Does your website include content from multiple departments? If so, you need an enterprise content strategy rather than a departmental strategy. Enterprise content strategy addresses each content type as part of the overall user experience.
In this presentation, Elizabeth Patterson explores how to build a holistic content strategy across your customer-facing content groups.
“Your content needs to be searchable, it needs to be consistent, and prospects need to be able to find it efficiently.”
- Enterprise content strategy maturity model
- Why having an enterprise content strategy is important to your UX
AP: Hello everyone. I am Alan Pringle of Scriptorium Publishing. I’ll be moderating today’s session on unifying customer experience with enterprise content strategy. I want to tell you a little bit about how this session is going to work. We are recording this session, but don’t worry, none of your information will be visible. You as an attendee will be muted. And if you have any questions, please look for the questions Q&A tab in the interface, it’s at the bottom. In the bar at the bottom of the interface look for the Q&A button, open that up and type your question in there and I will relay that question to Elizabeth.
AP: I want to tell you a little bit about some things we’ve got coming up soon. You can visit our website at scriptorium.com/events to learn more. The first thing is next Wednesday, our partner DCL has invited me to participate in a webcast on content reuse. And then we also in September have a session on smarter content in weird places. That’s at 1 o’clock Eastern on September 16th. And as I said, go to scriptorium.com/events for more information and to register. And with that, I am going to turn things over to Elizabeth. Elizabeth, are you there?
EP: I am. Can you hear me?
AP: Sure can. Take it away.
EP: All right. I’m going to go ahead and turn on my video so that you all can see me. So hi everyone. I’m Elizabeth Patterson and I am the marketing manager here at Scriptorium. My focus is really all things marketing. So social media, managing our websites and search engine optimization. I also work as our conference liaison to make sure that we’ve got everything scheduled for that, so our presentations, our exhibiting, and then I do a lot of planning based on industry trends and analytics. So if you are not familiar with us, I wanted to give you a brief overview about who we are and what we do at Scriptorium. We are a content strategy consultancy, and we work to optimize technical and product content operations for global companies.
EP: We have a big focus on content strategy, which often includes assessments where we identify workflows that need improvement, where opportunities exist and then set up and establish specific goals for a solution. And we also do localization strategy and then the implementation portion. So after the assessment, we can build out the initial assessment into a comprehensive content life cycle that includes content modeling and information architecture. If you have any questions for us, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] and you can also find more information about us on our website scriptorium.com. So I’m going to go ahead and kick things off. And today we’re going to be talking about unifying the customer experience with enterprise content strategy.
EP: So I want to start by addressing the driving force of this presentation, which is that prospects are looking at your content, both marketing and technical, before making a decision and buying your product. It’s no longer just the marketing content, because today everything is free to access online, and it’s also really easy to access. We have smartphones, we have tablets. If you have a wifi connection, you can pull up anything and many people have data plans where they don’t even need wifi. So everything is so accessible. And because of this, prospects are using all of the information that they can find to inform their buying decision and I’ll give you a quick example. About a couple months ago, my husband and I decided that we were going to buy a truck.
EP: And there was a couple of reasons for that, for his job and also, because we plan to get a travel trailer. So we were looking at, of course, the marketing content. It’s fun to look at exclusive colors, the leather seats, smart stereo systems. All of that stuff is fun to look at, but we were looking for some very specific technical information on towing capacity, the size of the cab. So we were getting into the weeds, looking at what we wanted and we spent a lot of time looking at different trucks to the point that we decided what make and model we wanted. And we narrowed it down to a truck that we wanted to test drive. We called the dealership, we said, “Hey, can we come test drive this?” Test drove it, and that’s one we ended up buying. So we only actually looked at that one truck in-person.
EP: All of our other research was done online. And so, because of situations like this, we’re seeing a need for more of a holistic content strategy or an enterprise content strategy. And so, that’s really what I want to talk about today and how an enterprise content strategy can help you unify that customer experience so that when your prospects are looking at information, they are having a very positive experience. So the first thing that you need to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide if this enterprise content strategy is the right thing for you is do you have content from multiple departments on your website? Because if you do, then you need an enterprise content strategy. We do work with smaller scope content strategies, and there is not always a reason for an enterprise content strategy, but many times there is.
