In 2019, as many as 61% of event marketers hailed in-person events as a company’s most critical marketing channel—up 20% from 2018.
In fact, most senior-level marketers believed that live events help attendees form connections with brands and other people.
Companies did not hold back on their event marketing spend, either.
In 2019, companies spent at least 21% of their marketing budgets on in-person events.
More than 20% of businesses in the commercial and professional services industry allocated the majority of their marketing budgets to in-person events, while 84% of businesses in the software and services industry allocated up to half of their marketing budgets for events.
The data from recent years indicate that company leaders and marketers prepared to splurge heavily on events in 2020—before the novel coronavirus pandemic canceled in-person events across the globe, that is.
Diversify your marketing strategy by incorporating content marketing.
Make the Most of Your Marketing Budget
Think of content marketing as a tool that saves your company money but keeps producing results. One major benefit of content marketing is ongoing value.
Events increase engagement in the months, weeks, and days leading up to and immediately after the experience, but content marketing produces results over time and constantly reacts to potential customers’ ever-changing needs.
Content marketing also helps companies generate results that can be measured and tracked.
Specifically, I’ve seen companies use content marketing to improve search rankings, create links back to the company website, click-through rates, lead conversions, and even the amount of time it takes them to close a sale as a result of their content marketing efforts.
Now that brands can’t go all in on events this year, companies can benefit from shifting their resources to content strategies that can increase their brand’s visibility and engagement online.
The Cost of Content vs. In-Person Events
It cost between $1,200 and $1,700 to attend an American Express event in 2018. And B2B companies spent, on average, $20,000 per event sponsorship in 2017.
While in-person events helped companies meet some of their business goals then, brands across the country now have an opportunity to use these resources in a different way.
To help illustrate this, let’s imagine a sample marketing budget. Your company has six sales team members who regularly attend in-person conferences. The cost for each person per event is $1,450, plus hotel and food, and the company sponsors two events per year. Your total annual expense is about $54,000.
For the same spend, you can implement a content marketing strategy that produces measurable long-term results. Here’s an example of what a $54,000 content marketing package might look like:
- Earned media: This includes search-optimized guest-contributed articles and mentions of you or your company in media outlets.
- Owned media: This includes pillar blog post campaigns consisting of a search-optimized pillar blog post, search-optimized supporting blog posts, and a related infographic.
- SEO tools and reporting: This includes a technical audit of the company website, quarterly SERP and analytics reports, and quarterly keyword audits.
- Strategy: This involves content strategy development and continual refinement.
How to Refocus Your Marketing Strategy on Content
While content marketing can’t replicate in-person events or replace them indefinitely, it is a great long-term strategy that can supplement that gap in current marketing strategies and amplify the effectiveness of events in the future.
To get started on your journey of using content marketing to work toward your business goals, try out the following steps.
Assess Your Current Strategy
Before you start making big changes, it’s important to take a step back and assess your current strategy.
- What are your primary marketing goals?
- What gaps do you need to fill in your strategy to meet those goals?
For example, if one of your goals is to attract more people to your website, you might decide that you should invest more resources into SEO efforts to position your website in front of your audience in search results.
Complete a Technical Website Audit
People won’t find your business if your website can’t be indexed by Google or isn’t optimized for search.
This is especially true for now, while in-person events aren’t driving people toward your business.
Conduct a technical website audit to make sure your website is technically sound.
When conducting your audit, be sure to review these 10 components, including your website’s page load speed, metadata, broken links, and redirects.
Perform SEO Keyword Research
When it comes to resonating with an audience online, research is a must.
That’s where SEO keyword research comes into play.
Using a tool such as Moz to identify what topics your audience is interested in can help you develop engaging content that’s relevant to your target audience.
And then, including those keywords in your content will help your company be found by your target audience in search results.
Publish Content on Your Website
If you don’t have a blog, create one.
Filling your website with engaging, helpful content that’s optimized with relevant keywords and speaks to your audience’s pain points will help you position your brand as an industry leader and will bring visitors to your website from search results.
Promote Your Content on Social Media
Sharing your content on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow you to promote your content, provide engaging content to your network, and build your thought leadership in front of your audience.
Plus, by using hashtags and posting in relevant groups on LinkedIn, you can expand your content’s reach and position your company in front of new audiences.
You can use a spreadsheet to plan and keep track of your content promotion on social media.
Gain Momentum In 2021
While content marketing will not permanently replace events, it’s an excellent way to generate leads and build engagement around your company in these unforeseen times.
Plus, content marketing can be used to promote virtual events if you decide to host them, and it can be used even once in-person events are a reality again to maximize events’ effectiveness.
Unfortunately, we don’t know when that will be, so it’s time to consider reallocating in-person event spend to digital marketing strategies that can help your brand gain momentum in 2021.