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Future of Technical Information – Transformation from being a Cost Center to Profit Center

By, Ravi Kumar Adapa

Traditionally, technical information business unit (TIBU) in enterprise companies is seen as a cost center.  We are usually centers of excellence providing ancillary services to revenue-generating product development teams.

With the changing dynamics of times and technologies, the technical writing domain has been evolving. Be it Google-searchable content, social media, communities, rich media, UX,
omni-channel content, TIBU has a never-before opportunity to transform into a profit center. Further, the emphasis on better user experience is now at the core of product design.

This article provides insights into the following thoughts:

  • A paradigm shift from cost center to profit center
  • Is technical content the new sales opportunity?
  • How to leverage new generation content creation, content performance, content amplification, and content monetization
  • Cost of customer acquisition-engagement through technical content
  • How can technical content enhance the brand experience?
  • The ways of generating revenue through technical content

This article provides insights and examples on the roadmap to make technical content a revenue-generating opportunity.

Content and the Buyer’s Journey

Content plays a quintessential part not just in the Customer journey but in Buyer journey, too. Let me ask you a simple question: what will you do when you want to buy a product? You go online, search, find, evaluate, and eventually buy. This process is no different when you buy an enterprise product – of course depending on the value of the purchase, it may take a few more iterations and longer decision cycles. Content powers the potential buyer in research, education, consideration, evaluation, and purchase decision.

As technical writers, simply creating content does not mean you have an effective content strategy. To go from customer journey to buyer journey, you need highly persuasive content to influence customer decision and drive purchase action – and this content can be created from the existing technical content with minimal repurposing effort.

To do this, you need to understand the buyer’s journey. If you’ve never looked at technical content through the lens of the buyer’s journey, prepare to be amazed. There is absolutely no difference in the content that is consumed by an existing customer and a potential customer.

Does it take an Extra Effort for Writers?

Not at all. As technical writers, we produce thousands of pages of content for every release. All it takes is a slight repurposing of the existing content. This new vision will fundamentally change your approach to creating technical content.

Content that we create is same for an existing customer and a prospective customer:

CONTENT DESCRIPTION CUSTOMER JOURNEY BUYER JOURNEY
PRODUCT BRIEF Product Introduction Benefit Summary of product X
HOW-TO Administration Guide Procedural infographic
PROBLEM SOLUTION Troubleshooting Guide How to use product X with least number of issues?
INSTALLATION Installation Guide Detailed video with installation steps
IMPLEMENTATION SAMPLES Implementation Guide  —
FEATURE USAGE User Guide Have you tried these features of product X?
FAQS  — Tips and Tricks using product X

The above table brings out the subtle nuances involved in mapping technical content with the prospective customer needs.

  • Revise the content to suit the specific context of a buyer scenario.
  • Channelize content to offer a solution for a buyer use case.
  • Repurpose content to match the exact buyer requirement.

And, do all this by making the content more visually appealing.

Map Technical Content to Buyer Journey

Buyer_Journey

Do include the following basic changes in your content platform:

  • Identify the content that may help potential buyer
  • Rephrase page titles
  • Repurpose content, content format
  • Engage with customer on content platform
  • Embed lead generation

Is TechComm Converging with MarComm?

Let me guess about the questions you might be thinking of right now,

  • Is Techcomm converging with MarComm?
  • Isn’t this the job of Sales and Marketing team?
  • Isn’t it too much of an ask from a technical writer?

My answer is No. It is very much within the purview of the technical writing domain. Whether the content is created by X business unit or Y business unit – customer experience of the content should be same. The content has to create a unified experience for customers.

Individual departments in an organization can no longer function in silos but rather leverage the strengths of each other. That’s the only way to survive and succeed in this competitive business landscape.

Content as Customer Acquisition Engine

As a technical writer, when you create engaging content, make it publicly available online, optimize it with the SEO and SMO best practices, and attract sizable traffic to content – a lot more can happen with such content. All content should be essentially valuable and consumable. Deliver the right content to the right customer at the right time and your content can create a new sales opportunity for your company.

At CA Technologies (CA), the technical information business unit has launched lead generation initiative in collaboration with CA Education and CA Integrated Marketing BUs and has been able to generate a significant number of leads, signups, conversions, and sales.

ContentAcquisitionEngine

The intent is to add a banner, capture prospective customer information. For example, when a user clicks the banner, they are directed to fill out a form and then get to try-buy a product and or enroll for a free or paid course. With this, we can generate leads, engage, track and report the traffic of customers or potential customers. CA gets a minimum of 30 leads each month through these try-and-buy banners.

