• July 25, 2023
  • By Trey Simonton, chief revenue officer, MadCap Software

4 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty and Value via Digital Content

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Digital commerce is on track to affect nearly one-third of retailers and brands’ revenues. In fact, executives surveyed by McKinsey expect on average to see digital revenues from e-commerce to represent 31 percent of total sales by 2024—up from 20 percent in 2022. This is putting more pressure than ever to compete for customers through a best-in-class omnichannel experience. While many retailers and brands have made significant strides in bridging the gap between digital and brick-and-mortar sales, they are leaving huge gaps in extending omnichannel experiences to effectively engage today’s consumers through enhanced customer support and training.

Certainly, most companies have made significant strides in encouraging customer self-service on their websites. However, as consumers’ digital and real-world experiences increasingly intermix, it is becoming critical to take a more unified approach through product, support and training content. Let’s look at four digital content strategies that are particularly effective in helping to attract new customers and build the loyalty and life-time value of existing ones.

1. Meet customers’ demands for modern digital experiences.

Whether shopping online or working out in the gym, digital and real-world experiences are more intertwined than ever, driving consumers to expect easy, immediate access to product information regardless of the device they’re using. Forward-thinking companies are not only addressing this demand; they’re turning digital content into a competitive differentiator. A case in point is the rivalry between electric vehicle makers Tesla and Rivian. Years ago, Tesla innovated delivery of the owner’s manual as a scrollable PDF accessed via the dashboard. More recently, Rivian has upped the ante with an interactive owner’s manual, which is embedded in the infotainment system and lets drivers automatically jump to the specific information they need.

Seamless access is one critical component of the user experience (UX)—from a user interface that makes an owner’s manual appear as part of an infotainment system to a Quick Response (QR) code that consumers can scan with their mobile phones to reach a web-based product guide. As with e-commerce, a seamless UX also means delivering product information via responsive HTML5 code that automatically adjusts to the screens of consumers’ devices for optimal viewing whether in a car or on smartphone.

Businesses also need to rethink the structure of content. It’s not enough to simply put the PDF of a 300- to 800-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. Ideally, each search result will include micro content that provides a quick answer plus a link for more detail if needed. And by using the 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.

2. Leverage online guides to upsell related offerings.

Many companies have empowered customers to troubleshoot and solve their own problems using a combination of online help, product guides, and tutorials. As a result, more consumers now prefer self-service over calling the support center. But what businesses have gained in enabling self-service, they’ve lost in the live personal interactions that have historically allowed them 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, flooring instructions may suggest a tool to simplify the installation, or a webcam setup guide may suggest a halo light for better visibility. In such cases, micro-content appearing in a call-out box within a digital guide or manual, explains how the tool or accessory can help and provides a link to purchase the item. 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.

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

Companies have successfully used online tutorials and guides to help sell sophisticated business products and solutions. This strategy can be extended to the growing number of smart devices in consumers’ homes. Take, for example, Honeywell, probably the most widely adopted thermostat provider. For years, its documentation was complex and encouraged customers to fear the five colored wires and instead rely on a contractor for the installation. Then Nest came along saying don’t fear the five wires; we’ll show you step-by-step how easy it is to install. Comforted by this guidance, consumers started taking risks with the newer product.

Nest is one example of how companies are assisting consumer purchases through product information, which makes the buying decision and level of commitment to the brand that much greater. 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. Returning to our flooring example, an installation video can help potential buyers decide whether they are confident  installing the product themselves or need to enlist the retailer’s installers. If we can help consumers solve a problem as they are purchasing, onboarding, installing, or troubleshooting a product, it becomes an incredible experience.

4. Support growing customer calls for sustainability.

In a Fleishman-Hillard survey, 79 percent of consumers say brands should focus on developing working practices that protect the environment as they prepare for the future. By delivering documentation as digital content, businesses can tighten their packaging and demonstrate that they are minimizing their carbon footprint—while cutting their own expenses.

Best of all, adopting this sustainable practice can significantly enhance consumers’ experiences. Information is consistent, since digital content can be repurposed for product manuals, how-to-guides, tutorials, and other documentation. It helps customers bridge their digital and physical experiences, since they can access information whether sitting at a desktop or walking down a store aisle with their mobile phone. And features, such as QR codes linked to information, micro-content, and searchable topics, can help consumers make decisions faster with immediate access to answers.

Adopting the four digital content strategies here may seem like it requires large corporations with deep pockets. However, a range of desktop and cloud-based content authoring and management solutions are already empowering thousands of businesses—small, medium, and large—to create digital content experiences that are growing their customer adoption and loyalty today.

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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