When it comes to generating leads, content is king. Content is 62 percent less costly than outbound marketing strategies, and it drives higher engagement. With that type of performance, content's reign has only begun. But if brands want to take advantage of content marketing trends and leverage their efforts to their fullest extent, they'll need to look at everything content can help them achieve.

Marketers use a variety of content tools to create and distribute engaging material that builds audiences, attracts leads, nurtures prospects, and enables sales. Those are all worthy and necessary pursuits -- but what happens after customers convert?

It's not enough just to woo them to the contract signing or the checkout line. Too often, once brands close a sale, they stop really investing in that customer as they move on to the next one. To build a loyal base of brand advocates and long-term partners, you need to engage people throughout the life of the relationship. And consistent content is the perfect tool for doing exactly that.

Don't Love Clients and Leave 'Em

Marketers and sales reps are busy people with plenty of responsibility on their plates. They know clients are the lifeblood of their companies, so they're constantly pursuing new opportunities and working to generate enough qualified leads to keep the pipeline full. But in the race to attract and convert new customers, they can sometimes leave a bad taste in the mouths of those they've already closed.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I was still heavily involved with my company's sales processes. We were growing pretty quickly, and we wanted to do everything possible to make sure we were setting ourselves up for long-term success. So we asked our clients for feedback about their experiences with our team and processes, and a few people remarked that I had been friendly, personable, and responsive -- right up until they signed with us. Then I was gone, moving on to the next priority.

Hearing that really humbled me. I would never want to disrespect or undervalue any of our clients. But in my eagerness to cultivate new relationships and grow my company, I lost sight of what mattered. I could sign all the clients I wanted, but if they didn't feel valued or prioritized, they wouldn't be with us for long.

That was a tough lesson to learn, but it was important for us to hear, and I'm still thankful to this day that our clients felt comfortable enough to share that kind of valuable, personal feedback to help us grow.

Long-term customer relationships are built on trust, respect, and ongoing engagement. As your company grows, you won't always have the time to personally connect with clients directly, at least not on a regular basis or for extended periods of time. But an effective content marketing strategy can help you sustain those relationships and keep your clients and customers engaged over time. Here's how:

1. Use content in the onboarding process.

First things first: Don't just hand your clients over to the accounts or client services team once they've signed. If you've guided them through their journey, ease their transition by explaining what comes next. Share content on how your company works, what your client collaboration process looks like, and any concerns they're likely to have as new customers. Infographics and short videos are especially effective for educating clients and reassuring them that they've made the right choice.

2. Create client-specific newsletters.

Clients should hear from you more than once a year, when their contract renewal period comes up. Custom, client-specific email newsletters are a great way to keep your brand top of mind between in-person meetings. Include updates about products or services that might improve their experience working with you or their teams independently.

Share exclusive content, too, like sneak peeks at upcoming whitepapers or reports or early-bird access to new features of your software or website. Client-specific newsletters feel more personal than generic email updates, and they assure clients that you have their unique interests in mind.

3. Empower your client services team with content.

Your client services and accounts teams have a lot on their plates, especially as they field questions from a growing roster of customers. Develop content that allows them to address client pain points quickly and easily. Compile a list of frequently asked questions and most common confusions, misunderstandings, or complaints, and create content around each that your account teams can easily access.

Standardizing their responses ensures a more consistent customer experience, and it creates a sense of cohesion across the sales and onboarding processes. Plus, it improves the efficiency of your client service teams, and all your team members (and your clients) benefit from improved efficiency.

Converting clients takes time and energy, and the investments only pay off if you retain customers and build a business around their loyalty. Content will help you build relationships over time, not to mention earn a reputation for delivering high-quality service throughout the client experience. Remember that content strategy doesn't end at conversion; it just enters a new chapter.