Their top fans are inbound marketers. Across industries, they are providing proof that user-centricity is not a trend, but a business cultural shift. Currently, 60% of the world’s biggest brands use them in their strategy. We’re talking content hubs.

As we’ve deep-dived into previously, content hubs are the command centres of choice for many a content marketer – the centralised depot of a brand’s digital owned assets. Whether companies stock them with articles, podcasts, videos, infographics or white papers, these repositories work to target and engage audiences, rewarding each visit and building loyalty through putting out a consistent flow of relevant, useful and non-promotional resources.

Drawing from five different B2C industries, here are five of the schmickest.

1. Education: Melbourne University’s Pursuit

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As too few universities do, the University of Melbourne gets that it is impolite to talk too much about yourself. It’s harnessed the incredible expertise and smarts within its walls by creating Pursuit: a hub dedicated to both exploring the latest in research, as well as offering expert commentary on the latest newsworthy events. For instance, you’ll have an article on how phosphorescence gene tagging is making it easier to detect malarial parasites in mosquitoes, and next to it, a piece on cladding fires and how to avoid them in response to London’s Grenfell Tower tragedy. In doing this, they’ve turned their content hub into a destination for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the world and where it is headed. From these minds – the hub also promises research bodies, prospective students and postgraduates – you can learn a whole lot more.

2. Finance: Westpac & Junkee’s The Cusp

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This little Westpac x Junkee collaboration sets out to gain credibility with a millennial audience. It does this by never talking down to them, and instead building a large amount of useful and engaging content atop three key pillars – Career, Money and Wellbeing. The articles engage past the title click, with articles like ‘We asked people when they last borrowed money from their parents’ and ‘Trick yourself into being more confident at work’ following through with thoughtful, intelligent writing. Genuinely aimed at helping its readers make their lives a little better, with exception to a low-key Westpac branding, there’s no hard sell in sight.

3. Technology: Sony’s Alpha Universe

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When it launched in 2015, Sony’s Alpha Universe had its vision crystal clear. With image and video content sourced directly from contributors, influencers and professionals, it provides videos, courses, news, interviews and insights on how to tell the world’s stories using the company’s range of devices.

“Today’s photo and video enthusiasts are utilizing Sony cameras to capture imagery with a level of detail and resolution that they never could have imagined,” said Neal Manowitz, Deputy Vice President of digital imaging at Sony Electronics. “Alpha Universe gives us an ideal platform to showcase their work. Featuring an innovative and artistic design, the new site shines a bright spotlight on our growing army of ambassadors and their passion for the Sony α brand.”

Extending this user-centric approach, the site devotes a category to ‘Artisans’ – a section profiling world-renowned photographers specialising in a range of different styles and disciplines – from food porn, to fashion magazine covers, to black-and-white portraiture, to wildlife adventure shots. Page sidebars present to the reader relevant call-to-action lists – products mentioned in articles, or upcoming company events (like, for instance, a solar eclipse camping trip/workshop held in the tulip fields of Oregon). And, needless to say, the site’s design is bloody gorgeous.

4. Insurance: HBF’s Direct Advice for Dads (DAD)

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Here in the 21st century, as paid and unpaid work is spread more equitably across genders, the role of parenting is becoming increasingly shared. Yet, as Australian insurance company HBF discovered, the existing parenting resources were overwhelmingly skewed towards mums. There just wasn’t anything out there to help the nation’s dads navigate the terrifying, wonderful adventure of raising a kid. This was coming at a detriment to all family members, and to society overall. Answering to this lack, and in partnership with Mahlab, HBF launched Direct Advice for Dads in September 2016 – a content hub targeted towards the niche audience of fathers Australia-wide. (Full disclosure: HBF is a Mahlab client.)

Segmented helpfully into ‘Planning’, ‘Expecting’ and ‘New Dads’, the hub is a wealth of curated insights, opinion pieces and shared personal stories. With the tone set to blokey humour tinged with moist-eyed paternal love (babies are often endearingly referred to as ‘blobs’), the site entertains and educates fathers trying to do the best for their tiny tots in all areas of development, caring and play. With 47k likes and counting on its Facebook page and a site visitation of more than 667,800 sessions since launch, DAD had its proud moment last July when it scooped up three gold medals at the 2017 Content Marketing Awards.

5. Travel: Marriott’s Traveler

the schmickest - content hubs, traveler

Before they leave their front gate, the travel planner’s journey is incredibly long. According to the latest figures, users will saunter through an average of 38 sites before booking, with their purchase often more likely to be influenced by a friend’s holiday selfie than anything else. In this saturated market, travel companies have to go the extra mile to get noticed. Primarily, this means getting to know their audience, reaching out to them in their language, and speaking to their needs.

Marriott excels in this user-centric approach. In a beautifully-designed content hub, enriched by quality writing and photographs that lavishly span the pages’ full width, it provides useful travel tips, insights and guides to create a tantalising aura around its destination sites. With a sizeable chunk of its target audience couples and families, the brand also distinguishes itself by having a category that provides content exclusively to this group. It is no huge surprise that at the 2016 Content Marketing Awards, Marriott took out the prize for Content Marketing Launch of the Year.

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