eBay Europe had a communications problem: every team was communicating in its own way, when it wanted to, to its customers. Lucie Hyde from eBay and Hannah King from eBay’s consultant Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, described in this session at Content Strategy Applied 2012 how they went about solving that problem by developing a consistent, end-to-end way of measuring content quality and effectiveness as objectively as possible.
Lucie and Hannah described how they documented the existing content copy flow …
… and then developed a set of standards that would help eBay Europe streamline that flow and aspire to excellence while allowing for flare, creativity and local flavor across locations. “Our brand relationship with customers is emotional — they love us or they hate us,” Lucie said. “We wanted to ensure they had an excellent experience every time they came to the site.”
One thing they realized as they set out to create and enforce these standards is that content quality, in itself, was not always the priority for people in the business. “Good content is not the endpoint, it’s the baseline,” Lucie said. “The business effectiveness of the content: that’s the conversation that the business was willing to have. For some people, it was 99 on the list of 100 top priorities. It was my job to get it up that list.”
The team created a content quality checklist, a tool with a set of agreed-upon standards that the business would aim for every time it produced and released a piece of content. The checklist allows the content team to score:
1. Basic linguistic and grammatical correctness
2. Brand style and tone
If the content fails at all in the first section (grammar) it is an “outright fail” and goes back to the author for editing.
The business was initially resistant to the process because it was time-consuming. But feedback from eBay customers has been outstanding enough that the business can now say with confidence: “Customers prefer content that’s been through this process.” A survey of eBay sellers following a site update about the communications regarding changes showed that sellers found the content that had been through the process was less complicated, less vague and less patronizing.
In fact, Lucie showed a recent blog post from an eBay seller that was an open letter to Amazon.com, essentially saying: “eBay is doing such a good job with seller communications that you should do the same.” “That’s publicity we can’t pay for,” Lucie said. “I’m by no means saying that content is the only reason — it’s only part of a complex process that involves half of the business. But we’ve this well-though-out process that initially caused churn and friction in the business, customers are finally seeing the benefit of it.”