EP: And we’re focusing on that UX side of things today, but that’s really the first question to address. And once your content strategy, if you do start with a smaller scope, you can always expand it across the enterprise, and I’m going to touch on that a little bit later in this presentation. So I want to start before we get into the UX side of things by really defining what enterprise content strategy is. And it is a strategy that includes a plan for each content type and recognizes that each content type is part of the overall user experience. So let’s address what enterprise content strategy can specifically do for your user experience. And I’m going to hit two things today, so one, enterprise content strategy helps you to connect and align your departments, which is going to help you with that unified content, avoiding the inconsistencies, communicating current information to your clients and making sure that all of your departments are on the same page, so that there’s not contradictory information.
EP: And then, also, it helps provide your clients with the information that they are looking for. And that is so important, and I’m going to address each of these individually. So we’ll start with getting departments aligned. When you decide that it is time for an enterprise content strategy, you are going to have to get all of your departments across your organization aligned and a big part of that is communication. Without communication, you are going to get inconsistencies. We have heard multiple stories where perhaps there is a rebranding and one department has started rolling out some new content, perhaps a new logo, but it hasn’t effectively been communicated across the whole organization. So another department is still using the old messaging and that’s where you’re going to see that inconsistent communication.
EP: And it’s going to hurt your brand in the long run. So it’s very important that you get a plan in place and that you stick to that plan. A plan to communicate, a plan for your content governance, a style guide. You want to have all of this in place, and all of these are pieces of the enterprise content strategy. And it’s important to note that these should be working documents as you are getting these plans together, of course, document them, but understand that things may change, new things may come up and that you may need to make adjustments. So be flexible and be aware that that is a need. I’m going to touch a little bit on providing prospects the right information, and you need to start by asking yourself these questions. So are prospects able to find the information that they need on your website?
EP: Do they get consistent content? Are they getting contradictory statements? And then what is the user experience like? So if you’re getting a negative response to any of these questions, then it’s really time to consider that enterprise content strategy. Your content needs to be searchable, it needs to be consistent, and prospects, with everything available so quickly, they need to be able to find it efficiently, or they’re going to get frustrated. And I’m sure everyone has had an experience where they visit some help portal online. I can think of several times that I’ve done that for either a product that I have purchased already or one that I’m looking at and there have been many occasions where I search for information and that information is either fragmented, so I’m finding bits and pieces of it all over the website, or I’m not necessarily finding what I’m looking for.
EP: And then one of the worst things for me is when I find contradictory information. So I’m trying to understand how to use something that I’ve purchased and I go online and I’m getting multiple different articles that are telling me things that are not quite adding up. So at that point, I’m going to reach out to support. I’m going to try to contact someone. And if you have a help portal, the intention of your portal, I would hope, is that you want to help your clients. You want them to be able to get the right information. And if they’re not able to do that, then they’re contacting you directly and that’s a use and a drain on your time and resources. So an enterprise content strategy addresses these things and helps you make sure that you are delivering the right information to your clients efficiently and effectively and when they need it.
EP: So we’ve talked about what an enterprise content strategy is and why that really is an important part of unifying your user experience. So I want to talk a little bit about where you start, how you start building that holistic strategy. And I’m going to address the enterprise content strategy maturity model first. We do have this available on our website. Sarah O’Keefe published a blog post last year that has a lot more information on it, so if after I talk about it, you’re really interested, you can visit our site and just search maturity model. And I will also, when we put this recording up, I will include a link to it in the recording. But the enterprise content strategy maturity model looks at content integration across the organization. And when you decide that it’s time to start working towards that enterprise content strategy, you really need to find out where you land on this model.
EP: What level do you fall in? So I’m going to give you a brief rundown of each of these levels. So the first one is siloed. And this is where each content type, so martom, techcomm and so on, they’re developed and deployed separately. And we find a lot of our clients starting within this level. A lot of times it’s why they contact us, because they need help building that alignment and that unification across their content. The next level is tactical and this is where there is some high-level coordination for terminology and user experience, but the content types themselves are authored and published in separate silos. So you’ve got a little bit more of that alignment there, but everything is still being done separately.
