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(Basic to Intermediate) Content Experiences for the Post-Sale Journey

Illustration of a woman holding a torch facing an onboarding stream

Here we are—at the final article in this three-part series. So far, I’ve gone over the pre-sale stages of the customer journey and the content experience considerations that should be made at each stage. I would like to end the series by doing the same exercise, but this time for the post-sale journey. 

You’ve just spent three, six, sometimes over 12 months closing the deal. Now you have to deliver on everything that was promised while maintaining a consistent, engaging, and memorable content experience. I am sure many of you have heard that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Yet many organizations tend to have a greater focus on customer acquisition compared to retention. The most important thing any business can do is to retain customers and build a loyal relationship with them, which is why investing equally (if not more) in the post-sale content experience is what will make your solution worth the investment. 

(SaaS post-sale journey example)

Post-Sale Stages of the Customer Journey 

Stage 4: Onboarding 

Goal: Customer has purchased your solution and is now looking to get up and running in order to start achieving their goals. 

You did it! :) All your hard work has paid off, and if you’ve executed your pre-sale content mapping effectively, then you most definitely will have done it at a much higher velocity. Customer onboarding is a critical stage of the customer journey. This is where you must make good on your presale promises, where the customer first starts seeing value in the solution they just purchased, and where you really set the tone for the relationship. Onboarding is not just about the customer implementing your product and understanding how to use it. It’s also your chance to ensure that your customer can achieve their goals with as little friction as possible. If you’re successful in onboarding, then retention is inevitable. 

Touch Points 

Now that you’ve successfully converted your prospect to customer, you should have a fantastic sense of their goals, role, job function—essentially all the valuable information you worked so hard to get presale. Just as you used it to segment your nurture campaigns to close the deal, it’s time to put it into action post-sale and create experiences that effectively train and onboard, driving product adoption. 

A crucial touch point during onboarding is to successfully transition your presale rep to the post-sale customer success manager (CSM). Make it clear that the CSM is the new contact so that they can start developing the relationship right out of the gate.

The most common touch points to successfully onboard customers at this stage include:

  • Email

  • Phone

  • Knowledge base 

  • Resource center 

  • Product/solution

Content Type 

The following content types are the best to utilize throughout this stage:

  • Knowledge base articles and documentation 

  • Educational resources/academy 

  • Quick start guides 

  • Videos 

  • Webinars 

  • Blogs 

  • Onboarding nurture

  • Transactional emails  

  • Training decks 

  • Direct mail welcome packages 

  • Product tutorials

  • In-app messages/chatbot 

Content Experience Considerations

As I mentioned, it’s critical that the onboarding stage is frictionless. Limiting the time to value should be your goal, and during this stage, the way to do that is to offer educational content and training material for every step of their journey in as many formats as possible. The onboarding journey needs to be perfectly orchestrated— consistent, valuable, and highly contextual. When I work on creating onboarding experiences, I first work through all of the possible problems we solve for and the goals our customers bought our product to achieve. Then I build experiences that map to these and guide customers through product training and implementation in an easy-to-digest and engaging way. 

Since prospects in the onboarding stage are looking to get trained and live with your product quickly, you must set clear expectations throughout the process, offer intuitive navigation, and provide value-based content to remove any barriers to product usage. The most important thing to remember here is that your content experience post-sale must complement the experience presale—from messaging to design—this (with no mixed messages) is what will instill immediate trust in your customers. A few considerations are:

  • Do the content experiences presale match the experiences post-sale?

  • Is there a theme and consistent message across all content that customers can rally behind?

  • Are the content experiences easy to find and intuitive to navigate?

  • Is the content focused on goals and outcomes vs. products and features? 

  • Do you offer multiple content formats since everyone has a different learning style? 

  • Do you provide an easy way to search for answers to questions? 

  • Has your content been organized and tagged to enable robust search functionality?

  • Is your content organized to allow for in-sequence training? 

  • Is the content and product positioning consistent across all formats and experiences?

