How to Create the Go-To Content Hub In Your Niche

Do you want to be known as the one-stop resource for just about everything pertaining to your niche? If you have a content hub, you can be just that. Today we are talking to Krista Wiltbank, the head of social media and the blog at GetResponse, an all-in-one online marketing platform. She has launched a content hub centered on marketing automation. She’s going to talk to us about what a hub is and how it differs from a blog, how to launch your own content hub, and how to maintain the hub once it’s launched. You’re not going to want to miss this episode!

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Some of the highlights of the show include:

  • Information about GetResponse and what Krista does there.
  • What a content hub is and an example of one that many listeners will recognize.
  • Why a content hub is important and what type of information it includes.
  • Factors that make a content hub launch a success.
  • The process that Krista used to determine what needed to be included on the GetResponse content hub.
  • A step-by-step approach to adding pieces of content to the hub, where to put it, and how to stay organized.
  • How CoSchedule helps Krista and her team promote their content on social media.
  • Tips for promoting webinars and other events.
  • Thoughts on promoting infographics and how to optimize infographics for different platforms.
  • How Krista leverages influencers and cultivates relationships that aid in content creation.
  • The goals behind creating a content hub and the achievements that GetResponse has reached.
  • Krista’s best advice for getting a content hub started.

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Transcript:

Nathan: Sometimes, it’s just nice to see everything about a specific topic in one place. It’s that go to resource to answer every question around a central theme. As a marketer, you can be that resource for your audience. All it takes is a content hub.

Today, Krista Wiltbank is on the Actionable Marketing Podcast to teach you how to build and maintain your own content hub. Krista is the head of Social Media & Blog at GetResponse and her company just built and launched a content hub centered around the topic of marketing automation. Krista has tons of experience to share with you.

You’re about to learn why content hubs are different than blogs, how to launch your own hub, and how to maintain that hub well after it launches with a repeatable process that will help you stay organized. I’m Nathan from CoSchedule. Let’s check this out.

Hey Krista, thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Krista: Hey, thanks for having me. I’m so happy to be here.

Nathan: I am happy to have you here. Krista, let’s kick this off. Tell me about GetResponse and what you do there.

Krista: GetResponse is an all-in-one online marketing platform. We have landing pages, webinars, email marketing, and marketing automation all under one roof. I am their head of Social Media & Blog. That means I run all of the social channels and I manage the day-to-day running of the Get Response blog.

Nathan: Awesome. One of the things that you are responsible for too is content hub. You can tell me a little bit what is a content hub? How would you define it?

Krista: Content hub, in our case, is basically a microsite where you can house a lot of different types of content and a lot of volume of content that fits around one central theme. In our case, that’s marketing automation.

Nathan: Nice. Do you have any other examples of content hubs you could share with me just so everyone can get an idea of what you mean by that?

Krista: Red Bull has one actually. I looked at it recently and it’s really, really cool because it’s all about centering around the Red Bull lifestyle, not about their product but about the lifestyle of the people who drink Red Bull versus their energy drinks and that’s it. There’s a lot of urban culture and music, art, sports, you name it, but it’s all tied around their central theme of their lifestyle.

Nathan: I love that example. You mentioned that obviously GetResponse has a marketing automation, content hub. Where could listeners find that?

Krista: You can find that at www.getresponse.com/marketing-automation-hub.

Nathan: Awesome. That’s a really good example for everything that we want to talk through today. I was wondering, we have this content hub at GetResponse, what kind of content do you organize on that marketing automation content hub?

Krista: I am one of a team of people who work on the hub so I don’t want to take credit where it’s not due. In general, we have videos, we have ebooks, we have infographics, we have articles, and we have webinars and their recaps, all under the same content hub roof.  Hopefully, I’ll be adding in some more of a video-podcast, video element beyond what we’ve done so far.

Nathan: It sounds like it’s just one place for all of the content that you’ve been creating around a singular topic, right?

