Platinum-blonde woman wearing a black-and-white striped onesie and a hat is lying poolside in a chaise longue. She is tended to by three valets wearing burgundy jackets: one is fanning her with a palm leaf, another is pouring lemonade, and the third one is giving her a pedicure

So much business advice you’ll see online is focused on one thing, and one thing only: finding, chasing, and converting new customers. 

This overfocus on lead generation and sales colors our perception of business and marketing in every area — even content creation! 

Everyone wants to know how to create the next needle-moving, phone-exploding viral hit that unleashes a horde of hungry buyers on your product or service. (Honestly, who wouldn’t?)


In my experience, fewer entrepreneurs worry about creating content that will actually get those buyers to stick around and purchase again later. Even though it’s just as important as generating fresh leads and converting first-time customers or clients, if not more so!

That’s why today I want to flip the script on the dominant conversation about content marketing — and talk about content that doesn’t sell and doesn’t convert.

Not because it fails to, but because it’s explicitly designed not to.

Because it moves the needle and adds value to a business in other, harder to measure but just as tangible and real ways.

Read on, and you will learn:

  • The difference between growth content vs. retention content (or as I like to call them, “sexy” content vs. “workhorse” content)
  • How to leverage strategic, compelling content to grow your business through retention as opposed to acquisition.
  • And top 3 actionable ideas to start implementing retention content in your marketing, pronto!

Let’s dig in!


Understanding growth content vs. retention content

What is the main goal of creating content?

You might say, “Trick question, Summer! It all depends on a given content asset, obviously.” And you’d be absolutely right.

Content goals follow marketing goals, which follow business goals. Here’s a neat table made by the audience intelligence brand SparkToro that illustrates it beautifully:

Content Goals vs. Marketing Goals vs. Business Goals chart from SparkToroSource: SparkToro.Com blog

So, for example, if your business goal is to grow the company in Q3, and your marketing goal is to generate X number of qualified leads, then your content goals could be:

  • Creating a high-converting lead magnet that would allow you to convert more traffic on your website into email subscribers.
  • Publishing a guest post or a contributed article on a third-party site where your ideal customers hang out, and drive them to you.
  • Partnering with another business owner and delivering a workshop or webinar for their audience.

Etc. (There are many, MANY other possibilities.)

Broadly speaking, though, all content exists to accomplish one of two “jobs.”

  1. Growing your business through increased reach, more leads, more sales, and so on. Or…
  2. Retaining your existing customers or clients — through great onboarding, education, win-back campaigns and more.

(And the REALLY beautiful part is, retention content can itself lead to new growth: in the form of referrals and loyal customers for life who spend big!)

Now, growth content is vital, you can’t argue with that. New leads and sales are the lifeblood of any company.

But if you can’t keep the leads and buyers you attract around… then you don’t have a healthy, sustainable business! It’s like trying to fill a sieve with water — no matter how much you pour in, it’s not going to work.

And any company that focuses only on acquiring one-off customers or clients is just one slow month away from imploding.

So, now that I’ve shown you why retention content is important (at least I hope I have!) — let’s talk about ways to implement it in your own marketing.


Top 3 strategies to leverage content for retention

OK, if your overarching business goal is to get existing customers to stay with you, reducing churn… what would be three proven ways to accomplish it?

(There are more than three, I just want to pick a few surefire opportunities and stick with them.)

In my experience, you want to…

  1. Invest in onboarding first-time customers, so they can start getting real, transformative value out of your product or service.
  2. Improve your support, so customers / clients never encounter unsolvable problems and abandon you because of all that friction.
  3. And boost customer experience, creating small moments of brand-building delight in what otherwise would be boring, by-the-book interactions.

Now, let’s break these down in more detail…


1. Onboard first-time buyers like a pro and create loyal fans

A client or customer is so much more likely to stay with you and buy from you again (and again, and again) if your product or service adds value to their life.

The more dramatic the positive change, and the faster it happens, the more decisively you’ll win their heart and wallet.

That’s the mission of all good onboarding: to help the buyer get from “just purchased” to “this product / service has changed my life.”

So how can you accomplish smarter onboarding through content? Well, take your pick! You could…

  • Create video tutorials for new customers, walking them through how to make the most of your offer.
  • Host live or on-demand workshops and webinars where you’d teach people how to solve one specific pain point / achieve a specific goal with your solution.
  • Give away written resources, like a PDF report or a checklist showing them how to get up and running as fast as possible.

