Big Results From Big Events

Want to get extra bang from you marketing buck? One great way is to create a promotion around major events that already attract large audiences. They can be high-profile, main stream events, like the Oscars, or smaller scale happenings, such as a local ice sculpture festival or a sports event. The key is to tie into an event your target audience is already excited out.

Advertisers have learned to enhance their offline marketing investments with an online extension. This year’s Super Bowl yielded many examples, including CareerBuilders’ “Age-O-Matic” engagement tool and GoDaddy’s microsite, which aggregates its ads, outtakes, and related content.

Determine Business Goals and Execution

After determining which events you’ll build a promotion around, determine the business goals and target audience for the campaign. Major objectives typically focus on improving branding, driving traffic, engaging prospects, converting customers, increasing revenues, and reactivating past purchasers.

Keeping marketing objectives in mind, brainstorm the type of online execution you want to use to engage prospects and existing customers. Some options:

  • Build a microsite around the event. It can use a special URL related to the event.

  • Tap into a social media site such as MySpace to engage prospects in a community environment.
  • Develop related online video. Consider what makes videos viral on YouTube. Repurposing advertising content may not be engaging enough to get noticed.
  • Create a contest that integrates your brand with the event. Or combine a contest with user-generated content, as Doritos did for its Super Bowl ad and Dove did for its Oscars ad.
  • Develop online engagement tools that attract prospects and customers. Think fun. Tie a promotion into the event using a countdown widget, e-mail newsletters, or RSS feeds.
  • Create a short-term blog, podcast, or vlog for the time leading up to and during the event. Similarly, construct a photo area or tap into an existing photo-sharing site.
  • Use online sampling to get consumers to try your offering. Paid content sites often have “open houses” to entice new subscribers by providing full access for a limited time. Think creatively to come up with other ways to allow users to try your product. Coupon redemption can occur offline.

Promote Your Event

When developing this type of online event, consider the following marketing initiatives to ensure it’s well promoted:

  • Spread the word. Tap into online PR options to help raise the event’s visibility.

  • Use paid search to support the marketing effort. Extend the keyword buy to include words and terms relevant to the promotion. Since events like these can have legs, test keeping these search terms active for an extended period following the event.
  • Tap into internal e-mail options, such as your house file. Depending on your firm’s size, consider e-mailing employees or creating a special corporate-wide signature file that promotes the event.
  • Create targeted RSS feeds, especially if you plan to use blogs, podcasts, or vlogs to distribute event-related content.
  • Leverage onsite promotion. For events with offline components, ensure there’s sufficient branding so visitors know it’s part of the same promotion. While this sounds obvious, make sure your online content is easy to find both on your site and on the Web.
  • Include forward-to-a-friend functionality as well as related tagging options to ensure content is found more easily. Categorize content before you post it.
  • Leverage offline promotion, including retail, catalogs, package inserts, and other offline media. To the extent possible, consider using a unique URL to track visitors.

Consider backup bandwidth in case your promotion takes off and attracts more users than anticipated. You don’t want your site to go down, thus turning away potential customers..

Measure Event Success

As with any program, the key to great results is knowing the goals and creating a means to achieve them. Implementations can vary widely, so will the specific metrics used to track them. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Reach. Reach measures how many people view a promotion. Depending on implementation, this can be tracked in a variety ways, including unique visitors, pageviews, feeds, and pass-alongs.

  • Engagement. This can be assessed in terms registrations, downloads, time on site, or customer input. The aim is to get visitors to spend time with your product and brand, preferably in a way that enables you to continue to communicate with them through an RSS feed, e-mail, or download.
  • Revenues. Although growing sales is any marketing program’s ultimate goal, some executions produce directly measurable results, such as increased product sales, advertising, subscriptions, or other revenue streams.
  • Expenses. Expenses measure the development cost of the promotion and the related marketing and media to drive users to it. Also, assess the CPM (define) and CPA (define) to determine your promotion’s effectiveness.
  • Branding. This can be assessed directly using traditional indicators or in terms of time spent actively with your brand.
  • Buzz. This may be tracked in a variety of ways, including the number of forwards to a friend, blog posts, customer comments, tags, and the like, as well as media mentions.

Extend your marketing by integrating a promotion with a more established event that attracts a large audience. Understand how this promotion can be leveraged to maximize revenue opportunities and how to continue the dialogue with new prospects. You’ll extend your user base and branding as a result.

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