How IBM uses audience intent modelling

I spoke at, and attended, the Content Strategy Applied 2017 conference last week. One of the keynote speakers, James Mathewson, provided a fascinating description of how IBM uses audience intent modelling to map its content plans. By doing this IBM is able to align its content with the buying cycles for their target personas.

This planning involves the management of 300 million pages and 100,000 marketing assets, and they use a dizzying array of artificial intelligence and software to improve their search engine rankings. However, their strategy is actually very simple.

There are three forms of audience intent

These are informational (learn about a topic), navigational (find information about a topic), and transactional (find a place to buy the solution or get help).

Audience intent

There are two kinds of audience

These are business people and specialists.

There are two kinds of queries

These are branded and unbranded. Most searches are unbranded questions, and people only move to branded questions when they are ready.

There are five stages in the IBM customer journey

Here are the steps and the type of content IBM  provides:

  1. Discover –  What is big data? web page
  2. Learn –  Video on big data (“Four ways big data and analytics transform marketing”)
  3. Solve – A product information page (“14 top big data analytics platforms”)
  4. Try – The offer (Watson Analytics 30 day free trial)
  5. Buy – A whitepaper (“Understanding Watson Analytics”)

IBM has invested heavily in technology

This is used to maintain consistency in the tagging of content, and in the tone and voice. It’s also used to learn what audience want, and are searching for on the web. A lot of searches are in the form of questions, so they mine those questions to discover what they are asking.

audience type

IBM avoids online marketing tricks

James said “clever messages to push people and trick them” rarely work online, and if they do the reader is unlikely to come back. Instead they focus on what the audience wants, and aim to meet that need.

It was the best presentation at the conference, and it provided lots of ideas for Cherryleaf’s website.

Conference on Agile documentation

The Gov.uk GDS team is organising a one day, free of charge conference in December, where speakers will discuss techniques for writing documentation in an Agile environment, and how to make your content Agile:

  • Tips to writing continuous documentation, ensuring it stays up to date.
  • Tips to getting the development team to value documentation.
  • Knowledge of the tools available to help you write Agile docs.
  • Understanding of how much documentation to write and when to start writing it.
  • Suggestions of how writers can become part of the product development cycle.
  • Understanding of how to overcome challenges that come with working in Agile environments (where the focus often tends to be on the product and not on the content).

This free event will be held in Victoria, central London. Cherryleaf’s Ellis Pratt will be speaking at the event.

See:
https://www.meetup.com/Write-The-Docs-London/events/234913157/

Agile the Docs speaker request form

Customers as Advocates Conference 2016

I thought I’d mention a conference I’ll be attending this month – The Customers as Advocates Conference.

“Customers as Advocates” focuses on the challenges of creating successful customer relationships that lead to reference and case study programmes.”

Although it is aimed at professionals that sell and market enterprise technology, I found it very informative, as a great deal of it relates to User Assistance and other forms of technical communication.

I attended this (free) conference last year, and I particularly enjoyed the presentations on developing and nurturing a thriving community of advocates.

“More than 70 percent of the buying journey is complete before a customer looks at your marketing or engages with sales. Who are your prospects and customers speaking to, and what are they sharing about the experience?” Ian Williams, Director, Jericho Consulting

The conference will be held on Thursday 26 May, in London.

Presentation on technical writing in Lean and Agile environments

Cherryleaf’s co-founder, Ellis Pratt, will be speaking at the next meeting of the ISTC’s Southern Area Group. The event will be on Tuesday 17th May at The Keep, 29 Castle Street, Guildford, GU1 3UW from 7pm. Ellis will speak on Technical Writing in Lean and Agile environments. He’ll explain how to rise to the challenge of writing user documentation in an Agile environment and how Lean and Agile could be used to manage writing projects.

Doors open at 7pm, and Ellis’s talk will start around 7.30pm. Afterwards there will be the usual opportunity for questions, for serious discussion, or light-hearted chat, depending on your mood and inclination.

The event is free, and open to all, so tell your friends and colleagues! But if you are planning to come, please register on Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/technical-writing-in-lean-and-agile-environments-tickets-22468971298 and they can let the venue know how much space to reserve for us and how many people are likely to want to order food.

Parking is available in the Tunsgate Multi Storey right next door to the Keep, or the Sydenham Road Multi Storey about 250 yards away, but be aware that some roads in the area are one-way streets, so check your directions carefully.