Today, four technologies are driving live-event marketing: social, mobile, analytics, and the Cloud—"SMAC."
SMAC technologies provide myriad new ways to get to know your fans, reach them at the right time through the right channel, and measure results to ensure you spend your precious event marketing dollars wisely.
The days of spreading the word about concerts or other live events with fliers and radio spots have all but disappeared, laid to rest alongside the cassette tape and the Discman in the graveyard of Music Industry Past.
Here are four ways that live event promoters and venues can use SMAC in their digital marketing.
1. Social: Make social spending worth every penny
Facebook is your best social media friend for promoting live events. But Facebook has dramatically reduced the organic reach of Page posts deemed to have "promotional content." For example, if you have a call to action relating to purchase intent in your post (e.g., "get tickets"), it will be flagged as promotional and Facebook's algorithms will reduce its reach.
Venue and promoter Pages no longer get a free ride on the News Feed, so how can you make the platform work for you?
The first option is to promote your event without being overly or overtly promotional. Your goal is to simply get people talking. Comments and shares are more valuable than likes: When fans engage in conversations with you, a notification appears in their friends' News Feeds, which can lead to a social snowball effect. So ask questions, or have your fans "fill in the blank," and post videos and pictures (fans love images and videos of their favorite artists).
The second option is to support your organic social activity with paid advertising—now almost essential to gain visibility in News Feed. However, if you do decided to spend, then spend wisely:
- First, find the right audience. Custom audiences help you reach fans you already know, and lookalike audiences help connect you to new fans with profiles similar to those of your best customers.
- Second, measure your success via conversion tracking. Decide ahead of time what matters most: reaching new audiences (impressions), engagement (clicks), or purchases (conversions). Set a performance goal for the measure that matters most to you, hold yourself accountable, and try something new if you're not getting results.
In a world of last-click attribution models, sometimes ads influence purchase behavior without getting credit. Make sure you're not missing out on the true value of an ad by installing Facebook's conversion pixel and setting your attribution window (the number of days following a user's click on your ad you would still consider a purchase as one that was influenced by that ad).
2. Mobile: Build for mobile first
Some 44% of ticket buyers open event-related emails on their phones, a Ticketfly study found. Obviously, you'll need to build every single campaign with mobile in mind.
Here are three common channels affected by mobile:
- Email: How does building for mobile change your marketing emails? Consider this: If a fan is skimming through emails on an iPhone (by the way, if you're in the US, around 94% of them are), only the first 35 characters of your subject line will appear on her screen—about half of the length that would be seen on a desktop. A mobile-optimized campaign should have short, high-impact subject lines that generate opens with very few words.
- Websites: Don't launch or update a website without first checking it out on various mobile devices. Make this a policy. Google Chrome offers a built-in tool that helps you do so easily at the office on your laptop or full-screen computer. Once your mobile site is optimized, segment website conversion metrics (e.g., orders per 100 sessions) by mobile and by device. Monitor these metrics frequently to identify possible purchase blockers and measure the impact of improvements you make to the mobile user experience.
- Mobile advertising: Make sure you optimize your ad campaigns for mobile devices. The mobile News Feed on Facebook has room for only a handful of words, so pithy taglines and eye-catching photos are imperative. Google AdWords also suggests and accepts different ad types depending on whether you're advertising on the mobile Web or within mobile apps.
3. Analytics: Reward your best fans and drive loyalty
Marketing campaigns are meant to be tracked and adjusted; you should never wonder whether your campaigns are working. You should know.
The holy grail of analytics is a unified customer profile that captures every touchpoint consumers experiences with your brand, from online behavior (browse and search) to everything they've bought—online and in the event venue.
Having a unified customer profile provides the foundation for optimizing campaigns to repeat purchase, segment your audience, and measure the lifetime value of a fan. Having insight into the true value of a fan—segmented by acquisition channel, demographics, and more—allows you to optimize campaign spend for new customer acquisition and long-run profitability instead of only looking at the value of a single ticket sale.
A great customer relationship management (CRM) solution will house your unified customer profile data and enable you to identify and reward your most loyal fans. While you love all your fans, not all fans are created equal; your superfans have an outsized impact on your business: Just over 5% of ticket buyers account for about a quarter of ticket revenue, promoters that use Ticketfly's technology platform have found.
So enlist your best fans as a marketing channel and reward them for their loyalty—with something as simple as a thank you note to recognize their patronage, or bigger-ticket items, such as early access to sales, discounted drinks, or VIP upgrades.
4. The Cloud: Use marketing in the Cloud to bring together all the tools you need
Marketing software solutions that reside in the Cloud give you everything you need to acquire, engage, convert, and enlist your fans—all in one place. Say sayonara to silos and goodbye to guesswork; since all marketing tools are powered by the same system, Cloud-based marketing tools can help you collect data across consumer touchpoints and build out the unified customer profile I referred to earlier.
Marketing automation tools have become ubiquitous and increasingly easy to use. There are the big guns, such as Adobe; its aggregated marketing Cloud offering provide a comprehensive solution that spans SEM advertising, email marketing, Web optimization, and targeted content. Others are geared specifically toward certain verticals, such as Ticketfly's CRM solution, Fanbase.
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Bringing SMAC to bear in the live-events industry presents a huge opportunity for marketers, though not one without challenges. In a rapidly shifting landscape, we need to pay ever-increasing attention to new technologies. As with the latest hot band, we have to determine which marketing channels and tools have long-term staying power and which are one-hit wonders.
The key to success across all those technologies is measurement. With data on what's working and what's not, you can determine where to lean in and where to abandon efforts and instead try a new tool or new approach.