The Spork / Platypus Average: Content strategy at Red Gate Software


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This is the presentation I gave at User Assistance Europe 2010 in Stockholm, and Technical Communication UK 2010 in Oxford.

Here's the abstract:

Content strategy is this year’s buzzword. 170 people from 18 countries came to the Content Strategy Forum in Paris. But what is it all about and what does it have to do with us?

Well, it’s based on doing what a lot of technical communicators have been doing for a long time: delivering content that’s optimised for user and business goals, and making sure it stays that way. But now companies are starting to take notice.

By presenting itself as a revenue centre, not a cost centre, and extending into an organisation’s entire web presence, content strategy is a new opportunity for technical communicators to add significant value to a business.

I'll talk you through how we did this for SQL Tools at Red Gate, how we design, measure, and curate content, our new collaborations with marketing, and give you some pointers for selling content strategy in your organization.

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  • Right after the keynoteNo pressureDavid Black  we’re all fucked. Time to go sort out Marketing.
  • Working with marketingWhat is content strategyWho are red gateWhat happened when they met
  • Just one thing before we get started...
  • Is it just tech commsJust marketing?Different bits of the business Before I can talk about CS
  • VideosCase studiesHelpEmailThe worksIncludes some awesome stuff...Conference – eLearning, video, Zoe, Chris
  • Quick overview before we startShow of handsParis forum?Breakout year
  • Article in a list apartRachellovinger, boxes & arrows. CS philosophy of data. March 2007It’s actually much older. It’s sort of what we doPublication and governance – business credible, but a bit scary
  • This is the hard part.Analogy to explain
  • Shovelwareis not overcase studies, that Ikea cats videoContent that is awesome but may not serve a purpose
  • Beaver tail, duck bill, otter footLays eggsVenomouselectrolocation
  • Don’t worry – it’s a silly joke. The rest of the talk isn’t about creationism.
  • Bad seoThings with great titles and bad contentFAQHelp that just describes the UI
  • Clear business purpose, but it fails
  • So, the very bets content takes the S P averageBut how do we measure?That’s content strategy 101Who are red gate?
  • 28 productsAround 1m users10 years old. MS space.Making the MS experience suck a bit less for B2B
  • Find something that sucks hard enough for people to give you money to make it go awayUser contactUser researchImplications for UAMore on this later
  • User assistance highly visibleWe work on the UIIdeal of no help? Fallacy, but close.Links to web helpEdinburghPath in, path out – we must minimise cognitive load / imposition on users
  • Working in dev teamsEdit things in source codeHeavily involved in project planningEmbedded marketing?What about products with no current dev?
  • Every 3 monthsOr when designing helpMinimal docs for releaseSkill set is a tech comms / CS skill set
  • It’s a new thingWork in progressSeries of happy coincidences (web project, down tools)Lots of content, but not fit for strategy.
  • Everyone can try itGetting startedContent – does this solve my business problemStrategy: get downloads, support evaluators, convert.Direct salesDay 1 email, day 7, end trialBusiness need our content must support
  • But our content doesn’t serve our business purposeIT DOESN’T WORK
  • Way back machineUseful, usable content?Who owns this stuffWhy are we making itUX trials show users can’t find thingsWatch the swearing
  • Eating marshmallow fluff with a sporkWhat is quality content?
  • What is quality content?1) Messaging2) Help –error msg3) 3rd cat – how does your product solve my business problem.Must be true & realGreat natural SEOTech commsWhat do we have on our website?
  • 3rd cat content826 pageviews YTDToP – 1:13Bounce 70%30% thrashGood seo(NB: analytics are flaky)
  • Replicated across the site
  • Look at the clutter on the pageExplain categories
  • 5 weeksConsultations with tech commsContent migrationThat old “Wireframe & loremipsum” problemCSS on it’s own forth sweet FA
  • It shouldIt’s what we do
  • Owners?Security use casestudy  Why? What for?Client sycn case study using SC 3.1 (no 30) SPORK brand damage? Misleading?This stuff is not ok.
  • Analytics for finding outliersAstronomical bounce rate for category – good seo, bad content.Good SEO attached to bad content is... Say it with me...Clear case for curation & we’re the guys to do it
  • I really want to update or delete thisBut sales & support say nobody gets stuckWhat else...Building deletion list...
  • Also asked for feedbackGreat way to sell the ideaScale of problemShape criteria
  • Describe criteria
  • Action plan.Bottom half page views, on hit list, ROTUnless ToP or feedback
  • That’s optimistic, but half that would be greatOf course, you can’t delete everything
  • That’s old contentWhat about the future?
  • I’ll let you draw your own conclusionsWe need to work togetherWe have these skills they need.
  • Most valuable content. Only that
  • Overwhelmingly tech comms contentSome compromiseUsed in “Tips & tricks” sales emails
  • Early daysWe’re seeing good salesGood user response to contentFew support callsEmail marketing response
  • Our toolkit of cools stuff is the content strategist’s toolkit of cool stuff.
  • They’ll ask about buy-in / time / project pressures.Sorry – it’s Red Gate
  • One last time
  • The Spork / Platypus Average: Content strategy at Red Gate Software

