Gal Oron, CEO of Zoomin Software
Around the world, businesses collectively spend billions of dollars a year producing and distributing user guides, manuals, how-to articles, and other product documentation to serve customers who have made a purchase.
While relevant and findable product documentation deflects support costs for existing customers and reduces churn rate, it also provides businesses two additional revenue opportunities: First is selling to prospective customers and second is cross-selling and up-selling to existing customers.
Targeting Prospective Customers with Product Documentation
A growing number of prospective customers rely on objective, subject-matter expert (SME)-driven, and vetted product documentation to learn about products and services they want to buy. Prospective customers also get a deeper sense of a company’s competence, brand character, and commitment to customer success through its product documentation.
According to a study by the Acquity Group, 94% of customers conduct online research, which includes accessing product documentation. Research by Google's Zero Moment of Truth also found that on average, customers access ten unique sources of information before making a buying decision.
Forrester revealed that on average, customers are more than 70% percent along the buyer’s journey before they seriously engage a rep as part of a formal sales process. This means that before reaching out to a company, customers have already read about its product and services—and product documentation could have been one of their sources.
Upselling and Cross-selling to Existing Customers with Product Documentation
Existing customers have access not only to product documentation related to what they purchased, but also quality documents about the company’s other products and services, and new rolled out features. This makes selling to existing customers far more cost-effective and profitable than finding new ones.
In fact, a McKinsey & Co. case study demonstrated how cross-selling techniques increase sales by 20% and profits by 30% for a leading online retailer. Amazon, known for its personalized product recommendations, stated that 35% of its revenues come from its cross-sales and upselling efforts.
Here are scalable, cost-effective, and technology-led ways to turn product documentation into an advantage by generating revenues from both prospective and existing customers:
Companies can ensure that credible and varied content are available and delivered to customers. Well written product documentation is structured, objective, SME-driven, and factual, making it a trusted source of information. Prospective and existing customers value this type of content when evaluating a potential purchase.
Companies can better understand prospective and existing customers by gathering insights on which product documents they are viewing or are in demand. Insights can be gathered by monitoring comments and conversations, and tracking downloads, shared links, and channels used by customers to not only build and nurture engagement, but also to identify developing consumer needs.
Companies can combine customer insights with dynamic profiling to enhance customer experience leading to conversion. By listening to and monitoring prospective and existing customers who search for technical contents, companies can deliver personalized and targeted documentation recommendations in real-time.
For instance, a customer browsing a specific product documentation can receive an email or view on his or her sidebar documents of related products that complement the use of the one he or she is buying. Recommendations can also be for assets such as educational videos and community discussions, as well as banners announcing an upcoming webinar, or meetup in a customer’s city.
Companies can create customized workflows that notify a designated account executive when a customer is searching for or accessing product documentation. The account executive can then immediately launch a VIP real-time chat window to establish engagement, and lay the groundwork for a consultative sales process.
Companies can assign relative scores to specific behaviors, which trigger automated lead generation workflows. For example, a customer who watches a video on a soon-to-be-released product can be automatically segmented as a “high-probability prospect”. As a result, he or she would be invited to receive product-specific email blasts and updates, and would be added to re-targeting campaigns that expose him to the brand’s products and services when visiting their favorite websites over the next several weeks.
The Bottom Line
Businesses must continue to help existing customers easily and quickly find the information they want—which not only makes them happier and more successful, but reduces support costs and churn. But this is only part of the customer success puzzle.
Businesses can also monetize existing product documentation by targeting both prospective and existing customers. Publishing credible and varied content, gathering customer insights, personalized documentation recommendations, creating proactive pre-sales engagement, and implementing automated lead scoring can be leveraged across the entire buyer’s journey.
Creating a strategy to grow revenue with product documentation using all or a combination of these tools and approaches is just the starting point. Companies must ensure that it is well-crafted, like a well-developed product documentation, so it can ultimately drive growth and turn more prospective and existing customers into satisfied and profitable brand ambassadors.
Gal Oron is the Co-founder and CEO of Zoomin Software, an enterprise SaaS company which helps the world’s largest corporations to give customers immediate answers to product-related questions based on a sophisticated AI technology, boosting customer experience and increasing user engagement. Zoomin Software is one of the startups in the 1st cohort of Oracle Startup Cloud Accelerator in Tel Aviv.