Making a Sales Connection with Technical Content

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Connecting technical content to sales can improve experiences for both prospects and customers

By nearly any measure, customer experience is a hot topic today. You can’t open your email inbox, read a blog post, or attend a webinar or conference presentation without being pitched on improving experiences consumers have with your brand. Keeping up with the flood of information on this topic is challenging, and at times, a bit confusing.

What is the customer experience, exactly?

Some describe customer experience as the new battleground for business. Moreover, while this may be true, writing in Forbes.com, customer experience futurist, Blake Morgan, provides an illustrative definition of the term that provides additional insight.

“Everything a company does contributes to how customers perceive it, and therefore to the overall customer experience,” Morgan says. Customer experience includes, “the messaging you use, the products you sell, the sales process, and what happens after the sale, plus other internal factors like the interworking of the company, its leadership, and the engineering of the product or service,” Morgan adds.

What’s interesting about Morgan’s view of the customer is that it includes all of the touch points (experiences) prospective customers have with your brand on their journey to find solutions to their problems. Morgan understands that the experience you create shouldn’t be limited to people who have already purchased from you. The experience you provide should serve more than just your existing customers.

Customer experiences happen. Intentionally or not, they influence others. Customer experiences come in many variations. They impact prospects — consumers of your technical content who may or may not ever become your customer. The content experiences they encounter vary widely from exceptional to mediocre to downright disastrous. No matter how you characterize these experiences, the chances are good that technical content played a starring role in every one of them.

“Everything a company does contributes to how customers perceive it, and to the overall customer experience.” — Blake Morgan

Connecting technical content to sales can improve experiences for both prospects and customers

Prospective customers are content consumers whose interactions with your brand occur in what sales and marketing pros call the consideration stage. It’s during the consideration stage that consumers actively search for technical information related to the challenges they face. Depending on where they are in their quest, they may be looking to compare and contrast technical differences between your products and those offered by your competition. They may be building a business case to obtain funding to purchase a solution. At this stage in the journey, they use technical content to determine whether your products and services will help them achieve their goals. The immediate goal of the consideration phase is often to create a short list of candidates from which to purchase a solution.

Your goal is to get on their short list.

To do so, you’ll need to provide consumers with technical content that both addresses their data gathering needs while also helping you to convert them from prospects to loyal, profitable, revenue-generating customers.

Getting it right means developing a seamless experience that ensures relevant content is available to consumers at every touchpoint along their journey.

“Focusing on anything other than getting it [content] right is a waste of time and money.”

Pundits like Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler, often argue, that exceptional customer experiences are only possible if you can “craft, manage, personalize, and deliver relevant and engaging content.” Abel defines relevant content as “the right content, to the right consumer, at the right place and time, delivered in the way that best suits the needs of the consumer at the exact moment.”

“It’s all about improving content to enhance the customer experience,” Abel proclaims. “Focusing on anything other than getting it right is a waste of time and money.”

Crafting amazing experiences with technical content requires you understand the experience consumers have with your brand and the content you publish. You can’t claim to be customer-focused and then discover content challenges only after they’ve become a problem. By then, you’ve demonstrated your lack of customer-focus. By then, it’s too late.

As CEO of Astoria Software, creators of the world’s leading component enterprise content management platform, it’s probably not surprising that I agree with pundits like Abel. Experiences rely on content. Great content experiences require a well-thought-out, strategic approach to creating appropriately managed content, and delivering it on-demand.

Getting it right is challenging. Getting it right involves making technical content available to those who need it, when, where, and how they desire it. Doing so

“No matter how you characterize these experiences, technical content played a starring role in every one of them.”

will not only help you delight existing customers, but it can be used to convert prospects into paying customers. While you must make smart decisions that are in the best interest of your company, you do not have to make all of your content decisions stakeholder-centric. To create exceptional customer-centered experiences, you have to understand and design experiences from a technical content consumer’s perspective. Becoming customercentric means recognizing that every consumer experience with your brand impacts how they perceive you. Every piece of content they consume at every touch point affects the perception they have of you.

It’s time to start thinking about the types of content you produce and why you create it. It’s time to reconsider how you work—how you create, manage, translate, localize, publish, and deliver technical content. The goal is to get it right. Getting it right means admitting that the value of technical content is not limited to post-sale interactions with existing customers. Increasingly, marketers are beginning to see the value technical content can provide them on their journey to convert prospects into paying customers.

Technical content enables sales; helps us turn prospects into customers

“Getting it right means developing a seamless experience that ensures relevant content is available to consumers at every touchpoint along their journey.”

But it’s not just marketing departments that see the value of technical content. Sales teams now realize that prospective buyers often seek out — and value highly — technical information. While technical content is sometimes needed in business-to-consumer (B2C) selling, technical content is almost always an essential ingredient in business-to-business (B2B) transactions.

The message here is simple: Technical writers can play a crucial role in helping your brand deliver exceptional content experiences.
Consumers today often require precise content designed to help them substantiate their purchase decision. It is during the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey where you must communicate a clear, compelling reason for choosing your products or services over others.

It no longer makes sense to limit technical content to post-sale distribution channels. Instead, technical content should be front and center. It should be crafted to inform, convince, and convert. It should assist you in turning prospects into customers and customers into advocates and evangelists. To do so, you must collaborate with sales and marketing (and other departments like training, public relations, and human relations), to build a repeatable, systematic approach to providing the right technical content

“86% of buyers they surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for products and services offered by companies that provide a great customer experience.”

to the right audience at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Moreover, you’ll need the right tools and technologies to help you manage multichannel technical content experiences at scale.

Connecting technical content to sales isn’t just an intriguing idea. It makes perfectly good business sense.

“By mapping technical content to buyer intent you can improve your search presence and make your content easier to locate,” Abel says. “By focusing on the creation of fresh, new content of value to various audience segments, your organization will achieve higher SEO rankings. Updating legacy technical content and revamping it for sales purposes also improves search performance, especially when intent metadata is used to categorize and deliver the right content to those who need it.”

Leveraging technical content to craft experiences that support prospective customers is not only a best practice, but it’s also a business imperative.

“Mapping technical communication content to buyer intent you can improve your search presence and make your content easier to locate.”

Researchers say consumers are willing to spend more money with brands that deliver exceptional experiences. How much more? Up to 25% more to avoid confusing, frustrating, inconsistent experiences.

Researchers at PWC say 59% of consumers stop buying from brands after they have several bad experiences; 17% say they might switch to a competitor after just one bad experience. In Latin America, 49% say one bad experience is enough.

Researchers at Walker Information found that 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for products and services offered by companies that provide a great customer experience.

Researchers say consumers are willing to spend more money with brands that deliver exceptional experiences. How much more? Up to 25% more to avoid confusing, frustrating, inconsistent experiences.

Add to this, the fact that the costs of acquiring new customers are five to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. It’s clear that technical content plays a critical role in helping us serve prospective customers during the consideration phase.

Technical content is often what determines whether your product or service will make the short list.

During the decision phase, prospects seek clarification and understanding before they commit to becoming your customer. They often require precise technical content designed to help them support their purchase decision. It is during this stage of the journey where you must communicate a clear, compelling reason for choosing your products or services over others.

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