By Manya Chylinski published July 25, 2011

13 Ways to Make Your B2B Resource Center Rock

Content marketers create and accumulate a lot of industry information. But one of the challenges they face is how to present all of this information in a way that helps users find the content they want, when they want it. One option is to create an online resource center or a resources page — a well-organized list of basic information and helpful links that your users can turn to whenever they have a specific content need.

Even though content marketing has become standard in the marketing toolkit, resource centers are not as common as you might imagine. If you do not have a resources section or have not assessed your current offerings for a while, you may wonder why it’s worth the investment. A dedicated online resource center can really make a difference for your customers. Here’s why:

  • It enables customers and prospects to easily find the information they seek.
  • It encourages serendipitous discovery of content. When prospects look on your resource page for one product line or in a particular market segment, they may also notice content that addresses other questions they have.
  • It increases “stickiness” of your website. Customers are likely to stay and browse when visiting a resource center, and they know where to return to find updated content.
  • It helps spread your influence. When content is easy to find and interconnected, people are more likely to share your links and recommend your content to their colleagues and clients.

Here are three B2B companies that do a nice job with their resource centers. Review them as a guide to help you make improvements to your own resource center. At the end of the post, I’ve shared some suggestions for incorporating their strengths into your own resource centers.

Pegasystems

Pegasystems is a provider of business process management and customer relationship management software.
Their resource center home page features a list of documents and a search form.

Pros:

  • Their resources link is easy to find in the site’s main top navigation bar, which is available across the site.
  • Users can search by keyword, industry, topic, type of content, and type of document.
  • Search results are sortable by date, document type, and popularity.
  • Users have the ability to “like” documents.
  • Blog posts are searchable from the resource center.
  • The link to Pega’s blogs is easy to find above the top navigation bar, which is available across the site.
  • Users can save content from their own libraries on the site to share or access later.
  • They offer a separate community page with links to content such as forums, blogs, podcasts, and content related to the PegaWORLD conference.
  • Their community page provides access to social media —Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Xing, etc., — and the ability to sign up for RSS feeds or emails via their Follow Us link.

Cons:

  • The resource center home page does not display all recent content; you must search and sort if you are looking for all new content in any format.
  • The search bar is difficult to find, as it is located below the “Refine Your Results” navigation box.
  • The results list does not display number of hits per article.
  • The results list doesn’t prominently display the search term, though the search term remains visible in search bar.
  • Users cannot search by the date the content was posted.
  • Other than access to user forums, the community page is not optimized to provide content that is significantly different from what’s given on the resources page.

Motorola

Motorola is a provider of technology, products, and services that enable companies to stay connected.

Their resource library home page is a search form; no documents are visible.

Pros:

  • Motorola’s resource library link is easy to find from above the top navigation bar, which is available across the site.
  • Users can search by keyword, business needs, document types, industry solutions, or products and services.
  • The results list displays search terms and number of hits per article.
  • The search form includes an option to see popular searches.

Cons:

  • Results in the document list usually contain only a title, without a description or date, so you have to dig to understand the results or to find the newest content.
  • There’s no way to sort results in the document list.
  • Users cannot search by the date the content was posted.
  • Users cannot “like” or rate documents.
  • There are only a limited number of document types (case study, white paper or brochure).
  • Blog posts are not searchable, and there are no links to blogs or other social media sites from the resource library or navigation bars.

EMC

EMC is a provider of products and services that enable businesses to manage data and information.

Their resource library home page is a search form, so no actual documents are visible there.

Pros:

  • The resource library link is easy to find from above the top navigation bar, which is available across the site.
  • Users can search by keyword, resource type, language, solutions, product or service.
  • The results list displays the search term and number of hits per article.
  • There is a separate community page with easy to navigate tabs: blogs, forums, and social media (YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, and FriendFeed), as well as the ability to sign up for RSS feeds.

Cons:

  • There’s no way to sort results in document list.
  • It’s not clear how often new content is posted.
  • Users cannot search by the date the content was posted.
  • There’s no ability to “like” or rate documents.
  • Blog and social media content are not searchable via the resource library.
  • There are no links to blogs or other social media sites from the resource library or navigation bar.

Each of these resource centers does several things quite well, but as you can see by the “cons” for each, there is room for improvement.

Key takeaways for B2B resource centers

Users have high expectations for internal search engines such as those used in resource centers. To keep them happy — and returning to your website — it is best to make it as easy as possible for them to find, download and share the valuable information you created. So providing direct links to social media sites and services is a strong benefit to include in your resource library.

Here’s a list of tips for a good resource center.
The anchor page

  • Display recent and/or popular content to allow users to see some content without first having to do a search.
  • Arrange navigation so the link to the resource center is available for every page, so users can find the page from anywhere on the site.

The search function

  • Enable searches by keyword to allow users who know what they are seeking or know the subject that interests them to find information quickly.
  • Enable searches by criteria like industry, product or content type to encourage browsing.
  • Let users search by date to help them find recent content or content created at a specific time.
  • Provide the ability to narrow results by a number of criteria to minimize frustration with a large number of results.

Viewing results

  • Display the search term and number of hits clearly on the results page to help with navigation and enable users to better understand the results.
  • Display the content title, a short description, and the date it was posted to clarify the results, enable scanning and improve users’ ability to select relevant content.
  • Sort the list of results by criteria, including date and relevance, to enable users to narrow the results more easily.

