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Value is impossible to prove if you’re not measuring anything. 

We found that 72.3% of respondents in our survey aren’t measured on specific content goals, leaving 27.7% being measured. When you’re trying to find the value of content, but aren’t measuring anything, that’s a problem. 

Why get measured in the first place? Proof of success leads to departmental growth. Technical documentation teams have the tendency to fade into the background enough already. Taking the initiative to quantify success ultimately helps documentation teams step into some of the limelight they’ve long deserved. 

However, in order to succeed, you need to have appropriate goals and those can only be established and evaluated again by measuring key metrics that your business values — revenue, customer success, etc. 

When considering the things to measure, it’s important that you are aligned with the rest of the organization, something that isn’t always the case. In fact, another survey breakdown post looked at what organization decision-makers value versus what technical communication teams value and found a misalignment of priorities. 

Revenue growth was the highest prioritized driver of company decisions whereas revenue growth was the lowest prioritized driver of technical documentation decisions. We get more into why that misalignment isn’t good in this post: 33% Of Writers Can’t Report Their Own Value – Here’s How to Start

 

What’s The Point of Your Content?

Technical content will have different goals per organization or product, but the overarching purpose of content remains the same: show the value of your product (what it can do) and teach people how to become better users of your product (how it can do it). This is true whether your writers feel equipped for the task or not.  

Related — Survey Breakdown: 40-50% of TechDocs Teams Lack The Necessary Tools For Success

In business terms, when your organization does these things successfully, this translates into revenue. Two immediate questions come to mind when thinking about measurable content goals. 

    • Has our content generated revenue?
    • Are people pleased with our content? 

Two questions, one quantitative, one qualitative. These are measurable with a little bit of work, so let’s get to work. 

 

Prove Your Content Influences Conversions

This is the big one revenue. It’s the number that company decision-makers are looking for when we talk about proving value. Unfortunately, revenue generation is hardly the first thing to come to mind when we think about technical documentation. 

But, we should start. Respondents in our survey reported that revenue generation is the most difficult metric to report, and it’s our goal to fix that. 

Think of the people reading the documentation for a SaaS product. Chances are, They’re reading with purpose and intention, not leisurely or out of boredom.  They’re curious if that product will solve a problem. If it does and if the documentation shows it, that documentation just influenced a buying decision. 

And you should track that. 

Using Google Analytics (or similar tools), you can set a tracking code on your documentation site in a way that shows how many people viewed your documentation before asking for a demo or trial or filling a contact form. Don’t stop tracking there; once those leads transfer to sales, it’s time to track even further. 

Identify:

    • Which documentation visitors ended up making a purchase?
    • What is the ratio of visitors to leads?
    • What is the ratio of visitors to sales?
    • What is the average deal size for a documentation visitor turned sale?
    • How do these numbers compare to visitors who only visit marketing web pages?

With some time and attention to detail, you might find that your documentation efforts are actually a significant source of revenue. That makes asking for a raise, increased budget, or more say in company decisions a little easier.  

When you track, assign, and can prove the revenue your documentation influences, you solidify the real value of your content in terms that decision-makers are most concerned with. But value doesn’t stop with hard numbers.

 

Ask Users If They Find Your Content Helpful

They’ll certainly tell you! They’re a wealth of untapped information. Sure, it’s a bit more difficult to parse anecdotal evidence, but it’s no less useful. Tracking your content that influences lead generation and sales shows you what content works best for the buying process. Asking customers about your content will generate feedback that can identify content gaps in ways that revenue influence data cannot.

Revenue generation is important, but it’s not the end-all-be-all of content value. Customer education and knowledge experience are an important part of your content’s value proposition. It also tells your customers that you value their input and encourages customer voices to help guide the creation of the very content they’ll be consuming! 

In the end, proving value needs to have both ends of this data spectrum. Because content that’s truly valuable proves its worth both with people and profit.

Download the full survey here: Measuring the Value of Technical Communications Survey 2021

Tim Ludwig
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