Krista: Yes.

Nathan: Krista, one of the things that I have a question about is just why is a content hub like that important?

Krista: I would say that it’s important because you are trying to lasso so many different things and tie them together but also in so doing, you are helping to broaden the educational aspect of that topic and bring in more content about the topic for general education purposes, for your customers and potential customers. It helps build your company’s thought leadership in that arena to have such a diverse amount of content all around that central theme.

A content hub is important because ...

Nathan: Some people seem to be doing something similar with a blog. I was wondering why did you at GetResponse choose to launch this content hub instead of just a new blog?

Krista: Well, basically we want to house more than some simply blog posts on our hub, we wanted more resources. For that, we were also inspired by how Ted Talk does their content hub and all that inspirational content. We wanted to apply that to marketing automation. For that reason, a content hub seemed more appropriate given the diversity of content types that we wanted to put up there and the volume of content that we planned to have on an ongoing basis.

Nathan: Let’s say, as a marketer, I’m looking at this idea of a content hub, what are the top few things you’d suggest for someone looking at starting one of these? What three things would make their launch a success?

Krista: Well, overall, you also want to keep the success part in mind and that each individual company will have their own specific definitions of success. But, generally speaking, I would give advice to think bigger and broader than just your very narrow scope.

With marketing automation, you think initially just about the software side and what you can do with the software but there’s really so much more to it. There’s copywriting, there’s content marketing, there’s design, and then there is the stuff that you can do with the software segmentation and ecommerce applications.

All of those different things that you would put together just to make marketing automation work properly and that’s not even where you start touching the theory and the, for lack of a better term, the management buy-in and all of these cultural aspects that you start to build into your company when you start marketing automation.

It’s not just your narrow scope of for example, software and what it can do, there’s so much more beyond it. You want to make sure that you’re thinking bigger and you’ll have to think about why you want to create that kind of content, how does that align with the product or service that you offer and what your future plans for your product and service are going to be.

From a content perspective, you want to look at it from not just a content like how you can build it perspective, it is also what kind of content do you want to create and how are you reaching your potential customers at all stages of the customer journey and you want to look at it sustainably, what kind of resources do you need to build this and keep it going, who is going to provide the content, how are you going to support it, how long are you going to support it before you consider it “done” or to move it on or branch it off into something a little bit different, how much if you’re going to bring in influencers to help create content, how much does that costs, who do you want to bring in.

There’s a whole lot, way more that you would think, that needs to be thought about and plan for when you’re in the beginning. I would try to look at it as broad and from as many angles as you possibly can before you get started.

Nathan: Yeah and when you guys started that process, did you just write down a list of questions like you were naming off the questions that you needed to answer? Walk me through that a little bit more.

Krista: Some of these happened a lot before I joined GetResponse. When we planned this out, I know that the inspiration was the Ted Talk’s Content Hub. We knew we were moving into marketing automation and we wanted to start bringing in all of these resources for marketing automation information because there was no other place on the web that had it just for marketing information. When we were looking at putting all of that together, making this giant list and then identifying the content and the content makers that we wanted to work with, talking about and looking at their areas of expertise.

The planning stage was just huge because we have to involve content partners who are not GetResponse employees, how to negotiate the contributions for what persons does what, what type of content they’re comfortable giving, the timing of that content and then just pulling all of those details together and then putting them into an editorial calendar to get all that put together and then bring in the GetResponse staff and the different aspects of who does what and what kind of expertise our individual staff had.

Very much like what we had to go through with a much shorter planning period because internal resource is much easier to tap than external resources to put all of these together and make it work.

Nathan: I think that’s really smart. Something I want to just picked on just a little bit is you mentioned that you’ve been working with some influencers to help you create content for your hub, could you walk me through that just a little bit? You’re working with these external folks but is it all GetResponse owned content or did you curate that? Tell me about that.

