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Content marketing isn’t only blogs, Webinars, guides, and podcasts. All content is meant to convert prospects and attract continued interest from existing customers. It costs more to convert new customers than to retain existing ones. While inbound marketing remains popular, how are you providing value to current customers?
Today’s guest is Leah DeKrey, customer marketing lead at CoSchedule. Customer marketing helps existing customers accomplish the dream they were sold by finding continuous value within products and services. Beyond knowing the features and functions, they can achieve outcomes. Provide value through content marketing for every customer experience—from beginning to end.
Some of the highlights of the show include:
Nathan: The founder of Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, used to say that content marketing serves the entire customer experience from beginning to end. It’s easy to think that content marketing is just blog posts, webinars, guides, podcasts, and similar content. All content that is meant to attract and convert an audience.
But that really doesn’t serve Joe’s vision of what content marketing’s full potential really can be. Existing customers can benefit a lot from content marketing practices, too. While inbound marketing is a popular part of content marketing, what are you doing to keep providing value to the customers you already have?
I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and today, we are chatting with Leah DeKrey on the Actionable Marketing Podcast. Now, you’ve heard from Leah before on the show. She’s a marketer here at CoSchedule and she’s back by popular demand.
Recently, she’s taken on a new role here at CoSchedule as our customer marketing lead within our content marketing team. It’s the goal of customer marketing to really help existing customers live the dream they were sold. It’s about helping them find that continuous value within your products and services.
There’s that off-sided marketing and sales quip, “It costs more to acquire a customer than to retain them.” The practice of customer marketing is really meant to help your customers understand what they can accomplish with what they’ve purchased beyond just knowing the features and functionality of your products. It’s about the outcomes they can achieve.
Here’s a really weird example. You don’t buy sugar to have sugar. You buy it to make a delicious cake or cookies, right? The outcome. So, let’s learn about this practice of customer marketing with Leah.
Hey, Leah. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to chat with me.
Leah: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on. I was on not too long ago with Eric. It’s really exciting to be back.
Nathan: Yeah. I actually heard quite a bit of reviews about that one, which is one of the reasons why we wanted you to come back, so congrats.
Leah: Thank you. That’s really flattering.
Nathan: Since you chatted with Eric, things have changed for you here at CoSchedule and one of those things is leading a brand new roadmap, which I think is really exciting, obviously. Tell me a little bit about your role here at CoSchedule so we can fill everyone in.
Leah: Sure. Last time I was on the podcast, I was a blog manager and working with the inbound strategy at CoSchedule. Now, I have taken over an entirely new department of CoSchedule and we’re calling it to be the customer marketing department. It’s really exciting for us venturing into new territory, new content, and just really motivating.
Nathan: Definitely. I think it could be a few definitions of this term, customer marketing. For someone who’s unfamiliar with this, explain what is customer marketing, what problem are you trying to solve, what’s your goal?
Leah: For me, what I think what customer marketing is, it’s about helping existing customers find the most value they can in your product as quickly as possible. You really want to help them be successful in their onboarding of the product and understanding what value they get from using it. It’s about helping them make the transition from becoming starter users to transitioning into become long-term users, and maybe even advocates of your product or service.
The traditional sales funnel, when you think of that, it oftentimes neglects the process of marketing to someone once they become customers. There are so many phases at the top of the funnel and there’s only one tiny little phase at the bottom of the funnel that talks about retention. What I am trying to do is elongate that process and making it into a multi-step process that retains them, turns them into advocates, but it puts a spotlight on what customers need from you to be successful.
I can talk a little bit about the ultimate business school of customer marketing. Probably a hard numbers perspective in customer marketing, you want to drive retention, loyalty, and lifetime customer value, but coming from an inbound background, I like to think about it with content marketing glasses on. So, you want to provide real value to your customers. You want to help them be successful, you want to keep them happy by delivering on the promise that you sold them to when they initially came on to being a customer.
All those hard numbers are really nice, but those aren’t actually going to turn people into loyal advocates. You have to do it in a genuine way and not being disingenuous and just doing it for your selfish outcomes.
Nathan: Definitely. Thanks for explaining customer marketing. Obviously, we know this from a CoSchedule perspective what that definition means for us. I think people may be curious just because of how this fits in the funnel. Why is this not a product training or a customer success or support function? I was wondering if you could explain that and why customer marketing really is a good fit within a marketing team?
