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Idea: Answers Are the Content Customers Seek Most

You may have noticed how Google’s search results page has evolved from a list of website links to a collection of information boxes, categorized or localized resources, maps, calculators and other features. Google is no longer in the search business. It’s in the answer business. The company knows we aren’t looking for websites when we type into the search box—We want answers.

As the internet evolves rapidly towards a mobile-first medium, providing answers is the experience users want and expect. This is a challenge for Google—over 90 percent of its revenues come from links, so it must evolve its business to turn answers into revenue.

Google must deliver what everyone expects: the fewest possible clicks (or “taps”) between the question on our mind and the answer Google can deliver.

Organizations that have a media business model (advertising, subscription and circulation as the primary sources of revenue) constantly look for ways to keep users clicking around their sites—slideshows and top 20 lists, for instance. Chances are, your organization isn’t a media business. You’re in the association or healthcare or retail business. Your goal should be to look for ways to shorten the distance between a customer question and your answer.

Customers want answers while deciding whether to buy your product or service or join your organization. They want answers after the purchase when they can’t figure out how to fill out a form or connect Part A with Part B.

Where is the worst place to provide answers to customers? On the page labeled FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Publisher, programmer and rockstar blogger Kathy Sierra has described a FAQ as being an admission of failure. A FAQ says to your customer that you can’t figure out how to organize your website in a helpful way. Organize your entire site to be chock-full of answers, not just a list on a page.

Bottom line for marketers: It’s not the Frequently Asked Questions your customers want from you. It’s the (too infrequently provided) Answers.

(Photo: Rex Hammock)

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