Content Hubs. Why You Need One and Where to Put It.

Almost every marketer I’ve met of late is sold on content marketing and subsequently, they are producing more thought leadership content than ever. With all that great content comes a new challenge: what should a marketer do with it? Too often, well-intentioned marketing content ends up scattered all over the place: various website pages; random landing pages; blog posts; intranet sites; YouTube videos; and sometimes just an email to your sales channel.

What’s wrong with all these great content pieces floating around without much — if any — connectivity?

Your company might be incredibly smart and articulate about your customers’ or industry’s challenges. But if you allow your thought leadership on these topics to reside in random places, you’re missing an opportunity to display your cumulative knowledge on these important subjects. What’s the answer?

You need a content hub!

A content hub is an online repository for your best content, where you can consolidate a point of view on important industry trends or offer materials and advice on best practices. Buyers are going to engage with multiple pieces of content before they engage with anyone from your company. (Reference CEB, HubSpot or numerous other resources concerning the buyer journey if that thought surprises you.) A content hub will help you amass your published expertise, making it easier for potential customers to interact with multiple pieces on their topic of interest.

Knowing you need a content hub is one thing; deciding where to build your content hub it is another.

Should I use the company website or a stand-alone site for my content hub?

Figuring out where to put your content hub requires careful consideration of several factors. I’ve listed five of the most important here. If you have more questions, you can find an extensive summary here.

Optimize for Search Engine Visibility

If your corporate website has a strong search engine standing, then you’ll need to be cautious about developing a content hub on a separate domain. This includes using sub-domains, since search engines also view these as separate entities for search; your new offline hub won’t benefit from the corporate website’s strength. Compounding the issue is that all that great content — if placed on a separate domain — won’t add to the corporate site’s strength. That means if search engine visibility is a major priority for your business, moving your content hub offline as a stand-alone site will likely be detrimental.

Sometimes, companies branch out into different space or address an issue that goes beyond their core markets or audiences. Accordingly, the corporate website’s search strength may not be as much of a factor because it doesn’t contain content in those areas. In these cases, a stand-alone hub might be the answer, allowing you to create search engine relevance on new topics for new audiences.

Be Authentic

If you want to be an industry authority, you’ll need to produce content that’s objective, so leave out your sales pitch. Separating from the corporate site is imperative to make this happen. A content marketing effort aimed more at industry stewardship and partnerships, for example, may not score as many authenticity points when positioned next to your latest new product release or successful sales effort. Done well, stand-alone content hubs can become destinations, communicating with stories, expert commentary, and insights about trends that engage visitors. You won’t need the corporate website’s logo swagger if you can become a destination. The logo will win eventually by association. Not sure what this looks like? A great example in B2B is General Electric sponsors the site, but it stands on its own, separate from other GE domains. Outside contributors provide their own perspective about the future of industry, which adds a deep layer of authenticity.

Speed Matters

With all due respect to corporate website teams, the reality is that enterprise websites are tough to update. Big changes usually don’t happen quickly, and website teams are often insufficiently staffed. The resources to make significant changes are usually scarce. Ultimately, implementing timely and customized approaches for content marketing efforts isn’t achievable. Sometimes the only way around and over these hurdles is getting outside the bounds of the corporate site. You’ll find large enterprises often take advantage of stand-alone websites to help them achieve different objectives. Reference General Electric and its numerous properties for different businesses and audiences if you’re not sure about that.

Engage With Lead Generation

A great content marketer once told me that subscriptions are a great metric for content marketing efforts. If you’ve determined that subscriptions are your path toward leads, think about whether your corporate website is enticing enough to generate subscriptions. You may find there’s no way to create a compelling case for subscribers within the existing website confines, so going with a stand-alone content hub may provide a better lead generation opportunity. If you’ve created an environment where people are returning for quality content, you have an opportunity to develop a subscriber list that seeks your insights.

Take Advantage of Established Positioning

If a brand already owns a trusted position on important industry issues, then this might help facilitate starting up a stand-alone content hub. They already have the reputation to take their thought leadership to a new domain because they have the followership and earned trust. They’ll be able to more easily guide audiences to their new content home and engage new followers. That doesn’t necessarily mean weaker or starter brands must go the route of the company website for their content hub. But they’ll need a steady dose of patience as they build the content foundation and followership that make going offline worthwhile.

While there isn’t a clear answer to where your content hub should reside, prioritizing the above factors should help you reach a decision. If you’d like a digital version of this article with additional examples and ideas, you can download it here.

Chris Eifert is a principal at TriComB2B, a business-to-business marketing agency focused on technical industries. He has experience in sales, marketing and management in industrial and technology industries.

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