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Disrupting "the rhythm of the page"

Years ago, a web design studio featured a client's air show website in their portfolio. Here is a paraphrased portfolio description: "XYZ Air Show now has an exciting, fresh website design to excite a new generation of attendees with less text and more images on the site."

Did you notice the part about less text?

Yes, the website was visually stunning. It also cost the client at least $50,000 in lost online ticket sales. The problem was that the website relied so heavily on visuals and eliminated so much text that the conversion rate dropped significantly.

The issue was brought to the client's attention several months before their air show. At the time, the web designer stated that the air show website needed more traffic. We attempted to explain that it was a conversion rate problem but nobody on their web design team understood that.

Remember that conversion rate is the percentage of people who go to your air show website and make a purchase. Their feedback was, "If there was more traffic, more people would buy." So we went out and drove more website traffic.

A few months later, we were able to double the traffic to the client's air show website yet the conversion rate was still down. Doubling the traffic was great, but the significantly lower conversion rate meant far fewer people were purchasing air show tickets.

The result? The client lost tens of thousands of dollars of revenue which was calculated by looking at their historical conversion and revenue data. When conversion rate was brought up to this highly prestigious web developing studio yet, again, they had no idea what we were talking about.

They questioned where our data was coming from. It came from the same Google Analytics account they set up! They took it personally because so much time was dedicated to creating a visually stunning website. They were so emotionally tied to their design that they couldn't see the bigger picture.

Finally -- or, somewhat, reluctantly -- they decided to update the air show ticket page. The update was the exact opposite of what the portfolio description said. Over 1000 words were put back into the design-heavy ticket page. We also made some design suggestions to make it visually more straightforward for people to buy tickets.

The lead designer for the project said that the suggestions made to update the ticket page would "disrupt the rhythm of the page". What they failed to realize was that their design was disrupting the rhythm of revenue into our mutual client's bank account.

Thankfully, we were able to get most of the changes in place, the conversion rate went way up and revenue took off like a rocket ship.

Unfortunately it took over six months to convince the web development studio to make the necessary changes. The opportunity cost was massive. This example also emphasizes the importance of knowing and tracking your marketing math!

Want to get more event website design info? Check out the articles below:

Pay them & hold their feet to the fire

A few years ago, a client decided to hire a highly prestigious PR firm to help promote their event. The cost to hire said PR firm was in the tens of thousands of dollars (USD). Ultimately, not a single ticket sold to the client's event could be reconciled to the efforts of the PR firm. Zero, zip, zilch!

Could the PR firm's effort have sold some tickets? Sure! But it's a rarity for a client to hold a vendor's feet to the fire, regarding measurable results.

Today's question of the day, "are you holding your vendors accountable to a mutually agreeable result?" The question is most applicable to advertising, marketing, and PR vendors. Be fair about this process by setting expectations at the beginning. "We're hiring you to sell tickets to our event and that's what you'll be held to, ok?"

Don't start any work, sign any agreements, or pay any money, until the expectation has been set and both parties (you and the vendor) agree.

After your event ...

You need to ask the question, "how many tickets (attendees) did you sell to our event?" Answers should come in the form of hard data. And if you can't prove it with data, the "results" don't count. No free passes, or "we'll show you next time!" Again, establish the expectation upfront!

You can tell the vendor, here are the questions we're going to ask you. And then, ask the questions above.

By that same token, if you can't track an effort (marketing, advertising, or PR) to ticket sales, don't engage in that activity! Either it works, and it can be proven, or it does not. There is no wiggle room here.

You owe it to yourself, your budget, and your team to start asking the tough marketing questions. The most straightforward place to start is by having the people and companies you pay held accountable. That accountability comes in the form of proven ticket sales, nothing less!

Additional Event Marketing and Advertising Resources:

The TV Advertising Test

Does your TV ad pass the following test?

At the local gym, there is a row of television sets that display the major U.S. networks. There is a little bit of something for everyone ... news, sports, home and garden channels, etc.

There is one catch to watching television at the gym. Unless you bring your own headphones and plug into a supporting piece of exercise equipment, there is no sound. Occasionally, some of the stations have closed captioning, but not for the commercials.

Before you produce your next tv commercial, ask yourself the following ...

Does your television commercial convey the most critical marketing points without audio (sound)?

