Event marketing can be a tricky business. In addition to marketing your venue as a whole, you’ve got to educate your potential buyer about the specific events that you’re selling tickets for.
And when an event is only a single day (or a limited window), you really can’t afford to miss: You only have one shot to sell as many tickets and fill as many seats as possible. Whereas other content can be adjusted over time in order to be optimized and perform at the top of its game, your event focused marketing efforts need to be home runs right from the start.
With that in mind, here are 9 tips to help you sell more tickets, fill more seats, and make more money from your events
1. Leverage your social media channels.
If you’ve got a substantial following on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media channel, now is your chance to put those followers to use. Make sure you announce your event to your social followers and regularly schedule posts that drum up interest leading up to the event.
It’s also really important that you include a link within your post to where customers can buy tickets—you want to make it as easy as possible for them to buy tickets.
But one important caveat here: Before you pursue social media as a marketing tool, you need to make sure you understand your market so that you know the social media channels that they’re likely to use and visit regularly. Once you have that knowledge, you can refine your approach: If, for example, your target audience spends more time on a particular social media platform, you can focus your energy (and budget) there.
Pro Tip: Don’t just post an update about your event and leave it at that. If you take the time to engage your followers and build a community, you’d be surprised at how much more likely people would be to sign up for an event (and come back for more).
So reply to comments, repost pictures that others have taken at your venue, and otherwise engage your audience. This will drive people to post and comment more in the hopes of you recognizing them, and help you naturally grow your social reach. Answer any questions your followers have, and reply to as many comments as you can. People don’t expect companies to take the time to do this, so you can really set yourself apart when it comes to customer service.
2. Send a promotion to your email list.
Most businesses today have an email list of previous or likely customers who chose to opt-in to receive announcements for upcoming deals/shows. If you have such a list, this is a great opportunity to put it to use.
When should you send these emails? Ideally, you’ll send a few over the course of the months/weeks leading up to the event, helping build up interest over time. Then, as the event comes closer, if you’ve still got seats to fill you should absolutely send out a last-minute blast with the goal of filling those seats.
While it’s fine to send an email to your entire list, it would, of course, be better to segment your list into a more targeted audience of individuals that you believe would be most likely to buy tickets. For example, if you are a theatre showing a screening of The Lion King and you can segment your contact list to just “Parents with Young Children” then you dramatically improve your chances of success compared to sending your email to your entire list.
Pro Tip: Even though emails are a form of online communication, they should still do their best to convey a sense of a personal relationship. Anyone who chooses to sign up for email updates wants to feel they are being valued, and that they’re receiving a unique email, not just another auto-response.
Emails should always hold some sort of value, every outreach should be giving something exciting to the reader. By including insider information, a promotional coupon, or special deals in your emails, you can help the reader feel valued, and this will increase the likelihood that they perform the action you want them to perform: Buying a ticket or visiting your establishment!
3. List your event on the popular events calendars that your customers visit.
Most communities will have some sort of events calendar that people turn to when they’re looking for something to do.
For example, The Connecticut Weekender operates an event calendar where we showcase all the things going on in our state. While we curate the events we think our readers are most likely to be interested in, we also encourage our readers and local businesses to submit their own events for inclusion.
If possible, identify the calendars your buyer is most likely to visit, and list your event.
Pro Tip: Think like your customer. Where are they most likely to go to find something fun to do? Unless they are familiar with your business/venue, that place is not likely to be your website. While of course you need to have information about your event on your website, it’s also important that you strategically use outside channels like events calendars that your customer is likely to engage with. Doing so may be the difference between a popular and unpopular event
4. Engage with the media.
If you know the publications that your customer reads (whether online, print, or both) then you can use that information to make sure your event gets coverage in those publications. Offer media members free tickets for reviews, or offer an interview leading up to the event.
Having a journalist or a large news organization review one of your events could spark interest in future events. Letting a journalist participate for free is a small price to pay for having them promote your business in the media.
Pro Tip: This strategy is especially effective for events that are multi-day. If your event spans multiple days, try to get media to cover the event the first day/night, since the coverage will then be able to work for a few days to continue to churn up interest for the remainder of your event.
