What it takes to market events and festivals successfully, even if they're online.
The event industry is fast-paced, chaotic, and recently, very uncertain. Many events and festivals have moved online to virtual platforms because "The show must go on." With event marketing, time is extremely limited due to the fact that events occur on a specific date. There's no time to waste!
Zova Marketing has successfully managed over 100 event campaigns in the last 2 years alone and through that experience, we've put together a list of what works.
Time and Money
Digital ads need at least 30 days to run optimally. We ask our clients to give 6 weeks before a campaign for ads to run.
There are 2 factors that affect ROI the most in event campaigns: Time & Budget. These 2 variables work in balance. The less time you have, the more budget you need, and the less budget you have, the more time you need. Of course, having both massive amounts of time and budget is the best-case scenario.
A budget of at least $300 for a 30-day period ($10/ day) is ideal.
Campaign Prep Work
There is a lot of prep work involved in launching an event campaign. It's important to start early so that everything can be set up correctly BEFORE the campaign needs to begin (30 days before the event at a minimum).
You'll need to select the ad platforms that are best for the campaign. Our favorites are Google (both search and display) and Facebook. Although, more recently, we have been utilizing Snapchat ads as well.
If you decide to use the Google Ad platform, you will need to apply for a Ticket Seller Certification first (if you don't already have it. This is to ensure that you are legally selling legitimate tickets to events. It can take anywhere from 24 hours to 72 hours to get the Ticket Seller Certification. To apply, click here.
If you decide to use the Facebook Ad platform, it may take a few days to set up the ad account properly.
With every ad platform that is added to the advertising mix, conversion tracking also needs to be set up. There are bits of code that each platform provides that need to be installed on the ticketing website correctly so that data can be sent back to the platform. There are many metrics that can be reported, but the 2 most important are the number of conversions (purchases) and conversion value (revenue from purchases). It's important to understand that the metrics that are reported are only those that are a result of the ads (ie. clicks on the ad). Making sure that the attribution model and window are set correctly.
At Zova, we build out a 24/7 live reporting dashboard so that all stakeholders can keep track of the campaigns from a central location. You can learn more about our Google Data Studio reports in our article, The Magic of Google Data Studio.
The ads also need time to be approved on each platform. On Google, ads take less than 24 hours to be reviewed, on Facebook, ads can take up to 72 hours to be reviewed, and on Snapchat, ads can take up to 2 weeks to be reviewed.
Each ad platform has its own ad policies that must be followed in order for ads to be approved. It's best to have an agency or person with a lot of experience and knowledge of these policies to create the ads so that your ads don't get rejected or so that your account doesn't get suspended. You can check the ad policy for Google here, for Facebook here, and for Snapchat here.
On The Same Page
Another important aspect of having a successful event is that all stakeholders are on the same page. This includes talent, managers, marketers, producers, legal, and anyone that is involved in the event.
Make sure that talent management is on board with the event. Do not try to cut them out to make margins. In many instances, managers have content that is needed for the promotion of the event including talent headshots, access to logos and fonts, and knowledge of copy, hashtags, and legal information that could be pertinent to the campaign.
CONTENT: Make sure that you have the following at a minimum: Talent headshots, important hashtags, approved copy for ads, ability to use logos, fonts, and images for the event.
If you can get the talent to create a 20-30 second video about the event to use in ads, that is one of the most powerful pieces of content that can be run online. Videos of talent produce, on average, 3x more revenue than that of static content.
This seems pretty intuitive, but you need talent buy-in for the event as well. They should be excited about the event and willing to post/ do some promotion on their end. This is why it is important to get the management involved as well. Promotions that come from talent talking about/ posting about the event always make events more successful.
Legal - Always make sure that you have the legal ability to have your event and run ads that use trademarked names, images, videos, fonts, logos, etc. We have to go through a trademark approval process on most ad platforms.
If creative is good, you'll have more conversions. If you have bad creative, you'll have less.
Headshots of Talent.
Content from the show/ movie/ comic, whatever they've been in. (Images, logos, and fonts.)
If you can invest in a professional graphic designer, do that!
Utilize Organic Social Media
In addition to ads, ALWAYS utilize organic social media. It creates an ecosystem of content that compliments each other and amplifies your message, content, event, conversions, and ROI.
Talent should be posting on all social media that they are active on.
You should be posting on your event social media pages (or company social media pages).
Utilize the different social media formats on each platform (stories, reels, etc.)
Everyone should be posting at least 5 times per week on each active platform.
Make Your Event Cool
This is especially important for virtual events that may not seem as exciting as in-person events.
Include add-ons such as autographs, VIP panels, exclusive merch, 1-on-1 virtual hangouts, or personalized voice/ video messages.
Turn panels into something unique by making it a game show, involving the audience in creative ways, or adding in surprises that people aren't expecting.
These methods will increase your average value per conversion, resulting in a higher ROI and making ads more feasible.
Back-weight your ad spend dollars to increase up until the day of the event. 30% - 40% of ticket purchasers will buy their tickets in the last 72 hours before the event. By back-weighting your ad spend, you take advantage of this insight that we've gained over the many event campaigns we've run. It can increase ROI by up to 2x.
If you want to learn more about what it takes to successfully launch and manage an event campaign, watch the Marketing Tip Tea Time at 2:22 below!