Are you familiar with an online knowledge base?
Your company is comprised of employees who are all incredibly knowledgeable about your field. They probably studied the subject in college and maybe even earned advanced degrees.
When trade shows, expos, online courses, and the like appear on the calendar, these experts always welcome the opportunity to learn even more.
Do you ever wish there was a way to pick the brains of these experts for the benefit of your company? You’d then put all the info somewhere accessible for your customers, leads, and prospects to pore over.
It turns out, you can. It’s known as an online knowledge base.
What Is an Online Knowledge Base?
An online knowledge base is a database dedicated to showcasing relevant information and content related to your company.
The knowledge base includes all the information your company’s employees and experts can funnel in. Any applicable tricks, tips, best practices, documentation, and FAQs would go into this knowledge base as well.
Since it’s all hosted online, your clients and customers can easily access your database, reading it when they please.
Also, due to its presence online, you can update the knowledge base consistently. By always adding fresh and relevant information, you keep your company on the cutting edge of customer service.
Okay, so now you know what an online knowledge base is. You could even be contemplating creating one for your company.
The question is, how can having one of these knowledge bases increase your sales? Read on, as we’ll tell you!
What Does It Take to Achieve a Good Online Knowledge Base?
Your online knowledge base might be good, but you want it to be great. What does it take to achieve that?
Here’s what you must do for your readers.
Keep the Information Current
Company products, services, and policies change all the time. When they do, your knowledgebase must change as well, being updated to only reflect what’s current within your company.
How to Design Beautiful Knowledge Bases – A Video:
Make It Easy to Use
The whole point of an online knowledge base is to quickly and conveniently provide information to your customers and leads.
If it’s too difficult to navigate your database, then the lead might take their chances calling your customer service line instead.
You want to provide as much information on a topic or area as you can so your customers feel satiated. This doesn’t mean you write a novel on everything your company does.
If you have links to blog posts and other documentation, you can share those links for related reading.
If your database answers all your customer’s questions and even some follow-up questions, then you’re doing it right.
How to Create a Knowledge Base
You want to create a comprehensive online knowledge base for your audience, but how and where do you begin? Here’s everything you need to know.
Determine the Design
The format or design of your online knowledge base should never be an afterthought. Remember, you need an easily navigable database, so what kind of design elements does that require?
Include a search bar so a user can look up what they need without sifting through your database. You also want clear content categories for those who don’t want or need to search.
Write the Knowledge Base Content
With the skeleton of your online knowledge base coming together, the next step is to create the content that will become your database.
This is going to be a time-consuming part of the process, arguably the part that takes the most time. You might want to work with several others within your company to tackle this task.
That said, do be sure you have a clear writing voice, not unlike the voice you’ve established in your blog.
Formatting each page in the knowledge base like a blog post isn’t a bad idea either in that you need a headline and subheads.
EngageBay’s Knowledge Base is replete with resource guides, video tutorials, and much more..
Keep the content in between each subhead digestible with short paragraphs and bullet points when appropriate.
As we said before, if you have other online resources that can be used in your knowledge base, please do link them into your content.
Before you publish any part of your online knowledge base, make sure you have a proofreader triple-check the content for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
Use Visuals When They Help
Do pictures jazz up written content? Sure! We use images for that purpose here on the EngageBay blog all the time.
Your knowledge base is not a blog though. You want to keep all the content strictly informational, and that goes for visual content as well.
If an image like an in-software screenshot enhances your written content, then add it! But don’t just put in pictures for the sake of it.
Check out this video on YouTube for task management tips within EngageBay’s software.
8 Tips for Your Best Online Knowledge Base
Now that you’ve started to put together your online knowledge base, we have 8 best practices that can produce more sales!
1. Educate the Lead in the Early Stages
A lead has just arrived on your website. Perhaps they found you through your social media presence, your advertising, or even a guest blog post.
They don’t know a lot about you at this stage, so they’re just sort of poking through the pages on your site.
In these early days, if they were interested in learning more, they might opt into your email newsletter.
They could even call you and schedule a consultation to discuss your products/services in more detail, including pricing.
From there, you don’t quite know what will happen. The lead might be intrigued enough to try a free trial of your products/services. They might even make a purchase.
Just as likely, they could disappear off the face of the earth.
That’s why what every company wants is prospects.
Prospects are a step up from your average lead. They enter your sales funnel already educated about your products/services. They’re often more likely to buy than an average lead.
Imagine this: now your website has an online knowledge library. The prospect finds this information database.
Remember, they already know more about your company than the average lead. In this case, a database fills in the gaps.
There’s now less resistance to buying your products/services. This prospect leaves your knowledge base knowing just about everything they could about your company.
If they’re ready to make a purchasing decision, it will follow shortly thereafter.
2. Write Well to Attract Traffic
You must treat your knowledge database the same way you would any other page on your site. It deserves only the most exemplary content.
That doesn’t mean you have to start writing in a stuffy, stilted manner. You want to provide information, but you can do so in a friendly, even conversational tone.
Don’t go too informal, but don’t stuff your knowledge base with jargon, either.
After all the primary goal of this knowledge base is to inform your leads, prospects, and customers. If reading through your information is insufferable, the database loses all its effectiveness.
Writing well doesn’t just make reading through your knowledge base a more pleasurable experience, but it also boosts traffic to the page. This, in turn, can increase sales.
3. Answer Questions Leads/Customers Haven’t Even Thought of Yet
Let’s continue talking about what needs to go into the writing of your knowledge database, shall we?
