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December 2007
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February 2008

The Second Worst Thing For Your List

A few years ago a clients had an email subscriber list of almost a 1000 people.  Recently, the client’s list was migrated to a new database that featured tracking of email open rates and bounce backs.  The first newsletter I sent out for my client utilizing the new system returned horrifying results.  Over 60% of the emails were returned undeliverable. Of the 40% of emails that were delivered less than half actually opened their email.  The end result, of almost 1000 emails sent only about 200 people opened the email my client sent. Unfortunately the client hadn’t sent an email to their subscriber list in some time. 

The problem was further compounded by the fact that there was no tracking to determine email effectiveness. You can’t improve if you can’t measure and reapply knowledge.  In order for any email list to be effective you must be able to track open rates, click through, and bounce backs.  I recommend a third party application like 1ShoppingCart or Constant Contact.

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Event Marketing: Multiple Ways to Engage Your List

This post is a bit of a review on previous concepts already outlined. My hope is that it helps open your mind to some of the possibilities that come with building a high quality list of prospects.

It is in your best interest to build your list over time even if your event doesn’t take place on an annual basis. Even if you start to build your list a week for your event, that list will become tremendously useful in the future. The process of maintaining and growing a high quality list does require a decent amount of work and effort, but the return on investment can be very significant.

One of the best parts of having a high quality list is that you have the opportunity to engage or sell to your target market on multiple occasions.  To make sure I thoroughly beat a dead horse, you need to consistently deliver value up front before asking your list for anything in return.

Below are some ideas to consider on various ways to engage your list of event patrons now and in the future.

Pre-Event Survey
I believe that pre-event surveys can be tremendously beneficial to generating interest in your event. I don’t know of anyone in the event production field that collects this data up front on a consistent basis.  The data can be used to build portions of your event around patron feedback.  How much more likely is someone to attend your event if you present your patrons something they are legitimately interested in?

Pre-Event Advertising & Selling Tickets to Your Event
A good list also allows you to build interest to your event well before it’s cost effective to start television, print, or radio advertising.  In some cases if you build a big enough list, you can reduce your reliance on traditional advertising channels.  High quality lists allow you to market directly to the consumer that has prequalified him/herself for what you have to offer.

The most obvious scenario for event marketers is using their customer list to sell a ticket to their event.  Focus on front loading value, before you ask for the sale.  Think of ways to deliver value and make it difficult for a prospect not to pull out their credit card and purchase a ticket for your event.  There are a number of events that don’t charge for admission. In this case, think of ways to ensure people attend your event. Regardless of an entrance fee, you need to build legitimate interest if you want anyone to attend your event. Using your list smartly can build interest.

The Follow up Survey
After your event is over is an ideal time to survey your patrons. I’ve witnessed some event organizers try to survey their patrons while an event is taking place, the results were lackluster at best.  People don’t want to come to an event to take a survey about that event. You have an opportunity to collect valuable feedback immediately after your event. Just make sure you don't wait too long.  I recommend doing a post event survey no more than a week after your event is held.

Selling Memorabilia or Souvenirs
Do you have a event branded baseball cap or polo shirt you could sell? Use your list to find out what your patrons are interested in purchasing and make them an offer. It allows you an additional revenue channel. Consider the Hess truck that gets sold in the United States every year around Christmas. There are consumers that go out of their way for something that’s a conversation piece or collectible. Is there something your event patron might be interested in buying after your event is over?

There are numerous ways to leverage a high quality list and sell to your prospects. Hopefully some of the above examples open your mind to new opportunities.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Event Promotion: The Psychology of Ticket Prices

It has been said that consumers buy with their emotions and justify their purchases with logic. The previous ideology can also be applied to event ticket prices. I’ve seen ticket prices that range from a few dollars to hundreds and thousands of dollars. High ticket prices aren’t a barrier if the consumer convinces himself that the purchase price equals or exceeds the time value an event offers.  It’s critical for event marketers to convince their customers on the value of the event experience.