Those marketing points are the big takeaways that you want people to remember from your commercial. Most of the commercials that I see at the gym fail to convey meaningful information without the accompanying audio. As a result, a missed marketing opportunity!

The question on sound isn't just applicable to the gym. The same applies at a local bar, restaurant, or any place where televisions are viewable to the public. Depending on your local population, that can be a significant number of people.

If your television commercial is only seen, what are the two or three main points that you want watchers to take away? If you can convey those main points without sound, your commercial with audio will be even better. Make sure your television commercials stand on their own, without any sound!

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

How Facebook could be ripping you off

Last year a friend of mine bragged, "Loj! I spent USD 800 on an advertisement that according to Facebook sold over USD 100,000 of our products in 30 days!" That sounds amazing, if only it were "true."

I've long advocated, "if you're going to post anything on Facebook, pay for it!" Facebook has made it brutally clear. If you don't boost your content with ad dollars, your content will rarely be seen. That said, spending money on Facebook advertising comes with an important caveat!

Without getting into the technical side of things, Facebook has a model for loosely connecting your dollars spent within its advertising platform to what it calls "total conversion value". It's called an attribution model.

In its purest form, if you pay for advertising on Facebook, they'll attribute that spend to a conversion value (ticket sold) in their ad reporting. Facebook's "last touch" attribution model is based on views (impressions) and clicks.

In their own words ...

"By default, Facebook Attribution selects a last touch model with a 1-day impression and 28-day click window. For example, if you were to select purchase as your conversion, and apply this default attribution model and attribution window, your reporting will reflect purchases that can be attributed by Facebook to the last ad click that happened within 28 days prior to purchase or the last ad impression that occurred within 1 day of purchase, whichever happened last."

Source: (About attribution models)

In the 100K of products sold example above, my friend had selected a 28-day view (impression) as his last touch attribution. That means every time Facebook loaded an advertisement on their page (regardless of anyone actually seeing that advertisement), Facebook attributed those impressions to sales. Even if Facebook had zero influence on those sales!

Why am I telling you this? Because after carefully investing client money in Facebook advertisements with third party revenue tracking installed, Facebook's attribution model gives most people a false sense of success. As a result, Facebook is making a lot of money on people's lack of understanding and/or ignorance of their attribution model.

In some cases, Facebook takes credit for purchases it had little to no influence on. In one instance Facebook said it sold over USD 2,000 of event tickets based on a single advertisement.
According to third-party ad tracking software we installed, 44 USD of ticket sales could be attributed to the Facebook ad. That's on over USD 500 of advertising spend and not a good return on investment. Fortunately we stopped the USD 1,000 budgeted ad before any more money was lost.

The takeaway of the day is the following. If you're going to advertise on Facebook make sure you're very familiar with their attribution models. Always look with a critical eye and ask questions. Last but not least, instead of looking at pure "conversion value" consider other ways to measure success.

You Must Play the Game Differently
If you want to take advantage of social media, you have to play the game differently. What follows are the most common social media marketing mistakes to avoid and simple corrections you can use. The suggestions apply to any social media platform. Click below and dive on in to the 5-Part Social Media Series:

  1. Putting Your Social Media Mindset Ahead of Theirs

  2. Focusing Too Much on Likes & Followers

  3. Trying to Engage on Too Many Social Media Platforms

  4. Avoiding Paid Social Media Advertising

  5. Not Measuring the Results of Your Hard Work

A shameful and gastly looking website

Remember that old cliché "don't judge a book by its cover"?

The same sentiment applies to your event website. And ironically enough, to some of the most successful sites on the Internet. Putting all politics aside, I'd encourage you to look at (Again, please ignore the political leanings of the website).

Show to any graphix designer and they're likely to become apoplectic and say, "that looks ghastly! It's absolutely horrible." Design-wise they'd be correct.

In short, the drudge report website is straight out of the 1990s. It's a bunch of text links and photos. Occasionally they'll include a silly animated gif of a flashing light. It's cheesy with an extra side of cheese.

Given all of the above, most people would discount, solely based on looks. But if you consider their estimated 100+ million annual web site visitors and millions of dollars (some estimates as high as 30M USD a year), and one might think differently.

In 2011, an event client was vilified by their peers for their one-page website. Just like Drudge, the event website was horrible and a bunch of text on a single page. All designed by the guy typing here.

