The Complete Guide to Building a B2B Content Hub
88% of B2B organizations have invested in content marketing, which means that the majority of B2B organizations are creating content (or are outsourcing content creation).
However, content creation is only the first step in effective content marketing. Once you have your content, it must be properly distributed to generate traffic, optimized to generate leads, and measured to provide insights about your audience and your content performance.
Before any of this can happen, however, your content has to live somewhere, but not just anywhere. It needs to live in an environment that is easy to manage in the back-end, so the marketer can efficiently and effectively manage their content to meet their content marketing goals. More importantly, it needs to live in an environment that provides a positive experience for the end user.
The solution? A branded content hub!
What Is A Content Hub?
A content hub is a digital platform that acts as the centralized home of all of your content, allowing all of your content to be aggregated into one digital, mixed-media “library”. Once your content is amalgamated into one central content hub, it can be strategically organized to leverage context and deliver a better content experience for the end user.You might be thinking: Ah, yes! My blog or resource center is the home of my content, it’s sort of like a content hub.This isn’t exactly wrong — you might consider your blog, resource center, or even your website to be the home of your content, so it is sort of like a content hub. However, there are a few key differences between a traditional blog or resource center and a content hub.
Content Channel Management
A content hub isn’t just another channel for publishing your content. Although it might require new software to build (more on that below), a content hub allows for you to better manage content that’s living on different channels.
For example, you might be creating a content mix that includes blog posts, videos, and white papers. Blog posts will live in your blog (usually hosted by a CMS), videos will live on a public channel (like YouTube or Vimeo) or a private channel (like Wistia or Vidyard), and white papers will often live as static PDFs. Instead of sending your inbound traffic outbound to these different channels, a content hub will allow you to aggregate them into one centralized web experience.
Content hubs also provide the advantage of adding context and building out more tailored and personalized experiences for your web visitors. The advantages of personalization and leveraging content in context are extreme — for instance, personalized CTAs can convert up to 42% better than generic CTAs.
Content hubs allow marketers to provide a more relevant content experience in a number of ways. Instead of forcing your end user to view your content by date (e.g. driving traffic to your “Most Recent Posts”) or by content format (e.g., sending them out to YouTube and forcing them to consume only videos), marketers can organize their content by topic, vertical, segment, or persona (and so on) so the end user has an easier time discovering the content that’s most relevant to them.
A content hub puts content completely in the marketer’s control, allowing them to aggregate disparate content and provide a more cohesive, branded experience.
85% of content marketers say their most important goal is lead generation. Along with better centralization and management of content, a content hub should also be designed to support your lead generation efforts — after all, that’s where marketers gain the most value from their content.
A content hub usually includes options for marketers to create forms and gated overlays that can be displayed as an integrated part of the content experience. Since you’re using a content hub to keep your content contained in one centralized location, it only makes sense to keep your lead generation efforts centralized within your content hub as well.
Forms and gated overlays offer an alternative lead generation method to traditional landing pages and even produce better results. Monetate, for example, increased their lead conversion by 250% from leveraging overlay CTAs in context.
The problem is that it’s hard to see the bigger picture when someone enters your blog from Twitter, reads an article and then leaves to check out your YouTube channel. You can’t get insight into how all the parts of your content marketing machine are working together when they’re all working in silos.
Typically, a company’s blog or resource center is created and managed using a CMS, like WordPress or Drupal. A content hub requires slightly more sophisticated technology to allow for:
- Aggregation of content from multiple channels: Most CMSs are designed to publish web pages, not pull in content from multiple channels. Even if an editor tool allows for media to be embedded within a site page, it’s not as productive or convenient as pulling in the entire asset from another channel.
- Easy content management: Once your content is all in one place, your software should allow you to easily organize it without reaching out for IT support.
- Custom branding options: Your technology should make it easy for to provide a consistent brand experience with your hub. Colors, fonts, images, and copy should all be easily manipulatable to reflect your brand (and, more importantly, the message your brand is trying to send).
