How to build winning content for technical concepts

Content Marketing
July 28, 2022

Companies that forge the path in innovation and technology terms need content strategies that carry their audiences to new eras. This isn't always a straightforward task, given that even the most widely-read audiences can struggle to comprehend the complexity of new concepts. The puzzle is as follows: how can companies explain these technical concepts in a way that makes their audiences want to engage?

Highly-technical industries face the challenge of providing content in an easily digestible format. Readers are looking for unambiguous material on their topics of interest to keep pace with industry trends. These companies know what they need to communicate, but jargon-heavy content or technical writing can be counterproductive, alienating potential followers, leads, and loyal customers.

How To Create Content For Highly Technical Industries

A data-driven approach to technical writing is one of the most valuable ways to make your content objective. But aside from the data, there are several ways to ensure your content meets the high-quality standard that matches your product or service. Consider the following:

1. Audience First

Creating content for your B2B audience

The first question you should ask when creating content is, Who am I creating this content for? Investing time in identifying your buyer persona — a caricature of your typical customer — is indispensable. Some of the questions you might ask to build up your B2B buyer persona are:

  • What are their roles and titles?
  • What are their job functions?
  • In which industry do they work?
  • How does their sales cycle work?
  • What do they need to achieve their job goals?

Once you know whom you are targeting, you can ask yourself how to reach and engage them with content. For this part, you need to understand:

  • What readability level does the audience have?
  • What topics does it read?
  • What type of content does it share?
  • Which kind of content is most engaging?
  • What keywords and questions does this audience use on their search intent?
  • Where do they get their information from?
  • What type of content formats do they prefer to consume?
  • How much time can they commit to consuming your content?

With good communication between your marketing and sales team, you may be able to reach insights about the above points. Another alternative is relying on technology such as True Content, which automatically tracks your audience's digital consumption to compile the answers to some of these questions. Socrates is a freeware that helps identify the questions people are asking on Google, and as for keywords and other relevant information, you can try Ahrefs or Semrush.

2. Readability Score

If you know your audience, you will know what level of education your readers generally have and the tone of the articles they read. You may find, for example, that your readers are college graduates, so you'll know you need to produce content that appeals to their level of comprehension.

You can use technology to discover and set the readability score of your content. A content marketing specialist or agency will have their own – such as Castleberry with True Content – but for those going solo, there is a wealth of freeware that can serve as a guide for leveling the readability score of your content. One such tool is Datayze. For example, we analyzed a section of this article with this tool, and you can see the results in the image below.

Content readibility score

The Flesch score lets us know how a particular passage scores according to its readability. The lower the score, the more the text is directed to advanced audiences (postgraduate levels). A Flesch score of 40-50 would be ideal for technical concepts, as Datayze recommends this score for such documents as insurance. You can analyze the readability score section by section for your technical articles to ensure each idea has the correct score for its complexity.

3. The Right Writer

Ideally, your content writer will have some knowledge of the topic at hand. Still, you can also lean on industry expert writers because they will know how to transmit the technical concepts in a way your audience understands. These are some of the validation criteria you can use to ensure you find a suitable writer:

  • Check your writer's previous work to make sure they have connections with the industry in question.
  • From these, check the articles' readability score and tone using True Content or Datayze and a tone analyzer. You can also check the level of engagement by checking the page rankings with a free trial from a tool like Seodity.
  • Compare whether the indicators of readability level, tone, and engagement, fit with the audience for which the contents were developed.
  • Analyze whether the writer's writing style meets your requirements.

It is always a good idea to request an outline before beginning an article; this helps to check that what the writers are going to write covers all the necessary concepts, avoiding reprocessing and downtime. It also helps to organize ideas clearly and concisely.

4. Interviews With Industry Experts

The first reason interviews work so well is that they allow the concept to be talked through in a more amenable way so the writer can delve into the comprehension side of the topic, which later helps the writer capture the essence of the concept in writing.

One of Reddit's Subreddits, Explain Like I'm Five, sets a popular trend that we can leverage from our interviews by asking our interviewees to explain the highly technical concepts in the most simplistic way possible. This way, the writer can gather a clear understanding of the topic and relay it at a level appropriate for the audience.

Content interviews with experts

A second consideration is that while anonymous, formally-written content can serve as an objective source of information for our audiences and help position our brands, anonymity can distance potential connections as it is impersonal. Using interviews with industry experts personifies your examples, your explanations, and your content, making them easier to follow. 

Interviews help establish a personable link which, for many readers, is desirable. Even more so if you embed a photo of the person — research shows that engagement can be 38% higher when we include the face behind the name.

How you formulate the questions for the interview will also affect how you structure the article. We recommend around 6-7 questions. The technical concept's who, where, what, why, when, and how generally work well.

5. A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

Naturally, part of the reasoning behind content marketing in written format is to support SEO optimization. But written content backed with visual aids can help you connect more meaningfully with your audience as they can effectively see what you're explaining. 

Graphs, photos of the product/service in action, screenshots of websites, and tables are just some visual aids that highly-technical companies can use in their content. We can double the impact with analogies and metaphors and triple it with internal or external videos, strengthening the content with this backlinking. 

Another option is to change the format of the articles or, in addition to the written article itself, post a separate infographic. Here you can see how an infographic article relays complex information in the blink of an eye.

Infographic article

6. In-Text Checkpoints

Rockwell Automation, a highly-technical company with a broad range of specialties, summarizes the most relevant highlights of some of their contents at various positions in the text. For this case study, they started with an overall summary of the highlights. Just as Rockwell Automation did, using simpler words and shorter phrases helps transmit the concepts in an easily digestible format. 

We can also link each part of the checkpoint to the central part of the text so that the reader can flick back and forth between the summary, and the more in-depth explanation in the text, keeping their comprehension on track.

This kind of checkpoint placed at the beginning of a text helps prepare the reader for what they are about to read. Other companies summarize the articles at the end with a traditional recap. Who is to say we can't do both? Repetition is fundamental for all learning, so when we seek to educate and engage our audiences, comprehension checkpoints are a tactic that can prove effective.

3, 2, 1… Action!

Your action list could look a little like this: 

  1. Discover your audience.
  2. Work on the readability score. 
  3. Find a suitable writer. 
  4. Lean on industry experts. 
  5. Use images and video links in your content.
  6. Summarize the information at various checkpoints throughout the article. 

Consider taking the guesswork out of your content production and find out more about how we can help you create engaging and readable content for your audiences by contacting us using this form.

Sources

Bakhshi, Saeideh & Shamma, David & Gilbert, Eric. (2014). Faces engage us: photos with faces attract more likes and comments on Instagram. Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings. 10.1145/2556288.2557403. Research Gate www.researchgate.net/publication/266655817_Faces_engage_us_photos_with_faces_attract_more_likes_and_comments_on_Instagram

Bruner, Robert. (2001). “Repetition is the First Principle of All Learning.” Research Gate, www.researchgate.net/publication/228318502_Repetition_is_the_First_Principle_of_All_Learning

Parker, Kesi. “Data-driven Approach to Technical Content Writing.” Medium. Jun. 17, www.medium.com/technical-writing-is-easy/data-driven-approach-to-technical-content-creation-49f766ef6b1e

Rockwell Automation. “Chevron Pipeline Valve Actuation ‘Goes Green.’” July 2022 www.rockwellautomation.com/en-us/company/news/case-studies/pipeline-valve-chevron.html

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