One of the million dollar questions in event marketing is “how do you attract attendees”. To try and answer it, we’ve created The B2B Event Marketing Guide, a 15 chapters report on the full marketing strategy and planning process that goes behind a business event.
The article below is an excerpt from the guide. Find the other chapters here.
In this chapter: The anatomy of a good content plan. Building segmented content and the different types of content, based on objectives. Tailoring content to customer interests and personas. Performance indicators for content marketing and monitoring tools.
A good content plan will:
– Include a variety of content pieces that are linked to the topics addressed at the event
– Consider a promotion plan for the content you’re producing
Content marketing is a big part of your marketing strategy, as discussed in the channels section, since content will be at the heart of your inbound strategy. Content marketing gets three times more leads than paid search advertising (source).
– Generate valuable leads for your event
– Be at the core of your marketing campaign
First of all, the content must be relevant for your event. You can work closely with your production, sales and/or delegates sales team to ensure you understand what your target market is interested in and how this is linked to the event.
Build your content based on your customer personas, so they address the pain points they have.
If your event targets delegates in multiple industries or job functions, they may each have specific areas they are interested in or you may have to adapt your approach. For example, content about creating a strategy that integrates with other functions may be more relevant for senior professionals than for executives, whilst information about implementing the strategy will be relevant for executives.
Use analytics to ensure you have a good understanding of the content you should be preparing. Tools like Buzzsumo can show you what content is performing best and social listening tools like Mention will give you insight into trending topics and what peers, competitors and influencers are posting on their channels.
The type of content you create will be dependent on the time and human resources you have available. A whitepaper will take longer to produce than a blog post, whereas for an interview you’d need availability from a speaker or influencer in your industry.
Content marketing is complex and time consuming, so if you don’t have an internal resource for this, you can budget a freelancer (on platforms such as Upwork or Freelancer.com) or a content marketing agency.
Content can also take many shapes:
– Written (with or without imagery) – blog posts, articles, interviews, articles, interviews, white papers, eBooks, etc
– Video – webinars, video interviews, presentations, animations, etc
– Sound – podcasts
– Image – infographics
– Interactive – quizzes, Q&As, calculators, etc
Now that you have your resources in place and an idea of what of type you can create, let’s consider what objectives your content will help you achieve. Bear in mind the objective will be strongly linked to types of content you are creating too.
Why do people attend events?
Content shouldn’t be salesy, it should aim to inform the audience and to position your company as a thought leader.
Bizzabo is one great example. They are an event platform, but their content is just informative, with minimum reference to their services.
At some point in life, we all knew someone who liked to talk about themselves. A lot. Like all the time. Everything they did was so amazing, that they had to chat about it for hours. Most likely, these people remained acquaintances and you never thought about them as your friends, the people you trust and want to hang out with the most, because talking about yourself all the time can get extremely tiring for the listener.
The same is true for your brand or event. If you keep talking about what’s important for you – how many great speakers you have, the great content you’ve put together and list the companies attending, you might attract some interest, but you always want to go the extra mile and ensure you deliver the best results for your time, effort and budget spend. The key is to mix outbound and inbound marketing strategies to achieve the optimum KPIs.
You should consider at least one piece of content per month (or more if you have resources for delivering quality content at more frequent rate). This could be a webinar with one of your speakers, an interview, a whitepaper, a blog post, a video, podcast, live Q&A on social media, reports from the previous events – the sky is the limit.
We think you should mix content that is purely informative to content that is directly linked to your event, ensuring you address the 3 objectives above. Also, ensure your content is tailored to your personas, since leads that are looking to attend the event will be interested in different content compared to leads that are looking to sponsor it.
Attendees who are looking to learn new things at an event will be interested in the agenda and the topics presented. Your speakers, producers and content managers will be very helpful in developing this type of content. You can create new content (like an interview) or reuse existing one and link it to your event (like existing whitepapers written by your speakers or testimonials).
Some delegates will be interested in the networking part of the event, in expanding their contact base and meeting with their peers. You can present the value of networking at your event through an infographic on the attendee profile based on previous years or similar events. Here’s an example from the ISTE 2015 event:
Promote the list of companies attending through text or visual. The Marketing to Millennials for Financial Services event uses a visual list with logos of the most known attendees, whilst also having a form to collect leads of contacts interested in the list:
If you’re hosting an event with international attendees, help them get the most of their attendance by showcasing travel guides, of what they can explore in the city when they’re not at the event.
For attendees looking to sell or buy something at your event, you should create content around the solutions presented by your exhibitors. Work with your sales team to collect this information when exhibitors sign up for the event and build a database, an infographic or articles about them. The IoT Solutions World Congress has an exhibitor filter based on categories and countries:
Regardless of the reason delegates attend your event and sponsors or exhibitors get involved, these business executives will have to see the ROI of joining the event. Sometimes, they’ll need to present it to a senior manager to justify the budget allocated to your event.
You can help them through case studies from previous attendees, testimonials or justification letters, to name a few examples. Here’s an example justification page from I/ITSEC event, including a sample letter and an expense calculator, which you can download, fill in and present to your manager. Plus, here’s an article on measuring event sponsorship ROI.
Doing a great piece of content is not enough to get good traffic to it, you also need to promote it as wide as you can – via email, social media, paid media, media partners, influencers, speakers and sponsors. Make sure you include a promotional plan for each piece of content you create and that it is reflected in your drop plan of activities.
Speaking of ROI, let’s see what are the performance indicators to track results of your content marketing plan. Your #1 objective is to drive event registrations and increase the number of leads, but it shouldn’t be the only one.
Content can also help engage existing attendees or increase brand awareness for leads that aren’t yet ready to convert (i.e. if you’re running an event for senior management, an executive could become your target audience in a few years’ time).
If you’re using a CRM, you will be able to see the source of your leads and track them back to the content you’ve created. Google Analytics can also help in tracking conversions from a specific page or content piece – here’s some further reading into measuring your content ROI with Google Analytics.
In order to improve conversion rates, you will also need to understand KPIs that lead to it, such as website traffic or views generated by your content, social shares and comments. Whilst large numbers of website visitors are good, you will still want these to be your target market and tools such as Leadfeeder or LinkedIn’s Website Demographics can offer some insight into the profile of your visitors.
Tools like Buzzsumo can help you understand performance and reach of your content, whilst each social media channel will have information on reach. Here are a few other content marketing ROI templates and tools.
Key takeaways: develop content that is tailored to your marketing personas. Ensure you have the resources in place to build the content you need and track performance for each material you create.
If you’re interested in The B2B Event Marketing Guide, fill in the form below to download it: