I am guessing that you are familiar with the content hub concept. If not let me briefly run over what it is and the marketing revolution it is opening up.
Let’s set the scene…
Online content creation has exploded. The competition for attention is intense. 2 million blog posts are published each day, most of which is scattered all over the place. One of the main problem’s we are facing as marketers is understanding how to get maximum exposure out of what we are creating. It is neither arriving to the end user in the most effective way nor are we archiving our content in a dynamic and reusable manner. So, what is going on?
Well by way of example, well-intentioned content is posted in diverse channels, various websites, random landing pages, blog posts, in YouTube, intranet and perhaps even just sent as email material. Hours spent creating answers to customers questions is left floating round in various spaces, with little to no connectivity. Trying to understand lead generation and content management is like herding sheep. As soon as engagement and metrics come together on one side the other falls apart and those content pieces lag behind. This disparity of content ends up creating confusion among your readers as they get lost amidst all the loose ends.
So, to avoid this from happening it is important that the content is personalized to each end user and lives in one easy and accessible place, hence the reason behind why content hubs have emerged.
But hang on… what are content hubs?
A Content hub is a central place where all of your content lives. It is the center around which all other content revolves as it is the main focus of content activity. They generally look sharp, have a tile-style feel to them making them ultra-graphic, attractive and simple to skim over, with more content than a blog and less than a website. They are generally flexible, and anything can be published making them ‘personalized’ content repositories. The idea is to avoid having one-page mixing together all of the content but distinguishing curated branded content by user profile, topic or key words as each will have specific needs.
So, with content hubs, you are only displaying the content relevant to each specific end user profile. The media mix will include everything from ebooks, vlogs, blog posts, video, audio, podcasts, infographics, slides, papers articles, widgets to embedded social feeds — and the list goes on.
The best content hubs will use a mix of the above content formats to maintain user interest as the intention is to interact with your prospect by answering their questions, gaining their trust and confidence by showing off your expertise in your area. Here, your intention is not to sell but to prove that you are trust worthy by guiding them in their quest for answers and hopefully putting your self in such a position that when it come to decision time, you are at the forefront of their minds.
A few examples if what a content hub looks like:
The basic architecture and simplicity behind this website makes it easy and straightforward for users to find what they are looking for. Tips forMarketer has brought together video, reports and blog content from a variety of other channels creating a remarkable fusion of insight, observations, answers and research.
The collection of hubs allows for easy navigation between topics within the main hub and houses a variety of evergreen content that not only increases brand awareness but positions forMarketer as an authority and valued resource center on content marketing.
The content marketing platform used by forMarketer to create and manage the content allows for new content to be added in an easy and dynamic way. As content production within the platform is collaborative, everyone in the company is able to create content aligned with the marketing message.
The reader is provided with the possibility of interacting with content pieces as giving feedback is easy. This allows the content marketing team to interact with the community and produce pieces based directly on what the community is looking for.
First launched in 2007, Open Forum has been known as the pioneer in content hubs, providing honest quality content to their customers and designing it around the buyer’s stages. In order to build authority Amex decided to leverage outside expertise. This came about after a 2014 survey conducted by NewsCred and Redshift research concluded that consumers were 53% more likely to trust financial content written by objective 3rd party sources.
75% of Open forums content is aimed at top of the funnel readers (the awareness stage) designed to answer common questions their target audience asks themselves. This is a marketing strategy designed not only to answer general questions their ideal customer profile has but also to become a reliable source of information.
American express then fuels the next stage of their funnel by producing gated guides before nudging the prospect to the purchase stage where they are presented with case studies, designed to help them make a purchase decision.
Why else do content hubs work?
a. Increase visibility and traffic
As Google evolves and gets increasingly smarter; using RankBrain to focus more on intent and HummingBird to focus more on meaning, keyword phrases are becoming less central to google searches while topics or semantic searches are gaining priority. Content hubs align beautifully in this direction.
From an SEO standpoint, a good content hub provides authority to its brand on a given topic. A hub explores the latest trends, insights and discoveries of a narrow topic by providing meaningful research to its reader. Quality content will rank well in organic searches, driving traffic and thus increasing your channels visibility.
A good content hub inspires engagement, for quality engagement you need to provide content experience. I like to think of it as I would think about dining experience. You would rather enjoy dinner on a beautiful rooftop at sunset than in a junk yard surrounded by the smell of rotten fish. So, start thinking past reading and start to include: sign-ups, attends, shares, try, test, etc.
Engagement not only makes the experience enjoyable to your readers but ensures that you are creating content that is useful to your readers too.
By providing relevant information to your target audience within a hub, they can dig deeper, increasing the average count of pages and time on site per visit. Users are therefore engaged with your brand for longer.
c. Build authority, expertise and trust
Over time, this engagement will build a trusted relationship between you and your readers. By demonstrating knowledge in your field through consistent publishing of high quality curated content, you are displaying transparency and hopefully are able to earn not only your prospects time and attention but their loyalty as a customer.
d. Lead generation
Considering the aforementioned, it would not be overrated to state that content hubs help you generate leads. It won’t happen overnight. Remember, this is like fostering a long-term relationship. What would you do if a stranger walked up to you on the street and asked you to dinner? You may feel slightly intimidated (unless that stranger is George Clooney…).
Content marketing works very much in the same way. Provide information that is useful and interesting yet, sprinkle a few CTAs along the way. Ensure engagement and always be there for your prospect. This way, when the final purchase moment arrives, they turn to you.
e. Marketing insights
The great thing about controlling all of your content from one place is that you will be able to generate a detailed analytics report. These metrics will provide your content marketing team with useful insights as to which content pieces perform well and which don’t. By understanding what moves, excites, answers your readers questions, you will become a more productive and efficient publishing department and gain authority among readers.
f. Drive ABM
So now I hear you saying that this is all great, you like the idea of being able to generate specific pages for your end user, but it would be really useful for sales enablement, ABM (account-based marketing) and also even customer success.
Some marketing platforms allow you to generate private content hubs. The idea behind this is to allow your sales department to generate their own custom content hubs to use as a follow up to a conversation with a prospect. This is useful when a team member identifies after a conversation, a few topics that are of interest to your potential buyer. Their content hub generator would generate a personalized content hub which would be sent as a link in the follow up email.
Private content hubs flip the funnel by empowering, boosting and increasing the efficiency and impact of your sales team, moving towards a smarketing dynamic. By providing sales with the freedom of access to your company’s content hub for sales purposes, they are able to understand the the power of content marketing, have the freedom themselves to find what they are looking for, freeing up marketing’s invaluable time.
A content hub is definitely a new and rising trend that is taking over company websites and blogs. It has the possibility of turning scattered resources into an engaging content experience, where thought leadership and relevant interests provide brand awareness to your users at a whole new level. You will not only benefit from SEO but also marketing automation that will help you nurture relationships with your users.