© 2017, Emily Taylor, Digital Marketing Manager, Tradable Bits
Ever wonder how events like Lollapalooza manage to sell out so fast? Analysing social data from hundreds of events reveals much insight into how best to market conferences.
Typical conferences go like this: hardly anyone talks about you before event day except your team, so many people talk about you during your event that you’re completely overwhelmed and then you return to radio silence just days after it’s all over. Sound familiar?
Turns out, the most successful sold-out conferences do two things differently. First, they acknowledge and collect data about everyone that shows interest in their conference - not just ticket buyers. We call these people “fans”. Second, all of the sold-out conferences use social CRM technology to execute the same five stage marketing cycle, seen below. We’ve called this formula “fan-based marketing”.
When you launch, attract, prepare, attend and amplify with fan-based marketing, you:
- Generate organic excitement and qualified leads, even months before event day
- Sell out before event day by ensuring every dollar spent on advertising reaches fans
- Triple your organic engagement during your event while maintaining complete control
- Extend organic engagement with your fans and their friends long after your event
Five Stages of Fan-Based Marketing for Sold Out Conferences:
Seven to eleven months before your conference, buzz about your existence is your lifeblood. Don’t blast brand content and pray it’s heard; connect fans with an engagement campaign that creates organic activity.
Goal: Generate awareness for your conference
Typical conferences: Create and pay to push tons of brand content to your own properties
Fan-based marketers: Incentivize fans to create their own content about you and collect contacts with a user-generated contest
Result: More reach for far less effort and spend; more authenticity and credibility
Five to eight months before your conference, your speaker lineup launch should generate leads. Using the audience you’ve built, segment fans by interest and personalise your launch - ensuring a positive response.
Goal: Educate your fans about your lineup
Typical conferences: Pay to tell fans about your lineup through brand content and print/online advertising
Fan-based marketers: Directly email fan networks and amplify organic fan content about your lineup
Result: Higher email open rates because subscribers anticipate you reaching out to them; more organic reach
One to three months before your conference, you’ve launched your schedule and are preparing your fans for a stellar experience. If you sell out early with optimised ads, you’ll have more time to plan surprise fans with personalised offerings.
Goal: Generate excitement for your event
Typical conferences: Promote your schedule on brand assets, starting with an app-only launch to drive installs
Fan-based marketers: Encourage fans to share their own personalised schedules with their friends on social
Result: More organic awareness for less effort and spend; fans introduce you to their networks
During your conference, you’re making sure fans have a good time while solving any potential issues. When you have a pulse on fan social content, you can relax while staying in control and ahead of any crises.
Goal: Amplify the activity at your conference
Typical conferences: Post about event day to brand assets and ask media to promote your live stream
Fan-based marketers: Use your app to interact with fans via push notifications and connect them with speakers
Result: Tons of brand mentions in press and social from genuinely happy fans who had a great experience
After your conference, keep the brand buzz going for longer. Don’t start from scratch again next year - use previous years’ data, audiences and insights to make your next conference bigger and better so you’ll sell out even faster.
Goal: Keep engagement going beyond event day
Typical conferences: Repost live stream and brand content to your own website and social profiles
Fan-based marketers: Put fan experiences (user-generated content) on your website and socials, inviting fans to share
Result: Enjoy year-long engagement; use past fan data to personalise future campaigns, increasing ROI
When event marketers are overwhelmed with disjunct data on social, e-commerce and ticketing platforms, they must connect with their individual fans.
Profiles on social media are more than just follower numbers - they’re digital representations of the everyday identities of your attendees. Connecting with them through social login campaigns and social aggregation provides an unprecedented opportunity for your event to reach the humans behind your online sales.
Successful marketing starts with identifying who your fans are, ensuring they have excellent experiences and then using their influence to generate awareness, engagement and sales.
For a complete breakdown of fan-based marketing tactics for sales, marketing, organisers and sponsorship within each stage, download the complete Tradable Bits Fan-Based Marketing for Events white paper here.
Tradable Bits helps events know their fans and market smarter. Their marketing platform is your all-inclusive solution for sponsorship activations, social aggregation and ecommerce-integrated Fan CRM. These tools combine fan data across networks, giving you a complete understanding of your audience so you can provide awesome experiences while optimizing spend.