Content Strategy for Current by General Electric
For the Kent State University (KSU) User Experience Design (UXD) program class on content strategy, I made content recommendations to Current by GE (a General Electric subsidiary). You can read the full report, or scroll down for a brief summary.
Current by GE is a startup company within General Electric’s Lighting Business. The company focuses on creating smarter, integrated solutions using LED lighting and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities.
GE and its customers face a one-time opportunity to upgrade their lighting systems to IoT-enabled LED fixtures. Unlike the traditional lighting business, these fixtures include both the hardware and the LED bulbs, so GE will not be able to follow its typical business model analogue to the razor / razorblade business (in which you sell the customer a device, followed by year after year of things that go in the device). However, the customer will benefit from much lower maintenance costs, and GE will have the opportunity to sell the software and apps that integrate with the IoT-enabled fixtures.
Current by GE has a website, hub.currentbyge.com, that is a repository of content that is intended to promote Current, provide social proof of Current’s value proposition, and generate sales leads for the company. Unfortunately, the website is littered with low-value content that has extremely low engagement (< 12 pageviews in a 13-month period) and that does not meet the company’s strategic goals.
My task as a student was to review materials provided by Current and to make recommendations for a more effective content strategy approach.
I received materials describing Current’s strategy at a high level, watched an interview with the company’s chief marketing officer, reviewed three customer personas, and examined a selection of Google Analytics data.
Current’s Organizational Goals
Current exists to Educate, Illustrate, and Motivate potential customers so that they can be captured as sales, striking while the iron is hot and before some other company wraps up that customer with a long-term (20 year) LED fixture sale.
Current’s Top-Priority Audience Needs
Current primarily serves the strategically inclined C-suite, such as COOs, CMOs, and CIOs. It does not directly serve lower-level, more tactically inclined audiences like the facilities managers who will actually purchase and install the fixtures. The strategic C-suite audience needs reassurance around costs, operational uptime and reliability, and the additional business intelligence that can be gathered with the Current app ecosystem.
Assessment of Current’s Existing Content
Current knows that much of its content is ineffective and that it needs to do a better job measuring content. Large swathes of content are receiving negligible pageviews and ought to be retired. Other types of content, such as flipbooks and detailed technical specifications, are not appropriate for the target audience.
On the plus side, Current has strong customer engagement with interactive tools such as estimators, and knows that educational pieces and customer testimonials rate highly.
- Create a content governance model, a branding and voice guide, and specific measures around content. These are core responsibilities for the newly hired content strategic, and will help guard against the proliferation of sub-par content.
- Continue producing educational pieces, testimonials and white papers about actual Current customers (by name), interactive estimators and calculators, and evergreen articles that answer specific questions.
- Produce less of the articles receiving fewer than 1 unique pageview per week, news items, and content that describes what’s possible without citing a specific example of a customer doing it.
- Stop creating any content that does not meet Current’s strategic objectives, content not directed at the C-suite, flipbooks, category selling, and descriptions of Current’s capabilities. None of this is interesting to customers, nor effective.
I learned that many companies, even otherwise successful ones like GE, struggle to keep a lid on the proliferation of content. This reinforced in my mind the importance of a strong content governance model as well as strong editorial practices.
I learned that as long as a company can articulate its strategic goals (which Current was able to do, around Educate, Illustrate, Motivate) it can be relatively straightforward to examine content in light of those goals and relatively easy to identify content that does not contribute to those goals. However, convincing stakeholders within a company to eliminate non-goal-affirming content is much more difficult.
I learned that an examination of website analytics data provides important insights into where customers actually engage with a website. In Current’s case, there was strong engagement around interactive tools (estimators and calculators), suggesting that the company put more emphasis on that type of content. Without the analytics data, Current would have made a decision based upon gut feel or anecdotal reports rather than hard evidence.