Publishing to event listing sites has become the norm for many event marketers. Despite being considered a spray and pray approach, you just do it because everyone else does. And to some extent, it works. Well, there are two philosophical methods of event marketing, targeted marketing versus “spray & pray”. Without knowing more about either, you can probably guess which method is more effective.
Marketing an event is comparable to selling any product or service. The primary difference is your event is the product. You are selling an experience. Sure, an event may have ulterior motives such as selling more records for a music artists, lead-gen for a business, or fundraising for a non-profit. In all cases though, people are buying tickets out of self-interest because they perceive your event will provide them some personal benefit.
Whatever event experience you are selling, their exists a target market. As a result, if you guessed targeted marketing to be more effective, you’d be right. Here’s a good example to illustrate target markets:
If you’re throwing a Food Event called “Micro-Beers and Ribeye Steak-Off”, then you proceed to market to non-drinking vegetarians, expect ticket sales to be slow. So what does this have to do with event listing sites?
Most event listing sites that have high volumes of unique visitors are general in category. Think about Zvents, Yelp, Eventful, Upcoming. They cover a broad spectrum of event categories including Food, Film, Performing Arts, Sports, Non-Profit, Music, and the list goes on. Therefore when promoting an event on these sites you are inherently taking the spray and pray approach. You hope someone, looking for something to do, will stumble across your event listing. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, through our consulting with many event organizers, these sites continue to perform by generating click-throughs to their ticket page. But…let’s not be disillusioned about event listing sites, they fall under the spray and pray methodology. So what can we do to make them more effective? Just a few extra steps.
Tip #1 – Use Short URLs to Track Results
You can create short URLs for your ticket page to track click-throughs. Google has a short URL generator that is quick to set up and easy to view referrer sites. There are many out there, pick the best for you. This will help you understand where your traffic is coming through and which event listing site is generating the most traffic for you.
Tip #2 – Spend Time on the Sites the Matter
There are hundreds of event listing sites out there. Spend time publishing to the sites that matter. By tracking your click-throughs from your short URL, you’ll save valuable marketing time spent on future events. The more data you have on specific channels, the more effective a spray and pray approach becomes.
**BONUS TIP: One of our clients, an event organizer who throws ten local food tours per week, sells 50% of his tickets on a weekly basis from listing on TripAdvisor. Depending on your target audience, this is a hidden gem.
Tip #3 – Understand Who’s Really Attending Your Event
Events are all about the people. If you don’t understand who they really are, how can you market to them? Oh that’s right you can spray and pray. Let’s get to know your attendees instead. If you know detailed information about your audience (age, sex, occupation, interests, etc.), then focusing your event marketing efforts becomes easier. Many local publications list event calendars, but they command different audiences. Understand yours, so you can market to theirs. You can accomplish this through three primary ways.
- Request more detailed registration information. Eventbrite and other ticket management companies enable you to add additional fields to the registration process. Actually setting it up is easy, the hard part is determining the right questions. Pro: ability to gather pertinent data in advance of the event. Con: adds friction to the ticket purchasing process, possibly discouraging buyers.
- Conduct attendee surveys. Surveys can be administered before, during, or after the event. Some helpful tools include SurveyMonkey or Wufoo, both have free versions. Pro: ability to gather more substantive data. Con: no one really likes filling these out, and often times blow through them with inaccurate responses.
- Website analytics. Tools like Google analytics and Quantcast can tell you the demographics of your website visitors. By integrating these tools into your ticketing page, you can learn a lot about them. With deeper integration, you can discover not only who visited your ticketing page, but track them through the registration process. Pro: more passive method of gathering data without annoying your attendees. Con: requires a little technical knowledge to integrate.
Some event marketing channels are inherently spray and pray, such as publishing on event listing sites. This is absolutely fine as long as you’re managing your time most effectively. Don’t rely on one marketing channel. A good event marketer leverages multiple marketing channels to achieve maximum return on investment (both time and money).
EventChocolate helps you find new people to attend your event. The right message, to the right people, at the right time.