When developing your content marketing strategy, plan to create content toward both your existing customers and prospective ones still learning about your company.
One of the biggest content marketing mistakes made by enterprise marketers is creating content suited toward everyone, instead of personalizing content to different segments of your audience.
“The key difference between content marketing created for new vs. existing customers starts with understanding the target audience’s level of brand awareness,” says Bernie Borges, CEO of Find and Convert and executive producer of Social Business Engine.
Content created for exposure among new consumers at the top of the marketing funnel should be very different than content directed at existing customers.
Existing customers are already familiar with your brand and need relevant content to stay engaged with your organization, while new and potential customers are still learning about your offerings and expertise to form an opinion of your brand.
Before implementing any content marketing strategy, learn the best approach to developing content matched to your audience at each stage of the funnel, whether it’s a new or returning customer.
“Your content is still adding to the trust bank and in some cases they just heard of you for the first time,” says Christoph Trappe, aka The Authentic Storyteller, who is a career storyteller, content marketing strategist, and consultant.
When trying to expand your customer base and generate more awareness and leads with content, assume your target customer has never heard of your organization and needs to develop an initial connection.
It comes down to using content, blog posts, podcasts, and more to educate your audience about what their problems are, what solutions you’re offering, and if they can trust in your expertise to help serve their needs.
“The biggest difference between new and existing customers is their status quo,” says Ardath Albee, CEO and B2B marketing strategist at Marketing Interactions, Inc. “New customers have yet to solve the problem your products or services solve.”
“They need education about why the way they’re doing things today isn’t optimal and how to go about addressing change, as well as evidence for why they should. They also need to trust you (your company) as the expert who can help them do so successfully.”
All content in your content marketing strategy, regardless of the audience, should have either an educational, convincing, or entertaining angle to engage readers.
“For new customers, I feel like it is more about education and inspiration; building trust in your brand as a resource for knowledge as to the importance of not only your products and services, but the industries, markets, and customers you serve,” says Daniel Newman, the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group and Forbes and Entrepreneur contributor.
One additional thing to consider when developing material to market to new prospects is focusing more on how your offerings and expertise serve them and where your offerings fit in the market as compared to competitors.
Before creating content, take note what content types your competitor uses, the topics covered, and what channels they regularly promote their content on. Use tools like Ahrefs and BuzzSumo to review which content from competitors performs well and to see which audience they are targeting, and what is and isn’t resonating.
The goal here is to identify existing gaps in the marketplace from a content perspective to focus your company’s initial approach toward prospective customers to building trust with content.
Another consideration to keep in mind is remembering to cater content differently once a prospect is converted into a customer as you may be reaching a new person in a different role at the same company. Altering content to match a customer’s role at their organization is particularly beneficial for B2B companies.
“Start by assessing who your content will engage in a new vs. existing customer scenario,” says Ardath Albee. “For example, a business executive may make the original buying decision, but a project manager or end user may make renewal and expansion decisions.”
“You wouldn’t write the same type of content for these different people. Their perspectives, as well as responsibilities and needs, are different.”
When a company becomes a client, especially in a B2B-focused industry, meet with them to understand their unique needs, issues, and preferences and cater your content accordingly.
Serving content to your existing customers is even more important than reaching new prospects as increasing customer retention rates by as little as 5 percent increases profits by 25 percent to 95 percent, according to the Harvard Business Review.
“For customers, your content strategy should shift to how they can maximize their investment in your service/solution; how-to tips, use cases, etc.,” says Michelle Killebrew, senior marketing executive and TEDx speaker.
“Your content strategy should help them be heroes in their organizations by enabling them to be experts and deliver ROI quickly to prove value.”
Create content that builds on the existing experiences and expertise already provided to customers to ensure they continue to trust your organization.
“Existing customers already had what we hope was a good experience,” says Susan Gilbert, marketing consultant, founder, and CEO at Online Promotion Success. “The next step is to build on that experience,” she notes.
“Use content to inform customers on how to make the most of your products and services; continue to educate them about the industry and introduce them to new features, products, and services that provide value.”
The point of developing trust with your audience is to ensure they feel a sense of familiarity with your brand over others and feel comfortable to make another purchase again in the future.
“With current customers, your content can assume a certain level of familiarity with your organization and your products and services that prospective customers are unlikely to have,” says Erika Heald, chief content officer at Spin Sucks.
“There may be certain inside jokes or running themes your existing customers are aware of that a first-time consumer of your content simply wouldn’t get,” she adds. “Your current customers need content that provides them with ideas of continuing to receive value from their purchase and their relationship with you. All this said, you can often create content on the same high-level topics for both audiences, but it’s beneficial to create separate versions for each to ensure you are able to best meet their needs.”
As Heald suggests that whenever possible, consider creating multiple versions of the same piece of content to cater it to new and existing customers.
For inspiration on how to provide more value to existing customers with content marketing, review your available data to learn what company content performed well in the past.
“With existing customers, you presumably have data on them which in turn means you create and deliver content that is highly relevant to them,” says Steve Olenski, sr. content strategist for Oracle Marketing Cloud.
By analyzing the activity of your audience in terms of time spent with your content; number of conversions from content; and interactions with content, like comments, social sharing etc., you’ll have a stronger understanding of what additional information may help expand their capabilities and assist them in achieving their goals.
“Conversely when it comes to new customers, you have less intel on them and while you can make some assumptions, the content you deliver needs to be more generic in nature than that which you send to existing customers,” adds Olenski. “Note: Please don’t mistake the word “generic” for meaning ‘anything will suffice.’ On the contrary, the content you deliver to ANY customer, regardless of the stage has to be contextually relevant to them — not you.”
Invest in the proper tools to measure activity on your blog, social media, podcast, and more. More data isn’t necessarily better, but the accuracy of the data you’re reviewing is essential to creating and distributing the right content for your customer base.
Has your organization seen success with distributing content to your existing audience or had more results reaching new prospects with content? Share your content marketing strategy experiences for different audiences over on Twitter @DigitalCurrent.