A badass content marketing resource hub.
Transforming a simple blog into an educational resource hub for content marketers.
NewsCred, a content marketing software company, is on a mission to make marketing better for everyone. And they are placing a greater emphasis on their educational offering in order to achieve this and help grow their business.
NewsCred was founded as a news syndication platform in 2008. Since then, they have become the industry’s go-to content marketing platform. Throughout the years, they had the Academy, a section of the site that provided educational but static materials, and a blog, that focused on news and trends within content marketing. They wanted to combine both entities to create a brand new experience that is personalized, dynamic, and useful for both prospective and current customers.
There were issues on the old Academy site. The biggest problem was the lack of structure and tags in the backend, hence, making it difficult for users to find content.
We did a site audit and investigated deeper. There were some easy fixes such as having succinct, personable copy, engaging images and videos. We also made some not-so-easy fixes such as reorganizing the content and adding a search engine.
What are content marketers actually looking for?
We conducted multiple user interviews to find the pain points and needs content marketers have. We also checked out other content marketing and learning sites out there as benchmarks.
Our targeted users are mid-senior level content marketers who may be thinking about, or already starting, a content marketing program for their organization, and are now looking for inspiration or help with implementation. They are familiar with content marketing, but putting it into action still seems like unchartered waters. Their company is relying on them to find solutions, so they have a lot at stake. They seek advice that has been proven, and inspiration from peers and experts who have overcome similar challenges and found success.
The biggest challenge for these content marketers is finding resources — the content marketing industry is so new and is constantly evolving — it’s difficult for content marketers to learn something that may change or even disappear a week later.
We brainstormed a few ideas and realized our vision can come to life in two ways:
Personal Guidance: An emphasis on the individual, offering relevant content and connections based on someone’s industry, interests, and goals.
Social Structure: A focus on community, offering shared learning through structured courses and online events.
Using what we'd learned, we developed two overarching concepts to test. We mocked up a conceptual splash page for each concept and put the paper prototype in front of some content marketers and some stakeholders at NewsCred. We got really good insights from our user testing sessions:
“It can be hard to stay focused when you’re being pulled in so many different directions, so [structured learning] creates a clear path.”
“No one can really be an ‘expert’ in content marketing. It’s too new and it’s always changing.”
“I like that it was ‘personalized’ to your industry and interests. It’s hard to find the right information sometimes - you keep searching for stuff that is relevant for you.”
And the winner is...
Actually, there was no clear winner. Our users loved both of the concepts and found some ideas more intriguing than others. So, what do we do? We took the best parts out of the two and merged them into one big overarching idea:
An educational website that guides marketers through recommended learning paths, with alternate routes to discover insights and ideas from those in their industry. It also blends online and offline worlds by providing tools to use at work, and information about events to connect with other marketers.
Create a learning experience that puts people at the center.
NewsCred Insights is an important ecosystem within the main NewsCred site and needs to be upgraded from a simple blog into a fully featured content library. It needs to be able to scale with their team as more and more content is added. We came up with a new content architecture and created a better connection between NewsCred and NewsCred Insights.
Our key objective was to convert and generate quality leads that could potentially become NewsCred clients. Using the content NewsCred had, we came up with a content strategy to reach our goal. We mapped out what types of content a non-registered user, a registered user, and a NewsCred client could access.
By offering free and gated content, we give users instant value for converting. As they register, we can get their information then we can recommend relevant content. After figuring out the overall structure of the site, we started designing the experience.
An experience that gets you hooked
On the old Academy site, users would have to enter their information (name, email, job title, and company) in order to access content in a PDF form. They would have to do that every single time. This experience did not allow users to create a sustainable relationship with NewsCred. They simply came and left as they wished. We convinced NewsCred to move away from PDFs and break them into digestible articles.
We came up with features to make the reading experience more immersive, such as providing an article preview, a dedicated progress bar, and a mechanism that provides relevant "read next" content.
In our user testing sessions, users loved our structural learning idea, so we worked with NewsCred to come up with exclusive structural learning content and use it as a trigger to increase conversions. We came up with two types of structural learning:
Master Class: Bundled content with a specific, actionable goal. Each class has 7-10 lessons with case studies, quizzes, and downloadable resources. After completing each master class, users would get a NewsCred certificate to add to their LinkedIn profile.
Collections: A curated collection of articles on a specific topic sorted by difficulty level. Users can track their reading progress with their dashboard on the homepage.
Our ultimate KPI was to increase leads. To encourage user signups, we gave users teaser content on each article page and showcased the values for signing up.
A clear content structure
Each piece of content now lives within a topic. And it's associated with a content type as well as keyword tags. Our system helps users find what they need much easier. It allows us to introduce search functionality on the site. We also implemented a dashboard on the logged-in home page to provide the best content recommendations to users.
THE FINAL DESIGN
A complete refresh.
We worked with NewsCred to create a new art direction and a new logo. We also worked on using bolder, more engaging images with brighter colors to bring the designs to life. During the built process, we worked closely with the dev team to perfect all the micro-interactions on site.
in March 2016, we launched the first phase of NewsCred Insights in March 2016. in April 2016, we introduced #ThinkContentU Master Class.