A recent case study from Search Engine Land got us thinking about the tie between content and customer lifetime value (CLV). The study is about an e-commerce company that did something bold: it pulled down all of its “informational” website content. Any guess what happened next?

Keyword rankings and overall domain visibility tanked.

Now, there is (and probably always will be) speculation around whether or not it was solely the absence of the company’s informational content that precipitated these dramatic outcomes. Assuming there was some correlation, however, we think there’s an even more important conclusion here: 

Informational content matters, even for customers with commercial intent. As a result—and as we’ve found with our own customers—this content can be leveraged to drive CLV in a couple interesting ways.

Why have informational content in the first place?

As the Search Engine Land case study reveals, much of the lost rankings and domain visibility were restored once the company restored its informational content.

Why is that? The obvious answer is that informational content has inherent value as a low-effort, low-cost way to support customers through self-service. Simply put, when people have questions these days, they Google it. 

For large brands, the volume of people who self-serve this way can be significant, as evidenced by the share of organic website traffic, keyword rankings, and backlinks this grouping of content tends to command.

Bona, a valued MindTouch customer, is a good example of the power of public-facing “informational” content: 85% of visitors to its MindTouch-powered support site comes from organic traffic. 

How can your content contribute to CLV?

Just by being publicly available, this informational content brings value to the customer journey. Our contention is that companies have an opportunity to take things a step further and drive even more value after customers click through to this so-called informational content. 

Here’s a few ways to make it happen. 

1. Consider the “pre-purchase” mindset

Informational content is useful beyond just post-sale needs like troubleshooting, how-to, and documentation. Often, people will seek out informational content as they evaluate a product or service. They’ll use this content to research functions, validate features, and form their own use cases.

As part of their purchase decision, they’ll use your informational content to evaluate their chances of being well supported and successful once they do become a customer.

2. Create continuity and logical click paths

A user’s arrival at your informational content doesn’t have to be the last step in the journey. Sure, if they’ve found what they needed and moved on, then your self-service content has served its purpose.

But why not provide additional opportunities for them to explore other pages, learn more, or consume commercial content that might enhance their journey? 

One way our customers do so is to create continuity between their “main site” and support sites. That means consistent navigation, look, and feel wherever the customer is, as well as click paths to and from content where it makes the most sense for customers who might need more information.

3. Add timely calls to action (CTAs)

Another approach is to add “commercial” CTAs to informational content that are relevant to the specific journey.  For example, if an appliance manufacturer knows that visitors to the “how to fix the refrigerator light” article will probably need a replacement bulb, they can make it easy by giving those visitors a one-click way to order that replacement right in the flow of their self-service journey. 

One consumer goods manufacturer and MindTouch customer “activated” its own informational content in just this way. The company added CTAs to certain help articles that link to purchase pages for related accessories and parts. Doing so has created approximately 17,000 leads in a single year, leading to a significant increase in parts and accessories revenue.

The Case for Letting Google Find Your Support Content

How optimizing support content for Google can decrease customer effort.

Only if it adds value to the journey

The Search Engine Land case study affirms something we’ve suspected for a long time: the line between “commercial” and “informational” intent is quite blurred.

Often, a journey that begins with a strictly informational need can end in a commercial transaction; similarly, commercial journeys (“I need to buy something”) can end with a support outcome or self-service interaction (“turns out I have a question”). 

As this case study alludes to—and our own customer case studies indicate—content from both worlds can support the objectives of the other. The common denominator is creating value for customers. The trick is mastering the subtle art of identifying those timely moments when a bridge from informational to commercial content adds value, not a sales pitch.