Much more broad-minded than blogs. More resource-driven than company websites. Used by 60% of the biggest brands out there, and there are powerful reasons why.
On average, over two million blog posts are published every single day on wordpress alone.
To do business today, you need your content efforts to attract people to your website and give them enough valuable information to keep them there. Content hubs – otherwise known as the command centres of content marketing – give potential customers a convenient, one-stop-shop to access all your organisation’s digital assets.
Content hubs are the favoured content marketing format for GE, American Express, Bupa and countless more businesses and associations. If you need to see a content hub in action, we’ve created a list of some of our favourites in the B2B and B2C space that can inspire your efforts. In the meantime, here is what a content hub is and how it can maximise value for your organisation.
What is a content hub?
A content hub is a collection of owned digital assets housed on an organisation’s website or externally. It is the centralised destination point for a brand’s ‘best in show’ digital assets.
It is a place of learning and discovery for an organisation’s target audiences where brands prove their chops as authorities in their industry (but without all the ‘salesy’ stuff).
The formats, assets and frequency of updates will vary – lying in that sweet spot shared between customer interests and preferences, and business capabilities and goals. Brands can serve up articles, white papers, EDMs, videos, infographics, podcasts and any other media otherwise – in rich mixtures or simple blends. It’s consistency (for both frequency of posting and the overall look and feel) that takes the content hub cake.
By now you are probably wondering how is this different to a blog? Or even the good old company website? Well, content hubs are created to help audiences find the information they want in the way they prefer. Take, for example, the traditional format of a blog page with a list of posts appearing in chronological order. The experience of that blog would assume what people want or force them to sift through pages of content to get to what they want. Content hubs make it as easy as possible for users to navigate between related pages.
No matter how valuable a piece of content is, if it is not published in a centrally organised content hub with a UX focus, it will easily be lost under a stream of further content.
Benefit 1: They allow asset centralisation and control
As content command centres, businesses can grab the wheel and steer the ship however they want. Unlike the ever-changing ‘rented land’ of social platforms, content hubs have full rights and control over everything that goes up there. Rather than directing traffic to social media sites, they’re funnelled towards a single, resource-rich oasis. Zuckerberg can’t make any ownership claims.
This gives brand teams creative licence – where you can design and display their creations in ways that align with their identity. With a flexible CMS in place, you can publish whatever media suits your content marketing strategy best. It also means that anything that’s on there is unambiguously the result of the brand’s thought leadership.
Overall, this makes for a memorable, distinctive and measurable user experience.
Benefit 2: They enable data capture and measurement
A ‘measurable’ user experience is a big one. Not only is publishing in your hands – audience data and insights belong to you as well. No matter your content source or format – article, video, whitepaper, infographic – it all lives in the same spot. Using select measurement software and tools, businesses can build a better picture of audience habits and interests based on the ways users interact with whatever’s on your hub – whether that’s tracking traffic rate, time on page, download actions, clicks or newsletter signups (read: lead generation master strategy).
Having centralised data at hand allows you to further optimise and personalise the hub, and hone all your other marketing efforts too.
Benefit 3: Organic search improvements
Since Google’s ‘Hummingbird’ update, search engines are getting better at understanding the intent of searches, not just keywords. Content hubs can improve organic search traffic by purposefully organising content around central themes or topics, creating depth in these ‘content pillars’, as we call them at Mahlab. This allows you to cater your content to the searcher’s intent and build authority and expertise for your audience in a way that search engines can read and understand.
Benefit 4: They are amazing for promotion and distribution
A portion of audiences will find your content hub organically. However, many others will reach it through ads, EDM links and social media, where content will have been strategically distributed. A hub is an incredibly useful means for keeping up a strong game on various platforms, whether that’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and/or the dozens of other web arenas besides. And by investing in paid promotion, you can leverage the insights and custom tools on these platforms to target content hub pieces to the right audience.
But these paid promotions don’t just bolster one content piece. If you play your cards right, and deliver valuable gated and ungated content organised around content pillars, it can bolster the content hub on the whole. It incrementally grows your content’s visibility and decreases lost content.
Benefit 5: They prevent content wastage
Within a 24-hour cycle, the people of the earth produce as much content as they did between the dawn of time and 2003. Every. Single. Day. In the tumult, it’s little wonder that 65% of content gets wasted.
Giving your content a home means it won’t get whumped out of memory by the snowdrifts of time, or lost in the raging productivity storms that typify the current era of marketing. You’re giving it a safe place to sequester itself – a cosy nook, where it can look its best for customers, and serve them best as well. Plumped up (but not too much) with SEO keywords, pieces are ripe for searchability and evergreen potential – meaning customers can be led to them years down the track and still find them useful. Optimally, pieces will lead to other useful resources, either on the content hub or host site, through teasers, recommended reads or inbound links.
Benefit 6: They nurture relationships with target audiences
This leads to our next point. Audiences nowadays rarely convert after just a few visits to any site or interactions with a brand. Across industries, they’re becoming a whole lot harder to woo. They’ll move about between commercial providers, making several passes before they can even be considered ‘sales-team ready’. To earn their trust, win their respect and nudge them towards the status of subscribers, brands have to demand less and give more.
Content hubs are great at building loyalty in a competitive landscape. In aligning brands with the things your audience care about, you’re building a relationship founded upon giving before you even ask for a thing. From this, goodwill has a fertile ground to flourish towards your business or association. Because of your efforts, when they’re ready to subscribe, download or buy (as a new or returning customer), you’re in an extremely strong position to come out on top.
Editor’s note: Content hubs remain a powerful tool for content marketers. That’s why this article, originally published 4 July 2017, has been updated with our more recent insights.