Content to include

  • House all content across services, industries, market sectors, and content types to make it easy to find any content you produce.
  • Make social media and/or blog content searchable in the resource library to ensure a strong connection with other marketing efforts.
  • Include links to social media and/or blog content to encourage other forms of engagement.
  • Include the ability to “like” documents in order to promote social sharing.

Are there other features you think are must-haves for a B2B resource center? What are some nice-to-have features? What are the definite no-nos for a B2B resource center? Any what other B2B resource centers do you love? Let us know in the comments!

Author: Manya Chylinski

Manya Chylinski is a marketing consultant and writer helping B2B companies create compelling content and share thought leadership and success stories. Founder of Alley424 Communications, Manya has experience in a variety of industries including technology, higher education, financial services, government, and consulting.

Other posts by Manya Chylinski

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  • http://twitter.com/vkellersohn Violeta Kellersohn

    Adopting a Resource Center approach for key topics of interest for our BtoB executive audience has been very well received by our customers and sales team.   Having one area where we can share 3rd party research, customer testimonials and best practice information has been a draw for audiences globally.   We find a “nice to have” feature is including short discriptions in addition to clear titles for links. And by providing an interactive graphic for navigation, in addition to search, we make is easier for visitors to find their topic of interest. We also believe a resource center can  be more than just links but should provide some key articles of interest for visitors.  Two of our most popular sites are http://www.ptc.com/go/plm and http://www.ptc.com/go/pds which take a different approach to the examples Mayna shares.  

    • Manya

      Violeta, thanks for the comment. It is great to hear that this approach works for your audience.  I like the way your product lifecycle management page is organized. It doesn’t appear to be specifically under the heading of a resource center. As a user I look for that terminology. How do your customers navigate to this page? You are having success with it, so I’m curious what the stats say about how people find this information. Thanks –Manya

      • http://twitter.com/vkellersohn Violeta Kellersohn

        Manya  the navigation is directly from the main page of our website in the left navigation bar.  We also have done direct promotions of content on the pages to drive audiences.  We are getting very steady traffic on the site ~5000 visitors per month.  We have the page available in 9 languages so the stats differ regionally, but we are very pleased with both the volume and quality of the visitors.

        • Manya

          Violeta, those are great stats! I very much like the concept of direct promotions of that content to drive traffic. And…it is very nice to hear a success story about resource centers.  –Manya

  • http://keenpath.com/ Mark Mathson

    Great post Manya! This is, as you pointed out, an often untapped area of opportunity for B2B marketing! I like how you took some prominent resource centers and did a pros and cons view. Definitely a good overall review and sure to inspire.

    What do you, and the community think about including case studies and customer success stories in the resource center? (of course ‘searchable’ and navigable like the other content)

    • Manya

      Thanks Mark. It was fun to search for resource centers and do the analysis. From my perspective, case studies and customer success stories definitely belong in the resource center. They provide some of the best and most compelling stories about a product or service. For a company with a resource center, I am not even sure where you would put this type of content if not in with the other resources.  What are your thoughts about that?  –Manya

      • http://keenpath.com/ Mark Mathson

        I agree Manya. It does make sense. As I continue to build out my own company’s resource center, I had planned to begin including case studies and customer success stories. Your comment helps solidify my decision.

        As I guide and assist clients in doing the same thing in their resource center’s, I will keep this article as a reference point, so thanks again.

        • Manya

          Mark, good luck with your resource center. I’m glad this article was helpful for you (and your clients). In my past life I was a librarian and I enjoy categorizing and organizing. This was a fun one to write. –Manya

  • http://twitter.com/StephanieTilton Stephanie Tilton

    Manya – Great summary of how B2B companies can deliver valuable info to their prospects and customers. I would just add that companies shouldn’t expect a resource center to replace the need for landing pages. It’s incredibly frustrating to click on a link to content (whether in an email, on a website, in a tweet, etc.) only to be taken to a long page of resources rather than directly to the content asset that caught your attention. When that happens, I think it’s fair to assume that most people will give up rather than try to track down the white paper, eBook, etc.

    • http://keenpath.com/ Mark Mathson

      Yes, Stephanie! You hit the nail on the head. There are so many missed opportunities when that happens. 

    • Manya

      Stephanie, Very good point. Part of organizing content in a resource center is to make it available easily, and landing pages are a key element when directly promoting a particular piece. Users give us only a few seconds to find what they are looking for, so anything we can do to guide them is time well spent. Thanks for reminding us of that! –Manya

  • http://termpaperwriter.org/ research papers

    Ash, very much enjoyed your take on this common struggle and I read this post at just the right time to make some shifts in my own flow. Looking forward to reading more.

  • Kreesha Stewart

    Whoa ! lots of pro’s and con’s on b2b marketing , but still thanks for giving me nice ideas. :)  — http://www.exchangeevents.com/

    • Manya

      Kreesha, thanks for the comment. There are a lot of pros and cons in that list, I agree!  I wonder if that list would be different with other companies as examples. I’m glad to hear it’s given you some ideas. That’s what I was hoping for.  –Manya

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    thanks for sharing! very interesting information!

  • Usha Sliva

    Great examples and a good post to share with clients who are creating their own resource section. Thanks.