How the Resource Center Experience Makes (or Breaks) Content Marketing

March 3, 2016 Heather Mueller

How To Revamp Your Resource Center

This is a post about content marketing — but not content creation. You won’t find 101 ways to write more engaging blog posts or learn how to save good content from a bad headline. That’s already been done. (And done well.)

I’d like to address a much less talked about element of content marketing. One that really needs to be discussed:

Ugly resource centers.

Don’t worry – I’m not talking about your company’s website. That’s gorgeous. It’s your blog or resource center that may be working against you.

Every month, tens of thousands of new websites are introduced to the world. Millions more are revamped. But resource centers? They’re often overlooked, saved for later like the dessert menu at the end of a gluttonous meal. And that’s just sad. To revamp a company’s sales website without doing the same for its resource center is like beautifying a home’s front yard while leaving the entryway a mess.

Allow me to explain...

Inbound Marketing, Resource Centers, and Leads

Hubspot’s latest State of Inbound report revealed that three out of four marketers worldwide now prioritize inbound marketing. Companies everywhere are focusing on capturing and converting leads through content — and are willing to spend more to accomplish it.

But...

We’re still behind on what it actually takes to get significant ROI on content marketing. While millions of beautiful WordPress and Squarespace websites are revealed daily, blogs and resource centers — the places where content-driven lead generation actually occurs —are often treated as afterthoughts.  

In an excellent article entitled “Your Blog is Boring. Upgrade to a Hub,” content strategist Chris Lakin says this:

“It’s not the content I’m talking about – it’s the layout. It’s the way that I can’t find what I want before you push the latest five posts on me. It’s that it isn’t fun anymore.”

Amen. With all the talk about content shock, now is not the time to produce more content. Not until you’ve optimized your resource center and taken steps to make your existing content shine.

An optimized resource center can transform your visitor’s experience.

That transformation might happen in the form of an email opt-in. Or a move from your eBook to your webinar. Or going from feeling apathetic to becoming an advocate for your brand. Which, in the end, is exactly why we do content marketing in the first place.

I’m not saying the content itself doesn’t matter. It does. But until you’re presenting that content in a format that encourages deeper engagement, it’s not going to help you reach your goals faster.

There’s plenty of conclusive evidence that having an optimized, responsive resource center directly impacts leads and sales. For example:

When Monetate replaced the stale resource section of its website with a specialized content hub, lead conversions increased 250%.

Monetate Resources Center

By revamping its resource center, Insight increased page views by 473% and doubled the visibility of the company’s white papers.

Insight's Latest Contest

And then there are the marketers at Booker, who decreased the company’s cost-per-lead by 71% after moving blog posts, guides and videos from the website to a dedicated content hub.

Booker Blog

Unfortunately, these examples are still the exception.

Only 38% of marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing. Websites are used to drive leads by 24% of them, while just 9% rely on content marketing or blogs.

Why do we devote so much time to creating content, but then fail miserably at making sure it’s attractive and easy to discover?

Because creating a visually appealing and easy-to-navigate resource center is hard. Choosing the right typography, colors, layout, design, navigation and calls to action has a big impact on readability and discoverability. It’s not the kind of thing you can DIY and expect groundbreaking results.

And yet, when you get it right, having a polished content hub really pays off.

I know it does. In contributing content to dozens of blogs and resource centers — like specialized ones for Hyatt and Lenovo — I’ve seen firsthand how a truly engaging resource center can increase ROI.

Let’s say one of your blog posts or videos goes viral. What will happen after someone reads or watches it? Will they be tempted to stick around and check out other content? Will they eagerly opt in to your emails?

Probably not, if they get to the end and see something like this:

No content journey

Instead of an engagement path like this:

Most Recent Articles

Notice the difference? The first offers no indication of where to go or what to read next. The second offers up additional content housed within the same category. These little details can make a big difference.

Go ahead and beautify your resource center. Here’s how.

One of the biggest benefits of creating a polished, high-quality resource center is that it provides an opportunity to refresh and repurpose all those evergreen pieces you’ve already created. Less work to capture more leads? Yes, please.

If you’re getting ready to renovate your website, this is the ideal time to simultaneously tackle your resource center. If you already launched a new site design, now’s the time to focus on how you’re presenting marketing content.

So…

What should you focus on? Which elements will take a resource center from ho-hum to high-converting? Let’s take a closer look at the examples above:

Insight creates custom content streams around topics that resonate most with its target audience. There’s no more digging through eBooks, webinars, blogs and videos. Visitors can get straight to the content they need, topic by topic:

Custom Stream

Monetate gates premium content with overlayed calls to action. The content is clearly visible before it’s accessible. It entices. It attracts. It lets visitors see they're mere seconds away from reading something great:

Gated Content

Booker provides engagement roadmaps that show visitors where to go next. Readers always have more great content to discover:

Engagement roadmap

And then there’s the matter of design. Each of these resource centers features fonts that are easy on the eye, colors that are effortless to read and visual elements that keep content from becoming overwhelming. They also scale beautifully to mobile screens. I won’t go deep into color theory and typography here — it’s not my area of expertise — but suffice it to say that you’ll need a specialist behind decisions related to spacing, sizes, placements, color schemes and visuals.

Above all, make sure members of your marketing team can make updates themselves and won’t have to rely on a developer or IT person.

And because I wouldn’t leave you without a roadmap on where to go next...

Get more tips for revamping your resource center in our webinar: How To Fix Your Boring Resources Center. (It’s a good one!)

About the Author

Heather Mueller

Heather Mueller is a freelance web copywriter. As a certified SEO copywriter, she pulls from her background in journalism and public relations to help companies boost quality leads through the power of the written word.

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