Do People Still Read? How Offsite Content Attracts Quality Readership

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Here at HubSpot, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future of content. We ask questions like, “Which will come out on top — augmented reality or virtual reality?” and “Will AI take over our blog?”

And, in a stroke of paranoia brought on by the 1960 film The Time Machine, I often ask myself, “Will people still read?”

Classic science fiction movies aside, there’s data to suggest that our willingness to read might be on the decline. Between our rapidly-dwindling attention spans — thanks in no small part to smartphone use — to the 59% of people who share articles online without even reading them, there’s no denying that marketers should be thinking strategically about how to recapture their audience’s interest with more engaging written content.

That’s where off-site content enters the picture. But why? And how does it work with your current online presence? We’ve broken down how it can get people to actually read your words, and make them count.

What Is Off-Site Content?

Chances are, you already have a website, and perhaps a blog that “lives” on it. Off-site content is the material that isn’t on your website. You might own it, or it might have been earned — the latter being content that someone else created, but primarily concerns your business, such as a review or case study.

For the purposes of this blog, we want to address the off-site content that you own and can therefore create and control. That includes social media, blogs, and podcasts, for example. And while it’s important to diversify all of your content, today, we’re going to focus on the written kind.

For example, HubSpot has multiple blogging properties. In addition to this marketing blog, which lives on HubSpot’s website, we also have, which is published on the Medium platform. It’s content that we own and produce, but it doesn’t exist on

Starting to make sense? Once you understand the concept of off-site content, you can also begin to see its value in getting people to fully read what you publish.

How Off-Site Content Attracts Quality Readership

In its 2016 Content Marketing Staffing & Tactics Barometer study, Curata reported that 41.2% of respondents cited content creation as the most lacking skill set in their marketing teams. Within that, these teams fell shortest in writing and editing, with marketers craving “more quality copywriters who can post to various content channels.”

Jackpot. There are two key pieces to pull from that quote:

  1. Various channels.
  2. Quality writing.

Let’s break down each one.

Various Channels

When it comes to content marketing, different formats and channels accomplish different things. In fact, they might each even attract different audience segments. Take our aforementioned Medium publication, While it’s still owned by HubSpot, you’ll notice that the content is a bit different from what’s on our marketing blog.

Having those various channels to share your expertise presents tremendous opportunity. We’ve covered the importance of blogging on behalf of your company, and we stand by it. But while a corporate blog often has to maintain a very specific, branded voice, off-site content affords marketers the opportunity to experiment with different voices, styles, and subject matter.

Off-site content is particularly crucial to those new to business blogging. As my colleague, Sam Mallikarjunan, writes in “Why Medium Works,” it can take up to six months of consistent publishing on your company’s blog before it gains significant traction. (And we’re not discouraging that — stick with it, and find ways to supplement those efforts.) But off-site content diversifies your audience by engaging readers who might not have otherwise found your website. Medium, for example, connects your content with the people most likely to read it….