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.
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.
Used across numerous sectors, SMS messaging can be particularly rewarding in the entertainment and hospitality industries. With a combined revenue of over £140 billion, the entertainment and hospitality industries are thriving and their worth is expected to increase substantially in the near future. However, with many Britons having less disposable income to play with, businesses will be vying for custom more than ever. In order to attract new consumers and retain existing customers, companies will need to develop, enhance and refine their marketing techniques. SMS is one such proven technique.
Sometimes bloggers or journalists get a bit carried away. They see some data or fact, and run off to declare there’s a trend you need to know about. The latest one I’ve seen is all about how to reach the generation of “cashless shoppers”. The argument goes that you need to use SMS messaging to reach customers because they are all shopping online – where you obviously can’t pay in cash.
Mobile marketing offers an unprecedented access to your customers virtually any time, anywhere. This is particularly true for SMS marketing because it is “always on”. Customers don’t have to be surfing the web, or using an app to receive messages. Instead, they see the marketing messages right alongside ones from their friends and family.
In a world where your competition can be found in just a few seconds, instilling brand loyalty in customers is a greater challenge than ever. One way to proactively reach out to customers is via SMS. The personal nature of SMS messages, combined with high read rates, gives you the opportunity to develop relationships with each customer.
People love live music. Ticket sales worldwide are expected to reach $20.5 Billion (~£14.2B). The UK alone has around 900 festivals each year. There just aren’t enough headliners to go around. What else can you do to draw people to your event (whether you have a headliner or not)? The answer: Make your event an experience rather than just a destination.
You might not have run an SMS marketing campaign yourself, but you are likely to have received some form of SMS communication from a business. Whether that's a commercial brand running a competition or a healthcare provider, such as your GP or dental practice, sending you an appointment reminder. If you have run an SMS marketing campaign before, you're likely to already be aware of the effectiveness of the platform for communicating with customers, but might need help justifying your use of SMS messaging to other people or departments in your business. Here, we've listed out the key reasons SMS marketing is so effective.
In a previous blog post I shared how getting my movie tickets delivered to me via SMS made going to the cinema with my family easier than it’s ever been. I signed up to the company’s SMS marketing list too and I want to share the process with you because it was so easy, so seamless for me as a consumer, that it makes a great example for others to follow.
SMS marketing is not quite like most other marketing. You have such a limited space to get your point across, just 160 characters, more or less. It’s not unlike having to create a print advert for a small space, but somehow it can seem more intimidating. That’s why sometimes it seems like marketers forget one basic rule about writing offers: Always lead with the offer! Sounds simple, right?