Leah: Sure. The way we have set it up draws a little bit of a differentiation between what would be a support doc or help doc. When someone starts using CoSchedule, for instance, we want to give them the strategies to be successful, not just the sheerly click here, find this in the left hand navigation, those really heavy technical documentations, that’s more of a help doc.
With a customer marketing type of content marketing documentation, what we want to do with this content is sell them on the promise that we gave them, show them how to be successful with it, give them examples of how other people have been successful with CoSchedule, even giving them our best practice advice for how we ourselves use CoSchedule. That sets it apart a little bit differently form a product marketing or a help doc that they might be searching for.
We oftentimes, at CoSchedule, talk about the difference between a vitamin and a pain killer. A pain killer is like maybe a help doc. You have an instant issue that you want to quickly troubleshoot and then be done with it, whereas I am giving people the vitamin. I’m giving people how to prevent those problems from happening by getting started with CoSchedule in the right way, if that makes sense.
Nathan: Yeah, almost like a personal trainer versus emergency room, maybe.
Leah: Absolutely. That’s a good way of looking at it. Totally.
Nathan: You mentioned coming from that inbound role in content marketing. We see customer marketing as a content marketing function. Could you explain a little bit about why is that important?
Leah: Absolutely. My position is nested under content marketing and it runs alongside inbound marketing. Where we draw the delineation between those two things is inbound marketing is responsible for the top of the funnel content, so bringing in and nurturing those leads or prospects like people who we don’t know, we bring them in, we nurture them through marketing automation, and move them down the funnel. Then, they become a customer through a trial or maybe they move on from a trial to becoming a paid longer-term customer. That’s where they become part of my strategy. That’s where I become responsible for them.
This bottom part of the funnel is what we’re doing to retain these customers, what we’re doing to empower them to be successful, what we’re doing to get them to be loyal brand advocates. We’re selling them on this promise at the beginning and then, what I’m doing is really helping them actually become good CoSchedule users, if that makes sense. They can become successful with CoSchedule and end up using it for a longer period of time because we’re delivering on the promises that we gave them are really on the funnel. That’s the difference between inbound marketing and customer marketing. They both fall under content marketing because they’re both providing people with genuine values.
Genuine value is at the center of both inbound and customer marketing. When you think about the best ways to build loyal brand advocates, your motives can’t really be profit-driven. Sure, improvements to your bottom line and all of those things are added benefits, but ultimately, the success of your customer and what they need from you, just generally giving them a great experience with your product or company, that should be the primary driving force to what customer marketing is, which is also coincidentally usually the primary driving force behind inbound marketing, too. So, it makes really a lot of sense that both of these things fall under content marketing.
Nathan: Definitely and some of those same values, while they are at different parts of the funnel, you could say definitely overlap then.
Leah: Absolutely. Content marketing is really all about helping people troubleshoot their problems, helping people by giving them genuine value. Both inbound does that and so does customer marketing. It’s just slightly different problems that we’re helping them solve.
What I do in customer marketing is helping them solve problems within CoSchedule and inbound is helping them solve more general types of problems. An example is how an inbound marketing content might say, “Here’s how to set-up your perfect social sharing schedule,” then I would say, “Here’s how to set-up your perfect social sharing schedule in CoSchedule.” So, different takes on the same type of topic.
Nathan: Definitely makes a lot of sense and your companions over on the inbound side can definitely relate to that. And you got there with this example. I love knowing where customer marketing fits, that we’re not talking about case studies here, we’re not really talking about support documents. Let’s get more into the weeds here. What does customer marketing really look like? What kinds of pieces do you create?
Leah: Being really new to this role, it gave us some flexibility to trying to figure out what we want it to look like. That’s been a big part of my role so far is fine-tuning this content, what the expectations are, and what it should fulfill. What we’ve come to is starting off with guides. We’re showing people the blueprint for how to be a successful CoSchedule user, which is taking form in PDF documents, to start with, which can be downloaded and worked through like a workbook.
Video is also becoming so, so important. Customers are telling us everyday that they want to have video content working through how to successfully set-up CoSchedule and how to become a successful CoSchedule user. So, videos are also becoming a very important part of my role, video tutorials, courses, and all of that. Those are two really important content formats that we have been experimenting with. If you’re a CoSchedule user, you should start to see some of that content coming through to your inboxes or you’ll see it on the home page.