5. Bid on relevant keywords.
Search and display advertisements make Google so much money for one simple reason: They largely work.
Though it’s easy to waste a lot of money with an AdWords campaign that is set up poorly, one that is configured correctly from the start can be a great asset for your business.
Pro Tip: Don’t just bid on any and all keywords that you think might lead someone to your event—that’s a great way to waste a lot of money. Insead, identify the keywords related to your event that your ideal buyer might use to find information, identify the area you want to target (this will depend on how far you expect someone to be willing to travel for your event), and create ads that will drive traffic to your site and help you sell tickets.
6. Invest in content.
If your website has a blog, that becomes the perfect outlet for information about your event.
Not only is it free compared to advertising, but it also has a lot of power: If you can create content that ranks well in organic search, it will be the first thing that customers seeking information about your event will find, which increases the chances that they will click through to your page.
Content has become one of the single most important marketing assets for any business in today’s business world, and blogs are an essential piece of the content puzzle. For starters, by hosting a blog on your website, you have a built-in outlet for content about your venue and events. That content has the potential to get your website ranking for valuable keywords that can help you sell tickets in the future.
Pro Tip: Focus in on what questions your audience is asking, and write content to answer those questions. And put in the time and effort to really make the content strong: A high-quality blog post will perform better and rank higher in organic search. So while it’s important to be consistent in your content strategy (we recommend aiming for at least one blog post a week), don’t try to push out a bunch of bad posts at once just to fill in the gaps.
7. Build a full funnel.
You can’t just write a blog post and expect it to immediately make money for your site. You need to build out a full funnel that makes it easy for your customers to make a purchase. This means offering opportunities to subscribe to your blog (which you can use in those emails mentioned above), as well as Calls-to-Action (CTAs) that are attention grabbing and that bring your customer to a landing page optimized to sell.
Pro Tip: Every page on your website (including every single blog post) should offer visitors an opportunity to convert into leads (and eventually customers). At the very least, optimize your site to include an option for visitors to subscribe to your blog.
But then, within more focused content, offer direct opportunities for users to buy tickets. Write a blog post about about specific events of build an events page for that particular event, and include a clear way for visitors to complete a purchase (through the use of, for example, a visually-appealing button with the words “Buy Tickets”).
8. Learn the basics of SEO
Even just understanding the basics of SEO can help your events stand out from the noise. When you are building pages for your event, targeting the right keyword, writing the correct title tag and search-friendly meta description, and following other basic principles can make it so much easier for customers to find your content. Make it as easy as possible for them to get to your event.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have a fully-functioning website for your business or venue. You want to encourage people to stay on your website as long as possible, because longer website sessions will eventually mean more subscribers and more ticket sales.
That means that your site should be constructed in a way that keeps user experience top of mind. Make sure that your website isn’t too slow; create plenty of content to keep your visitors engaged, and just do your best to make it easy for customers who land on your site to buy tickets to your event.
9. Work with local influencers
This is especially important for local events. Identify those individuals or businesses within your community that other people naturally listen to—your local coffee shop or watering hole, pastors, elected officials, etc.—and let them know about your event. The goal here is that, ultimately, the influencer will share the event with their connections.
Pro Tip: The best advertising is word-of-mouth. People listen to other people more than they listen to ads in newspapers or on the radio or television. Why? It all boils down to trust. If you’re able to identify those people that your customers trust and would potentially listen to, then you’re already drastically increasing your ability to close a sale to your event.
People put a lot of trust into places they know, so it might make sense to utilize surrounding businesses that the community looks to for honest information.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, to successfully market your event, you need to understand the customers that you are trying to attract to your event. Knowing where they get their information (social media channels, publications, local influencers) and the words that they’re likely to use when searching for information in Google will dramatically increase the likelihood that your event will perform well.
That information can be used to create and disseminate valuable content (blog posts, video, etc.) that will draw your customer to you. We call that approach Inbound Marketing, which sounds really technical, but all it really means is that you are producing valuable content that will answer the questions you know your potential customers are likely to search for. In today’s world, for a business to be successful, it’s a necessity.