Consider the Following:

“Why do you think people buy the Mercedes Benz automobile in America? Is it because of the rack-and-pinion steering or the ABS braking system or the safety features? Other cars have the same features, so why spend a fortune to buy one when, for a fraction of the cost of a Mercedes, you can get an American- or Japanese-made car or even a Volvo that has many of the exact same features?

The answer: We buy on emotion and justify with logic. When I first bought a Mercedes and my friends saw it, I told them that the reason I bought it was because of a series of technical features that I found very impressive. The real reason I bought the car was not for the technical features at all. It was an emotional decision. I wanted to own a prestigious car and belong to the select group that drive Mercedes.”
(Triggers , Joseph Sugarman)

Where is Your Advertising Focus?
How many times have you been subject to event advertising all about the event date and location and not about the event itself? Yes you need to let people know when you event it happening.  At the same time, you need to focus on what type of experience you are delivering to the consumer before they enter your event. You need to convince the consumer that the ticket price is exceeded by the value you are delivering.

Consider Disney
Last year I travelled to Disney’s EPCOT Center. It was almost $70 USD for an admission ticket into EPCOT. That’s a pretty steep price for a day of entertainment. Yet, Disney delivered on the face value of the ticket price. Disney’s theme park advertising focuses as much on “Here we Are” as “Here is What You Get.” Think about ways you can integrate “Here is what you Get” into your event marketing.

Offer a Unique Experience
In some cases you can sell a ticket for ten fold what a regular consumer would pay.  Consider the possibilities for affluent marketing. There are consumers that are willing to pay a very high price for a truly unique experience. A unique experience might be a VIP package where patrons get to interact with event performers or other VIPs. You’re missing an opportunity if you don’t market to the affluent segment of your target market.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Front Loading Value for Your Next Event

Yesterday, I asked someone  the following question, "If I was going to give you 10,000 emails from your target market what would you do?" Their quick reply was "I'd spam the crap out of them!" The previous reply represents why so many consumers are reluctant to give away their email address. How many times have you checked mail program only to find annoying emails. It is also the reason why few companies make money email marketing. Too many companies view an email address as another way to sales pitch people.

The most successful internet marketers deliver so much value up front that they make it difficult for a customer not to buy. The process starts with building trust, credibility, and delivering value up front.  You can use the process to get people to an event or purchase event tickets. The best part is that almost everything can be done with email. It requires you to think of ways to deliver value before ever asking someone to buy something. I like to call the process front loading value.

Using Email
The simplest suggestion for creating value is with a simple email sequence. Figure out what information is important to your event attendee and send it to them. Below is a sample email sequence for air shows. You can use the same concept for almost any event.

Front Loading Value for an Air Show

  • Announce your show to your list before the public finds out (builds credibility and trust)
  • Email a list of performers with their web site links
  • Feature some of the scheduled on site attractions
  • Conduct a short audio interview with a performer and post to your web site
  • Email your list a helpful article on taking pictures at air shows
  • Send pictures or videos of arrival aircraft or practice show

In the case of the air show sequence, you would want to send 10-15 emails before asking for your list to buy something. For some people this might seem extravagant, but building trust and credibility before asking someone to buy something is essential.

Front Loading with Your Sponsors

Here is another idea. Right now, it's January in New York State and that means snow. If one of my event sponsors is a car wash, I'd ask them to create a coupon that I can email to my list. The prospective attendee gets a discounted car wash and the sponsor generates revenue.

The core idea behind front loading value is to get your consumer so excited for your event that it's difficult for them not to purchase tickets.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Your Event Web Site as a Customer Service Portal

A few days ago I was conducting some search engine optimization research for an event marketing client. During the process I found a few first page indexed links that a typical web user might perceive as a negative customer feedback regarding a client's annual event. In the case of my client there were various blog posts and forum entries indexed into Google referring to their event. It is important to remember that Google and other search engines hold on to older relevant content. The search engine links which contain potentially negative feedback could show up for years in search engine results. Those indexed links could also impact someone's decision to buy tickets for a given event in the future.