    1. 1. The spork / platypus average<br />Content strategy atRed Gate Software<br />Roger Hart<br />
    2. 2. Twitter: @RMH40<br />Email:<br />Blog:<br />
    3. 3. Twitter meetup<br />#TCUK10<br />in the bar<br />tonight<br />before dinner<br />
    4. 4. What counts as content?<br />
    5. 5.<br />…well, pretty much everything<br />
    6. 6. What is Content Strategy?<br />
    7. 7. “ Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content. ”<br />Kristina Halvorson - <br />The Discipline of Content Strategy<br /> ( )<br /><br />
    8. 8. Put simply:<br />
    9. 9. Making sure your website doesn’t suck<br />
    10. 10. and continues not to suck<br />
    11. 11.<br />
    12. 12. AWESOME<br /><br />
    13. 13. What is it for?<br />
    14. 14.<br />
    15. 15. Rubbish<br /><br />
    16. 16. Is it any good at it? <br />
    17. 17.<br /><br />
    18. 18. Usability<br /><br />
    19. 19.
    20. 20.
    21. 21. Tech comms help review:<br /><ul><li> what do we have?
    22. 22. what do we need?
    23. 23. Google analytics
    24. 24. Sales & Support feedback
    25. 25. user feedback & testing</li></li></ul><li>content strategy at<br />
    26. 26. Really, really important<br />
    27. 27.<br />
    28. 28. we’ve grown<br />so has our website<br />*/<br />
    29. 29.<br />
    30. 30.<br />
    31. 31.
    32. 32. SQL Tools Division<br />(1/4 of Red Gate)<br />11 products<br />1030 web pages<br />
    33. 33. SQL Compare<br />(our main product)<br />has…<br />158 web pages<br /><ul><li> 41 “product” pages
    34. 34. 41 Learning Topics
    35. 35. 55 Knowledge Base articles
    36. 36. 21 “Notes & articles”</li></li></ul><li>time for a new one<br />
    37. 37. Content analysis:<br /><ul><li> content inventory
    38. 38. what is this for ?
    39. 39. Google analytics
    40. 40. sales & support feedback
    41. 41. user feedback & testing</li></li></ul><li>Look familiar?<br /><br />
    42. 42. Content analysis: <br />Tech Comms help review:<br /><ul><li> content inventory
    43. 43. what is this for ?
    44. 44. Google analytics
    45. 45. sales & Support feedback
    46. 46. user feedback & testing</li></li></ul><li>Content inventory:<br />“Or, A mind-numbingly detailed odyssey through your web site”<br />Jeffrey Veen, Adaptive Path<br /><br />(it’s a big list of everything you’ve ever put online)<br />
    47. 47.
    48. 48. Web analytics<br />know <br />your content<br />
    49. 49.
    50. 50.
    51. 51. Recommendations<br />
    52. 52. Recommendations<br />Short version: <br /> just delete it all <br />
    53. 53.
    54. 54. 60 – 70% marked for deletion<br />10 – 15 minutes to migrate a page<br />...maybe 100 hours saved?<br />
    55. 55. What next?<br /><br />
    56. 56. Tech Comms…<br />…and Marketing<br /><br />
    57. 57. SQL Source Control<br />(new flagship product)<br />content designed around pre-sales support<br />
    58. 58.
    59. 59.
    60. 60. Annoyingly inconclusive<br />
    61. 61. slightly glib conclusion<br />We are content strategists<br />( our businesses may not know that yet )<br />
    62. 62. Thanks<br />any questions? <br />
    63. 63. Twitter meetup<br />#TCUK10<br />in the bar<br />tonight<br />before dinner<br />