dead end sign in the middle of the road
PHOTO: Randy Laybourne

If you took an audit of your marketing content today, what percentage would you categorize for lead generation versus post-purchase experience? I bet most of it would fall into the former category.

Many B2B organizations focus all of their content marketing efforts towards lead generation and fail to consider pre-sales or post-sales efforts. Your content strategy can — and should — include your sales tools like collateral, demos, pricing sheets, ROI assessments and more. Sales tools are how your sales reps deliver tailored content to interested prospects to drive them to buy. It can help bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams. Together, these departments can build a content engine that effectively engages the buyer throughout the entire purchase journey.

Related Article: Bridging the Marketing-Sales Gap With Content Marketing Strategies

Where Do Marketers Go Post-Purchase?

What happens after a customer buys from you though? Too often B2B marketers treat existing customers as an afterthought and stop applying content marketing principles to drive customer action, like making a recommendation to a friend. Sales members hand off new customers to the next team, such as customer success or account management. Marketing sits and waits for users to get in line to be their next reference, in hopes of driving lead generation.

It’s unsurprising that marketers think this way about the post-purchase experience. Most (maybe all) customer journey or marketing funnels break out four or five tiers that lead up to "purchase." Then, there’s only one tier after purchase commonly labeled as "advocacy" or "repurchase" — if included at all. The post-purchase experience is lumped into one bucket and glazes over a much more complex problem of understanding how to continuously win over your existing users. When a customer buys from you once, it does not make them loyal buyers. Marketers must work to drive users to use your product or service to its full potential so they’re more likely to make multiple purchases, renew contracts or recommend it to others. 

Related Article: Why Are Companies Investing in Customer Retention?

A Different Approach to Post-Purchase Content 

Consider your existing customers as a valuable market segment to serve. After all, it can be less expensive to retain current customers versus acquiring new ones. To retain customers, marketers need to understand their problems and goals. Customers’ problems don’t suddenly disappear after they purchase. It’s your job to continue to deliver consistent and valuable content for them when they need it, even post-purchase.

Despite what funnels show, retention isn't a simple one-step process post-purchase. It takes multiple steps to grow existing customers into valuable users.

To understand what those steps are for your business, evaluate your current user data for trends. You might find people get stuck at the same point in all of your projects and relationships start to sour. Do people have trouble overcoming the same technical challenge in your product? Customers might leave because they’re just unaware of other services you can provide.

On the other hand, think about your best customers. What help did they have along the way to make their experience better than others?

Hopefully, a longer funnel emerges post-purchase that you can act on. These tiers should demonstrate the steps that turn first-time buyers into evangelists. These steps identify how a person interacts with your brand post-purchase. How can you use different content pieces to move that person through your new funnel?

As part of this, marketers should be prepared to work with new teams that deal with customers directly to understand current customer pain points. Their knowledge and communication can lead to new content ideas that can help overcome common challenges or questions. Some content ideas could be self-help guides, knowledge bases, online communities, email marketing, partnership networks and more. Apply the same content marketing principles you always operate by: How do I deliver the right piece of content at the right time so it benefits my customers?

If you continue to solve your buyers’ problems, they’ll become experts at your product or service and achieve better results. That will make them even more likely to share what you've helped them achieve with their friends and colleagues. Remember, t’s not about your product or service in itself, it’s about what your users can do with it.

Kathy Sierra writes in her book "Badass: Making Users Awesome," “Users don’t evangelize to their friends because they like the product, they evangelize to their friends because they like their friends.” What can you do to encourage this behavior?