published on Jun 5, '16
Content marketing gets a lot of attention for product and services marketing, but it’s also an excellent way to build interest and excitement in your event before, during and after it’s held. The Content Marketing Institute found 88 percent of B2B companies leverage content marketing strategies as part of their overall marketing efforts, so incorporating these tactics into your event promotion plan also helps you keep up with the competition. Indeed, content marketing helps build interest in your events among attendees, improves your event’s reputation and can help you improve your event ROI.
Your ideal content marketing strategies change based on whether you’re in the pre-event phase, the event phase or the post-event phase. Your pre-event content marketing tactics should focus on building awareness and trust with your potential attendees. You want to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry to build your reputation.
In this stage, you stay away from overtly advertising your event. Instead, you want to provide educational and valuable information for your attendees. Create blog posts, white papers, e-books and other educational content covering topics impacting your attendees. Focus on specific pain points, infographics, in-depth guides, interesting high-level topics and relevant industry news.
Utilize email marketing to create a list of potential attendees you can market to directly. Some ways to build your email list with content includes providing an e-course covering topics that your event focuses on or giving away a valuable content asset, such as an exclusive song.
As you get closer to your event, you can shift to more promotional content. Your content should still focus on value for the attendee, but you can bring in performers for guest posting, show videos from last year’s event and create topics based on event activities.
Use an editorial calendar to control content creation and distribution during the pre-event phase. Curata reports 69 percent of companies use an editorial calendar to plan out their content marketing strategies. The primary benefit of this calendar is to slowly ramp up interest and excitement in your event, with a shift over time from educational content to more promotional content. Scheduling also prevents you from posting all your content months before the event and having nothing left when you’re a few weeks out.
Your content marketing job doesn’t stop once the event is underway. EMarketer reports 55 percent of companies utilized real-time marketing as part of their event promotion strategies. One of the most common content marketing tactics used during the event is to utilize your social media profiles, particularly Twitter, and create hashtags specifically for your event and workshops. While you seed these hashtags with live updates on your event activities, the primary goal is to create a platform for your attendees to share their content. The content you create directly should focus on shareable content so you can create a broad reach, such as the best quotes from a keynote presentation or funny behind-the-scenes outtakes.
Econsultancy reports 70 percent of people place a heavy influence on the social proof created by user-generated content. This social proof can influence more attendees to come to your event, especially if industry leaders are posting about it. Engage with social media users on these hashtags to build relationships with attendees and prospects, and pay close attention to people with questions or concerns about your event.
The South by Southwest festival uses the hashtag #SXSW along with creating specialty hashtags for popular seminars and activities. This hashtag gets hundreds of thousands of tweets from each of its target audiences, which include music, tech, and game lovers. Another event attracting significant hashtag activity is INBOUND, an inbound marketing conference. Hubspot reported a peak of over 4,500 tweets per hour during the event.
Once you recover from your event, you need to get your post-event content marketing ready. Thankfully, a lot of the content creation part of this process is already handled for you. You can use videos from your event to form the basis of your content creation. Let your target audience see what they missed out on by not attending your event, invite attendees to share their stories and send out a post-event survey to get information directly from your attendees.
The post-event survey data can be repurposed into an in-depth white paper on the concerns of your attendees or a visually appealing infographic. Look at the attendee responses to adapt your content marketing voice to match their language. Each industry has its own terminology, slang and language style, so incorporating this into your event promotion content helps you relate to your target audience better.
Pay attention to the blog posts, articles and social media posts your attendees create about your event. Curate a list of the top posts so you put less of a content creation load on yourself, strengthen relationships with your attendees and provide prospective attendees with third-party opinions of how awesome your event is.
You handle a lot when it comes to event promotion, but content marketing can fit neatly into your existing workflow. Your content sources can be pulled from your industry expertise, current event marketing materials and the contributions of your performers and attendees. You can move potential attendees from the awareness phase to the attending phase smoothly and seamlessly when you match the event promotion phase to your content. It takes a bit more time and resources, but the increased ROI and trust from your content marketing efforts are well worth it.
(Photo by Cydcor)