There is a big gap between the way companies are treating their marketing content and how they look at technical content, such as manuals. While marketing documents usually get the royal treatment, technical content is often playing second fiddle. This is a shame, because there is a lot of untapped marketing potential in your technical documentation.  

Chances are you spent a lot of time planning and designing your company website. You made sure the copy reads well and that search engines can pick it up. You even hired a professional web firm to design an attractive website layout. Maybe you still have a company brochure, a document where every word and layout element is well thought out.

Then compare that with the efforts you have put into your user manuals and technical documentation. Do you spend the same amount of effort to make these documents presentable, accessible and easily digestible?

We think you should! Because your technical documents support your sales and marketing efforts as well, in at least three ways. 

1. Technical documentation is used as research before a purchase

When your prospects are researching a product before purchase, they will look at any relevant document they can get their hands on: your product web page, your brochure, but also your technical manual. Typically, you would expect a prospect to look at your brochure or product page before a purchase, and then at your technical manual after a purchase. But today’s online customer journey is fragmented and non-linear. Technical documentation might just provide the answers your prospect is looking for when he’s in a ‘I-want-to-do moment’ or in a ‘I-want-to-know moment’. Also, great technical documentation will convince your prospect about the quality of your company’s technical support.

Research

2. Technical documentation improves customer retention

Well-crafted technical documentation is worth the effort, because it improves the user experience and solves possible problems when using the product. If people feel good about your product, they might want it again when the need arises.

3. Technical documentation has authority

Today’s consumers feel a lot of distrust towards marketing, often as a result of over-promising marketing messages, that never intend to deliver. Technical documentation usually does not have that problem, since it is not meant to convince anyone of buying a product. A manual intends to help the customer to use the product well and therefore has a high degree of authority that no other marketing piece can offer. 

Five steps to upgrade your technical documentation

It’s clear that technical documentation is not that different from marketing collateral. In fact, it’s an essential part of your marketing ecosystem. That is why it should get the respect and treatment it deserves. Let’s look at five things you can do to upgrade your technical documentation. All of these things may seem obvious for marketing documentation, but not for technical documentation.

  1. Get the copy right
    Just like any marketing piece, your technical manual copy should have the audience in mind. Today, a conversational and empathetic tone of voice is the norm. Make sure your technical copy is readable, clear and concise, without making your message too simplistic.
     
  2. Pay attention to layout
    There’s no reason why your technical documentation should not be attractive. If Apple can do it, why wouldn’t your company be able to do it too?
     
  3. Make sure Google finds it
    You can do so much more than just park a PDF in the downloads section. Make sure your technical documentation is also published in HTML and design it responsively, so tablets and mobile devices can present it as well. Finally, pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO). Use the right keywords, preferably the same keywords that have been defined in your marketing plan, so your content can be found by Google or Bing.
     
  4. Get it out of the vault
    Far too often, technical documentation is gated content. But just like with your marketing collateral, there’s no reason to put your valuable content behind a login or web form.
     
  5. Take it to YouTube:
    Don’t just tell. Show as well. More and more people turn to YouTube or other video channels to find answers. Think about how you can turn your technical manual into an instructional video. How-to searches are growing year-over-year on YouTube. Respond to that trend and you’ll satisfy a lot of prospects’ information hunger.

Do you want to get more out of your technical documentation, but you’re not sure where to start? Maybe we can help. Feel free to contact us for more information about our technical writing services.