the other goodies included in their subscription, it’s bound to make them stick around.
Simple Texting do this effectively, as Alfredo Salkeld, their marketing manager, explains:
Most people sign up for our platform to send bulk text messages. This is great! But in order for us to retain users, it’s important to show them the value they can get from our platform beyond just mass messaging.
That’s why we created a series of educational videos which walks users through all of our advanced features.
However, Salkeld notes that these videos, hosted in their “Simple Texting Academy” library, aren’t just left on their YouTube channel to rot. They’re also referenced in their onboarding emails for customers to access as soon as they become a customer.
4. Direct customers to already-published, relevant content
The people who’ve made their way onto your customer list have solved a problem with their purchase. It’s a problem large enough for them to hand over cash for (especially if they’re B2B)–which means they’ll be grateful for all the extra help they can get.
A great way to retain those customers is to direct them to relevant content that you’ve already published, based on their purchase history.
(Think of it like abandoned cart emails but for content.)
- Purchased your one-man-band license > Send links to posts tagged with “solopreneur”
- Added “50” to the Company Size field on their contact form submission > Direct them to a video where you’ve discussed managing a large team
- Seeing they’re based in Europe > Encourage them to attend a conference you’ll be exhibiting at in France
Social Animal actually combined this technique with the third I mentioned here (“making the most out of our product”-style content) with this email, sent a few days after I signed up:
I’ve signed up to their Enterprise plan, but instead of assuming I’ll find content related to my level of access on my own accord, they’ve sent it directly to me via email. No digging–it’s right there for me to dive into.
(It’s a great trick for promoting your BOFU content.)
5. Share behind-the-scenes learning
We’re not superhuman; we don’t get things right 100% of the time… But that’s not to say you need to pretend you do.
Take a look at the behind-the-scenes of your business:
- What are you planning?
- Which new features are you experimenting with?
- Where do you see the product/service going?
Even if your answers aren’t as perfect as you’d hope, they’re bound to be of interest to your existing customers.
Sure, they’ve bought your product to solve a challenge they’re facing. But if you can build a relationship with those customers and let them in on your upcoming plans or recent fails, they’ll appreciate the honesty.
(There’s a reason why 63% of global consumers would buy from a company they consider to be authentic.)
Take Quuu Promote, for example. They did some in-house calculations, studied their customers, and realized it’d be better for their customers (and their business) if they changed their pricing plans.
But instead of changing their website without publicly acknowledging the price hike, they published a blog post to explain their decision.
The beauty of this behind-the-scenes content? It doesn’t have to be exclusive to people lingering in the bottom of your marketing funnel.
Allowing people to see behind the scenes of your business–be that the experiments you’re doing or the pivot you’re about to make–builds those personal connections.
And as Jeffrey Gitomer wrote,
“All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends.
And all things being NOT so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.”
6. If all else fails, ask what existing customers want
In your post-purchase survey, don’t just ask generic questions like “how could we improve?” or “what would you rate us?”.
Sure, those answers are valuable.
But you could flip the switch and provide your customers with value by asking what content they want from you.
This could be as simple as:
- What topic would you like to see us cover on our blog?
- What type of videos would you like to see on our YouTube channel?
- Which podcasts would you like to see us be interviewed on?
(Remember: “Content” isn’t just blog posts.)
Take the answers you get, and decide whether there’s enough demand to create the topics that crop up.
You never know–your customers might be screaming for a comparison post between your freemium and paid plan. (A single blog post that could result in a higher freemium-to-paid plan conversion rate.)
…But you won’t know unless you ask.
There’s no doubting that content marketing is a superb way to retain SaaS customers.
Your help docs, educational videos, and links to relevant content make their life easier. If you’re providing them with everything they need (and more), why wouldn’t they want to stick around?