- Responsive design: Between Mobilegeddon and the fact that more than half of digital content is consumed on mobile devices, your technology must enable your hub to have responsive design.
- Powerful integration with the rest of your marketing technology: Technology is most effective when it helps to increase the value of other technology. The lead generation efforts from your hub should sync to your marketing automation platform and provide an integrated stream of data.
Benefits of Leveraging a Content Hub
There are numerous benefits for leveraging a content hub for both the end user and the marketer.
A content hub allows marketers to:
- Increase their content’s discoverability: With a content hub, marketers aren’t limited to display their content in a single web-page format, and are freed from the constraints of managing content on different channels. As such, they can easily organize content to make it more easily discoverable — i.e., by sorting it by topic or vertical instead of by format or date.
- Spend less time on content management and more time improving their content’s performance: Content hubs help marketers save time because they eliminate the need to jump between channels to manage different content assets. The less time marketers have to spend on busy work, the more time they can spend increasing traffic and conversions.
- Appeal to their audience on a wider and deeper level: Having a diverse mix of content also increases content discoverability because it allows for more points of entry into your content. The more doors, the more likely a visitor will enter.
As a result, a content hub allows the end user or visitor to:
- Easily discover answers: People don’t seek content — they seek answers. And even if your brand provides the best answers in the world through your content, your audience isn’t going to go out of their way to find it if it’s not presented in a way that’s well organized and visually appealing.
- Consume their preferred content format: Blog posts aren’t everyone’s ideal way to consume information. Visitors who land on your hub are able to consume the content they need in the format they prefer without switching channels and leaving your resource center.
- Discover content in context: Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of a content hub is that it keeps all of your content in context. If someone is viewing one of your videos on YouTube, they can easily get distracted by cute cat videos. If someone is viewing a video in your hub, they’re more likely to continue engaging with your content as long as it’s relevant.
Content Hub Use Cases
Content hubs are most commonly used as resource centers for marketing purposes; however, some other content hub use cases include:
- Event promotion
- Marketing campaign centers
- News and press rooms
- Partner marketing
- Social media curation
- Thought leadership
- Sales enablement
- Account-based marketing
- Knowledge bases
As you can see from some of these examples (e.g., account-based marketing and knowledge bases), a content hub doesn’t necessarily have to be used for marketing purposes. Content is no longer only in the marketer’s domain. Having a platform that enables content to be used by all corners of your organization will allow content to satisfy the entire buyer journey, from visitor, to lead, to opportunity, to customer.
Building a Content Hub
First things first: your content hub is not going to be successful unless you’ve determined your marketing goals, and how a content hub is going to achieve it.
Before implementing the following steps, ensure that building a content hub makes sense within the greater context of your content marketing strategy. You’ll also need a strategy for publishing content and ideally an editorial calendar.
Then, acquire the software you need to create and manage your hub, and start building!
Aggregate your content mix
The more diverse your content mix is, the more points of entry you’re providing into your content, and the wider and deeper you can reach your audience.
Content hubs can host a variety of different content formats, including blog posts, videos, white papers, eBooks, and so on. In addition to your own content, your content hub can also easily aggregate:
- Social media
- User-generated content
- Curated content (via RSS)
Plan for strategic organization
If you simply pile all of your content in one aggregated jumble, you won’t reap the full benefits of your content hub. That’s like asking your visitors to shop at a grocery store where all of the items are piled in a heap on the floor… no, thank you.
Once you’ve aggregated all of your content from your desired content channels into your hub, provide multiple options for discovering your content in your hub’s menu.
Consider organizing your content by:
- Topic: Organizing your content by subject or topic is a better way to assist those who are looking for a particular answer, since you’re providing context for your content, and are aligning it with a particular purpose.
- Vertical: If your product or service touches different markets or niches, you’re probably creating content specifically for each vertical. Obviously, it makes no sense to have all of this content grouped together — organize it accordingly so visitors can find exactly what they’re looking for.