Pendo has done a great of setting customers up to onboard and activate within their product without any friction. Not only have they focused in on the goals and use cases that brought customers to them in the first place (see below), they also offer product guides and tips on every page of their platform to provide immediate guidance on what the customer should be doing to take action. As you navigate the platform, you always know where to look to find the answers to your questions, allowing customers to self-serve at their own pace.

 

KPIs

Key performance indicators at this stage include:

  • Days to launch 

  • Click-through rate on onboarding nurture 

  • Content time on page 

  • Feature adoption

  • Product usage 

Stage 5: Retention/Advocacy

Goal: Your customer uses the product/solution regularly to accomplish goals and is seeing positive ROI. If they’re extremely engaged and feel valued, they may also become a brand advocate.

The retention/advocacy stage is a window between the launch/go-live date and the renewal date during which you must continually deliver on your promise to help your customers achieve their intended goals. Throughout this stage, you must pay close attention to your customer's actions and proactively follow up with value-added advice and suggestions to effectively nurture and strengthen the relationship. It’s also your chance to achieve #relationshipgoals and cultivate advocates who will help you spread the word about how awesome not only your product is, but the entire experience with your business. 

Touch Points 

Fingers crossed that your team has the proper tracking and analytics set up to access key product/solution usage and engagement data required for this stage to be useful. Each touch point your customer has with your company and product is an opportunity to better understand where they are excelling and where they are struggling with your product. Knowing which features they haven’t taken advantage of, which 

setup processes they’ve abandoned, and which areas they are seeing above-average ROI in will help you craft the perfect success plan to support retention. The most common touch points to successfully retain customers at this stage include:

  • Email

  • Phone

  • Knowledge base 

  • Resource center 

  • Product/solution

  • Events

  • Social media

  • Advocate community

Content Type 

The following content types are the best to utilize throughout this stage:

  • Knowledge base articles and documentation 

  • Educational resources/academy 

  • Best practice guides 

  • Videos 

  • Webinars 

  • Blogs 

  • Customer newsletter 

  • Customer spotlights 

  • Success plan

  • Product emails

  • Transactional emails  

  • Training decks 

  • Direct mail packages 

  • Product tutorial(s)

  • In-app messages/chatbot 

  • NPS surveys 

  • Gamification content 

Content Experience Considerations

This stage has content coming from all angles—marketing, customer success, product, the list goes on! On one hand, you have transactional emails, newsletters, blogs, and videos, then you have the actual product, how it’s laid out, product guides and tips, in-app messages, plus the success plans and training decks. Every one of those has a content experience attached to it that should be consistent and add value to merit engagement. They should also be highly personalized and correspond to customer behaviors and requests to the business. 

I know this might sound overwhelming, but through your mapping exercise you should be thinking about the different segmentations and messaging to match them all so when you begin building out the content at each touch point, you know exactly what you’ll need to write and how it should look. 

Since there are a lot of variables and data to work through at this stage, here are a few considerations:

  • Is the messaging and design consistent across all content and touch points?

  • Are you using data to influence how you build content experiences?

  • Do you have oversight on content being created within every department to ensure the narrative and experience doesn’t have gaps?

  • Is the educational content focused on goals and outcomes vs. products and features? 

  • Have you automated content to trigger based on behaviors taken in your product/solution?

  • Are you creating content that celebrates customer milestones?

  • Do you have a central location to share content with customers?

  • Do you make internal content sharing easy?

  • Are you making it easy for your customers to advocate for your solution by creating content that showcases ROI and their successes? 

  • Have you designed advocate experiences to enable customers to share their successes (and referrals)?

My favorite content at this stage is event-triggered content, and Buffer is the master of this. They capitalize on every single customer milestone with impactful content powered by data. As you can see in the examples below, whether they are emailing you to congratulate you on your social posts or let you know something isn’t quite right, they always find a way to stay personalized and relevant. 

KPIs

Key performance indicators at this stage include:

  • Feature adoption

  • Product usage 

  • Net Promoter Score 

  • Customer health score 

  • Retention rate 

  • Number of advocates 

  • Customer influenced revenue (referrals, reference calls, and reviews)

  • Upsell/expansion revenue

Stage 6: Churn/Winback 

Goal: Customer has not found value in product/solution and is looking to get out of their contract or cancel their subscription. 

