Five Strategies for Building Customer Value with Digital Content

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The need to drive customer loyalty through digital interactions has never been higher. Executives surveyed by McKinsey on average expect digital revenues from e-commerce to represent 31% of total sales by 2024—up from 20% in 2022. Meanwhile, Think With Google reports that 56% of in-store shoppers surveyed have used their smartphones to shop or research items while they were in a store.

Many retailers and brands have made significant strides in bridging the gap between digital and brick-and-mortar sales. However, as consumers’ digital and real-world experiences increasingly overlap, it’s becoming critical to extend omnichannel strategies beyond sales and marketing. More than ever, retailers also need to take a unified approach to engaging today’s consumers that extends across product, support and training content. Let’s review five effective digital content strategies for attracting new customers and building the loyalty and life-time value of existing ones.

1. Integrate digital experiences more with consumers’ lives.

The lines between digital and physical experiences are continuing to blur, whether using a mobile application to shop online or tracking your heart rate on a smart watch in the gym. Innovators in their industries are turning digital content into a competitive differentiator. For example, Tesla started delivering its owner’s manual as a scrollable PDF accessed via the dashboard. But more recently, electronic vehicle startup Rivian leapfrogged ahead by embedding an interactive owner’s manual in the infotainment system and enabling drivers to automatically jump to the information they need. Other tactics for bringing seamless, integrated access user experience (UX) include HTML5 code that automatically adjusts to the screens of consumers’ devices and the use of Quick Response (QR) codes that consumers can scan with their mobile phones to reach a web-based product manual or guide.

2. Facilitate consumer self-sufficiency.

As we saw from the Tesla and Rivian example, businesses also need to rethink the structure of content. Rather than putting a 500-page manual online, content should be broken into bite-size, searchable topics. Much like any web search, results for the most frequently searched topics should come to the top. And search results for the most common questions should include micro content that provides a quick answer plus a link for more detail if needed. Digital content should also be repurposed across product manuals, how-to-guides, tutorials, and other documentation to ensure consistency. Additionally, by using analytics provided by modern technical authoring platforms, companies can gain insights into how consumers are interacting with content so they can improve those experiences over time.

3. Leverage online guides for consultative selling.

Empowered with online help, product guides, and tutorials, many consumers now prefer self-service over calling the support center. But this has significantly reduced opportunities to provide live personalized advice to ensure customers have the positive experiences that build loyalty to the brand. Some innovative companies have started to close the consultative gap by dynamically presenting offers for related products within their digital product documentation. For example, the digital manual on installing 12” x 24” bathroom tile may have micro content within a call-out box that suggests using mortar for “large format tile” and provides a link to purchase it. In this way, companies can continue offering options that add value regardless of whether they interact with a customer in person, via phone, or online.

4. Use online tutorials and guides to attract new customers.

With the growing number of smart devices in consumers’ homes, some companies have started successfully using online tutorials and guides to help sell their solutions. Consider competition in the home thermostat market. For years, Honeywell provided complex documentation for its industry-leading thermostats, which encouraged customers to rely on a contractor for the installation. Then newcomer Nest published guides that said we’ll show you step-by-step how easy it is to install yourself, and consumers started buying the newer product. Of course, documentation is not simply print and static images. Videos embedded in or appearing alongside online guides provide powerful tools for educating consumers and assisting in their decision-making. If we can help consumers solve a problem as they are purchasing, onboarding, installing, or troubleshooting a product, it becomes an incredible experience for driving customer adoption and loyalty.

5. Embrace consumers’ growing focus on sustainability.

According to a recent Accenture report, “The Human Paradox,” 72% of consumers feel they can personally impact the world and their communities through behaviors and buying choices, and nearly 70% are worried about the impact of climate change on their lives. By delivering documentation as digital content, businesses can tighten their packaging and demonstrate that they are minimizing their carbon footprint. To be sure, product packaging will need to include some “quick start” information, but a QR code or web link can help customers quickly access more detail. Notably, this more sustainable approach to delivering information is also highly effective at cutting expenses, with some companies reporting that their reductions in paper are helping them save anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars each year.

It may seem like the five digital content strategies here would only be available to large corporations with deep pockets. However, a range of desktop and cloud-based content authoring and management solutions are already empowering thousands of businesses—from small startups to multinational corporations—to create digital content experiences that are growing their customer adoption and loyalty today.

Trey Simonton
Trey Simonton is the chief revenue officer at MadCap Software, Inc. He is an enterprise sales leader with 20-plus years of experience in working with CFOs and CMOs to understand the top trends that influence corporate investments and develop dynamic new business opportunities.

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