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What is Dynamic Content?

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Miryam Brand   Miryam Brand, Suite Solutions

It’s no news that a printed user guide is a throw-away item for today’s customer. But it’s not enough for product information to be available online, either. As numerous studies have shown, customers are no longer satisfied with static content. Customers need to find exactly what they want quickly and they want to feel that their needs are being met, or even anticipated, in real time. This does not mean adding bells and whistles to content that is already great. What it does mean is keeping customers’ needs at the center of our content efforts.

Customers want information that helps them:

  1. Do their jobs
  2. Make decisions
  3. Improve their lives

That’s why dynamic content is best defined by what it achieves.

Dynamic content provides people with easy access to contextually relevant information, enabling them to be effective.

There are three key components to this sentence:

I. Easy access

Easy access means that customers can quickly find information wherever they are, using whatever device they are most comfortable with. It also means that the source of information itself — your site, your blog, or your online documentation — is easy to find.

II. Relevant information

Providing truly relevant information is possibly the biggest challenge of dynamic content. Customers do not want to wade through a long manual or, even worse, a complicated website. They only want to see the information that is relevant to their current situation or problem.

III. Enabling effectiveness

Particularly with content that is B2B, it is important to remember that customers are not browsing for fun. Your customers want this information in order to do something. They don’t want a pretty picture — they want a helpful one. Customers frequently prefer a how-to video to written material, but they also want that video to “cut to the chase” and not waste their time before giving them the tools they need to do their work.

So how does dynamic content actually accomplish this?

1) Dynamic content harnesses applicable business rules
The business side of dynamic content — our side, as content creators and managers — requires a well-thought-out taxonomy for classifying content: categorizing the sections of your content according to what situation, product, and search they are relevant for. Then, business rules can be applied to deliver this content when it is most relevant.

2) Dynamic content leverages automation to assemble a variety of different content types on demand, according to each individual’s requests
Dynamic content requires that content and style remain separate. When your content is not defined by format or style, it is free to be reused and reassembled in a variety of formats for different purposes: an email newsletter, an epub digest, a printable PDF, or online help. These different formats and views can be delivered to customers according to their preferences, and power personalization.

3) Dynamic content can quickly be packaged and delivered as personalized content to the device, format, and language of choice
The availability of content in different formats and languages and across many devices is taken for granted by today’s customer. But personalization goes beyond this first step. The definition of an appropriate taxonomy, the separation of content from format, and powerful automation allow dynamic content to be assembled according to a customer’s interests and preferences. Essentially, “new” pieces of content are dynamically created for each customer by reusing previous content in a dynamic and visually appealing way.

Customers’ interests and preferences can be determined according to business rules or through the customer’s own choices. The important point is that the content should be relevant and available to individual customers in the manner in which they are most willing and likely to access it.

The “how” of dynamic content described above involves significant planning for your own dynamic content efforts. This brings me to my next post: Planning your Dynamic Content Effort: 4 Things to Consider. Stay tuned, and let me know what you think in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “What is Dynamic Content?

  1. Hasn’t this been around for decades? Some companies do it all the time. They tag certain pieces of content with metatags and use an algorithm to combine those pieces of content into a single reply to the customer based on the metatags.

    1. Sanjay, metatags are just the first (albeit a necessary) step. Dynamic content consistently gives customers what they need, without requiring them to root through an entire volume of documentation, and it gives it to them wherever they are – now via web and mobile, and soon via technologies like Google Glass. Many companies who are using structured content, including a consistent taxonomy for the various content components, are doing this partially already – some more, some less. But there is still a way to go for most organizations, particularly when it comes to drawing relevant and personalized content from all content in the organization.

  2. Well written, concise post. In short, it follows the principles of dynamic content! Another way to define this is in terms of customer success, which is how many companies now position their help, training and support content. Does your content enable customer success? Or is it just a reference for resolving issues? Online support centers in particular can benefit from tools that drive customer success: a knowledge base that can deliver dynamic authoritative content, combined with tribal knowledge and feedback from a community forum, is a powerful tool both for customers and companies.

  3. Good summary of an often misunderstood topic, Miryam. Start by asking what kind of information do my customers need, then keep the focus there by looking at analytics and gathering feedback from the people who are using your content.

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