Drive Up Attendance During Festival Season with SMS Messaging Part 2
Festival season is upon us! Experienced festival organisers predict that to be successful you need more than just music. You’ll need to offer an experience to your attendees. In the last blog I covered some of the reasons for that, and ideas on how to start building your SMS marketing list before your festival begins.
In part 2, we’ll take a look at how to use SMS to create engaging experiences for attendees while they are at your festival, and even after they leave. There are also some rules and guidelines to using SMS this way, so I’ll tell you about those too.
If you hadn’t heard, people take their mobiles with them everywhere. An infographic on timeout.com last year reported that 139 mobile phones were turned in to lost property during the Boomtown Fair. At Glastonbury in 2014, attendees downloaded 2.5 TB (that’s terabytes, 1000 times bigger than a gigabytes) of data. So people have their mobiles at festivals (unless they lose them) and they certainly are using them too.
Now that you have no doubt attendees enjoy using their mobiles while enjoying music, here are some ideas on how to leverage that to engage them with SMS messages.
- Have them vote for favourite act, or song, or vendor. Everyone loves to vote and share their opinion. For this to actually engage them though, there has to be some meaning behind it. Will the most popular act get to close the show? Will they get more time to perform? Will the favourite song be the one the act closes with? What sort of deal could the favourite vendor offer (or you can offer the vendor)? Sometimes voting can just be for fun, but it helps motivate people to participate if their vote counts for something.
- Send special vendor deals (but be careful with this one). Is it the last day and one T-shirt vendor is holding a closeout 70% off sale? Let them advertise it to attendees using your SMS list (for a fee of course). Maybe a food vendor is offering free samples from 10-2. These sorts of messages can be appreciated by attendees, but not if their mobile phone is turned into a bulletin board. If you choose to support your vendors and offer this service to attendees, make sure you do so judiciously. There’s more about this in the last section.
- Info messages about lost items, people (hope not!), or other logistics. Sometimes you need to make announcements that everyone needs to hear. Perhaps the facilities on the west side of the area are out of order for a few hours for unscheduled maintenance. Maybe you want to let everyone know that if they lost their keys, you have had many sets turned in during the event so they should check before they leave.
- Schedule updates or alerts. Was there a last minute change to the schedule? Did you have to delay the start of one performer? Are there other activities going on during the festival attendees will want to know about? Sometimes things happen. You’ll likely have an announcement if there are delays or changes, but will everyone hear them? Sending messages for the most important changes or alerts can ensure everyone that wants to know finds out.
After the event
Once everyone gets home and the clean-up begins, there are still ways to keep everyone engaged. Here are some messages you can send to keep them talking about the memories and planning for next year.
Ask attendees to sign up for alerts for next year’s event. Since most festivals are annual, you’ll want to have this year’s attendees get on the list to be notified for next year. You might think that since you already had them on this year’s list you can just send messages to them again next year. And you’re right (provided you give them the chance to opt out too). But the next messages from you are likely going to be a long ways away and they may forget between now and then. Having them specifically opt in a second time can help you if anyone complains of spam if they do forget.
Also you can contact those who haven’t opted in to SMS messaging via post or email (if they gave you permission for email) asking them to opt in for alerts for next year’s event.
What can you send them? Alerts when ticket sales begin, let them know who you get to headline the next show, or any other important information they need to know.
Obviously getting the initial opt in is important. If you need a refresher you can read about it in timeout.com of the series.
Beyond that, you need to make sure you only send messages they signed up for specifically. Make sure the content relates to the festival and is something your attendees will want to know. In fact, you should spend time figuring out what your attendees want. You can try to find out ahead of time by sending surveys to those who bought tickets, or attended the previous year. See how much messaging they want, what type, how often, and expected times. That’s a starting point.
And keep timing in mind. Usually acceptable hours are “regular” hours for normal working people. Though that definition varies, 9 am to early evening, maybe 7ish is what most people think is ok. But festivals often run much later into the evening so you could use it during the hours of the event. If people opt out during the event due to late messages then you know not to do that next time (or maybe you found out good times from the surveys you did before the event).
Despite prominent and costly mistakes (learn about that in this blog), SMS messaging can be one of the best ways to reach your attendees during , before and after the festival. Just remember messaging can be done in a fun way, but you still need to follow best practices and regulations.
Most major sports teams in the UK and US already know the power of SMS for engaging fans via scores, stats and other data. But the power of SMS can extend far beyond the world of the major leagues. SMS is ideal, not only for communicating with participants but to coordinate teams of volunteers across the event.
My family doesn’t go to the cinema often, but when we do, I dread the ticket line. So I almost always purchase my tickets online if we plan to go during a busy time, or for a newly released movie. Paying for the tickets is always easy, but getting them at the cinema can be problematic. Enter SMS.
Most car dealerships and garages already have almost everything in place to start an effective SMS marketing campaign. When customers go into a car garage to have a service or a MOT done, they almost always give the dealership their mobile phone number. The reason for this is simple: if a customer is bringing their car in to get checked and they don't want to wait around for any work to be carried out, they'll simply head into town or run a few errands, until the garage gives them a call on their mobile to let them know the work has been done. That means most garages will have a healthy amount of mobile numbers already in their database, but quite often a garage will overlook the potential that their database of contacts presents.
If you run paying events - music, drama, sport or even fine dining, training courses or workshops, you'll know the hardest seats to fill are the last few and they are also the most profitable if you can sell them. SMS is an immediate and compelling means of event promotion that can shift those last few places.
SMS marketing has come to be a crucial element of most businesses’ marketing strategies, and there is plenty of received wisdom within the marketing world as to how to get the most out of your SMS messages. So it might seem like there is not a lot that the world of politics can teach the world of business about SMS. But then again, there probably is.
In a report released last week by Nielsen, it turns out people want more than just to see a lower number on the scale. In their study, 75% of people worldwide plan to lose weight by changing their diet. And another 72% plan to exercise – that’s where your health club and SMS comes in.
Did you know you can send more than text in an SMS message? Well, technically it isn’t an SMS message if it isn’t text. Instead, the multimedia messaging service, or MMS for short, is an extension of the SMS core functionality. It allows you to send short videos (40 seconds or less), images or audio over mobile networks just like an SMS message.
As old as SMS messaging is (going on 25), is it surprising to know that for non-profits and political campaigns it’s just now catching on? It might be, but if you think about it maybe it isn’t surprising. Until the last few years, people have been very reticent to hand out their personal mobile number. Now though, they’re more willing – if they care about the source of the messages.
Festival season is upon us! Experienced festival organisers predict that to be successful you need more than just music. You’ll need to offer an experience to your attendees. In the last blog I covered some of the reasons for that, and ideas on how to start building your SMS marketing list before your festival begins. In part 2, we’ll take a look at how to use SMS to create engaging experiences for attendees while they are at your festival, and even after they leave.