How Can Festivals Track and Drive Digital Ticket Sales?

2014 Bonnaroo Arts And Music Festival - Day 1

How can festivals effectively attribute digital traffic, and how can they use that information to plan marketing campaigns?  The following post is an excerpt of a white paper written by Jason Hobbs, CEO and founder of The Found Group and found.ee.

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Untangling the Web

Who drove that traffic spike? The festival announcement came from 45 bands all at once, they all drove the spike. But who drove the sales? Well the band you want to see most at your festival of course. Or maybe not, but it feels that way.

Who might drive the most sales from here? Good question. The bands posted across social media,
pushed a newsletter to their subscribers, and published the festival ticketing link on their website. All at the same time! Just kidding, that never happens, but let’s imagine they did a coordinated dissemination, simultaneously. Well, now you have to untangle everything to find out who is driving the most sales through their owned media. Maybe a second status update will seal the deal if you can convince them to do it. But what if you can’t convince them to do it? They aren’t obligated to post a certain number of times (or maybe they are). The festival is six months out.

It’s your job to find the consumers that didn’t buy passes, but showed interest in buying, and convince them to buy. This is commonly done using blanketed remarketing campaigns simply targeting all who have come to your ticketing platform—this gets even harder when you have a tier 2 festival using a third party ticketing platform that has no desire to install remarketing pixels for you.

Note: remarketing is a term used for advertising to people that have been to a specific website previously, receiving a remarketing cookie (pixel) on their computer, and later advertised to, based on that cookie.

The problem with a blanketed remarketing campaign is that all you’ve defined is an audience that sort
of showed an unspecific level of interest. There is no identifiable intent. Remarketing using blanket
targeting drives up advertising costs, due to a lack of qualified targeting. If you have remarketing set up across the entire checkout system you can run a campaign and only remarket those that got to step 4 of 5, before falling out of the checkout funnel. That shows more intent than the person that just spent 30 seconds on your homepage looking at the full lineup. The latter may not even be interested after seeing the lineup. The cluster of people that got to step 3 of 5, but also watched the tour trailer, and subscribed to your email list, well that is a cluster you better hope to understand. Why did 40,000 people take the exact same series of steps? Good question. Can you get them to buy? What does it take? Set up your rule-based remarketing segments.

That’s a good start, but what else can you do to bolster your campaign?

Connecting the Dots

Here’s where found.ee comes in. Instead of providing the same shortened URL to every band on the lineup, you customize a URL to each band. Sure, this takes about 5 extra minutes, but it saves about 5 months of headaches, and tens of thousands of marketing dollars with untailored messaging and experiences.

If The Strokes do the aforementioned list of tasks (or their fantastic digital person does it with their approval) and drive 100,000 people to your homepage; 40,000 of which watched the tour trailer,
subscribed to your email list, and got to step 3, but didn’t convert, then your advertising to those 40,000 people should absolutely be tailored to those fans, as fans of The Strokes. Don’t tell them about the entirely unrelated, lack of crossover potential, Pink playing on day 2. Tell them about The Strokes, their new album, remind them of why they fell in love with The Strokes in the first place, tell them how long it’s been since they’ve played a festival: create an appeal surrounding the thing you know they like.

Advertising creative, messaging, and even the landing page you drive these segments to, can and should be tailored to this. Sure, you’re selling a festival, not a concert for The Strokes; the fans are aware of that, but it’s a good thing to reinforce. Since you’re attempting to get these fans to pay 3 – 10 times what a normal concert would cost, you’re going to have to convince these fans of why this festival is better than simply waiting for The Strokes to come back on their own tour. Tailoring your marketing to the interests identified in these fans is going to increase their propensity to buy festival tickets. To understand a bit more about why people buy, I recommend reading, “Buyology” by Martin Lindstrom, or “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill (both with a grain of salt).

I also recommend you learn from this as you go. Learn about your consumers. Save the learnings for your next festival. Find the crossover, market to it. Save these segments, refresh these segments, create new segments. You can build your own consumer targeting models using a combination of found.ee links and remarketing pixels on your website. Just don’t forget, your rule-based remarketing segments require you to think logically.
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Photo is by Jeff Kravitz

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