Krista: That is owned content where they write for us. A lot of the negotiation and stuff that I was talking about with those individuals was to—that big long planning period was working directly with those influencers to help figure out if they’re the right kind of fit for us and us for them, vice versa, and talking about the kind of content that works for their skillset and would also work for our base, our customers and our readers.

We worked with Ann Handley and Erik Qualman, Michael Brenner, and Jamie Turner, four names that come to me right off the top of my head. There are others. It’s all a matter of picking what they do best and how that helps fit in with marketing automation and how they can bring that value to the table and what we can help with them. Kath Pay is another one from Holistic Email Marketing, in the UK, who has been a big resource for us, in that respect.

Nathan: Awesome. It sounds like a pretty smart idea, Krista. Something, I know I talk about this a lot, but it’s the idea behind plan your work than work your plan. Let’s say we have this framework of what we’re going to work through for this content hub, now I want to know, what is the process behind adding a new piece to your content hub? Let’ say it’s established. Walk me through that step by step.

Krista: Well from my perspective, because I’m doing a lot of the physical, putting things together, we are using our team collaboration software so I get all the materials that I need to physically put something up on the hub. For me, that’s mostly articles. There are other team members who handle, if we’re putting a webinar recap, then they handle the editing of the video. Basically, all of these different resources will come to me and I put them together on our website, more specifically our blog in the WordPress site, which is WordPress run and many, many others.

If there is something that becomes gated content for us then we have a different team member put that up in our resources section. We have one person in our, a colleague of mine, in our marketing strategy department who handles all of these little details and sends out the little tasks to the different departments for the different pieces that need to be put together. I am one of those folks, not the hub of the wheel in that particular phase.

That’s one thing I would really recommend from a staying organized perspective, is to have that one single product or project depending on how you look at it owner who oversees and coordinates everything so that one person has the list that can be checked off of, this is done, this is done, this is done, for each individual piece of content that has to go up there because the individual types of content are going to dictate what needs to be done in your organization according to the systems.

Nathan: You hinted on staying organized. I want to dig deeper into that. Do you have some other tips for staying organized when you’re managing a content hub?

Krista: The one thing that has been such a god-sent has been an editorial calendar. I’m one of a handful of people who can see the massive editorial calendar which in this case is a Google Doc. We identify there the date it’s supposed to be published, the type of content that’s being published, the author, and any notes that go along with it, plus if the piece of content has been delivered to us or not yet.

For me, that helps a lot because when I have different parts that I need and different roles that I need to play, that helps me keep on top of them, I know that helps my colleague keep on top of different details and I know that within our content marketing team, they have their own set of deliverables that then feed into my set. It kind of helps us with the workflow and know who to go to when the different pieces are with different people.

From a promotion side, then that’s a lot of my job because we put it out on the social media and as well as emails. From a promotion side, that’s when I start pulling my details and my inspiration into CoSchedule. We are CoSchedule users at GetResponse and that’s when I start pulling my pieces together and putting them all into the CoSchedule platform for social sharing and scheduling out that way.            

Nathan: I want to dig just a little bit deeper into that because I know you have an interesting story to share about promoting your content on social media. Could you share more about that?

Krista: For me, what I have found so helpful, and it’s CoSchedule’s specific, I haven’t seen any of this done anywhere else, is I have been able to use the social templates for different types of content. If I have a webinar that I am promoting, and I know that I have a week to promote it, then I can schedule out the different types of content whether it’s Facebook post or Tweet, the reminders say we have x number amount of—it’s coming tomorrow, you can still sign up, blah, blah, blah, all within the social templates, and then it becomes much more plug and play so that my workload is decreased for putting that promotion together versus having to reinvent the wheel for every single webinar or every single ebook. I fill in the details and it’s done much faster and it saves my bacon more times than I can count.

Nathan: Well, I love hearing that. That’s a lot of fun, Krista. But I know you also have even more tips just for creating social media posting schedules in general. What would you share for someone who’s like trying to promote something like that webinar, that blog post like you were talking about?

Krista: Start with your goal in mind and work backwards. If you have specific time limitations, like you need to have a post up an hour before your webinar starts then you can use your social scheduling tool to do that and always work backwards so that you know you have your bases covered. Then watch your metrics after the fact based on your goal to see if you’re hitting them. Because you can always adjust going forward based on what you’ve got in your history and what has worked and what hasn’t. I know CoSchedule has that wonderful metrics tool as well in addition to other metrics specific platforms that other companies may put together.

Nathan: Since we’re just talking about promotion, obviously GetResponse is going to be sending emails, I want the inside scoop. How do you promote your new stuff, your new content on the content hub through email?        

Krista: What we have, an RSS feed for hub subscribers that go daily and weekly. We also have weekly content emails. And from time to time, and I’m sure there’s a schedule for this but because it’s not within my direct realm of responsibility, I’m not as involved. We also have, if there’s a subject matter that’s coming up, we have a themed email and we can pull in the different resources that fit in with that particular team as a content-type specific email that gets mailed out to our customers who are on our marketing lists.

Nathan: Krista, you’ve mentioned your team a couple of times. I just want to know a little more about that. How big is your team? What does that structure look like a little bit for you guys?

Krista: We have, last I checked, is 70-person marketing team and most of them are based in our headquarters in Gdansk, Poland. We have a handful of people in our marketing strategy department, we have them on our product marketing department, content marketing, social media marketing, PPC, we have copywriting team, affiliate marketing, partner marketing, agency marketing, and I know I’m missing some because it’s so big.

I’m in part because I’m US-based and the team is in Poland. I don’t get to see them very often so if there had been additions of new sub departments, I don’t necessarily see those people on a day-to-day basis.

Nathan: Krista that is a really, really big team.         

Krista: It’s huge. I was really pleasantly surprised when I walked in on my first day and learned how many people I’ll be working with.

Natha: Something that you mentioned the last time we chatted was that you discovered an interesting opportunity for promoting infographics that are on your content hub. Tell me about that.           

Krista: That one is, I can’t say it’s a secret of mine, I heard this a lot of different times from a lot of different people, probably I’ve heard this the most from Peg Fitzpatrick because I’ve been following her work for years and years. It’s basically I try to take each chunk of infographic depending on obviously how it’s designed. Each statistic, each individual piece, make that its own graphic, however you choose to do that. You use that individual graphic and that individual piece of information and then you promote or schedule out however you want to do that.

Take that individual piece of content and you drive traffic to your infographic many different times from each different statistic so that you can get as many people’s attention as you can with the individual statistics because you never know, one statistic might grab a bunch of people but a different statistic would grab a whole other bunch of people that wouldn’t necessarily see it otherwise and they’re all going back to the home of your infographic, if it’s gated infographic, then hopefully they’re all signing up for it and you’ve got all this new subscribers as a result of these smaller posts that are taken from the infographics. It’s just a lot of repurposing the infographic into smaller pieces.

Nathan: It’s a pretty cool idea because infographics work really well for Pinterest but maybe not so much for Twitter. You just optimize that infographic to be shared on every network that you guys are on, is that what you do?   

Krista: Yeah. I do that for Twitter, I do that for Facebook. I’m starting to do that for Instagram just because, and I say starting in this case because we’re about to shift our focus for Instagram into something different. I will be doing this for Instagram also and basically trying to take our audiences in these different social channels and meet them where they are with the content that interests them on their channels.

Nathan: Krista, I’m going to completely circle back on an idea that you mentioned earlier. You talked about leveraging influencers to help you create content for your content hub. Can you give me an example about that?  

Krista: We’ve done that two ways, one is the more typical way where you think you’re going to go out and forge a partnership with someone like Ann Handley to help create content and do the promoted, with the influencer and whatnot. We’ve also done that a different way where we use a tool called InsightPool and we have run campaigns using InsightPool to the everyday influencer as I like to call them.

These are people who are working everyday in email marketing, marketing automation and what have you. In our case, getting their opinions on what works on marketing automation and what not do in marketing automation, tips for success and so on and we had a what marketer’s say, series of blog posts on the marketing automation content hub that we used from these Twitter conversations that we had.

I guess the marketing term for that is user generated content but for us, it was also helping to start new conversations with new people and really get the in the trenches opinion because that can also help us inform our customers of what works as well as work that into our marketing ourselves and into our product ourselves. It ended up being a very rich experience for us.

Nathan: Why did you guys decided to leverage influencers? Why this tactic?       

Krista: That tactic has actually been really successful for us in the past. We were nominated for a Content Marketing Institute Award for Twitter marketing using the influencer tactic with the Evergreen marketers in 2015. We received the nomination in 2016 but the campaign took place in 2015.

We wanted to try to duplicate those efforts that were very successful for launching landing pages and it was the campaign in that particular case and we wanted to bring that same kind of success to marketing automation.

Nathan: Nice. A, Congrats, I think that’s pretty cool.

Krista: Thanks!

Nathan: B, I really like the idea of repeating what you know works. That’s really smart.

Krista: Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?

Nathan: Exactly. Krista, something I was wondering, just talking about the content hub in general , what was your goal behind it? What were you hoping to achieve by publishing this new marketing automation content hub?

Krista: Like I said earlier, we really wanted to bring all sorts of thought leadership behind marketing automation together under our roof. The business goal was because we were starting to launch a marketing automation product for GetResponse. We wanted to create that thought leadership and the educational information behind it for our customers as we launch our new product. It’s worked. It’s been a really big hit for us.

We really wanted to bring all sorts of thought leadership behind marketing automation under one roof.

Nathan: A really great follow-up question then is could you share some of those results? How have you known that it’s been a success for you guys?

Krista: I can absolutely quantify that. As we had worked with 13 influencers to create 65 pieces of content which resulted in 193,500 visits, 17,500 webinar registrants,  71% reply rate for Twitter outreach and 120% higher engagement rate in Facebook.

Nathan: Those are pretty specific and it sounds obviously like you guys are crushing it. Congrats again!

Krista: I cheated. The influencer marketing one that we did for the marketing automation actually won us a Finny award this year and we gathered all of these statistics as part of the celebration for the Finny. I had all of those readily on hand for you so that’s cheating a little bit.

Nathan: No, that’s just fine. Well, Krista I think it’s about time to wrap this up, I was wondering, just for someone who’s looking to start their own content hub, I want to know, what’s your best advice for getting started here? What should we do as marketers? Where should we focus? How can we plan this sort of thing?    

Krista: Plan a lot. Planning will take a very, very long time. Expect that from the beginning. You want to find that central theme, that central idea, and then start researching if you want. If influencer marketing has been successful for you then figure out how to do that again and who to talk to, what you’re going to talk about.

Plan a lot. Planning will take a very, very long time. Expect that from the beginning.

And then look at your resources and that includes your financial resources because if you are going to just start it up and let it drop, because let’s be real how many blogs does that happen to even on a corporate level because you don’t have the resource to sustain them. Plan heavily and look at your resources very, very carefully and very critically with an eye towards sustainability.

Nathan: I love it. That’s a great advice Krista and an awesome place to wrap this up. I want to say thank you for sharing all of what you know about content hubs, how you’ve worked with influencers, that was super cool and just how you stay organized and plan ahead through this stuff, I really appreciate it. Thanks Krista!

Krista: Thanks so much for having me. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Nathan: About a year ago, we launched our Resource Library here at CoSchedule. It’s the place where you can find all of the free guides, templates, infographics, and every kit aimed at helping you execute marketing projects more efficiently. It’s a content hub in a way, and it’s delivered thousands of new email subscribers and introduced our company to tons of new customers too.

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