May 27, 2013

I was talking about content marketing with an artist friend of mine over the weekend, Sarah Parker, and she suggested I look at artsHub as a great example of the idea.

Wow! artsHub is a real leader in the field.

artsHub started life as a specialist jobs board – the “seek” of the arts world.

But its clever use of content marketing has made it the go-to destination for everyone in the creative industries. That includes arts practitioners in music, the visual arts, and theatre, as well as all those in the ancillary roles, such as curators, gallery directors and arts administrators.

The result is that this site has 10,000 members and 33,000 subscribers to its email newsletter. It is drawing switched-on job seekers and job advertisers together, making it a great place to advertise all sorts of arts-related information, not just job ads. Cool.

Here’s are five lesson you can learn from artsHub:

1. Editorial staff will repay your investment. If you are a content marketer, you are a publisher (not a journalist or an editor). Yours is the commercial role. Your editorial staff – artsHub has four – will make sure your readers will love the stories you publish.

A lot of the artsHub content is written by contributors; they may or may not be professionals. As long as their work is professional edited – selected and prepared with the reader front of mind – you can use it, keeping costs down.

The editor is the reader’s advocate, looking at all contributions from the point of view of their value to the reader.

2. A clear, crisp and dynamic website design with multiple entry points on the home page will entice visitors to stay on your site for longer.

artsHub has six must-read menus all accessible in various ways from the home page: jobs, news, what’s on, classifieds, directory and join.

The home page uses an automated carousel of seven featured images (and, of course, the site has a terrific source of images from its readership) changing every five seconds or so.

3. Stay true to your commercial purpose, which, in the case of artsHub is job ads. Jobs ads – job of the week, hot jobs, and latest jobs – take up plenty of the site’s real estate. The role of content marketing – to link great content to a commercial outcome – is well understood by artsHub. Their site provides plenty of value to people who are happy (for now) in their jobs, so they have lots of reasons to come back often. When they do, they might see a tempting job prospect they were not even looking for, delivering more opportunities for artsHub advertisers.

4. Slice and dice your content. The artsHub site has 30 stories with click-through pic, headline, by-line, date and a one-sentence taster right there on the home page.

But the site goes on to slice and dice its content and make use of previously published stories by offering up the Top 30 (what’s everyone else reading), features (let’s get into some depth), reviews (what should I see, who is getting attention), opinions (controversy and gossip), and profiles (am I or one of my friends getting into this section). Clever. Then, click on the Jobs tag, and you will find career advice.

As a reader, I feel very well understood by artsHub. I think to myself: these people are really investing a lot time and money to make my experience of their website an outstanding one.

5. Pay for good IT. Great content + clunky website = no visitors. The web is the world of publishing today – and we consumers are very impatient with slow websites that don’t do everything we want them to do immediately we want them to do it.

Your website must be a dynamic beast in the modern world, constantly changing in order to stay in touch with your existing customers and attract new ones. With change comes the constant possibility of techno-stuff-up. You cannot afford that to happen, which makes the cost of an in-house or outsourced tech team look ridiculously cheap.