The event is weeks away and sales are lower than expected. You scramble to find budget for more ads, or panic and overwhelm your social media followers with sales links. Sound familiar? It's time to escape the trap of reactive marketing, and think proactively about the most effective marketing strategies to grow your event.
If you want to grow your event, targeting your existing audience isn’t enough. Sure, past attendees and social media fans are a great place to start — but your sales will stagnate if you rely on them alone year after year.
You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to reach people who don’t know you… but should. People love discovering new events to attend with friends, and they take the initiative to seek out events on their own. In fact, when Eventbrite surveyed 3,000 event-goers, 64% said they use online neighborhood guides to find nearby events.
There are many other websites and apps people turn to for fun things to do. We call these “discovery sites,” and when you promote your event on them, you can tap into a much bigger audience that you couldn’t reach before.
When it comes to your event promotion, making this discovery and distribution model work starts with knowing where people spend the most time online.
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Step 1: Find Out Where Your Target Audience Is Looking For Events
When someone’s browsing for something fun to do this weekend, they might check out Facebook, Eventful, or Google. If they’re specifically looking for a conference to attend, Lanyrd is a popular site. For live music? Spotify and Bandsintown pull concert information from several ticketing partners. These are just some examples of discovery sites.
For a discovery site to be useful, it must be comprehensive — meaning that it has a lot of event information available. Every event-goer is different and each wants to find events that fit their (and their friends’) interests. But the best discovery sites also have another powerful feature: advanced algorithms that decide who sees which events.
For example, Facebook targets users with relevant events based on their interests and friends’ activity. Click on Events in the lefthand sidebar, and you’ll get a thoroughly customized list of recommendations, including events near you, ones your friends are going to, and ones Facebook thinks you’ll like, based on your behavior and search habits. You don’t even have to look for events for Facebook’s sophisticated algorithm to suggest them. They simply show up in your feed when friends are attending.
Facebook — and other apps that work in much the same way — target events to people based on their unique preferences. Instead of wasting your time promoting your event to people who might not care, targeted recommendations like Facebook’s ensure you’re getting your event in front of the people most likely to attend.
So how can you get your event on all these discovery sites?
Step 2: Choose A Ticketing Platform That Does The Work For You
Combing the web for all the places your event could show up is tedious. And once you have a solid list, how do you get your event to show up on those sites? Some discovery sites allow anyone to enter their event, but many of the most popular sites are more exclusive. These discovery sites only pull in events from ticketing platforms that they partner with.
For example, Spotify populates its Concerts tab with shows through partnerships with Eventbrite and Ticketmaster. And while anyone can create their own Facebook Event, you need to choose the right ticketing or registration technology if you want more sophisticated options.
A best-in-class ticketing or registration service should automatically distribute your events to various discovery sites so you don’t have to do it yourself — and you get access to more exclusive platforms event-goers frequent. Ticketing partners like Eventbrite also typically have their own discovery site in the form of searchable local event listings. In fact, Eventbrite has found that people who find events through their discovery pages are twice as likely to buy tickets as people who land on the same events via social media.
These are valuable fans to get in front of, because they’re actively looking for something to do. But once they find out about your event, there’s one more crucial step.
Step 3: Let People Buy Tickets Right Then And There
Catch people while they’re browsing to buy, and your chances of getting a ticket sale go up. But make them wait for a slow site to load or ask them to complete too many steps in your checkout, and you’ll lose them before they make a purchase. That’s why native checkout, or distributed commerce, is becoming such a valuable technology solution for event organizers.
Back to our Facebook example. When users find an event on Facebook and can buy tickets right then and there — without being redirected to your ticketing site — the odds of them completing their purchase go up. In fact, Eventbrite’s partnership with Facebook has proven that selling tickets directly on the social media platform drives twice as many sales and free registrations than events that require users to go to a ticketing page elsewhere.
This is complex technology, of course, so partnering with a ticketing platform that does it for you is crucial. And an integration between a discovery site like Facebook and your ticketing provider will give you more than just buttons on pages. It will also enable automated syncs: you make a change to your pricing or your event description, and that change happens instantly across every discovery channel. You should also be able to track real-time ticket sales by discovery channel on your ticketing provider’s analytics dashboard, so you can double down on the channels driving the most sales.
Distributed commerce is still cutting-edge, but it’s becoming more and more common. In just the last year, the percentage of tickets bought this way has more than doubled. This will soon become a standard experience for ticket-buyers, who already balk at having to navigate to and wait for another site to load to make a purchase.
A marketing model that marries discovery with distribution helps you reach new audiences, streamline the path to purchase, and ultimately make it easier to sell more tickets. If you’re curious about how to implement these strategies for your event, check out How to Use Event Distribution to Double Your Ticket Sales.