Content Hubs: The Future of Enterprise Web Content Management

by Antti Hietala, Product Manager at Magnolia
Apr 25, 2019 | 8 MIN

The burden of any enterprise organization is having to manage clunky software, siloed content, and disparate systems. What makes the situation even worse is that content types like documentation, branding and media files are often duplicated and saved across a multitude of systems. Not only does it lead to higher costs but it also leads to conflict between various departments and to slower time-to-market for communications initiatives.

A content management system is a key component of an enterprise’s online presence. Making sure that your enterprise can easily navigate and locate content is absolutely vital. For this reason content hubs are becoming the future of enterprise web content management.

What is a Content Hub?

A content hub acts as a central repository that provides access to all your content assets, including written content, photos, and videos. Rather than having to manage multiple siloed CMS platforms for multiple brands, a content hub provides the ability to dynamically integrate and distribute its content to any website, channel, device or touchpoint via a REST API.

As opposed to having to migrate content from legacy systems, the content hub integrates content from different repositories, whether on-premise or cloud, to provide editors a unified content access point.

Example: Magnolia CMS illustrates how a content hub not only unifies all the content from various systems, but it also acts as a single point of access for all content pools. The central Find Bar at the top of the UI lets the user find all content stored in the CMS itself but also in connected systems.

There are many benefits to operating a content hub with this model:

• Centralization: One location for any and all content assets, readying them to be distributed across different websites, devices, and other delivery channels.

• Re-use: The same content item can be used in many places on the site.

• Consistency: Updating a content item such as an image asset in one app propagates the change to all pages where the asset is used.

• Standardization: The same file properties are used each time the file is referenced.

How Do Content Hubs Make Enterprises More Agile

Legacy CMS platforms, especially when disparate and siloed, can be difficult to manage and scale, causing a slower time-to-market and internal conflicts.

With a content hub, on the other hand, you are not forced to divest away from your existing tools. Neither would you need to create a new platform or website with its own designated content library. You are able to develop proofs of concept quickly and experiment with innovations.

Example: Ancestry.com, the world’s largest consumer-facing genealogy company, was struggling to cope with a growing subscriber base which spanned multiple countries, and an increasing number of digital records. When the firm switched over to Magnolia CMS they were able to distribute experiences to multiple channels in multiple languages. The content hub model allowed Ancestry to integrate the CMS with its existing infrastructure.

Personalization is another good example. It is a key feature for an enterprise to differentiate itself from competition. To do personalization successfully, enterprises need to have unified content, not siloed in different repositories to serve different functions.

By having your content organized centrally, content hubs let marketers to create pools of content for each stage of their sales funnel: top, middle, and bottom.

For reference, content used for the top of the funnel typically consists of:

  • How-to guides
  • Videos
  • Articles
  • Webinars

Content for the middle of the funnel consists of:

  • Product pages
  • Demos
  • Pricing information

Content for the bottom of a funnel consist of:

  • Case studies
  • Product reviews
  • Calculators
  • Special events

How to Take the Content Hub Model Further

Besides centralizing access to all your content, a content hub provides tools and features to help you create content and reuse it.

Content Authoring

Authoring tools differ depending on the type of content you are producing. Broadly speaking, tools are either well suited to structured content, unstructured content, or fall somewhere in between.

• Page editor is typically an intuitive WYSIWYG interface where you can create and edit a page or develop a digital experience, like a microsite or landing page, from a library of components. It gives the marketer most control over the digital experience, such as templates, layout and style.

• Semi-structured content editor combine the efficiency and structure of form-based editing with the freedom and flexibility of a page editor. The editor stores clean content that can be reused on many channels and works great in a headless distribution model. Yet the author has a choice of rich content blocks (text, image, video, social) and can reorder those blocks of content freely.

• Content apps are used for content types which have a fixed and predictable structure. Suitable for categories, products, and events.

Content Search

Search is a common starting point for many of our daily tasks. Finding content across multiple repositories is the primary use case for search. But a search box can do much more, such as open tools and launch commands.

• Full-Text Search Across All Content: As you’d expect, a search box in a content hub searches through all the content stored in the CMS. It finds apps, tools, assets and pages. Furthermore, users can apply multiple parallel filters to find what they are looking for more efficiently.

• Search Content from External Sources: Besides searching for content stored in the CMS itself, a content hub also allows you to find content from external content sources. Connecting new sources and making them searchable is possible with a purpose-built API that facilitates integration with externally stored DAM assets, customer data, products, or other data sets.

• AI-Powered Search: Relevant, personalized search results get you to frequently used content quickly. The Find Bar in Magnolia uses a neural network to rank search results. This means, the more you use the Find Bar the more Magnolia learns about your search behavior and delivers more accurate results. Smart search provides suggestions and ranks the search results based on previous search patterns. We’ve written in this article why and how we’ve built the AI-based search results ranking system.

Content Tagging

Tags allow users to find and reuse content more easily. But tagging is also a very important enabler to content curation and targeting. Here are a couple of ideas on how tags can be used.

• Group content for a specific audience: Also known as content segmentation, you can use tags to group content by subject or target audience. You can also create small reusable content items like banners, products, and events, and tag them into collections.

• Periodic campaigns: Tag your content items as according to the sales cycle, season or trendiness. When you display content on your site by tag, you can quickly change content sets as you go from one period to another. This is a good way to react to changes in the inventory, for instance. It is also easy to change an entire set of promoted content in one go.

Personalization

It is well known that delivering personalized experiences can benefit your brand. According to a report by McKinsey, personalization can deliver 5 to 8 times higher ROI and increase sales by 10 percent or more.

Personalized variants are alternative content elements that replace the original elements during content delivery. In terms of what kind of content is delivered to the end-user, this is dependent on the personalization rules that have been set. The rules are usually based on tags, segmentations or they can be based on geo-location.

You can combine explicit and implicit personalization and personalize the experience in real-time:

• Explicit personalization is based on traits which the visitor declared themselves either by registering or completing a survey. Explicit traits are normally associated with age, gender, home address, and language. Once you have retrieved this information, you can then connect these traits to the relevant profile attributes. In this type of personalization, the website pushes content in which the user has an explicit interest.

• Implicit personalization is based on tracking your user’s behavior as they navigate through your site. Implicit traits may be stored in a user profile but the key difference is that these traits are not known to the user. As your visitor continues to navigate your site, you learn more about them and you can highlight any areas of interest. In this type of personalization, the website pushes content from your central repository that matches your visitor's past behavior.

Content Hubs: A New Kind of Content Backbone

To avoid suffering from having to manage multiple disjointed content management systems, enterprises should invest in a content hub that effectively rounds up and unifies access to all content in one central point. With this model, all your websites and experiences can retrieve the relevant content from this single location, preventing content duplication in the process.

Enterprises can deliver a consistent message and minimize internal conflicts between different departments. What’s more, content hub also helps brands get to market faster and allows developers to experiment with innovation.

Magnolia’s content hub offering not only acts as a centralized digital content management tool, but it also comes with a host of user-friendly features which enable you to deliver dynamic and personalized experiences.

Magnolia’s latest release, Magnolia 6, comes with machine learning and smart tagging for working even faster and smarter with content.

Antti Hietala

About the Author

Antti is in charge of articulating Magnolia's value propositions to sales, marketing and professional services. In constant contact with users, he feeds the product roadmap with front-line input. Antti's key responsibilities include internal communication, product roadmap and feature specifications. Follow him on Twitter @antarctic74.