Are you new to content marketing and feeling a little out of your depth when it comes to using it to market your events? You're not alone.
Internet technology is forcing industries as diverse as infrastructure engineering and floral arranging to learn how to market their products and services with informational content at the center of this new digital strategy.
Many are finding it a little challenging.
One example is the travel industry, according to John Straw, chairman of Thomas Cook's digital advisory board.
Recently Straw said he was astounded that his industry is not better at using social media and consumer content.
In a recent post in Marketing, Straw noted that while the travel industry successfully draws people to its websites, it doesn't do a good job of converting those visits into actual sales.
So Thomas Cook made some changes, one of which just happens to take advantage of Google's new search algorithm, Hummingbird.
As with past algorithm changes Google has made, Hummingbird seeks to improve the quality of search results for users and decrease search result manipulation via keyword optimization.
The new algorithm accomplishes this by switching from a focus on keyword searches to a more conversational question-based search. Thus content that answers specific questions is now likely to land closer to the top in online searches.
As part of its new content model, Straw said Thomas Cook has created a product called "Ask and Answer" which lets website visitors ask questions that are forwarded to product managers and reps based on urgency.
It gave the company a better idea of the information that matters to customers, and increased engagement and time spent on its websites. As a result, Thomas Cook's conversion rate increased by 147%.
Thomas Cook also built a product for its websites called DreamCatcher that allows visitors to share vacation ideas, lists and searches with family members. As visitor emails are collected, they are added to the company's CRM database which allows representatives to better target them based on searches they have conducted.
So what does all this mean for the savvy planner seeking to use content marketing to market events?
1. Don't worry, you're not the only one struggling to get a handle on content marketing
It really isn't just you. Everyone is struggling to get a handle on all of the changes that are taking place in marketing and events. Setting aside time for learning and experimentation can be a particularly daunting task for the already busy event planner. Many keep putting it off until the amount of new information they must acquire becomes a virtual tidal wave threatening to make them obsolete.
But knowing that we aren't alone and that even large, successful corporations experience a learning curve should help. Taking small steps everyday, even if it's just reading blog posts about content marketing, will build your familiarity with these methods. And experimenting and engaging on social media platforms, under your own name will help build confidence without risk to your client or event organization.
2. Focusing on answering your potential attendees' questions will give you an advantage
Put the focus on your potential attendees. Make use of survey's and polls. Give them every opportunity to ask questions. Then create content that directly answers those questions. Not only will you satisfy those who visit your event website, you will gain information that will help improve your marketing and your event. In addition, thanks to Google, you will improve your website's search engine ranking.
3. Giving website visitors more ways to engage can increase your success and generate useful information
Think creatively about how you can make your event website more engaging for your potential attendees. Polls and surveys can do this. Discussion groups can also work, if you are up for managing an online community. But don't stop there. You may want to create a special place for attendees to share their plans for your event be it dinner with friends, attending an attraction near the venue or having an impromptu mastermind meeting.
Marketing your event online is not that different from planning an in-person event. Think of your website as the venue. Use your skills to create the perfect place for online visitors to learn and engage with your content. In the end, you may find that content marketing is a lot less daunting than you thought.
To learn more about content marketing, read 11 Reasons You Should Be Using Content Marketing to Market Your Events NOW and 12 Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Content Marketing Success.