The Continued Growth of Social Media
Social media is going to continue to grow. Today it's difficult not to find very specific niche markets without at least a blog, forum, or dedicated web.  People love information and flock to anything that could be perceived as new information for a given topic of interest. The user's need for information can be either a virtue or vice for event marketers. Search engines don't discriminate between negative or positive feedback they view it all as content to be crawled and indexed.

A Suggested Remedy

You'll never be able to stop people from posting information about your company, product, or service. Yet you can address the situation, in your own words, on your web site.  An official web site has some authority with your patrons. If your event web site has been up for some time you've probably build trust and credibility with your target market. Use your web site's authority to your advantage.

In the case of my client, they knew of most of the customer service issues raised by their patrons the day after their event. One of the best remedies would have been to acknowledge customer concerns almost immediately on their own web site. The negative feedback wasn't event my client's fault, unfortunately from the user's or patron's point of view it comes down to a matter of perception. People are still going to blog and post their opinions to forums. You can position your organization and event in a positive light by quickly acknowledging the concerns and allowing users to provide additional feedback on your web site.

Consider this except from The Mystery of Online Customer Satisfaction:

"There was one very important piece of actionable information that TARP provided.  95% of unhappy customers will do business again with you if their issue is resolved immediately. Your window of opportunity might be narrow and short, but you still have time to do sometime. Use the speed of technology to quickly recover from a customer service issue."

If something goes awry at your event use your event web site to address the issue immediately and let patrons know their concerns count.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Teasing Users with Event Details on Your Web Site

A recent check of user statistics from various event web sites reminded me of an important point as it pertains to event web sites. It is important to remember that a portion of web site visitors to your event web site are return visitors. As an example an air show web site I'm currently in the process of updating receives 30% of it's visitors as return visitors. Overall the percentage of visitors, compared with total expected web site visitors, is fairly low. The air show date is still over seven months away. But the bottom line is users love new information. By providing new and return users with the newest information you help to establish trust and credibility well in advance of your event. Trust and credibility is crucial especially if you are looking to sell advance sale tickets.

Event Web Sites Provide News and therefore like News Web Sites

It helps to think of your event web site being analogous with a news web site. Going back to Jakob Nielsen's HOME RUN acronym it is critical to keep web sites "Often updated." Ask yourself, "How often would I return to a news web site that never gets updated?" In today's world news agencies play the game of "who can update first." Unfortunately the race to be first comes at the expense of getting accurate information to the public. Make sure that you are releasing the most up to date and accurate information possible. Don't forget to include the disclaimer of "Information Subject to Change without Notice" on relevant piece of information.

Release the Obvious First
If your event web site is the official web site for the event make sure it is positioned that way. In today's world of blogs and forums someone else might report the news first.  It is important not to let other  event sites become an information authority for your event. You need to think ahead on what information you release upfront and what can be released over time. You'll obviously want to release event dates and major acts early enough to build anticipation. If there is information on your event that others in the public can get quick access to, like press releases, you might want to preempt the release of information from other outlets or channels on the event web site.

Give Them a Reason to Return
If you have a few weeks or months of lead time before the actual event takes place use the opportunity to tease users. You might be able to combine each announcement with a feature on your event web site's home page. Think of what information might be most valuable to your event patron.  If you're unsure about what information is most important conduct an online survey or send out inquiry emails. Some of the responses you get are sure to surprise you.

Think of ways to use the release of information to your advantage.  The release of information can go beyond just posting to your web site.  Consider using a digital news letter to pass along insider information about your event. What's common knowledge to an event organizer might be big news for an event patron or web site user.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Having a Separate Web Site for Your Event

In many cases companies use their home page to promote their own events. Depending on how much information is on the companies web site it might be difficult for your users to get details on your event. The primary purpose for a separate web site is making it easier for users to find event information without having to wade through unrelated information.

The Price is Right
Today domain name registration and hosting prices are very reasonable. There is little reason not to have a dedicated web site for each of your events. Something as simple as a one page web site can suffice for promoting your event. If you have dozens of events it might be worth dedicating a single web site to your event marketing and promotion efforts. For clarification purposes I consider an event something where there are going to be a hundred or more people in attendance. Festivals, Concerts, Sporting Events, and Galas are just a few examples. You need to determine your threshold based on your organization's needs.


