Do your users or customers find your content useful and meaningful to their goals? If not, your content is likely failing to help them accomplish what they came to your website or application to do.
It is essential that your organization makes content useful. In fact, we have found this to be so important that Content Science includes Content Usefulness and Content Relevance as two of the six dimensions of content effectiveness we measure with our ContentWRX software.
ContentWRX evaluates content effectiveness across these six dimensions: discovery / findability, accuracy, usefulness, relevance, polish, and influence. Our research has found that if your customers view your content as both useful and relevant, they will be much more likely to view it as effective. And, our ContentWRX data found that overall effectiveness scores (or what we call ContentWRX scores) were highest when people perceived content as both useful and relevant.
This step-by-step starter guide walks through key ways to get your content usefulness initiative going.
Review your customer personas and journeys and ask yourself or your team:
Your customers are busy, so don’t make them waste time guessing who the content is for. Tell them.
For example, Harvard Business Review proudly states it’s the world’s most influential management magazine. TD Ameritrade’s thinkMoney says it’s for “active traders.” This practice applies to a wide range of content, not just digital magazines. Sales content might require a version for business decision-makers and a version for technical experts, stakeholders, or decision-makers. Customer service and support content might require different versions for different roles or levels of expertise. In all those cases, stating who the intended audience is will help your customers know whether the content is pertinent.
Similar to specifying the content audience, don’t make customers guess why the content is useful. Say it proudly.
One technique we find helpful is to imagine your customers asking you, “So what?” Provide the
answer immediately in the content.
REI uses this technique in its advice and guidance content. The beginning of an article titled “Bike Suspension Basics” says:
Bike suspension provides improved control, traction, and comfort on rooty, rocky single-track or potholed roads. It is one of many factors that contribute to your riding enjoyment.
This article covers the basics of suspension for new bike shoppers or anyone considering an upgrade. We then go on to provide a more detailed look at how suspension works.
And, it doesn’t hurt to remind customers of the usefulness if the content is lengthy or requires deep interaction.
If people report that content is not useful in ContentWRX, we ask why. The most common reason? Content is too general or basic. The least common reason? Content is too detailed or advanced. Consider whether you are repeating the same basic, high-level information again and again or tailoring content to the needs of important or high-value customers.
For example, we worked with a credit monitoring company to develop a content strategy for consumers in a post-Equifax data breach world. We discovered that the credit monitoring content ecosystem repeats many basics over and over. We identified many exciting opportunities to better meet the needs of a wide range of consumers with different credit
experiences. If you try to reach everyone with the basics, you risk reaching no one very effectively.
Last Updated: February 1, 2021
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