Nathan: Definitely. I like knowing these different formats and that you’re creating almost for those different learning styles. You have just mentioned delivery or coming to your inbox. I think one of the big differences between the inbound side and customer marketing side is that inbound relies on search engines as a method to help people find your content, but customer marketing they may not even know to look for it. What are you doing or thinking about with delivery?
Leah: That has been quite a big hurdle with this job. Coming from the blogging and coming from the inbound where keywords and SER are such an important part, it’s been a tricky little thing to start working with. We had to be quite a bit more creative and strategic with how we’re going to deliver this stuff.
Obviously, marketing automation and email is definitely the backbone of this delivery strategy, but we’re having to trial lots of new things like delivering ads, for instance, on platforms like Facebook. If somebody has signed up for a trial, then we can deliver a getting started type of guide to them via an ad, and that’s had mixed success. Some of these ads could be slightly more expensive and there’s some issues there with budget and whatnot.
We’ve also played around with thinking about where the user is most likely to need this type of content. Maybe it’s delivered in-app, so based on their behavior within the app, maybe we can serve them a guide that can help them become a better CoSchedule user in the moment. A CoSchedule user obviously has to come to the login page. That’s a natural place that they must go to. We could serve up some content with a little left-hand or right-hand banner there, based on their usage in the app and what phase they are in getting started with their accounts so we can serve them content there as well.
There are just so many different options. We can even print off the PDF workbooks and mail them to people, direct mail. Can you imagine in a world of digital marketing, actually mailing somebody a hard copy or something. There are definitely challenges to this delivery strategy, but it also is really exciting. It’s really cool to be spearheading this new thing.
Nathan: I would think by this point because they’re customers, you know quite a bit about them, so you can use that to your advantage to make sure that they’re getting the right sort of messaging.
Nathan: I think this is great. We know where customer marketing fits, it’s within content marketing, definitely. We know a little bit of what it looks like, how you’re delivering stuff out. Let’s say that someone is out there and they’re thinking, “Man, this is a good idea. We should try this.” Would you recommend for a marketing team that’s looking to start a customer marketing program or even just a test, a hypothesis, tips or best practices when they’re starting to think about customer marketing?
Leah: Sure. To start, based on our learnings within CoSchedule, I think it helps to have a really good description of what responsibilities will fall under customer marketing. This is a role that can easily get muddled if people aren’t sure what things should live under inbound versus product marketing versus customer marketing, all those things. That’s not to mention other departments outside of the marketing department like sales, support, and all of that. So, it really helps to have a clear idea of who is going to do what, what responsibilities each of these roles will need to do.
I also think that it helps to have an understanding of what your customers are currently lacking from you, in order to unlock their success. So, to have an understanding of what they’re struggling with, what you can either understand through doing a survey or talking to your customer support agents and all of that. This will give you an idea of how your organization could benefit from a customer marketing role.
Nathan: Leah, all that makes sense, but one of the things you just mentioned was a connection with sales, maybe support, product marketing you’ve mentioned earlier. How does customer marketing fit into all of that?
Leah: I think customer marketing plays an important kind of middleman to all these different spokes, so customer marketing needs to keep its ear to the ground and collaborate really closely with sales because sales are the people who talk to potential customers, they get an understanding for what they need in order to be successful with CoSchedule.
The same thing with support. Support are the people who talk everyday to people who are having problems with your product or service. Talking to your support agents gives you an understanding for what direction you should head in with your content. Importantly, collaborating with product marketing as well.
Product marketing are the people who know why certain features were developed and who were they developed for. They are the people who have all the talking points and all of the knowledge behind your go-to market strategies, that are talking to them about what are the outcomes that people get from these specific features of your product or specific areas of your product.
Those three areas as really important for customer and marketing individuals to collaborate closely with. Once you know those challenges and you have those conversations for those people, you can go off and create a great guide to blog post, a video, or what-have-you, in order to help your customers avoid problems in the first place.
Nathan: A way to think about that is product marketing being the voice of the market for the marketing team, bringing that in, and then you are the voice of the customer, bringing that into the marketing team.
Leah: Absolutely. Those are the really important voices to have covered.
Nathan: Exactly, if we go too much in the realm of, “This is what customers are saying. You might be using their words,” whereas the market is using something different.
Leah: For sure.
Nathan: Awesome. All right, Leah. I think that’s a great place to wrap this up. Thanks again for being on the show. I know people will appreciate this since I heard good things last time.
Leah: Wonderful. Thank you so much for having me. Have a great day, Nathan, and talk to you later.
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