Why Every Product Manager Needs a Product Content Strategy
February 3, 2016

Why Every Product Manager Needs a Product Content Strategy

The idea that words are critical to business is so obvious that it’s silly. This blog post is not only made up of words — it is all about words. It’s about how words are used within products today.

The word “content” is usually used to reference marketing. It is true that you need a concrete content strategy to generate leads, convert them into opportunities, and eventually nurture them to become customers. But it is just as important to have a separate, concrete content strategy for your product as well.

The words that are used within your product are just as important as the words that are used to market and sell it.

The content that a customer encounters while using your product drives their entire experience. It shapes the customer journey and their impression of your product. It is fundamental to their use and how they describe what your product does for others.

So, product content is deeply important — but it also causes a lot of confusion. That’s why today I’d like to share with you a brief crash course in product content strategy.

In the next four sections, I’m going walk through what it is; why it matters; how it works; and — most importantly — its impact to your larger team.

What is a product content strategist?

The first step is to understand who a product content strategist is.

Product content strategists are content and product experts who use content as a method to empower customers and increase product adoption.

The product content strategist role demands a deep, diverse skill set. Think of them as your content’s user experience experts: the moment a lead converts to a customer is when product content strategists take over from marketing. They use their inside-out product and content knowledge to define the desired user experience and work cross-functionally to build it.

They achieve this goal by owning and defining the product content strategy over a customer’s lifecycle and how it relates to meeting or exceeding key business objectives. But product content strategists do not leave others to fulfill their work. They also have the leadership chops to manage content developers and the skills to create content as needed.

The product content strategist starts by defining when and how a user experiences content throughout their customer journey. Then, they help build the infrastructure across teams to ensure that the content strategy is executed, measured, optimized, and maintained.

Like a product manage, the product content strategist’s work demands constant learning; customer interaction; and agile shifts to meet evolving needs. They must always optimize the product content strategy to increase customer success, product adoption, and meet or exceed KPIs. And they achieve this by monitoring user behaviors within the product; ensuring that in-product content experiences are designed to increase engagement; and staying informed of trends in product content, user experience, and customer retention.

Why does product content matter?

First, let’s explore why product content exists. What is its unique role in product development and user experience? A product content strategy empowers product content strategists to engage users through customer-facing content.

A core strategy statement — also known as a mission statement — sets the stage. It ensures that the reason why you are generating content remains steadfast — regardless of how content is being created or delivered. This strategy statement should align with your organization’s key business drivers, ensuring that each piece of content answers a clear use case and meets a specific business objective.

A core strategy statement has added benefits as well. It creates the mechanisms for measuring content performance and the relationship to key business drivers. And most importantly, it serves as a solid foundation.

The best content strategy statements stay grounded in what they aim to achieve. And this confidence in the larger vision makes them agile enough to evolve based on key business objectives, shifts in technology, and new trends in content and user experience.

Kristina Halvorson of Content Strategy for the Web and Brain Traffic tells us that “Content strategy informs what the content will be and how it will be structured.” The components she uses to describe this strategy follow her philosophy that “Content strategy connects real content to real people.”

What are some examples of product content?

Now that you know who product content strategists are, this begs the question: what do they work on each day?

Product content is the content that your users experience within the product itself. It is the end deliverable that your users read, learn, watch, interact with, or experience.

Product content takes many forms, from user interface text to contextual help inside the product. This content also varies based on the product’s targeted audience (B2B vs. B2C). For example, sophisticated B2B software might have a steeper learning curve than a simple B2C app.

So, product content in the former B2B case might include interactive walk-throughs, guided workflows, or product tours to help new users get started. Product content can also include training courses, user forums, and support help documentation.

Some product content is more ubiquitous. Most 21st century products have system messages, alerts, and/or notifications that are strategically sent to users. Different content is often needed to meet UX variations across mobile vs. desktop devices. And whether B2B or B2C, most organizations have blogs that incorporate their products. All of these examples fall under product content.

Think of product content strategists as your storytellers. Product content is the words they use to craft a customer experience.

It’s time to think about content more broadly beyond marketing. And it’s time to start thinking about what story we want our product to tell. Product content is how we describe what our product does and how it helps us do it. The content in the product is fundamental to the overall customer experience.

This is a guest post by Diana Langston.

Diana loves travel, reading, watching movies, and exploring the outdoors with her boxer dog, Mingus. As a product professional, she is passionate about building awesome products and delivering exceptional content experiences, empowering customers to lean in, adopt usage, and become product champions.

Over the last 16 years, Diana has held a variety of upper management and individual contributor roles at leading technology companies including Amazon, Marketo, Badgeville, Extole, SuccessFactors, and Brocade. She specializes in product management, product content strategy, and user engagement/retention. Learn more about Diana on LinkedIn.

Guest Author

Follow Aha!

Related articles

Strategic roadmaps: Vision vs. strategy vs. roadmap
January 14, 2020
Strategic roadmaps: Vision vs. strategy vs. roadmap

Roadmaps are beautiful. But a roadmap is still just a visualization. Learn why you need to have a vision and strategy behind the plan.

Roadmaps make strategy work
February 24, 2020
Roadmaps make strategy work

Putting strategy into action can be difficult. That is because too many teams jump straight to the “how” before they agree on the “why” and the “what.” Typically this…

Why Strategic Thinking Is So Hard for Project Managers
March 10, 2020
Why Strategic Thinking Is So Hard for Project Managers

“Making sure the trains run on time.” I once heard project management described this way. Sure, project managers are responsible for timely delivery. But succeeding in…