Have you ever taken your mobile phone to a concert or football game? Of course, you have. How about your laptop? We didn’t think so.
By definition, live-event attendees are not in front of their laptops or TVs, so that little device in their pocket or purse opens up a new world of marketing options for event promoters, advertisers, and brand sponsors. With a smartphone serving as an instant entertainment and informational device as well as a camera, GPS, and social media center, consumers don’t have to go far to access new layers of interactivity at an event.
2013 is predicted to be another big year for mobile, both for sales of the devices and in the lengths that marketers will use them to enhance consumer experiences. With event-based marketing offering a captive audience, mobile is the perfect channel and opportunity to create a conversation. When designed correctly, mobile campaigns engage users at a venue, drive opt-ins for future marketing messages, and segment consumers into channels for later communication.
Looking back, many leading mobile-enabled brands did just that, enhancing their customers’ experiences in 2012.
Here are a few examples of how companies are using the mobile channel in creative ways to build buzz and brand engagement at live events.
The World Food Festival
Mobile network operator U.S. Cellular sponsored the World Food Festival in Iowa, working with SoundBite’s Mobile Services Group to create a fun and interactive way for festival attendees to vote on their favorite food vendor during the event. Dubbed the Foodie’s Choice Awards, users could vote by either scanning a QR code or texting a keyword to participate. After doing so, participants were directed to a branded mobile website, where they could easily cast a vote for their favorite vendor. The U.S. Cellular Rewards Club was on-site to loan smartphones to users who did not have one, so they could vote as well.
Close to 3,000 votes were cast during the festival, and U.S. Cellular was excited to enhance the on-site experience for festival attendees. The results were displayed in real time on a Jumbotron throughout the weekend, so attendees could see the top five vendors at any given time. Taco Loco won and received the U.S. Cellular Giant Fork Award.
The Galaxy S III
U.S. Cellular ran a mobile tour around the mid-west to show off the Near Field Communications (NFC) capabilities of its marquee device, the Galaxy S III. SoundBite created a simple mSite (mobile site), reachable after the device was held close to the wristbands embedded with Samsung TecTiles that allowed people to enter to win Brewer’s tickets.
The Vans Warped Tour
AT&T, the title sponsor of the Vans Warped Tour, did a great job of communicating with concert-goers before, during, and after the concert events. The company collected sign-ups months in advance, asking users for their ZIP code so they could send lead-up messages to remind people about their local tour stop and let them know what AT&T had to offer its subscribers. These SMS messaging campaigns were supported by a mobile website that listed that day’s schedule of bands, a task previously performed by volunteers and clipboards. AT&T also offered promotions and downloadable music content exclusively to its subscribers, enriching AT&T users’ experiences at the events. Post-concert, AT&T was able to continue communicating with subscribers about products relevant to the music-loving youth market.
Tips for Marketers
For marketers considering using the mobile channel at live events to create brand engagement, here are a few best practices to make it a success.
- Keep it simple. Make sure there is instant gratification and offer an immediate incentive to participate.
- Ask for opt-ins. Use the event to capture mobile opt-ins from attendees so you can continue communicating with them after the event.
- Set proper expectations for success. For example, don't expect high participation at a Green Bay Packers game in December when it’s freezing cold and all the fans are wearing thick gloves and holding hot chocolate in one hand. It’s not likely they’ll want to pull out their phones to participate.
- Have a presence. You’ll want to have a booth or some way for fans to interact with your brand in person.
- Think multichannel. Specifically about how mobile web, SMS, and more traditional forms of communication can work together to maximize the user experience.