Because the best marketers deserve great content.
The Thinking Behind Six Digital Content Hubs
If you browse the internet long enough—and especially if you’re delving into the online presence of different brands—you’re bound to find yourself on a digital content hub.
Simply put, a content hub is a library for the insights an organization has produced or packaged for its target customers—an outlet for the stock content marketing teams create that should live on longer than a tweet. Blogs can be considered a type of content hub, but a hub could also house whitepapers, infographics, videos—any piece of content that customers would find useful or interesting.
Hubs can also be a key pillar in your strategy to move inbound prospective customers down the marketing funnel towards purchase:
Indeed, you can get up to three times as many leads per dollar with a rich piece of content as you would get with a paid search campaign—so a hub could be a good way to make sure your content remains discoverable.
But the most successful hubs are more than just a cache of videos, articles, and infographics. These libraries have to be able to prove their value to an online audience that is spending more and more time with social platforms and content giants like BuzzFeed. To that end, content hubs should:
- Host and curate content that visitors can use and find interesting. Creating high-quality content is the sine qua non of content marketing; without it, your visitors won’t find it worth their time to browse your library.
- Create a sense of community. Someone should be able to visit a content hub and feel like they’re in the company of others with similar interests, rather than lumped in with as wide an audience as possible.
- Have a beautiful and intuitive design. If you consider your hub a library of content, you should make it easy to browse and enjoyable to explore.
- Provide a branded experience. Your brand should pervade all three of the preceding elements—on-brand content presented in an on-brand way for followers of your brand.
Below are seven content hubs that shine when it comes to these principles—and the rationale (beyond their ability to convert potential customers, whether those are consumers or businesses) for their existence.
1. GE’s World in Motion
General Electric’s World in Motion hub scores major points for its design. The brand emphasizes its global presence with (naturally) a globe you can spin to navigate and view content by topic and format. Jason Hill, GE’s global director of media and content strategy, told Ad Age that part of the aim is to better educate those without a good understanding of what the widely known brand does. “Content helps them explain the technology behind the logo—why and how GE works and its impact on the world.”
This is in line with the goals that Katrina Craigwell, Director of Global Content and Programming at GE, outlined for us at our second annual client summit. Even though GE is primarily B2B, she identified a need for the company to become a content-driven marketing organization because it would deepen the knowledge people have about the brand—and it would advance other business objectives like generating a stronger pipeline of young talent and staying on the radar of future investors. Craigwell took GE from having a hard-coded website and a few videos to having a programmatic strategy for creating different types of exciting content for audiences enthusiastic about science and technology.
2. American Express’s OPEN Forum
The OPEN Forum goes to pains to make small business owners feel like they’re part of a larger community that is facing—and overcoming—challenges related to growing a business. The reasoning: when you identify pain points among your customers and create content explicitly around solving them, they’ll keep looking to you. “Our biggest opportunity is with small business growth—if they grow, we grow,” said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, the senior vice president of Partnerships & Business Development for American Express OPEN.
The forum contains tactical advice, success stories of other owners, and videos from “mentors” sharing insight that help visitors across four core categories: finance management, talent management, customer acquisition, and preparing for business growth.
3. Google’s Think with Google
We’re understandably obsessed with marketing and brand presence here at Percolate. Think with Google is a treasure trove of actionable statistics from the search giant’s formidable databases that help bring some hard numbers to a discipline that is too often a guessing game.
For the company, the hub is a way to reinforce its reputation as a fact delivery service by sharing the findings it’s already generating for the company’s own use. The lesson: if you’re known for insightful business practices, consider making your insights your content. Readers might ask themselves: if Google is acting on this information, why shouldn’t I? Bonus points for a distinct, Googley color scheme.
4. Canva’s Design School
It makes sense that a start-up centered around design would showcase that strength in the way it presents its content hub. The Design School by design company Canva is defined by colorful thumbnails and content sorted by categories like Branding and Layout.
The site also creates a sense of community by being expressly for those who are seeking to learn design; auto-didacts can take tutorials that match their skill level, and experienced designers can learn from other veterans. The idea here is to translate the company’s natural capabilities into content others can use; if your products revolve around design software, you probably have some lessons to share with your customers.
5. Visual.ly’s Resources Hub
Percolate marketplace partner Visual.ly also hosts an education-oriented content hub that features tools, white papers, infographics, and videos to help content marketers hone their craft and design great visual content. Similar to the Design School, Visual.ly is looking to capture its expertise and translate it into content that would aid its audience.
But another lesson marketers can glean is that the hub also works as a type of storefront. Because Visual.ly is in the business of creating infographics and videos for clients, the Resources Hub is way to show off what a customer can expect.
6. Getty Image’s Curve (and Others)
We know that visuals are instrumental to how the human brain experiences a brand. Getty understands that well, and has created Curve—a library of videos and articles that explore the intersection between images, sensory perception, and branding.
Getty thrives on its ability to analyze images for trends, curate photography and video, and aid creatives. With millions of photos for sale, Getty’s content hubs are a necessity for the company—marketing efforts are in lock-step with business objectives. Without them, Getty isn’t able to meaningfully position itself as a vast supplier of images.
Bonus #7: Non-Digital Content Hubs
Online hubs make sense because your content can be found and consumed by anyone for an indefinite amount of time. But physical magazines can be a way to make a firm or attention-grabbing statement about your brand. Pineapple by Airbnb, for instance, launched following the start of a rebranding campaign. And CNET did it to give itself another platform readers can experience content on.
Your infographics, articles, and videos need a place to live and be discovered by their target audience if they’re going to strengthen your brand’s credibility. But that won’t happen without high-quality content, a clear sense of the community you’re serving, and a site that’s easy to explore. Invest time in setting high standards for the materials you produce, defining your target customers and their needs, and creating a thoughtful design for your hub.