EP: The third level is unified, and this is where customers are receiving unified content, but authoring and delivery processes are fragmented. So it’s just the next step, you’re getting more unified content, but you’re still seeing some disconnect. Manage level is when content governance is consistent across content types and your authoring and publishing systems allow for content sharing and linking. So it’s possible that departments have different systems in place, but there’s still a way at this point to share content and link and that’s very important. And then the strategic level is when business strategy recognizes that each content type is a contributor to the overall customer experience, and then the systems support that holistic approach.
EP: So when you are considering this enterprise content strategy and getting started, determine where you fall on this model because that’s going to help you decide really where you need to start, what you need to do to work towards the goals. And I think it’s important to note here that not everyone’s goal is going to be the strategic level. That might not be what your company is going for, but just getting an understanding of exactly where you lie and what the possibilities are is important. And the blog post that I mentioned at the beginning does discuss ways that you can improve your organization’s maturity. One of which is to ensure consistent UX across your customer-facing content, which is really what we’re focusing on today. But there’s some more details in that post if you’re interested.
EP: All right. The next thing when you’re getting started is that you have got to get executive support. This is a very important, crucial part of your project success. One, because oftentimes this is how you’re going to get funding. But also, if you are investing in something like an enterprise content strategy that’s going to be expanding across your entire organization, you need to have the support from the top in order for it to be successful. A couple of things to consider here. One is a proof of concept. So a proof of concept is an opportunity to test things out with a smaller project and then show how successful that project can be and what the return on investment is. And return on investment is the big thing here, because your executives are going to want to see the numbers.
EP: They’re going to want to know what money are we saving? Are we going to be making any additional money? What time are we saving, resources? They want to see those numbers. And so, a proof of concept can be a smaller way for you to get started and show some numbers once you have expanded that. All right. The next thing I’m going to mention is to start small. So I mentioned the proof of concept on the previous slide, but another option is to break your project up into phases. And as you move to implementation, it’s not uncommon to see those phases breakup. If you have gone through a content strategy assessment, oftentimes a deliverable from that is going to be a project roadmap that’s going to show you and lay out the implementation process, and you can then take that roadmap and you can break it up into phases.
EP: There’s a couple of benefits to this. One, it can help you with funding. Perhaps you have a set amount of funding you can spend within the fiscal year that’s about to end, so you can get a chunk of it and then bump the rest into the next fiscal year. Another benefit, when you break it up like this, you’re able to focus on certain pieces of the project at a time, and that can be really helpful because a large project like this can be very intimidating and you also have to deal with change management, which is a challenge when you’re adopting a big project like this. And so, breaking it up into those smaller parts allows you to really address those things as they come. The next thing is to gather background information. And this is going to be a crucial piece to the point I addressed earlier with providing the right content or the right information to your prospects.
EP: There’s a lot of background information that you’ll need to gather when you are starting with a content strategy, but we’re going to focus specifically on client information today, so that we can address providing the right information. So you need to gather that background information. How are your customers using content? What are their pain points? You need to get answers to these questions, so that you can deliver content that addresses those pain points and that addresses what they’re looking for. If you don’t do this part of the implementation, then you’re really going to be struggling to actually deliver content that they’re looking for.
EP: And we publish blog posts each week, so sometimes we do blog posts, sometimes podcasts, webcasts, white papers, and we take a similar approach to this, in that, we’ll sit down and we’ll look at current clients, prospects, industry trends, and we’ll really pull out the pain points that we’re seeing. The common trends that we’re seeing amongst our clients, what they’re asking us, what they need, what do our prospects need when we’re meeting with them. And then we try to deliver content that’s going to address those needs, so it’s just like that. Just getting a firm understanding of what it is that your clients really do need. The next step is to break down silos and I mentioned when were talking about the enterprise content strategy maturity model that a lot of our clients do fall into that siloed level.
EP: Silos are very, very common, but they can also be detrimental to communication, which as I mentioned before, is very important for delivering clear and consistent content. If you do have silos, these are some considerations. So encourage collaboration. No one wants to hear me say, “Have another meeting.” But if you are investing in an enterprise content strategy, it’s a big project. There are going to be some meetings. When you have meetings, make sure that you are sending representatives from each department, so that everyone is getting input and everyone is getting to hear from the other departments. That’s a really big piece of this collaboration part. Manage your silos better. So sometimes eliminating silos is not possible in an organization. But you could put someone in a position to oversee all of the content and coordination between departments.
