• Colby Horton

Looking for Lead Gen? Check Out the Hub and Spoke Content Model

Competition for website traffic is fierce. Implementing the hub and spoke model for content marketing helps your association organize your content better, and leads prospective members through every stage of the buyer’s journey.

We talk all the time about how associations have changed in the last decade – or in more positive terms, how they’ve evolved to fit the needs of their members. That being said, when I entered the association space 20 years ago, the organization I worked for had two main goals: attract new members, retain existing members. Sounds familiar? Now, the ways of obtaining those goals have certainly changed, but the objectives seem to remain the same for most associations. In today’s digitally-driven environment, these objectives are equivalent to what B2B marketers call lead gen.


Content marketing is one of the top tactics for lead generation - that is, if it’s executed correctly. According to a recent report from the Content Marketing Institute, 43% of successful B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. But more importantly, and perhaps more shockingly, 21% of B2B marketers are working without a strategy altogether. They’re simply publishing content as they think about it. So which bucket is your association in?


If you fall in the second bucket, that’s okay. Let me introduce you to a proven content strategy that can be the foundation of your organization’s content marketing strategy going forward. In this blog, we’re discussing the hub and spoke model – a lead gen tactic that’s become the best place to start when creating a documented content strategy.


Definition – In “Marketing” Terms


Picture the hub of a wheel with spokes coming out of it, much like a bicycle wheel. Now imagine an idea/concept as the hub and sub-topics as the spokes. That’s basically the hub and spoke model for content, whereas a marketer creates a topic cluster around a concrete idea or concept.


To solidify this paradigm, the hub is a core, in-depth piece of content that you want your potential audience to see. The spokes are supporting pieces of content that will not only provide additional information to the reader, but will also drive them towards your core piece of content.


As a marketer, you’re constantly focused on your organization’s funnel, or member (customer) journey of awareness, consideration, decision, and advocacy. No doubt, the hub fits very well into “consideration” – or as we refer to it – lead generation. Whereas, the spokes help with awareness, decision and advocacy. Let’s examine each component of the model a little more in-depth.




The Hub


Ready for some stats that will blow your mind? At our current pace, we are creating over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data on the internet each day, but that pace is only accelerating with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). And, over 4.4 million blog posts are added to the internet every single day. So perhaps your largest challenge is to find the “hub” content that stands out in a very crowded internet. Let’s face it…there’s much more content out there than demand constitutes.


Developing high-quality, association-originating content takes a lot of time and resources, especially when you’re talking about whitepapers, ebooks, podcasts, industry benchmarking reports, etc. Welcome to your hub content. You should consider your hub as the house for your pillar content. This content, in order to achieve true lead generation, should always be gated – that is, your audience must provide personal information (name, email address) in order to access the material.


Examples of hub content include:

  • Research reports

  • Webinars

  • Whitepapers

  • Ebooks

  • Benchmarking reports

  • Podcasts

  • ROI studies

  • How-to guides

  • Association events and symposiums


The Spokes


Spoke content is always supportive of your hub content. The goal of your spoke content should be to drive traffic back to your hub content. What’s great about spoke content is that it can be developed and released in advance of your hub content – in some cases, months before the “hub” is published. Then, once your hub content is published, go back to the earlier published spoke content and link to the hub.


Obviously, for every piece of hub content you product, you want to produce multiple pieces of supporting spoke content. Examples of spoke content includes:

  • Blogs

  • Social media posts

  • Infographics

  • Videos

  • TedTalks

  • Email campaign

  • Case studies

  • Explainer videos

  • Executive summaries of events or education sessions

  • Native advertising

  • Paid promotions

It should go without saying, but your spoke content needs to be relevant to your hub content. A disconnect will diminish the impact of this model in your content strategy.


Your hub and spoke strategy can be simple:

But if done correctly, it can evolve into a more complex, long-term strategy:


Let’s Talk Advantages


It can’t be stressed enough…content is more important today than any other time in digital marketing history. Yet competition for readership is fierce. But the hub and spoke model helps an association fight for attention and draw readers (i.e. prospective members) to its content. It certainly creates website authority, topical relevance, and takes users down the customer journey to membership (and renewal). But there are certainly other advantages to look at:


Search engines love this model!

Google in particular has evolved to understand user intent beyond simple keywords, using machine learning and related context to understand intent more thoroughly. The hub and spoke model provides the Google algorithm (albeit pretty secretive) with additional information about certain topics and how those topics are related, helping predict user intent. When using this model, Google should index more of your blog posts and reward them with higher rankings. The result is more traffic to your website.


Your members and prospects dig it, too!

Think of your last session on Amazon. You find a product you’re interested in, but as you scroll down the page, Amazon provides a list of similar products you might be interested in. You click. You find comparison charts of the new product you clicked on, and the past product you clicked on. You click again. You read reviews. You click. You’re provided a list of products that “enhance” the product you’re currently looking at. You click. See where I’m going here? It’s exhausting, but somewhat fulfilling, right?


The hub and spoke model works the same way. Members and prospects can choose to read about a topic on a high level, or in turn, dive very deep into a web of complimentary articles.

Keep the focus

In a time when association staff members are wearing multiple hats and jumping from one task to another, wouldn’t it be great if there was something that keeps an objective in focus? The hub and spoke model does just that. By approaching your organization’s content marketing strategy with this model, it’s assured that your team is not focusing on random topics, but rather focusing on content that will engage your members and prospects alike.


How Can We Help?


Do you need help developing a content strategy for your association? We offer content marketing solutions with lead generation and brand recognition for your association in mind. We’d love to connect and provide more info. Schedule a free consultation online today!

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