You’ve got your tone down, which is great. Now you’re beginning to craft exemplary content mined from the collective knowledge of experts in your company.
As you do this, think from the perspective of the lead. Unless it’s a prospect, they don’t know who you are. They might have a basic understanding of what you do, but it’s just that, basic.
When compiling your information for your knowledge base, ask yourself a few questions.
What kind of information would a lead want to know? What about a prospect? Do they need a detailed history of your company’s legacy? Would detailed product specs help?
While you don’t want a FAQs or tips list to go on forever, you do want to provide the best information that can guide and inform a sale.
In that regard, almost no question is too insignificant. At best, your knowledge base can almost predict the questions your leads will have before they even realize they want to ask that question.
Remember, the more detailed information you can provide, the more helpful your knowledge base becomes in making sales for your company.
4. Use a Simple, Appealing Design for Your Online Knowledge Base
We’ve talked about the content that goes into this knowledge base, now let’s get into the looks of the database itself.
The simpler the look of your database, the better. Most leads and prospects aren’t on this page to be wowed by expensive design flourishes. They just want information.
That’s why your search bar must be front and center, as mentioned earlier. If a lead can’t find a place to search for what they’re looking for, they’ll probably navigate away from your database or even your site.
From there, it’s tough to win them back, especially if they go to the competition.
You and the rest of your company will have to put a lot of time into the type of search engine results that get generated when a lead types in a query.
While your database doesn’t have to be a perfect replica of Google, it should provide accurate results every time.
For example, if a lead searches for information on your sales software, they shouldn’t get results for an unrelated product. They should only see all the articles, documents, posts, pages, and lists about your software.
This way, the lead can dive deep into product specs, pricing, and other information to decide if the product is right for them.
5. Make It Mobile-Friendly
Another element of your online knowledge database is its mobile-friendliness. According to data from Statista, in 2018, most web traffic from around the world (52.2 percent) came from smartphone users.
In 2017, this was just 50.3 percent. You can assume then that by 2021, even more people across the globe will use their phones to go online.
That’s why having a mobile-friendly website design should be at the forefront of any company’s goals.
You should expect that most leads and customers who access your website will do so on their phones. Your website may be optimized for mobile users, but what about your knowledge base?
Will your graphs and images load correctly or will they look stretched or even squished? Will your lists and FAQs appear nice and neat or misaligned due to formatting errors?
The best way to find out is to test your database by looking at it on your own phone. Ask a few other key members of your company to do the same.
Check for any errors with formatting, images, videos, and other elements. If any of these are incorrect, then change them ASAP.
Whether you designed the database yourself or used a third-party design company, one of you must get the site mobile-friendly right away.
When you add new pages or elements to the knowledge base (more on this later), you’ll have to once again do another mobile-friendly test.
6. Better Employee Onboarding = More Sales
As your company grows, you hope to always add more members to your sales team.
The time it takes to train these members to be sales-ready can detract from the number of sales your already-existing team can make, right? Usually, but not with a knowledge base.
The information in this database can serve as a great starting point for new employee onboarding.
While an online knowledge database cannot replace good, old-fashioned training, the info here can augment these training sessions.
That allows you to get more employees on the sales floor faster, earning more sales for your company
7. Implement SEO
We’ve talked about your search engine earlier in this article, and now we want to touch on it again.
If you’re not already using SEO best practices for your knowledge base, it’s time you start.
After all, SEO stands for search engine optimization, and your knowledge base is indeed a search engine. Like we said before, it may not be as big as Google, but it’s a search engine nonetheless.
That means almost all SEO tactics can and should apply. For instance, you can use canonical links or tags.
A canonical link keeps you from posting the same content on your site twice, especially if you use the same keywords more than once.
You’ll also want to use metadata optimization, where you include meta image attributes, meta descriptions, and keywords in titles and URLs. If your database is large enough, then an XML sitemap doesn’t hurt, either.
Finally, you’ll want to optimize all the keywords that appear in the content within your online database. By targeting and testing keywords, you boost traffic to your site.
Once you capture that traffic, you now have a whole new audience to sell to.
8. Update the Online Knowledge Base Often
Throughout this article, we’ve addressed the looks, content, and functionality of your knowledge base. We mentioned that well-written content especially will increase the kind of traffic you need for more sales.
Besides writing well, you also must make sure the content you include is relevant.
In the world of sales and marketing, things can change at a lightning-quick pace.
Those hot new tactics we loved in 2020 can become obsolete once 2021 rolls around on the calendar. It happens. Google algorithms update, new tech gets introduced, and our audiences prioritize different things.
Does that mean you have to go back and cherry-pick what’s relevant in your database every year? Someone should devote the time to that, yes.
If a lead stumbles upon irrelevant content, this will hurt their perception of you. They could decide they want to do business elsewhere, which loses you the sale and the customer.
That’s why, if you can, it’s better to write about evergreen topics. This is content that has a timeless quality and will never go out of style.
The name of this concept comes from the humble evergreen tree. Its leaves will never dull, even in the crispness of autumn or the cold of winter.
Populating your online database with evergreen content will increase your SEO. That means more people will see your database, which boosts your chances of getting more sales.
An online knowledge base includes your top tips, techniques, best practices, and other information. It’s not a static thing, but rather one that’s ever-changing.
You’ll consistently add and update the content that appears here for the sake of your customers.
When executed correctly, one of these knowledge bases can increase sales for your company.
It’s important to opt for a simple database design, prioritizing the search bar. Content should be evergreen if at all possible.
Now that you know why they’re so invaluable to boosting sales, we hope you decide to create an online knowledge base on your website.