EP: So that’s an option to help you manage that if you can’t necessarily get rid of them. And educate your colleagues. Talk To them about the benefit of working without silos. Talk to them about how it can reduce risk of producing duplicated content or that information that contradicts. Talk to them about the benefits of creating a unified look and feel when you’re all working together, so there’s ways that you can really work with your silos if you can’t get rid of them, but also ways that you can break them down. And again, understand that you’ve got to be flexible here, you’ve got to be patient because this is going to be another point when you’re really going to be dealing with a lot of change management and that takes time and patience. And then the last point here I want to address with getting started is to manage your solution.
EP: You need to get a plan in place to manage your solution. It’s a very important part of your strategy. You need to figure out how you’re going to deal with future changes. It’s quite possible that you’ll have someone in your organization leave and if they’ve been a really important part of the project, have they documented everything that they’ve done? What do you need to do to get someone else to be working on their part of the project? Do you have the information that they were researching? So you need to have a plan in place for that, but also, your client’s needs will change. Your business will change some. And so, have a plan for addressing those changes. Also, have a plan for ensuring that your processes are working. How are you going to make sure that you are getting the return on investment that you want, that your clients are getting the information that they need, that you are communicating effectively within your departments?
EP: How are you going to measure that? Outline this, document everything and just, again, flexibility is really big here. Be prepared for that. So we talked about that need for enterprise content strategy and what it can do for your customer’s user experience and also, how you can get started building that. If you have more questions for us, or you’re interested in getting Scriptorium to help you in this process, feel free to reach out to us. You can visit scriptorium.com or you can contact us at [email protected] And with that, I’m going to open the floor up to questions.
AP: And we do have some. First, Elizabeth, someone’s asking. “How best can you determine customer content when those customers are far away?”
EP: So how best can you determine what they need? Is that the question?
AP: I believe so, and if it’s not, please clarify in the questions panel.
EP: So this can definitely be a challenge and I understand that sometimes you are going to have customers that you’re not going to really want to reach out to them, but that is an option. Consider reaching out to clients, look at your client relationships. There might be a couple of clients that you’ve got a really good relationship with. Consider those relationships, consider reaching out to them. I’m not saying in anything like a survey, but consider having these conversations with them and asking them what their pain points are. And you can also research industry trends. And that of course, is not going to be entirely related to just your customer group, but you can get a lot of good information that way if you do that background research.
AP: And I’ll throw in there, if you have a support team, they are basically first-line customer contact. A lot of times, if you cannot talk to your customers directly, talk to your support team and they will tell you, and probably very candidly …
EP: That’s a really good point.
AP: … what customers are looking for and having problems with.
EP: Yeah, absolutely.
AP: Another question. “What do you do when you have someone say something like, ‘Well, prospects have access to information. It’s all in PDFs. They can download from our website?'”
EP: So what do you say to that person? So if you’re talking to someone in your organization, if this is maybe an executive that’s saying that to you, this would be the time that you would need to have some type of proof to show them what could be possible and really addressing the fact that that is not necessarily what’s most convenient for the client themselves. It can be very cumbersome to continue to download those PDFs and can take a lot of time.
EP: And when you’re talking about wanting to provide a really positive and efficient user experience, you can talk a little bit about how you can make that better. Perhaps show some of your competitors sites, if your competitors are using help portals, and they’re not using downloadable PDFs, you could show some of your executives or the person asking what that experience could be like without PDFs, so that could be a good way to show them without having to put something together yourself.
AP: And I think your point there about looking at competitors or people same or similar industries is a great way to do that because that comparison while can be very painful, it can be very illuminating as well.
EP: Yes, definitely.
AP: Well, Elizabeth, that is it for questions. So unless anyone has anything else we are done here today.
EP: Great. And we will get this recording up for you all and I will link some of the articles that I was referencing in that post for you, so that you can access those.
AP: Thanks everyone. Have a great rest of your day.
EP: Thank you.