It happens—you can’t please all customers. Once you’ve nailed your content experience, your churn rate should decrease significantly. The good news is if you’re actively tracking health scores, you have a great chance at saving customers from churning. Whether this is the case or not, you should always be looking for ways to improve the relationship. 

Touch Points 

Everything at this stage should be extremely high touch. Somewhere along the way, there was a break in experience or the customer gave up on the idea that you can help them achieve their goals. Most touch points should be handled with a human touch to ensure there are no missteps that can cause further frustration. 

The most common touch points to combat churn and stay in touch with customers you’re looking to win back include:

  • Email

  • Phone

  • Product/solution

  • Events

  • Knowledge base

  • In-app messages/chatbot

Content Type 

The following content types are the best to utilize throughout this stage:

  • Re-engagement nurture

  • Educational resources 

    • Videos 

    • Webinars 

    • Blogs 

  • Training decks 

  • Success plan

  • Direct mail packages 

  • Gamification content

  • Exit survey 

  • Product updates

Content Experience Considerations

At this stage, it’s important that you’re taking a proactive approach to content. Watch for an increase in support tickets, low NPS scores, or product inactivity, and work with the customer success team to build personalized content experiences that demonstrate your commitment and support. 

If you do happen to lose a customer and they move into the winback stage you should make sure to capture the reasons they left so that you can create winback content experiences to incentivize churned customers to reconsider. While most see incentives in the form of discounts, that doesn’t always have to be the case. The content you create can be a great driver for handling objections—say if new features were released that initially caused their churn—and the tone it takes can let your customers know that you value their relationship. 

In terms of the churn/winback stage and its high-touch nature, here are a few things to consider:

  • Have you created a customer feedback loop through emails, survey, live chat, etc. to collect and act on issues that cause churn?

  • Are you using health score and NPS data to influence content creation?

  • Do you have a central location to share content with customers?

  • Have you built a re-engagement nurture?

  • Is your content focused on understanding your customers’ needs?

  • Are you continuing to provide high-quality educational content? 

  • Do you have content experiences created based on the reasons people commonly churn?

  • Are you updating customers on what’s happened since they’ve become inactive? This can mean updates on new products, new company policies, or any other important changes that have taken place. 

To get ahead of, as well as combat, churn, Gainsight created a Customer Success Maturity Model. The model is used to assess the current state of maturity of the team’s processes, identify specific near-term strategies that could be enabled with a Gainsight feature(s), and help frame the long-term strategic vision for the overall partnership. 

This model, and the educational content surrounding it, enabled the customer success team to successfully guide the customer throughout the post-sale journey. It also created a customer feedback loop and drove accountability on both ends so that customers could achieve the goals they purchased Gainsight to achieve.

KPIs

Key performance indicators at this stage include:

  • Product usage 

  • Product ROI

  • Net Promoter Score 

  • Number of support tickets open

  • Customer churn rate 

  • Revenue churn rate 

  • Number of winbacks re-engaged 

The Content Journey Map and Prospect Workflow 

There you have it: All the stages of the customer journey and the ways content experience plays a role in each. Once you have mapped your content to each stage of the customer journey, the final step is to take your content map and develop a workflow to best understand how you intend prospects to move through their journey. Your workflow should showcase how each of the touch points and content types interact. It’s best to start high-level and get more granular based on each individual campaign as you work your way through implementing each stage.

Each step your prospect moves through has a content experience that will either push them to click and convert or close the browser, so your ability to trigger the right content, at the right time, on any given channel, is imperative to the success of your overall marketing strategy. It’s what ultimately flips the deal from opportunity to closed-won, or, regretfully, to closed-lost. 

As we come to the end of this three-part series on the B2B customer journey and how to build content experiences that drive engagement and conversion, I hope you now understand the importance of focusing on the content experience. It’s essential that all content and the experiences created are brand-consistent, are visually appealing, and compel users to engage—it’s inevitably what helps to establish trust and customer loyalty.

Like I always say, bring on the experiences!