One of the decisions we made when we were hacked at WooThemes last year was to silo functionality and content onto separate sites, as suggested by Sucuri CTO Tony Perez. If our main site went down ever again, I didn’t want any of our users to be totally affected.
The most important resource for our paying customers is our product documentation, tutorials and videos. Our product documentation was one of the first sites we silo-ed off.
We had professional help re-designing the new documentation site, setup SSO, added our documentation into the new system and pushed the new site live on it’s own server.
And then we had scaling issues. We had so many people visiting the site (who needed to be logged in through our SSO setup) the cache was completely bypassed. So, we turned off our SSO functionality and ultimately realised it didn’t make much sense to have it turned on at all if it relied on our main site being up. Duh.
Here’s where the magic (accidentally) started. We suddenly had a site full of useful content about all of our products, which anyone could see and which could also be indexed by Google.
The result? Our documentation site drives 60% of revenue! 60%
Being an accidental discovery and all, I can’t tell you exactly what Document Marketing is, I can only highlight the things I think we’ve done well.
Keep your documentation open
Is there really any need for you to hide your documentation behind a login? Its valuable content for current customers and potential customers; keep it open and allow Google to index it.
I haven’t done all the analysis, but I’d also hazard a guess that those customers who read the documentation on a product’s functionality won’t be refunded as much as those who don’t read it.
Get professional help
When we decided to move our documentation off site we also saw an opportunity to improve our documentation. Siobhan Mckeown helped us design our first iteration and gave us so much insight into what makes a good documentation site. Get professional help, your customers will thank you for it.
Take your documentation seriously and allow feedback
We have a team member ( and we’re looking to add someone full-time ) dedicated to improving our docs through feedback from our team and from anyone who visits the site.
You could go even further and allow public collaboration on your site like KISSMetrics have done.
Make buying your product/service easy
Our second iteration on the design of our new site saw us add a ‘Purchase’ button. Once someone’s found the product they like, they’re the click of a button away from adding it to their cart.
Keep your Documentation online
Its worth mentioning that our documentation is only available online, nothing is available for download. PDFs are searchable by Google, but once someone has downloaded it its unlikely they’re going to return. Most importantly there’s no way for you to improve that documentation once they’ve left.
Key Take Away
Anytime you’re creating valuable content, you’re creating marketable content.