- Persona: Three out of four people are motivated to learn online because they want to do their job faster and/or better. You don’t necessarily have to go so far as to label these segments by their buyer persona names, but if your buyer personas can broadly be considered (for example) content managers, demand gen specialists, and CMOs, consider organizing your content by job title or function.
- Segment: Similar to organizing your content by topic, vertical, or persona, organizing by market segment is another way to provide more context to your content.
Your content hub shouldn’t be a maze. Organize your content so your end user can launch themselves upon an engagement path and you can meet your content marketing goals.
Customize to fit your brand guidelines
As mentioned, a major advantage provided by your a content hub is that it allows your content to be viewed in a consistent brand experience. Take advantage of your hub’s customization features so that your content remains in as branded an experience as possible. Pay special attention to appearance and copy.
A few items to consider customizing:
- Images and image sizes
- Menu titles
- Button copy
Small details can make or break your content experience and set you apart from your competition. When customizing your hub, it’s worth it to spend time on the seemingly little things.
Optimize for engagement
Successful content marketing involves building a relationship with your audience, and like any relationship, it won’t work if they’re one-sided. As such, it’s necessary to include tools that will facilitate engagement and start conversations in your content hub.
- Adding social sharing buttons
- Installing a content recommendation tool
- Enabling comments
72% of B2B content marketers cite creating engaging content as a top priority. Implementing tools that enable engagement will help achieve this goal.
Optimize for lead generation
Your content is set up in a branded experience — now it’s time to build out conversion opportunities and put your content to work. Your content hub software should have lead generation tools built-in, but it’s up to you to strategically place calls-to-action (CTAs) to provide a relevant next step according to your marketing goals.
Remember: CTAs work best in context, so regardless of the purpose of a CTA, be sure to tailor its messaging as much as possible.
Unsure whether or not you should gate a piece of content? Use this chart for reference.
Measure your success
Different types of content should be measured differently depending on whether the asset is designed for the top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel, or the bottom of the funnel.
They key to your content hub’s success will rely on your ability to inform your content strategy with data. A few key metrics you should use to measure your content’s performance in your hub:
- Page Views
- Time on Page
- Social Shares
- CTA Impressions
- CTA Clicks
- CTA Click-through rate
Be sure to look at your metrics beyond the level of an individual piece of content — that is, look at how it’s performing in context. For example, let’s say you’ve organized one blog post into two different groups or streams of content. Be sure to compare the metrics in each group or stream to get a more complete understanding of performance.
It’s also important to look beyond content consumption, engagement, and lead generation metrics, and also consider sales metrics.
Examples of Outstanding Content Hubs
Want to see a content hub in action? Here are a few B2B brands who are doing it right.
Organize and centralize all of your content in minutes!
Dyn is a global leader in the provision of cloud-based Internet performance services. Dyn’s Content Hub is the engaging home for blog posts, research, videos, eBooks, whitepapers, case studies, infographics, webinars, and much more. Not only do they organize their content by both topic and type in their distinct top navigation bar, they also implement visually compelling CTAs perfectly.
Content Marketing World
Content Marketing World Content Marketing World (CMW) is Content Marketing Institute’s annual content marketing conference. Their Content Marketing World Hub is the go-to resource center for all things CMW, including the latest updates on speakers, event logistics, and, of course, fun content. Events are a great use case for content hubs because they can make it much easier for your end user to discover exactly what they’re looking for (speaker details, agenda, city and hotel information, etc.).
Although not exclusively B2B, the city of Roanoke, the largest municipality in Southwest Virginia, uses a content hub to build a thriving and heavily trafficked Social Media Hub. The city populates the hub by aggregating posts from over 40 unique social channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, allowing its citizens to easily find and share information. Their hub has won awards for creativity and innovation.
Delivering a Remarkable Content Experience
As with all aspects of content marketing, the purpose of a content hub should not be to provide value to the marketer (although it does provide many benefits to B2B marketers, from increasing productivity to having more control).
Your content hub must provide value to your end user, and it does not accomplish this simply by hosting multiple content formats. A content hub provides value by delivering a content experience to your end user. The more remarkable the content experience, the better your content will perform.