Technical product content is an indispensable source of information for your customers, employees and support teams. From API documentation to knowledge base articles to community answers, it provides critical information they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
However, most companies don’t appreciate the full value of technical content and how it contributes to real-world business goals. This is generally because of how organizations are structured. Documentation teams have KPIs like ensuring their content is accurate, up to date, and published on time, which has little to do with the business KPIs of marketing teams – like driving web traffic, generating leads and building thought leadership.
Since these teams rarely cross paths, marketers are less likely to be thinking about the marketing value of technical content and its impact on the customer journey. They’re also unlikely to see issues related to technical content as part of their responsibility. As you’re about to learn, this is a major oversight; technical content can have a vast impact on your buyer’s journey, customer loyalty, brand reputation and more.
If your company isn’t discussing how technical content can impact your bottom line, do read on. Your team can support the following 4 key business metrics by creating quality content and a top-notch user experience. We’ve also added some eye-opening statistics that will help you and your colleagues understand just how important content is to your overall business.
“67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.” (SiriusDecisions)
Considering that technical content can range from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of pages, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that technical content often accounts for the majority of a company’s web traffic. Take, for example, ServiceNow: a global SaaS provider whose technical content sites account for a whopping 79% of their overall web traffic.
Potential customers are likely to discover your product online by using search terms that appear in your technical content. And even though much of a buyer’s research may be done online before reaching out to you, marketing departments often overlook documentation as a powerful way to bring customers to your site.
According to Lawrence Orin, Product Evangelist and Customer Implementation Expert at Zoomin, “The problem is that while most of the content on your site is technical content, all of the attention right now is on trying to drive SEO search results artificially to the marketing site – when in fact, your product content already does that.”
In other words, there’s a huge discrepancy between the amount of resources spent on documentation sites versus marketing sites when it comes to optimizing for SEO.
If you knew your technical documentation accounted for three-quarters of your web traffic, would you think about optimizing those pages? Would you ensure they’re consistent with your branding and optimize them for the best possible user experience?
“42% of product users report that they are concerned about the overall quality of a product if the product instructions are confusing, incomplete, or hard to understand.” (Consumer Feelings About Product Documentation, Sharon Burton, 2012)
Not only is technical content a prime driver of traffic to your website, but it’s also where most buying decisions are made when it comes to complex tech solutions. Potential buyers are likely to do extensive research of your product, much of which happens in technical sites and not in corporate, marketing-driven sites.
This is one reason why everyone, from marketing to documentation to support teams, needs to take a wider view of your content and ask questions like: Does our site provide a great user experience? Is the content accurate, up to date, and easy to find? Is the branding consistent?
Caring about the user experience says a lot about your brand and credibility, and if your answer to the above questions is “yes”, you’re well on your way to building trust and credibility with customers. But if the answer is “no”, your content may not be the valuable marketing asset it has the potential to be.
By the way, you might be asking yourself: how can people reach my technical content when it’s gated – that is, password-protected and only available to customers?” Well, it doesn’t have to be that way, and we’ve previously explored the concept of gated versus ungated content and suggested a hybrid approach that allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Customer Satisfaction & Retention
“87% of consumers said they would be unlikely or very unlikely to make a repeat purchase with a retailer that provided inaccurate product information.” (The Impact of Poor Product Content, Shotfarm, 2016)
Reduced churn is one of the most oft-cited business metrics out there, and for good reason: companies are built on their ability to keep customers engaged and paying for a service. Of course, your technical content serves that aim by helping users get the most out of your product by finding the answers they’re looking for.
When you provide a personalized experience and quality content that’s easy to find, your customers are better equipped to serve themselves – something that 67% of users prefer over speaking to a company representative.
What happens when they can’t solve a problem on their own? According to a Nuance survey, about 50% of customers contact a live agent or call center for assistance. And since assisted resolution costs $100 on average per incident, compared to $4 for self-service resolution, successful self-service is essential to your company’s bottom line.
By the way… wondering what the other 50% of customers who can’t get their answers do? Same here. What we can say for certain is that unsuccessful self-service leads to more support tickets, greater frustration, decreased productivity, lower customer satisfaction, and possibly, in the end, customers churning out.
We could throw out stats for days – like the fact that 59% of consumers are frustrated when they have to reach out to customer service to resolve an issue instead of serving themselves online. Or that 69% of users believe that clear instructions say the company cares about them and their ability to use their product. But we’ll leave it at that.
There are several ways to measure customer satisfaction – like surveys, feedback scores, likelihood to recommend, and the infamous Net Promoter Score, which gauges the loyalty of a company’s customer relationships. Here at Zoomin, we’ve found that a great technical content experience contributes to significant increases in NPS among our customers.
Upsell and Cross-sell
“When consumers have a very good customer experience, they are 3.5x more likely to make additional purchases than if they have a very poor one.” (CX Factoids, Qualtrics, 2018)
As we’ve already established, paying customers – and not just prospects – will be spending a lot of time in your documentation site. Every engagement of theirs is a valuable opportunity to promote product upgrades, share updates, and so on.
If you’re like many documentation teams and focused more on content KPIs than business KPIs, you may be missing a key opportunity to provide customers with added value, actionable recommendations, and additional buying opportunities.
So what can you do about it? First, of course, you should make sure your users are already having a great content experience. This means:
- Making sure your content is available and useful
- Making sure your content is findable, so users can easily help themselves
- Providing an engaging, interactive and personalized experience
While many companies may achieve the first objective, few manage to get much further.
Next, you can become more marketing-minded when it comes to creating and publishing technical content. That can mean different things depending on your product or service, but here are some ways you can start thinking more like a marketer:
- When relevant, reinforce the benefits of upgrading one’s service plan.
- Incorporate offers or discounts (like for renewing membership).
- Share product updates like new features and add-ons.
- Recommend related content, which, in addition to increasing engagement, may guide users toward other service offerings.
What should you do next?
You’ve probably noticed a common theme by now: great experiences makes for good business.
Now that you know the impact your content can have on your company’s presence and your customers’ experience, it’s time to meet with other people in your organization and start asking some key questions. The goal, of course, is to determine how you can leverage your technical content and sites to support key business goals.
Here are some questions to help you get started:
- Does your documentation site make it easy for users to find the answers they need?
- Does it provide a personalized experience?
- Is it easy for users to discover and learn about related topics?
- Is it easy for customers to learn about other products and offers?
- What will a potential customer see when they arrive at your documentation site?
- How much of your web traffic goes to your documentation site?
- Is it optimized for SEO?
- Is there anywhere else you should be displaying your product content (e.g. in your service or community portal)?
To learn how to measure the ROI of your technical content and use it to gain more resources for your documentation team, watch the free webinar Building the business case for excellent content delivery featuring Joe Gelb, President of Zoomin Software.