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The Evolution of Tech Comm: Directing the Content Experience

By Ari Hoffman

Content has evolved past the point of a printed manual. We know that content doesn’t just live in one format (PDF, Web hosted, FAQ, etc.) or one place. What we are slower to realize, however, is that content has grown beyond “something that is read” and into being part of the customer experience, cascaded across all steps of the customer journey.

The days of long technical documents are nearing an end, at least as the primary means for how that content is consumed. Think about it—where is most of your organization’s content being consumed right now, at this very moment? Certainly it is not in a five-pound printed manual pulled from a dusty shelf!

Printed user manuals moved onto a desktop screen, the desktop turned into a laptop, the laptop into a smartphone, then into a smartwatch, washing machine, VR headset, or even an Alexa on your customer’s night stand. We need to stop “writing manuals” and start crafting usable, findable micro-content.

Real-Time Content Consumption Turns to Real-Time Content Creation

Terms like “micro-content” or “micro moments” are how customers, field service reps, support agents, and even your third-party vendors are looking to self-serve. Micro-content enables you to deliver your information (onboarding materials, training guides, user manuals, break fix articles, and even best practices) into a tailored form that considers the end user’s needs (both what they want and on what device they want it).

Your publishing system should know if the consumer is a field rep, a new customer, someone looking into purchasing your product, or even a lost customer. Micro-content enables you to pull information from multiple sources, bridge content silos, fill content gaps—all in real time for each individual consumer. That information delivery (how and when it is pulled from different silos and compiled in a cohesive manner in real time) will be automated, if it isn’t already.

A keynote speaker at a recent content strategy conference asked the audience, “True or false? Automation and Artificial Intelligence will eliminate content jobs.” The answer was false, but probably not in the way you were expecting.

Gone are the days of semi-annual or quarterly product releases. With Agile development and global development teams, deadlines have gone from months to weeks to days. However, content professionals are no longer judged by how much content they can madly crank out to meet crazy back-to-back deadlines. Instead, progressive companies are assessing how content contributes to the larger company objectives, such as new customer acquisition.

Content professionals should spend time analyzing how their content is consumed. Metrics like page views, time on page, click-through-paths, knowledge journeys, search terms, meta tags, and ratings are insights that inform you on how your customer is not only consuming your information, but how they are experiencing it.

The content we produce has become integral to the total customer experience. Why? Because how your customer experiences your content can expedite them across the customer journey faster than the simple act of consuming it.

Content Experience Evolves with Your Customer

Moving forward, we need to move away from old-school functions such as “technical writers” and become “content experience professionals” who focus on the customer first and foremost. It is an “Outside-In” approach where understanding how customers are experiencing content continuously optimizes the way your content is created, delivered, consumed, and updated. The channels in which that content lives will evolve and so will the need for it to be adaptable and trackable. So content jobs will always exist, but they will evolve as rapidly as the customers’ needs do.

Analyzing content metrics is the key driver in your ability to continuously serve your customers’ needs. The metrics will be based on high-value objectives, with the three most prominent being (in this order):

  1. Renewal and expansion
  2. New customer acquisition
  3. Brand engagement

From these three objectives, there is a host of ancillary metrics needed to reach your goals. If someone is not measuring those three parts of the customer journey, you need to start doing so immediately. This is how you protect the future value of your position. If you don’t, you will find yourself quickly becoming obsolete. For more information, read about the Five Irreversible Trends (see References).

The Director of Content Experience Emerges

Considering how critical content is in the total customer experience, a Director of Content Experience is needed to translate management’s vision into a strategy that can be refined and carried out down the chain of command in a company’s Content Experience department, tying and unifying all content the company produces across all departments and silos.

The Director of Content Experience is responsible for understanding the company’s vision and goals, strategizing on how content helps attain those goals and monitoring reports on KPIs (key performance indicators) to fulfill that strategy.

I had the pleasure of recording a webinar where Jack Molisani, Executive Director of the LavaCon Conference and Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of MindTouch, break down the drivers of this content trend, how to adjust for it, and where it is going in the future.

The rate at which we are automating content is growing exponentially, but there will always be a need for the human understanding of where and how the customer experiences that content.

Get ahead of the change! Don’t fight it to protect antiquated processes, and don’t sit on a sinking ship because you spent so much money building it. It’s time to focus on your customer’s experience, so get (or better yet, become!) a Director of Content Experience and make sure your company steers into happy customer waters.


Dehond, Joke. The World of Customer Experience: Outside-In Versus Inside-Out. Scriptura Engage. 12 September 2017. https://blog.scripturaengage.com/the-world-of-customer-experience-outside-in-versus-inside-out.

Fulkerson, Aaron. AI Will Steal Your Job (Or at Least Transform It). MindTouch. 12 October 2017. https://mindtouch.com/webinars/ai-transform-job.

Fulkerson, Aaron. Five Trends Accelerating Customer Self-Service Demand. MindTouch. 23 October, 2017. https://mindtouch.com/resources/trends-demanding-customer-self-service.

Hoffman, Ari. The Content Experience Award—7 Winners Include Cisco, Fisher & Paykel, Hitachi, and More. MindTouch. 5 December 2017. http://mndt.ch/ContentExperienceAwards.

Molisani, Jack. Finding Gold: Shaping the Customer Content Experience. MindTouch. 28 October 2017. https://mindtouch.com/resources/finding-gold-shaping-the-customer-content-experience.

ARI HOFFMAN (arih@mindtouch.com) prioritizes customer success at the heart of all business endeavors. As the official Success Fanatic at MindTouch, Hoffman focuses on actionable insights that increase customer success rates while deepening core relationships. Brought in for his collaborative approach to business and his influence in the community, he has dramatically expanded and enriched the MindTouch customer/partner base. From Shark Tank to the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest and Dream Big America Challenge, Hoffman has seen it all. Connect with him on Twitter @arigobie, on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/arijhoffman/ or on the Web at https://mindtouch.com/resources/author/arihoffman.