The graph above represents a company's web site that is promoting one of their events. Compare and contrast the above statistical data with the graph from User Traffic Trends to Your Event Web Site. Both graphs are from the same company promoting one of their annual events. Notice all of the additional traffic in the above graph before and after the event. The unrelated traffic is looking for information to the company and might be looking for the information on the company's event. Web users tend to be channelized in their search for information. Users traditionally look for one piece of information at a time.

Getting Event Information Lost in Company Information
A big challenge for many users is trying to locate information about a certain event on a parent company's web site. One of the biggest problems is that a company's event information can get lost within all the other information on their own web site.  I personally ran into this challenge myself. A local friend of mine runs a highly respected not for profit organization. I planned on attending their annual holiday gala. It took me over five minutes to find the proper link for additional information on the gala. The gala is one of the not for profits largest money making events, yet there wasn't an easy to find link on the not for profit's home page. Most users don't have a long attention span or high degree of vigilance when it comes to finding information online. If a user can't find information they're off to another web site or task.

Branding Your Own Event
Having a separate web site allows you to brand your event on it's own. The advantages far outweigh the time and cost involved.  Because you have a separate event web site doesn't mean that shouldn't co-brand both your company web site or any other online interest.

Event Marketing and Search Engines
If you choose to setup a separate web site for your company's event remember that it takes time for get established in the search engines. Using your existing web site to transition to your new web site. Create links from your existing web site to the dedicated event web site.  Keep in mind that It takes time for search engines to properly index your page. In some cases it can take 6-12 months to properly index a web site or web page. If you are only a few weeks away from your event, creating a separate event web site might not be the most prudent course of action.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on some of the ideas on concepts presented above. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Web User Traffic Trends to Your Event Web Site

User traffic data varies significantly from one type of web site or industry to another.  Over the last 8 years I've been collecting data from various event web sites. Some of the event web sites included air shows, festivals, sporting events, and not for profit fund raisers. Regardless of the type of event, almost every event web site showed distinctively similar online user trending. Each event had various forms and levels of traditional and online advertising, yet each event had very similar user trending. It is crucial for every web organizer or event promoter to collect web statistics on their event web site.  Knowing event web site user trends can prove tremendously beneficial for event marketing and event promotion both online and for traditional advertising.

The Assumed Curve
One of the most interesting aspects of event web sites is that the observed user traffic trends are a-typical. Without data most event organizers logically estimate web site traffic trends. The logical assumption is that there is a gradual and constant increase in traffic leading up to the event and then a significant drop off after the event. Almost every event organizer I present actual event web site data to responds with "that's interesting" or "I wasn't expecting that."

The Actual Curve
Below you'll find a graph detailing a snap shot for an event web site. Every event web site I've managed or have data on for the last 8 years has shown a very similar trend. Leading up to the event user traffic anemically increases, it does not the gradually increase as most people assume. Within a few days of an event the web traffic increases almost exponentially, to a spike, and then rapidly decreases to a trickle after the event. The biggest discrepancy between various event curves is in the user traffic spike. Events that are supported by various forms of traditional advertising tend to spike sharper and higher. In my experience, traditional Business to Business or Business to Consumer web sites rarely spike like an event web site. If there is a spike on a traditional web site it is rarely as disproportionate as on a event web site.

By The Numbers


There is also some interesting data when you actually segment some of the statistical data. To the right is an graph depicting a six months in user traffic to a typical event web site.

Percentage of Total Web Site Users by Date Range
(6 Month Range)

  • 80% of Web Site Users visited 25 Days before the event and 5 Days after the event.
  • 54% of Web Site Users visited 5 Days before the event and 5 days after the event.
  • 6% of Web Site Users visited immediately after the event to 5 Months after the event.

Knowing the information above should help event organizers better plan for their event and. It is important to remember that specific user data trending can vary from one event to another. If you have a web site that supports your event make sure you are collecting accurate and timely statistical data.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below: