In a recent conference-consulting facilitation, we were discussing how event organizers should embrace inbound marketing (pull) over traditional outbound marketing (push) and that a blog platform is worth considering as the inbound marketing content’s home base or hub. That’s when a millennial task-force member asked, “Who reads blogs anymore?”
I danced around her question and shifted the conversation back to pull marketing needing a home base. Later, I did some research to determine if there was any validity to her question. According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Trends Report, 79 percent of respondents said blogs are one of the top platforms they use to distribute content. Blogs rank higher than in-person events or webinars and behind email and social media.
That millennial may have been right, however, on the “who reads” point. While blogs are not dead, some believe the written word is dying. According to IBM, 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years. Many of us prefer to consume content in other ways than reading, like watching a video or listening to a podcast. This means that it’s getting harder and harder to make your content stand out from the crowd. We need to mix up the mediums and keep raising the bar on quality. (And thanks for bucking the trend and reading this far.)
Why You Need a Home Base
I believe that every major annual conference should have a blog, or similar feed, to host your conference narrative. You don’t have to call it a blog, but you do want the built-in functionality of a good blogging platform. You should own the turf where your content resides and it shouldn’t be behind a membership wall. In addition, it should be linkable and include original content for multiple conference years.
A good home base will serve as the hub for your conference’s online presence, and will need to be:
Optimized for search. Google should be able to find your conference organically. Think key phrases, more than key words. Google loves blog platforms.
Easy for users to consume, share, co-create pages or posts, and subscribe to.
In addition, it should:
Include calls to action, such as at-a-glance schedules, registration links, and the like.
Contain links to outposts (social media or e-community links).
With a blog platform as a hub, you need spokes to improve distribution — like email and newsletter previews with links to hub content, and social-media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, so you can reach your customers or prospects where and when they prefer.
As you work through your inbound strategy, consider having multiple contributors for your blog. Some associations ask volunteers to be social-media ambassadors and pen a few posts; others leverage their conference committee and speakers to contribute content.
The Benefits of Inbound
According to HubSpot, inbound (pull) marketing is focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customer’s buying journey. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.
Unlike outbound (push) marketing, inbound marketing does not need to fight for potential customers’ attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects and build trust and credibility for your business.
Read Marketo’s thorough explanation and comparison of inbound vs. outbound marketing at marketo.com/inbound-marketing/.