Let me guess. You’re probably a lot more interested in not losing customers than filling content gaps. I get it.
In fact, you may not care at all about content gaps. Maybe you aren’t even aware they exist. But if you haven’t assessed content gaps, it’s likely they do exist and are hurting the success of your product.
So where to begin? First, ask yourself this simple question: Do my customers intuitively know how to use my product?
In other words, could a customer just pull your product out of the box without reading or watching anything and have success using it?
If yes, then I congratulate you on creating something so foolproof. But if you’re like most businesses, your customers will need a little help figuring things out.
Today, we’ll look at an example of a product I encountered with a cavernous content gap, why it’s detrimental to the business, and how the business could go about filling the gaps so they’d stop losing customers.
The (Apparently) Useful Product
My family knows I love to grill, and there are plenty of reasonably priced grilling accessories to gift me with at Christmas time. But after years of grilling gifts, it’s getting harder for family members to find me something I don’t already have.
So, this year I got a Himalayan salt cone. It’s quite reasonable for the gift giver to assume I didn’t have this, even in light of my monstrous cache of barbecue whatsits.
It was obvious from the box that the Himalayan salt cone (produced by the Charcoal Companion) roasts whole chickens. Aside from that, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
When I opened the box, there was the salt cone, by its lonesome, with no instructions. On the outside of the box, the concept was briefly explained, basically telling me that the cone reduces cooking time while imparting a subtle, salty flavor. In addition, there was a small paragraph of instructions, that simply told me to cook the cone to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and then left me with this gem:
When the cone has come to temperature, place your chicken on the cone. Cook your chicken according to your recipe.
According to my recipe? What recipe? Don’t they know I’ve never cooked anything on a salt cone before?
Don’t they get that I’d never heard of a salt cone until five minutes ago?
If the salt cone truly cooks my bird faster, how much should I change the cooking time of my recipe?
If it’s going to make my chicken salty, should I use a less salty rub with my recipe?
Lots of questions, no answers.
The Disastrous Content Gap
All of these questions that the packaging couldn’t answer prompted me to figure it out on the Internet. You know, that magical place where your company can post tons of helpful product content for a relatively low cost.
Well apparently the Charcoal Companion didn’t know, or didn’t care. When I searched for this product, the only results that returned were ratings and retail sites where the product was sold.
In fact, the Charcoal Companion didn’t create one measly landing page for this product. There were no “salt cone” recipes, no tips or times for cooking with the cone. I was holding a product I had no idea what to do with.
When a customer searches for content on how to use a product, and finds nothing, several negative feelings occur in a matter of seconds.
- Frustration – Even if the sales transaction was smooth as silk, there is now friction between the brand and the customer. Though a lack of content may not cause the friction of something like a product not working, it’s still a blight on the customer’s experience.
- Distrust – If a brand doesn’t offer helpful content to its customers, does it even care? At first glance, the Charcoal Companion seems to sell products they’re not particularly excited about their customers using. Even if the product was quality, the brand has missed an opportunity to connect and build loyalty.
- Abandonment – If the customer doesn’t know what to do, and feels no connection with the brand, they are highly likely to give up and find something else to occupy their time.
Once I realized no one had ever published a single piece of helpful Internet content on how to use a salt cone, my customer experience was tarnished.
I was frustrated I had something I didn’t know how to use, I didn’t feel that the brand cared if I used it, and I no longer had a desire to figure it out.
Filling the Content Gap
Today, it’s typically not enough for brands to sell products and then just dust off their hands. Following a sale, customers should be nurtured so that they truly adopt the product.
Currently, the Charcoal Companion is simply a product line for The Companion Group, a family of brands offering a number of goods for the outdoorsman. So any Charcoal Companion product can be found on a product page with a brief description.
But that’s mostly it. In fact, when I go to the page and look for Himalayan salt products, here’s what I get:
Look closer and you’ll notice that my salt cone isn’t even listed among the products. Regardless, my point is that this is the extent of content a prospect or customer gets on Himalayan salt products from Charcoal Companion’s product page. Not good enough.
Fortunately for the Charcoal Companion, the rest of its site already has some pieces in place to offer helpful product content.
Here are three ways the Charcoal Companion can fill their content gaps by using existing content delivery methods on its site:
1. More Imbedded YouTube videos
When it comes how-to content, you can’t do much better than videos. It seems the Charcoal Companion is already thinking this way, featuring several videos on its product page, including ones for the Pitt Mitt and Meat Claws products.
Which is perfect, because I really have no idea what Pitt Mitts and Meat Claws are if they’re just listed out as product names. Even conceptualizing Meat Claws is pretty impossible without a visual. (Right now I’m picturing Freddy Krueger-esque finger blades ripping through hard hunks of ground beef.)
It seems as though the Charcoal Companion already has the resources in place to make a video for our beloved salt cone. So let’s take that same woman explaining Himalayan salt to us in another video, get her a chicken to stick on the cone, and have her give us good reasons why we would ever want to cook like this.
2. Articles on Recipes and Blog Page
The site features two other pages, Recipes and Blog, that would be perfect for some Himalayan salt cone content.
Cooking with Himalayan salt products seems to be rather novel, hence the various pieces of content on the site explaining why this stuff is useful.
Yet on my salt cone package, I’m told to cook the cone with my favorite recipe. Forget favorites, there are no recipes period for cooking a bird on a pink cylinder of sodium.
Instead of making its customers guess how to use the cone, create a simple recipe we can use the first time we try the product.
Then while you’re at it, add a blog post on the different ways we can cook with the salt cone. Tell us how to pre-heat it, how long it generally takes to cook something, and furnish a link back to the Recipes page where that lovely new article on the Himalayan salt cone awaits.
3. Connectivity from Product page to other pages
The product page should really be acting as a a hub for all kinds of helpful content to tickle my fancy. Each product listing should come with at least one link to a recipe, video, or blog post. This will help people get the information they need, while hopping around your site and staying engaged.
If you’re any sort of barbecue fan and want to see how internal site linking is seared to perfection, check out AmazingRibs.com.
Pitmaster Meathead Goldwyn has written seemingly hundreds of in-depth, well researched articles and connected them to each other in an impressive web of internal linking. This creates a slow-cooked session of reading that can leave you on the site much longer than you intended, yet much more informed about barbecue.
Wrapping It Up
When there’s a gap in your content, your customer will feel it. The friction caused by the disconnect will sour your customer’s experience and soil the perception of your brand.
But if you can spend some time recognizing content gaps on your website and beyond, you can begin filling those gaps with useful content. Then instead of losing customers, you’ll be gaining loyal brand followers who will be happy to rave about your products.