Make your content easy for customers to find and consume — in both reality and perception

Make your content easy for customers to find and consume — in both reality and perception

2 minute read

Make your content easy for customers to find and consume — in both reality and perception

2 minute read

Make your content easy for customers to find and consume — in both reality and perception

Colleen Jones

Founder, Content Science

The obvious reason why discoverability and findability matter is that if customers can’t find your content, it might as well not exist. Today, making your organization’s content easy to find or discover usually takes work, thanks in part to the amount of content and data on the internet doubling roughly every five years.

A not-so-obvious reason? Our research using the ContentWRX data revealed a surprising impact of content findability. If your customers have difficulty finding your content, that experience distorts their perspective on the content itself. Let’s look at some proof. In Figure 6.1, you can see that people who reported that content was easy to find were significantly more likely to report that it was accurate, relevant, and useful than were people who experienced difficulty (but eventually found the content they needed).

Figure 6.1: People perceive content that is hard to find (but eventually found) as less accurate, relevant, and useful than easy-to-find content.

Another way of looking at this insight is that if your customers had trouble finding your content but eventually did, they are

  • Less than half as likely to view that content as accurate
  • Nearly one-third as likely to view that content as relevant
  • Less than half as likely to perceive that content as helpful to accomplishing their goal

You could offer the most amazing content ever produced, but it will not matter if customers experience difficulty finding it. Content findability is the first impression you make on your customers, and the stakes for that impression are very high. I regret I have experienced this phenomenon first hand. Last year, my company launched an online academy. (Creatively named Content Science Academy.) In our eagerness to share the academy with the world, we allowed people to sign up for a few experimental courses that were in a format not quite ready for primetime. Consequently, customers had difficulty accessing and using the experimental courses and complained. But even though the course material was well received in other training formats, these customers also criticized the material. Ouch. The bad first impression of difficult-to-access course material distorted our customers’ perceptions of the material and the rest of the experience. Instead of winning over fans for our innovative new academy, we discouraged them from using it again.How can you avoid my mistake and connect your customers with your content? Let’s turn to a few tips.

Top Tips

It’s time to modernize your company’s approach to content findability with a mix of new thinking and old-hat best practices.

Bring the Content to the Customer Through Personalization

Is it realistic to always put the burden on your customers, users, or audiences to find your content? When your customers get to your website, mobile application, or other digital touchpoint, are they really willing to wade through multiple levels of navigation or a set of search filters and settings so complex they look like a control center in a spaceship? Start thinking about how your company can take on the burden of connecting your customers with the right content. One of the most effective ways to do so is to embrace personalization.

Whenever I speak about personalization at a conference or corporate training, I ask attendees to name a great example. Amazon is usually on the tip of their tongues. It’s not hard to understand why, with the many ways Amazon connects customers to the most pertinent products possible. In a similar spirit, think about how to Amazon-ify your content, such as

  • Proactively offering your customers suggested content or information immediately when they visit your site
  • Showing your customers or users which content that people with similar interests or needs found useful
  • Giving your customers suggestions for content similar to the content they just consumed
  • Reminding or alerting customers of important decisions, tasks, and more
  • Customizing offers or messages based on your customers’ interests or status
  • Planning microcopy and contextual help to guide customers in the moment rather than making them search for instructions

Editor’s note: This material is reprinted with the permission of Pearson Education, Inc. The following excerpt is from Chapter 6, "Make Your Content Effective." Find out more about the book or order your copy.

The obvious reason why discoverability and findability matter is that if customers can’t find your content, it might as well not exist. Today, making your organization’s content easy to find or discover usually takes work, thanks in part to the amount of content and data on the internet doubling roughly every five years.

A not-so-obvious reason? Our research using the ContentWRX data revealed a surprising impact of content findability. If your customers have difficulty finding your content, that experience distorts their perspective on the content itself. Let’s look at some proof. In Figure 6.1, you can see that people who reported that content was easy to find were significantly more likely to report that it was accurate, relevant, and useful than were people who experienced difficulty (but eventually found the content they needed).

Figure 6.1: People perceive content that is hard to find (but eventually found) as less accurate, relevant, and useful than easy-to-find content.

Another way of looking at this insight is that if your customers had trouble finding your content but eventually did, they are

  • Less than half as likely to view that content as accurate
  • Nearly one-third as likely to view that content as relevant
  • Less than half as likely to perceive that content as helpful to accomplishing their goal

You could offer the most amazing content ever produced, but it will not matter if customers experience difficulty finding it. Content findability is the first impression you make on your customers, and the stakes for that impression are very high. I regret I have experienced this phenomenon first hand. Last year, my company launched an online academy. (Creatively named Content Science Academy.) In our eagerness to share the academy with the world, we allowed people to sign up for a few experimental courses that were in a format not quite ready for primetime. Consequently, customers had difficulty accessing and using the experimental courses and complained. But even though the course material was well received in other training formats, these customers also criticized the material. Ouch. The bad first impression of difficult-to-access course material distorted our customers’ perceptions of the material and the rest of the experience. Instead of winning over fans for our innovative new academy, we discouraged them from using it again.How can you avoid my mistake and connect your customers with your content? Let’s turn to a few tips.

Top Tips

It’s time to modernize your company’s approach to content findability with a mix of new thinking and old-hat best practices.

Bring the Content to the Customer Through Personalization

Is it realistic to always put the burden on your customers, users, or audiences to find your content? When your customers get to your website, mobile application, or other digital touchpoint, are they really willing to wade through multiple levels of navigation or a set of search filters and settings so complex they look like a control center in a spaceship? Start thinking about how your company can take on the burden of connecting your customers with the right content. One of the most effective ways to do so is to embrace personalization.

Whenever I speak about personalization at a conference or corporate training, I ask attendees to name a great example. Amazon is usually on the tip of their tongues. It’s not hard to understand why, with the many ways Amazon connects customers to the most pertinent products possible. In a similar spirit, think about how to Amazon-ify your content, such as

  • Proactively offering your customers suggested content or information immediately when they visit your site
  • Showing your customers or users which content that people with similar interests or needs found useful
  • Giving your customers suggestions for content similar to the content they just consumed
  • Reminding or alerting customers of important decisions, tasks, and more
  • Customizing offers or messages based on your customers’ interests or status
  • Planning microcopy and contextual help to guide customers in the moment rather than making them search for instructions

Editor’s note: This material is reprinted with the permission of Pearson Education, Inc. The following excerpt is from Chapter 6, "Make Your Content Effective." Find out more about the book or order your copy.

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Take your Content Operations to the next level

Tame the content chaos into a content system.

February 8, 2018

7:28 am

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About the author

Colleen Jones

With nearly 20 years of experience, Colleen (@leenjones) has led strategic initiatives for Fortune 50 companies, government agencies, and boutique brands. She regularly consults with executives to improve their strategy and processes for content. Colleen also cofounded our content evaluation platform, ContentWRX. Over the course of her career, Colleen has held leadership roles at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Cingular Wireless (now AT&T). At Cingular Wireless, she won several executive awards for leading an interdisciplinary team to improve the customer experience across channels including web, IVR, mobile, and point-of-sale applications. With an M.A. in technical communication from James Madison University, Colleen is an active member of American MENSA, American Marketing Association, International Association of Business Communicators, and the Association of Computing Machinery. She also founded Atlanta Content Strategy and is a past chair of the executive board for the Atlanta chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery SIG on computer-human interaction

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