Technical content can help organizations increase the visibility of their products in the marketplace. Officially, technical content is intended for product customers—people who buy a product and then look at the documentation.
An explicit call to review documentation before purchase (tipsandtricks-hq.com/wordpress-estore-plugin-complete-solution-to-sell-digital-products-from-your-wordpress-blog-securely-1059, captured March 19, 2012)
Other potential customers may not even be aware that your product exists, but are looking for key features that your product offers. If you make product content available on the Internet, you can pick up additional prospects. To reel in new prospects, your content must perform in three different ways:
- Searchable. Information must be available via an Internet search. That means putting the information online, and allowing Google and other search engines to index the content.
- Findable. Information must perform well for relevant keywords. That means paying attention to search engine optimization, delivering solid content, monitoring web analytics, and using keyword-based advertising.
- Discoverable. This term refers to information that has in-bound links, especially on social media. You can provide the initial links (for example, tweeting about content), but readers will choose whether or not they provide additional links (retweeting, posting on Facebook, or writing blog posts about your content). A reputation for providing excellent content increases the likelihood that people will link to your information and thus make it more discoverable.
A surprisingly large number of companies do not make any technical content available to the general public. Many are concerned about leaking proprietary information to their competitors. You must balance these concerns against the cost of withholding information. If you do not make your information available for Internet searches, you rule out any serendipitous discovery of your products.
Putting information behind a customer login or requiring email registration seems like a reasonable compromise. But David Meerman Scott estimates that “20 to 50 times more people download free content” when registration is not required. (This estimate is specifically for white papers.)2
You can assume that your competitors are motivated and will find a way to access your technical content, even if you have it locked away. Customers and prospective customers, however, are perhaps less motivated than competitors, so every obstacle between them and the content reduces the number of people who will eventually see the content.