There wasn't a week that went by where either the client or a marketing friend said to me, "Eugene you really have to change that website, it looks B-A-D!"

Within 24 hours of tickets going on sale, the client had sold USD 50,000 of event tickets. All with a one-page ugly duckling website. The client went on to record ticket sales for their event.

If you only had one choice which would you choose:

1. Win a bunch of design awards for your website.

2. Be the proud owner of butt ugly event website that produces record advance ticket sales and sells out your event.

You only get to choose one!

Always remember, it's not about how your website looks. It's all about your website's ability to produce results. Just like that book cover … before judging any website, put your personal bias aside and ask "how well is that website performing?"

Here's more counter-intuitive design advice for event websites:

Kryponite for the social whiners and haters

Here's an excerpt from my Facebook book on dealing with the event complainers, haters, and howlers ... tis the season!

Because social media is a, well, social animal, it is nearly effortless for people to criticize.

Here are some recommendations on how to deal with negativity on Facebook and it basically boils down to having excellent customer service skills:

My strong recommendation is to not react to anything on Facebook immediately. Don't respond too quickly but also don't wait too long to respond. There isn't a specific time frame, and it largely depends on what a Facebook user posts or comments about.

Have a full-time social media person (or customer service-oriented volunteer) helping you during your event. It is very easy for someone to go through and post negative information to your Facebook page. If you and your team are hard at work putting on a great event, you might miss a negative comment.

In a few instances, a negative comment could turn into a PR nightmare. This is why it's so important to be vigilant about your social media the week leading up to your event and through your event.

If a Facebook user is agitated at you or your event, try to take the conversation off your Facebook page. Acknowledge the person's concern and ask them to send you a personal message. You can do this by directly replying to their post or comment. If you're able to resolve the issue to that person's satisfaction, ask the person to acknowledge that in their post or comment.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of deleting negative posts on Facebook. Unless a post or comment contains vulgar language or is entirely inappropriate, keep it on your Facebook page. Why would you want to keep a negative comment? Because it's social media.

Take the opportunity to acknowledge or explain whatever concerns a person might have brought to your attention. In some cases, people leave such over-the-top comments that you don't need to explain anything.

When you have a great event and loyal customers, you often find your own customers and supporters coming to your defense. This happens more often than not. Here's how it usually goes: A Facebook user leaves a very negative comment on your Facebook page. If the feedback isn't offensive or over the top, don't rush to respond.

What you'll find is that your supporters and customers will often come to your defense and respond for you. Honestly, I've seen this a majority of the time. You still want to monitor your posts and advertisements, but allow your supporters and customers to weigh in.

In short, think first – smartly (don't react), answer later!

If you want to take advantage of social media, you have to play the game differently. What follows are the most common social media marketing mistakes to avoid and simple corrections you can use. The suggestions apply to any social media platform. Click below and dive on in to the 5-Part Social Media Series:

  1. Putting Your Social Media Mindset Ahead of Theirs

  2. Focusing Too Much on Likes & Followers

  3. Trying to Engage on Too Many Social Media Platforms

  4. Avoiding Paid Social Media Advertising

  5. Not Measuring the Results of Your Hard Work


Your Ticket Buyer's Continuum

In a recent review of outdoor event survey data, I noticed some interesting discrepancies ...

The post-event survey was put together by the event's ticketing company and is sent automatically to ticket buyers after the event. Within the survey, there is a question that asks, "where did you hear about this event?" Followed by a series of multiple-choice answers. It's important to note the specific wording of the question being asked ... "WHERE did you hear about this event?"

Multiple clients have used the ticketing company that automatically sends out the post-event survey. Separately, there was sophisticated tracking put in place for all the clients using the ticketing company and survey question from above.

Interesting discrepancies arose when comparing the tracking data of a ticket sale and the ticket company's customer survey results. The tracking data showed "how" and "why" people purchased a ticket to the event. Which was vastly different from the "where did you hear about this event" data.

As an example, "Facebook" represented a majority of the customer "where did you hear ..." survey responses. At the same time, the tracking data show that Facebook accounted for a small percentage of overall ticket sales. Additionally, there were discrepancies in place across several marketing channels.

Remember from above, the note about specific wording?

On multiple occasions, event organizers focused their advertising spend around the ticketing company's survey results. That could be a very costly decision!