That last one is doable no matter what you sell, or what industry you’re in. E.g. here at The Draw Shop, we onboard clients by having them fill out a deep-dive creative brief that helps our team learn as much as we can about their business — making sure we absolutely nail their project!

TRY THIS IDEA: think about the top 5 milestones your newest customers need to hit, or challenges they need to overcome, after they buy from you. Then, put together a short onboarding checklist to help them do just that.


2. Build a support knowledge base for your team and customers

Support content is kind of like insurance. Most of the time you and your buyers won’t need it…

…but when you do — oh boy, will you be happy to have it!

Now, you might think, “Summer, I have support reps. I don’t need to spend a ton of time creating back-of-the-funnel content most people won’t consume anyway. They’ll just contact support if something happens.”

That’s where you are wrong. In fact, a surprising number of customers actively dislike talking to support reps — so much so that it makes them more likely to leave you for a competitor… even the issue if resolved successfully! (According to the 2022 State of Customer Care report by McKinsey)

Give your buyers tools to solve their own problems, and they’ll keep doing business with you for longer. And your team will thank you for making their workdays much less frazzled!

TRY THIS IDEA: get your customer support team together and have them brain-dump the most common issues customers and clients run into, big and small. Then, use this as a foundation for your new support knowledge base — and for canned responses your teammates can lean on during email or live chat support.


3. Inject personality and charm in transactional experiences

Purchase confirmations. Notifications. Survey requests. Shipping notices. Invoices…

These are always so perfectly, irredeemably boring, aren’t they?

It’s like all businesses in the world got together and decided:

“Let’s always make exactly zero effort with these, no matter how delightful our public-facing brand personality is. These people have already spent their hard-earned cash with us, they’re on the hook — we can stop trying so hard now.”

Sorry, that came out kind of mean. But only because I can’t bear to look at this humongous missed opportunity!

In today’s world where competition is fierce in any niche, you can’t win by being the objectively best choice for your customers. You have to win by becoming their favorite choice instead.

You have to win on brand.

And that means, if you ever see an opportunity to imprint a little bit of your unique personality and style into something that’s usually generic, boilerplate, and low-effort… you should take it.

Delight your customers and clients, and they will stick with you for life.

TRY THIS IDEA: take a boring transactional email you send to first-time customers (e.g. an order confirmation) and think about how you could add personality to it. It doesn’t have to be zany or goofy if that’s not your company’s vibe, but it does have to be YOU. Here’s one of my favorite examples, from literally decades ago at this point (1998) — but I still remember it, so I’m sharing…

Confirmation email by CDBaby

Way to take an unremarkable transactional email and make it into a viral hit. Kudos to CDBaby! (Source: MarketingExamples.Com)


Want to create loyal customers for life? Try video onboarding

If you want to:

  • Charm the socks off your first-time customers or clients, so they feel great about spending their money with you from Day One…
  • Educate new buyers about your product or service in an engaging, memorable way, helping them make the most of it…
  • Showcase your unique brand personality and become your buyer’s go-to choice over even the biggest competitors…

…AND you want to accomplish it all at the same time…

…then a compelling, entertaining video could be exactly what your onboarding process has been missing. And we’d love to create one for you!

Over the years, we’ve created hundreds of top-performing videos (including onboarding videos, training videos, VSLs, ads, and more) for 1,200+ brands and counting. Education, biotech, manufacturing, finance, coaching, real estate, petroleum, pest control — you name it, we’ve done it!

We invite you to take advantage of our genius marketers, silver-tongued copywriters, and absurdly talented artists and videographers to create a marketing video you’d be proud of.

We used to do only whiteboard animation — not anymore! Now you can work with us to create awesome marketing videos in a variety of styles:

  • Live action
  • Motion graphics and cartoon animations
  • Virtual Reality Animation
  • Digital stop motion animation
  • 2D character animation

And more.

Interested? Then click here to get a risk-free quote and tell us about your dream explainer video — and one of our marketing experts will get back to you post-haste!

Looking for something smaller… but still more than powerful enough to grow your business? We can craft an irresistible Elevator Pitch that will help you grab your prospects’ attention in less than 30 seconds. Learn more about it here