In a keynote speech at LavaCon 2014, Tom Aldous from Acrolinx advised technical communicators to get ready for the Content Era. In this new paradigm, marketers and technical communicators work side-by-side to deliver great content that is findable, relevant, valuable, and engaging—to attract and acquire larger audiences and increase profits.
Why is content so important?
Relationships are built on content. Buyers complete from 60 to 90 percent of their buying decision before they engage with a vendor, according to Forrester Research. Until people make their decision to buy, they inform themselves using websites and social channels. They evaluate their options on their smartphones and tablets. They’ll talk to sales when they’re ready—on their own terms and timeline.
Why does technical content matter?
Technical content plays a larger role in sales than ever before. Buyers want useful and accurate information that helps them solve problems and make confident decisions. Buyers use documentation as part of their decision making process, before they buy a product or service.
Increasingly, technical content feeds top-of-the-funnel activities through organic traffic to company websites. Some companies report that documentation brings in over 50 percent of their qualified leads (“The Evolution of User Manuals,” Forbes).
The lines are blurring between marketing and technical content, between pre-sales and post-sales content. It’s all pre-sales content, instantly available to our prospects and customers.
Why does content quality matter?
Prospects care about the quality of the content because low quality content makes their jobs more difficult. They want information that solves their problems quickly. According to a 2013 survey conducted by IBM, almost 89 percent of visitors to IBM’s website for technical product information reported that high-quality technical content was either “important” or “very important” to their initial purchase decision (IBM Survey, Intercom, May 2013).
The challenge to create enough of the right content
Hubspot estimates that 60 percent of businesses employ content marketing—the creation, publishing, and sharing of content to acquire and retain customers—as part of their overall marketing strategy. A study by the Content Marketing Institute found that business marketers in 2014 face the following top three challenges: lack of time, inability to produce enough content, and inability to produce the kind of content that engages.
In my experience serving our high tech clients, one of our biggest challenges has been finding and generating enough content to support the customer journey at each stage of the buying cycle. The solution is collaboration between marketing and technical communicators: marketers and technical communicators working side-by-side to deliver great content that is findable, relevant, valuable, and engaging—to attract and acquire larger audiences and increase profits.
At many companies, including Kaia Communications, technical writers create a variety of content types: blog posts, web content, white papers, videos, infographics, presentations, social content, and traditional documentation, such as user guides and maintenance manuals.
Technical Content is Marketing Content
I agree with Tom. We’ve entered the Era of Content. Prospects and customers seek information from a variety of channels. All content is pre-sales content, instantly available to our prospects and customers. Technical content has become a business asset, closely connected to revenue streams and the sales cycle.
Marketers’ and technical communicators’ benefit from working together, and strategically delivering a complete content experience for prospects and clients throughout the buying cycle, from awareness to customer loyalty. Collaboration between marketers and technical communicators improves customer experience and boosts loyalty and profits. It’s time to break down the silos and start working together. Do you agree?