Excellent customer service is the cornerstone of all retention efforts — at least, it should be. And alongside customer service, serving as the customer service representative’s weapon of choice, is content. When a CX representative gets someone on the phone, in a chat, on social, or in store who needs help, they, of course, rely on their training. But more often than not, they need a little help, and when they do, they turn to content. This happened to me just today. I ran into a problem with Slack, I tweeted their Twitter handle, and we began the diagnostic process. Along the way, there were several possible issues that were identified — though the kind representative of Slack was unable to walk me directly through each problem in only 280 characters, they were able to refer me to several pieces of content that would answer my question.
In the modern world, content is critical — most companies don’t have the CX capacity to serve every customer to the fullest. At some point, you just run out of hours in the day. Content fills the gap. Content answers questions, provides useful information, solves problems, and expands a customer’s understanding of, ability to use, and enjoyment of, a product. Content drives loyalty — but not all generations consume content the same.
The Trick to Creating Content for All Generations
If you want to create content that’s going to keep customers in every generation loyal, then you need to create content targeted to each generation. You’re going to have to do what marketers have been doing since the inception of marketing itself — you’re going to have to segment your market and create customer personas that represent each segment. It’s not so much a “trick” as marketing 101, but there’s a catch — when it comes to the type of content that retains customers, there’s not a huge variation from one generation to the next in what works best — however, there is a big difference in how each generation consumes that content.
Consider these statistics:
- People 50 and over watch more than 50 hours of TV a week — but people 25–34 only watch 26.5
- 25% of Baby Boomers spend 20+ hours a week consuming online content — and they consume almost twice as much news as Millennials
- Each generation is active at a different time of day
- Baby Boomers are most active between 5am and 12pm
- Generation X and Millennials are most active from 8pm to 12am
These differences are critical — though the content itself may only vary slightly from one generation to the next, the manner in which you distribute that content needs to vary from generation to generation. Generational difference are important when creating customer personas and targeting your content, but there are many more factors that play larger roles.
Create Customer Personas Using a Variety of Parameters
The differences in consumption are only one piece of the pie. You need to use the information above, along with other pieces of information about your target customers, to build some customer personas that are much more complex than “Millennials with lots of discretionary income in Texas,” or “Baby Boomers who own a condo in Florida.”
Once you’ve built some customer personas (divided, in this case, by generation), then you can start thinking about what content will work best for them.
You need to take a look at your current customers and ask yourself some questions:
- Does it make sense for us to divide our customers by age/generation?
- How many members of each generation do we serve?
- Which generation is most valuable to us?
- Which generation should be our primary focus?
- What are the activities, interests, and opinions of each generation?
- What does the customer journey look like for each generation?
- How long have these customers been our customers?
- What is a logical progression in the next 5 years for each stage of the customer journey? That is to say, what products/services would it make sense for our customers to purchase after their initial purchase and onboarding experience?
- What are our goals for each customer over the customer’s lifetime? What products/services would we like them to buy, and what level of investment would we like to see out of them, ideally?
- What psychographic information do we have for each generation?
- Which of our products/services are most likely to have been purchased by each generation?
- What clear groupings of customers can we create within each generation?
Those groupings become your customer personas. If you’re not familiar with creating customer personas, read our article on the practice here. As a marketer, it’s something you need to be intimately familiar with — it should guide all your content creation efforts, retention-based or otherwise, and it’s especially important when trying to come up with generationally focused content.
What Kind of Content Keeps Customers Loyal?
Content that keeps customers loyal can be divided into several categories. Each category strengthens the customer’s relationship to the brand in some way:
- News about the industry and the brand’s place in the industry (appeals especially to Baby Boomers)
- Content that informs, that teaches customers how to get more out of the product/service that your brand sells (this is cross generational)
- Content that thanks customers for being customers (usually with a free gift/discount of some sort) — basically, content that acknowledges that the brand is grateful for the customer’s business
- Content that keeps customers up-to-date on important changes/alterations to a brand, its products/services, and how those changes might affect a customer
- Content that entertains or delights — must be at least tangentially related to the industry/product/service in which your brand specializes
- Content that demonstrates the unique/positive experiences of other customers with a brand’s product/service (generally meant to reinforce the purchase decision of other customers)
This is just a partial list, but it should be enough to get started. All the content listed above can appeal to each generation to some degree — your job, as the marketer, is to create your customer personas based on your actual customers, to decide which content is most appropriate for each segment of your audience, and to distribute that content at a time and place that works best for them.
Content Is Consumed Universally Today — Make It Awesome
It doesn’t really matter how targeted your content is if it’s truly awesome. If your content is creating an incredible amount of value, if readers are eating it up and begging for more, then it won’t matter what generation they’re in or how long they’ve been your customers — awesome content transcends such barriers. Once you’ve got your content in order, it’s time to get your brand in order — check out the illustrious Sam Hurley’s article on brand personality types and find out where your brand falls on the spectrum.