Further, most experts know that it can be up to 5 times cost-effective to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Yet only 16% of companies put their primary focus on customer retention. By enhancing the content into a content ecosystem, you can very well acquire, engage, and retain customers.

Let us assume that your company spends an average 100-200 USD to generate a quality lead, over 400 USD to convert the lead into sales, over 200 USD to cross-sell and up-sell other products, and over 200 USD to retain the customer. Technical content with slight tweaking to the content structure and formats will be able to save these costs.

Content as a Service Enabler

Remember, the quality of content has been a subject of great debate. It is self-serviced content that works as a service enabler and is directly linked to the tickets of lower severity (S3 and S4 tickets). These S3 and S4 tickets are raised primarily for want of better information. Time and again, the increase in traffic to content space showed a decline in the support tickets. If we can reduce ticket quantity by 10% – it is going to save support costs. A recent survey suggests that companies spend over 30 USD resolving one support ticket.

  • Evaluate the most-visited and highest-bounce pages and improve the FAQs content.
  • Track how many people use technical content before submitting a request.
  • Force customers to search your knowledge base and FAQs before raising a ticket.
  • Educate your support staff about the content architecture and available topics.
  • Create videos/tutorials about the top three volume drivers.
  • Collaborate actively with the Support team to improve customer experience, self-service, knowledge base articles, navigation, findability, and UX/UI for customers to access content online.

Content for Brand Success

Involve your writers in producing and amplifying the existing content on various social media channels. For example, prepare a white paper on the top three cyber security challenges, or an infographic on the implementation scenario or product tips as GIFs and take such content viral. For more information on how to amplify your content, see my presentation Decoding the Viral Quotient of Technical Content.

At CA, we use GaggleAMP to involve employees to enhance the brand’s visibility on social media. This effort helps transform company’s employees and other stakeholders into an online marketing engine by amplifying company’s social media and online marketing efforts.

Content Monetization Opportunities

Look at small changes you can bring in to monetize content. Here is a quick 360-degree perspective on the various things you can do:

Opportunities

Future of Technical Content

Technical content has always been evolving with new tools, technologies, processes, and its goals. Over the last few decades, we have seen the biggest changes happening – from printed documents to online PDFs, from PDFs to HTML, from private content to public content, from who uses document to document analytics, from consumable content to shareable content, from content to content ecosystem, and the next milestone in this journey is to transform into a profit center.

Do sharpen your content strategy with the following goals:

  • lead generation funneling sales and marketing
  • optimal problem-solving content minimizing the S3 and S4 tickets
  • better content discovery through SEO and SMO
  • better product awareness and brand visibility
  • customer-first content

SuperiorIXPE

True Value of Technical Content or RoI

Fortunately, you can track, monitor, and analyze all the above content monetization steps with the following metrics that we can easily get from our counterparts in Marketing. I am amazed at the level of detail they have in their campaign information and RoI reports (each campaign has over 20 Call-to-Actions, Pipeline Info and more). I am adding a few snippets for reference.

Chart1

Only when we get to such a granular detail, can we ascertain the true value of content. Use the following metrics to prepare a periodical progress report on the RoI of the technical content.

Cost per unit Cost saved or
Revenue generated
Total leads or signups
Total conversions
Total cross-sales
Total reduction in support tickets
Total Customers engaged
Total Customers retained
Total paid course signups
Increase in New Visitor and Returning Visitor Traffic
Content role in sealing a deal
Improvement in NPS

Content Value Pyramid Summary

The true value of content goes way beyond these tangible benefits and metrics.

RoI_Content_Summary

This content was presented at the recently concluded 18th STC India Annual conference.
I will be more than glad to respond to any questions, reach out to me on ravikumar.adapa@gmail.com or tweet me @ravikumaradapa.

About the Author

Ravi Kumar Adapa is a Senior Information Services Engineer. He has been with CA for almost 6 years. He is an M.A., M.Phil., in English Language and Literature with PGCTE and PGDTE from CIEFL, Hyderabad. He has a total of 17 years of experience in the fields of Writing, Training, Team management, and Project management. Besides writing and teaching, he has child-like curiosity and a passion for new tools, apps, and technologies. He lives in a joint family and loves spending time with his two li’l daughters Sravana Tanmayee and Chaitra Vaishnavi.

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Future of Technical Information - Transformation from being a Cost Center to Profit Center, 10.0 out of 10 based on 7 ratings
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2 Comments

  1. Well written article that is timely too Ravi
    Keep it up.

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  2. Informative… thank you much for sharing such a nice article Mr.Ravi Kumar Adapa.

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