Because how someone heard about your event and why they purchase a ticket to your event, MIGHT be closely related or completely unrelated.

My friend Roman Yako refers to it as the "Buyer's Continuum." It's where a customer starts, takes a journey (through an advertising/marketing funnel), and ultimately results in a ticket sale. Having good data helps give insight on your Buyer's Continuum.

My question to you, "do you know your customer's journey, and can you define that journey with hard data?"

When you know your customer's journey and can back it up with data ... you acquire an unbelievable advantage when investing your advertising and marketing dollars.

If you have your own ticket sales start, please share it in the comment section below.

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

Curves and ticket revenue control

Previously, we've delved into the world of ticket revenue awareness. That said, if you want to take your game to a whole new level, consider your hourly ticket revenues.

Hourly ticket revenues, seriously?

Fear not! What seems like a daunting number-crunching task can be easily obtained. That is if your ticket revenue data is accurately being tracked and you can integrate Google Analytics. Google Analytics offers hourly ticket revenue insight on a day-by-day basis.

Why should you look at hourly ticket revenue? There are numerous reasons. For today, we'll look at two essential elements. To keep you from going on a wild goose chase, the critical timeframe to look at hourly revenue are the days leading up to and through your event. Especially if you have an outdoor event!

The first element to consider, is your daily hourly revenue curve for a given day before or during your event. For clients, specific days of their event have very similar ticket revenue curves. E.g. the Friday before a Saturday event has a similar ticket revenue curve, every year. Hourly revenue curves are used to forecast future revenue expectations.

Element two is where hourly ticket revenue data is used for tactical marketing actions. If a client is going to be short on daily revenue (this shows up in hourly revenues, earlier in the day), I go to my marketing bag of "tricks."

By implementing specific marketing actions, clients have reduced, and in some cases, eliminate daily ticket revenue shortfalls.

Finite marketing corrections would be far more difficult if you only consider daily ticket revenues. This is because by the time you identify a ticket revenue shortfall, the day is over.

Have you ever looked at your hourly ticket revenues? What did you find?

Want more event ticket sales advice? Check out the articles below:

The Millenium Falcon & your ticket sales

In case you missed it, the new Star Wars "Rise of Skywalker" trailer was released back in October. Even if you're not a fan of "the Force," stick with me here.

While everyone in the galaxy is focused on how many views the new trailer receives, I'd encourage you to look elsewhere. Specifically, at the movie's ticket revenue numbers. As with the Disney/Marvel movies, rarely if ever are the actual number of tickets sold reported. It's all about ticket sales in the form of total revenue. And that's key!

Yes, your event revenue is directly related to how many tickets you sell. But instead of focusing on the number of tickets you need to sell … focus on the potential income from ticket sales.

If you're selling just one ticket type, could you offer a different kind of ticket?

How about a free event. Could you sell a VIP ticket?

Clients have sold more than USD 1MM of VIP tickets to open gate events. In one case charging over USD 3,000 for a VIP ticket … to a free event.

In every instance the initial sentiment was, "that's impossible!" Or, "you're crazy!" Until they tried it and the rest is history.

Food for thought!

All the Board members asked this question

A few months ago, the Executive Director of an event noted something interesting. The director said that all their Board members asked an eerily similar question. That question, "how many people are at the event today?" One would think that question to be perfectly logical.

Yet, after 12 months of hard work, there are probably more critical questions to ask. Specifically, "how much money was generated for all the people in attendance today?" A better answer should include ticket sales revenues, concession revenues, and any ancillary attendee revenue.

It's incredible to me how wrapped up some event organizers are in their own attendance numbers. Here's the irony of event attendance numbers. Far too many event attendance numbers are grossly over-exaggerated.

What gets presented as "we had record attendance," quickly turns into event organizers complaining about "not making enough money."

I'll leave you with two money observations from a top-notch marketer and copywriter John Carlton.

First on the topic of money ... that old cliché, "Money really can't buy you happiness."

Carlton's second money observation is far more intriguing. He states, "Money will only solve those problems that not having money creates."

Remember, if you can't pay your own bills, you can't help anyone else!

Think of your event in terms of revenue, not just attendance. Regardless of how many people attended, were your attendees shown an extraordinary time and did your organization make good money?

The long term growth and success of your event is entirely dependent on revenue, like it or not!

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