A learning center is a hub for all of your website’s most important content. It's where your visitors or customers go to find answers to their specific problems, or to find information on something that they're interested in learning more about.
There’s a good chance that your business blog is terrible.
A lot of businesses are completely missing the mark in their approach to blogging. I’m here to tell you now that what many of them are doing is wrong.
All too often, organizations see their blog as a place for occasional announcements and other fluffy content like Get to know our newest team members! or A recap from our annual fundraiser.
To actually influence your revenue goals, your blog should set out to accomplish only one thing: Educate your customers about what you sell and why they should buy it.
This is not to say that your blog should be filled with advertisements for your offerings. Advertisements are biased, presenting only one solution for a customer’s problem.
No, your blog should contain factual, candid content that will help your customers make the right purchasing decision for them. (More on that in a minute!)
However, when your blog is seen as an educational resource, you quickly encounter another problem. How do you organize all of this content in a way that is intuitive and easy to navigate for your site visitors?
At IMPACT, we help our clients set up “learning centers” on their websites to solve this very problem.
In this article, I’m going to cover the basics you need to know about learning centers:
Why helpful content is the best way to connect with customers.
How a learning center helps your visitors find the information they need to become customers.
How you can add a learning center to your website.
Why helpful content is the best way to connect with customers
Emily Mermell is a website strategist at IMPACT. She works with businesses of all kinds who come to us looking to grow their traffic and capture more leads.
She tells clients that their website should be their best salesperson — one that never sleeps and always has the answers your customers are looking for.
“Your best salesperson knows why buyers should choose one material over the other, or the difference between your product or service and the competition’s,” she says. Your website content should do the same.
To do this, your website must have educational content that’s easy to sort through and navigate, whether it’s articles, videos, podcasts, buyer’s guides, ebooks, or anything else.
“Educational content supercharges your website,” says Emily, “so that it can truly work for you, and turn website visitors into leads.”
How does this look in practice?
Let’s say a visitor comes to your website via an organic search. The article they land on might be one providing general information about your industry.
But where will they go next? Are related articles easy to find and connected in an intuitive way? Say they encounter a term they’re not familiar with. Can they click through to find out more information?
To truly serve your visitors and help them become customers, you need both educational content and an organizational structure.
Content in action: A real-world example
Let’s look at an example.
You’re a foundation repair company with a healthy library of helpful, unbiased content.
A visitor comes to your site after Googling “Why are there cracks in my foundation?”
They land on your article called “How Does a Slab Foundation Become Damaged or Crack? 3 Common Causes”.
Congratulations, you’ve just provided a crucial educational resource to a person in need! But what’s next? This visitor could be a great lead to pass along to your sales team, but only if they keep finding what they’re looking for.
You have to make it easy for them to consume more information independently, at their own pace. This means allowing them to sort and filter content.
Imagine if next they can read “Determining Foundation Repair Costs: Top 5 Factors that Impact Pricing” or “15 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Foundation Repair Contractor”.
Along the way, they start to see your business not just as an educational resource. They realize that you can help them with their problems. After reading this content, they may be ready to reach out to you and talk to your team.
Let’s look closely at what happened here. Three important things to note:
The visitor was able to find what they were looking for — on their own and on-demand.
The content helped the visitor start to trust the company.
Each piece of content provided several paths forward, including a CTA so they could reach out when they were ready.
This is inbound marketing at its finest: providing educational materials that help a visitor become a customer.
The key is answering their questions with helpful content (something we call They Ask, You Answer), and organizing that content in a way that feels natural and intuitive.
To do inbound marketing well, you need to do both.
A learning center helps turn visitors into customers
Simply put, a learning center is a hub for all of your website’s most important content. It's where your visitors or customers go to find answers to their specific problems, or to find information on something that they're interested in learning more about.
According to Emily, “your learning center should include your vital content, educational videos, and downloadable content, and it should be filterable by topic, audience, and content type.”
This is where the distinction between blogging and education content becomes so important.
“The content housed in the learning center should revolve around educating your user through the buyer's journey,” Emily says.
“This is different from most businesses’ blogs because it is not meant to house employee of the month articles, or happy holidays articles.”
Your learning center houses only educational content that can help users solve problems.
(Note: If you’d like to check out some examples of our work, Emily recommends IMPACK,Tunnl, and Zmags for their UX and filtering abilities.)
Many years ago, when Marcus ran sales for his fiberglass pool company, he started writing transparent content that addressed the core questions his customers were asking. Rather than going for the hard sell, he favored honesty and candor.
Marcus believed in the fiberglass pools he was selling, but he knew that this material didn’t make sense for every customer. There were downsides such as size limitations and customization options that made the pools best suited for specific customers.
Rather than telling everyone why fiberglass pools were the best, he wrote honest comparisons with other materials and methods, listing out pros and cons so customers could make the best decision for them.
If Marcus sold fiberglass pools to bad-fit prospects, they’d become unhappy customers, and his business would suffer in the long run.
Instead, he focused on building trust — and he saw that unbiased content was the most effective way to do so.
“If people don’t trust you,” Marcus says, “they won’t feel like you have their best interest in mind or that you will actually deliver on your promises. They won’t trust you to solve their problems.”
“To put it simply, if people don't trust you, they won’t want to buy from you.”
Trust-building content is honest, transparent, and unbiased.
Adding a learning center to your website
IMPACT’s web team can design and build a learning center for your existing website without stopping traffic during the construction phase.
We can provide this service for any company website that’s built on WordPress or HubSpot.
As a first step, we work together to determine the right filters. This sounds easy, but it actually takes some careful consideration. Having too few filters or too many each comes with its own problems. You also want to be sure you’re speaking in your customers’ language.
Then, we'll work together on building your learning center, tagging and sorting your content accordingly
Finally, we make sure your team knows how to update it. After all, your learning center should be a living thing, not a museum dedicated to all of the content you’ve already produced. As your team produces new content, you’ll need to know how to tag and sort it. We want you to be able to use and update it without having to call us for help.
How to know your learning center is working
A working learning center should bolster all of the inbound marketing metrics you care about. Helpful content can reduce bounce rates and increase users’ time on your site, two things that correlate to improved organic search traffic. Thoughtful site structure will increase conversion rates and decrease bounce rates.
In short, a learning center — populated with educational content — should increase your traffic, bring in more leads, and get more buyers into the sales process.
At the same time, you’ll be able to get more insight into each step of the customer journey.
User data will help you track, test, and evaluate the effectiveness of your content and your learning center.
Using tracking data from Google Analytics or HubSpot, you can see exactly how visitors are getting to and moving through your site.
With heat mapping tools like Lucky Orange or Hotjar, you can see how content gets read and which CTAs get the most attention.
If you want to improve certain numbers, you have the data to do so, whether that’s changing conversion copy, CTA placement, or content strategy.
Remember: An educated customer is a good customer
The more a customer can learn about your products, your company, and your buying process, the better.
If they’re a good-fit prospect, they’ll enter your sales process with fewer questions and a clearer idea of exactly what they’re looking for.
If they’re a bad-fit prospect, they’re more likely to not enter your sales process at all, saving you the time you’d otherwise spend on deals that would go nowhere.
A learning center reimagines your website with your buyers in mind. When you provide those site visitors with all the information they need to become customers, you help bring qualified leads into your sales process.