How accountants can save time with content hubs
Among the most irritating and overused words and phrases of 2020, from “now more than ever” to “unprecedented”, “Covid-19 hub” has to be right up there. Which is a shame because the idea of the content hub is a great one, and supremely practical.
This goes back to a point I’ve made many times: content should always have a purpose, not merely exist for the sake of it.
Content hubs do three important things:
- Help your clients find the information they need, quickly.
- Demonstrate that you are on the case and know the score.
- Save you from explaining the same things over and over again.
For now, let’s focus on that last point.
During the course of 2020, I spoke to various accountants who told me they’d spent a lot of time on the phone to anxious clients or responding to the flurries of emails that followed every surprise announcement or U-turn from the Chancellor.
By pulling all their Covid-19 content into one place, with an easy-to-share web address, they could divert some of that traffic and leave the lines free for genuinely urgent queries.
What is a hub?
Your firm’s website is the top level – everything from fees tables to testimonials. The blog is a level down, collecting all your topical, ongoing content in a feed. A hub is a single page that pulls together all the content on a particular topic from across your website and blog – and perhaps also from your social media and video channels.
The exact format is flexible and will depend on the platform on which your website is hosted, how much time you want to spend developing it, and other factors.
As long as it presents a coherent body of information on a single topic, that’s all that really matters.
Some firms decided not to bother setting up a hub and just chose to direct clients to the blog. This can work, of course, especially if your blog is fairly sparse and all the content just happens to be about Covid-19, as was the case for many this year.
But if you also kept up a flow of regular content on other topics, the relevant material could easily get lost in the flow.
What makes for a good content hub?
A good hub will be focused and easy to navigate, with the most important and newest information front and centre.
Think about your clients again – what do they want to know? What’s changed and what it means for them, in most cases.
Specifically, in the case of Covid-19 support, their questions were often around when and how they might access payments or loans.
A structure like this is a good starting point:
- An introductory video, clearly dated, summarising the current state of play in a minute or two.
- A widget featuring your most recent on-topic blog posts, in reverse chronological order.
- Links to any downloadable guides or eBooks you’ve put together.
- Calls to action: sign-up to the email newsletter and follow us on social media for the latest updates.
You want it to feel comprehensive – “I’m confident I’ll find an answer here.” – but not so overwhelming they think, “Ah, I’m lost – I’ll just give them a call instead.”
Your website provider should be able to help you put together a hub, probably for a small one-off development fee. Or, if your website is built on a modern content management system, you might be confident enough to put it together yourself.
This is where blog categories and post tags come in handy. As long as you’re disciplined and label every Covid-19 post consistently – tag them all ‘covid19’ for example – it should be easy enough to pull through only posts with that tag to the blog widget on your hub page.
Finally, make sure it’s easy to find. Give it a simple URL – ideally something like YOURFIRM/covid19 or /knowledge/covid19. The exact format doesn’t matter as long as it’s something you can read out on the phone or quickly pop in a text message.
You’ll also want to make sure it’s given a prominent link from your homepage.
As vaccines rollout and we begin to move out of the state of emergency, government support schemes are going to start winding up. You should do the same with your Covid-19 hub, when the time is right.
For starters, we’ll all want to forget about this as soon as possible. More importantly, though, you don’t want it hanging around like a dusty old ghost town, unloved and without updates.
The principle of content hubs is something you should certainly hang on to, however.
With Making Tax Digital (MTD) once again back on the agenda, you might want to set up an MTD hub as many firms did back in 2018. Brexit is another subject about which your clients are likely to have lots of questions in the next few months.
Alternatively, if you have a particular industry sector focus, a hub that pulls together all your content on, say, construction or charities, could also be a good way to send a strong signal about your expertise and commitment.