Ask Dean Onishi at RightScale what their number one sales lead source is for their products and he’ll tell you it’s their technical documentation support site. That’s right, tech docs.
After reading this article, you’ll not only know how to instantly increase your value as a technical communicator but dramatically increase revenue in your organization while simultaneously teaching your customers about your products/services.
How’s that possible you ask? It’s simple. Companies like RightScale understand that there is unlocked value in their online technical documentation.
There are two primary ways we look for solutions to problems. The first is, you go to Google (maybe Bing) and start searching for a solution. When you find something in the search results that looks interesting you click on it and are taken to the site.
At the site you search through the text to find the answer. If it’s not there you go back to Google and search again. Rinse & repeat.
The second method involves asking your social network for the answer. Maybe it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Buzz or some other social networking site. You ask a question in LinkedIn or you post a question in your status on Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes your network responds with the answer and sometimes they don’t.
Why are our primary search tools for companies’ products/services made from Google and social networks?
Because the expected result is always better than searching your site. Or, they don’t know about your product and are in search of it.
It’s better than your site because you’ve posted simple product or service manuals online. A static piece of content that is outdated the day you posted it. Sure it may get updated by a technical communicator once or twice a month, but it’s only addressing what you believe to be the top use cases and issues.
Why Analytics are Important
But you don’t really know how people are using your products or think about your solution. You don’t know because you aren’t equipped with the analytics, reports and dashboards to tell you what people are searching for on your site but aren’t finding. Or what features of your product most confuse people. Or even if your online product documentation are increasing or decreasing sales lead activity.
In fact our research has shown that your potential customers are going to social networks, rating sites, Youtube, blogs and myriad other places to find information about what your product/service solves. Anywhere but your site typically. Why? Because those sites offer a mechanism for the crowd to participate.
These external sites address the long tail of documentation for your product/service simply by allowing them to participate. Uploading videos, tutorials, how to guides, writing blog entries, rating products, updating status’s are all being done external to your site. And guess what the crowd sourced long tail is showing up in Google search results.
And the search results are pointing to sites you don’t own. Which creates a lost sales opportunity because you don’t control the message or offers on these external sites.
Your potential to capitalize on the audience is limited. Worse because of Google Adwords, your competitors can and will show up in the ads on those sites. Your competitors are taking deals from you that should have been yours.
Your Technical Documentation is Strategic – You just don’t know it yet
Because you’ve never thought of your content and documentation about your products/services as strategic, they are paid little attention. But our best customers like RightScale understand that their product documentation/content is driving revenue and reducing costs. Big revenue and huge cost reductions.
In fact, according to a Global 3000 software customer of ours, every customer service call interaction with a customer costs roughly $154. With a MindTouch crowd sourced solution they spend only $.05!
How does MindTouch deliver these results?
MindTouch provides a powerful collaborative knowledge base for companies to publish their product/service documentation and content. We also allow your prospects and customers to contribute content, answer questions from other community members, address long tail use cases, and update your company’s documentation to be more accurate.
We make it easy for your community to add relevant content to your site. Your community is incented to address the long tail problems your customers or prospective customers are having thus making the site much more valuable. Better, the content is showing up in Google Search results and on your customer’s social networks.
Because once the community contributes content to your MindTouch 2010 technical documentation site, they have the option of posting the contributed content back to their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc social networks.
If you need to moderate (we call the process curation) the community contributed content, we provide powerful tools to do that as well.
MindTouch then offers powerful contextual search results that display both company documentation and community documentation/content. Search results are displayed in context so that you can find the answer to your problem through video, discussion forums, wiki’s or FAQ’s – however your customers like to learn.
In summary, our mission is to equip you with the best tools and platform to create and manage a powerful product documentation site. The benefits are numerous but I’ll highlight the following:
- The site will most likely will become your top online lead generation source
- You’ll see dramatic reductions in support costs
- Your documentation will improve and expand
- You will build a stronger community around your brand
And that’s why technical communicators or anyone responsible for your product/service documentation will become invaluable. We’re here to help. We’re here to support you.
P.S. Anne Gentle’s Advocate for Community Documentation is a must read.