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Developing Your Strategy

How to plan a learning center for your website

By Christi Wharton

How to plan a learning center for your website Blog Feature

Many of us know by now how important content marketing is, however, it is no longer enough to just create great content.

Now, savvy marketers know that they need to present that content in a way that makes it easy for people to quickly find the exact answer they are looking for as well.

According to They Ask, You Answer author Marcus Sheridan, “more and more businesses are developing “learning centers” — places that not only include blog articles, but the rest of their content as well.”

A learning center is a place on your website where your best content lives and is organized in a way that makes it easy to find the content that answers the questions of your prospects.

A true learning center makes it easy for users to find, within seconds, the content that will answer their questions.

Filterability and search-ability mean that your killer content will no longer be hidden or buried. Visitors will be able to easily jump right to what they are looking for.

A learning center on your site can be useful not only for your visitors, but for your sales team as well. Your sales reps can use your learning center to quickly find answers to questions being asked by your prospects.

A great learning center will likely have a variety of content types, such as articles, videos, webinars, and ebooks, that are categorized and searchable.

In order to get your content ready to create a learning center, there are a few steps you need to take:

  1. Inventory the content you already have
  2. Identify gaps in your content
  3. Categorize your content

Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.

1. Inventory the content you already have

Inventory all of the content you have and what topics you have already covered. Have you covered the Big 5 questions that you get from your customers? Do you have any Selling 7 videos? Do you have any podcasts? What about other resources such as landing pages, calculators, ebooks, or white papers?

Taking inventory

There are different ways of going about taking inventory. Some content management systems will allow you to export your data with titles and links into a spreadsheet.

If not, there are tools such as Screaming Frog’s SEO spider tool that will crawl your site and give you a report with the titles and URLs of all of your content.

If you have less content, you may be able to just manually go through your posts to see what you have.

Some of the information you may want to include in your inventory are:

  • Type of content (blog article, video, ebook, etc.)
  • Resource title 
  • URL for the resource
  • Resource CTA (read more, watch now, etc.)
  • Resource topic category
  • Meta description

You can even add things such as how long the resource will take to read (factored by word count) and target persona for the resource. 

Once you have an inventory of content that you have, you can decide which content is best suited for your learning center. 

A learning center will allow you to serve visitors the type of content that is best suited to them. Some people love to read, while others prefer to watch videos or listen to podcasts. Still others like interactive content, so be sure to include a variety of content types. 

You may not have all of these types of content yet. In the next step, you will identify those gaps so you can create needed content.

2. Identify gaps in your content 

What content do you still need to create? Are there gaps? Perhaps you don’t have content that covers all of the questions that your visitors may have. Maybe you have a lot of content about your products, but none that covers the cost of those products. Are you missing videos or any interactive content?

What content will help your visitors? What content will help your sales team provide the answers to help in the sales process? 

Make a list of content that still needs to be created and add it to your editorial calendar. You will always be creating content that will be added to your learning center, but in the beginning, you will want to be sure you are covering, or have a plan to cover, content that addresses the questions your prospects are asking most about your products or services.

To find out what content your prospects are asking, you will want to talk to all of your client-facing personnel to see what questions they are hearing every day.

3. Categorize your content

You will want to make it easy for your visitors to find the topics that they are interested in, so they will need to be able to filter content by category. 

At IMPACT, we categorize by the type of service you may be looking for. So, for instance, if you are looking specifically for help with website design, there is a filter that allows you to check a box and get only website design content.

You can also add filters for the format of content, such as videos or articles. For your learning center, you need to decide what makes the most sense for you and your customers.

Learning center examples

Here are some examples of great learning centers to give you some ideas:

RetroFoam Michigan (IMPACT Client)

retrofoam

RetroFoam Michigan provides foam insulation for people in Michigan’s lower peninsula. They add their most asked questions to the top of the page to save their visitors even more time. They also feature an easy search function.

Users can filter by topic as well as resource type so, for example. They can choose also to watch a video or see a checklist about their topic choice.

Lastly, they have a link to a handy calculator that helps visitors calculate a budget for their project.

G Suite Learning Center

G-Cloud

The G Suite Learning Center is from Google Cloud. They allow you to search by the product you want to learn about. They also have a section that provides tips, links to certifications, and a way for users to contribute.

Aquila Commercial (IMPACT Client) 

Aquila

Another client of ours, Aquila Commercial, is a real estate firm in Austin, Texas. They created their own learning center, not with IMPACT. 

It has an easy search function and lets visitors choose if they are looking to find information as a tenant, as an owner/investor, or as someone who is looking for resources about Austin.

Visitors may also search by topic and resource type. 

IMPACT

impact-learning-center

Our learning center at IMPACT allows users to search for information with an easy search function as well as by categories that are arranged by what problem visitors are looking to solve. 

This makes it simple for our visitors to find what they are looking for. It also makes it easy for our sales team to quickly identify articles that will be helpful to send to prospects asking questions to give them just what they need.

All of the examples feature an easy search function and the ability to search by topic. 

Pulling it all together

At this point, you are ready to set up your learning center. This will require some technical knowledge, so you may need help. 

How you set up your learning center will depend on your platform. For example, if your site is on WordPress, you may automatically filter data using custom post types. If your site is on HubSpot, you will need to manually add your data to your learning center via HubDB.

Next steps

We know that over 87% of the buying decision is made before a prospect ever contacts you. Creating a learning center is a great way to help out your sales teams as well as your prospects by educating them and helping them make an informed decision to buy.

To make it easy, IMPACT has created learning center templates for both WordPress and HubSpot and can walk you through the process of creating your own learning center.

Whether you choose to create your own or use one of our handy templates, you should  get started! As Marcus Sheridan puts it, “This is what consumers want, and just like everything else in the digital age, industry leaders will be made by those that can do it well, and do it first.”

Topics:

Developing Your Strategy
For Sales Leaders and Sales Teams
Content and Inbound Marketing 101
Published on December 26, 2019

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