You’ve got a big event coming up, and you want to make sure you’ve sold out your tickets: ticket sales are important not only because they cover the cost of hosting the event, but they help build your influence as an event planner.
So, how do you make sure your event sells out?
There are a lot of factors (like your content, location, and date/time) which can heavily influence whether your event is desirable to attendees.
Below are a handful of ideas that can help you get the word out about your event and sell tickets.
Build a website or landing page
Events that have a specific landing page or website will ensure that attendees can find information efficiently, while adding to the credibility of the event.
Here are some ideas for building a landing page or website:
Make sure everything: each image, title, button and piece of copy, is centred around selling the event.
Keep the information brief but interesting and alluring.
Make your top speakers, the location, times and date, ticket price, very easy to find: clear and upfront.
Where possible, include elements that build your event’s credibility, such as testimonials and press mentions from your last event, sponsors and partners, and loads of high quality photos from previous events or the location.
Clearly include links to your social media so attendees can stay involved in the lead up to the event.
Whether you are building a website that you can sell tickets on, or are going to use a third-party service, don’t underestimate the power of an easy checkout.
Make your registration form and checkout very easy
You have probably done this at least once.
You found something you like online, and start going through the process of purchasing it.
But the more time you had to think about it, the more you started second guessing yourself, “Is this something I really want?”
The longer you thought about it, the less convinced you were that it was the right thing for you, and then suddenly, you found yourself closing the browser window and abandoning the purchase entirely.
Online buyer abandon their purchases at an average rate of 68%.
One way to combat this is to keep your checkout process simple and quick.
Think about what is the bare minimum you would need to sell them a ticket, and only include these essentials to make this happen.
Make it short—can a potential audience member buy the ticket in under 2 minutes?
Here are some things that slow down the process:
Requiring an account registration.
If this is not 100% necessary, skip it. It eats up a bunch of time, and there are other ways of contacting the attendee without requiring them to have an account with you. Buyers are more likely to complete registration forms that don’t require creating a new account.
Asking for inessential information
For example: if they are going to have an e-ticket, and you will not be mailing them them a physical copy, do you really need their mailing address?
Non-user localized information
Language, currency, and payment method localization can boost registrations by up to 300%, depending on the market and the event, according to Ovanes Ovanessian, co-founder of Weemss Intelligent Ticketing and Event Management.
If the attendee has to look up the ticket price in their currency they are just wasting their time. Localizing the information for them will save them time, and help you sell tickets.
Make sure that you, as well as a few colleagues, test the check-out system: see how long it takes, and cut down on as much time as is possible.
Top tips for pricing and selling your tickets
Start by setting a standard ticket fee: this is the baseline—you will aim to sell the majority of your tickets at this price.
Once you have the standard ticket fee, you can add the following ticket price categories:
VIP Tickets: Add extras, and sell for higher than your standard ticket price
Time/quantity restricted discount tickets: Returning attendees, early bird, weekend only sales
Group discount tickets: buy 2 tickets, get a discount, buy 10 tickets get a better discount.
Single session or day tickets: Some people may not be able to attend your whole event, so issuing different types of passes helps accommodate those people and drive more ticket sales. These would be discounted from your standard ticket price.
There is such a thing as discounting tickets too much, so while you might feel great about selling all your tickets 2 days after opening up ticket sales: if you’ve sold all your tickets at a substantial discount you run the risk of not being able to cover your costs.
Make sure you set limits on your discounted tickets.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but hosting a smaller event where you need to turn a few people away is better than a hosting a much bigger event that only sells half the tickets.
Smaller events are ideal for building connections and growing communities. The space you booked will feel full, and being able to say your event completely sold out will make it easier to bring in more people next time.
Whereas having a huge event, where only half the tickets sold will feel empty and leave the audience wondering if they made the right choice in attending. Some might even leave immediately when they see the mostly empty room. It makes it seem less valuable—even if the content is great.
Also, showcasing how many tickets you have left (for example: “15 early bird tickets left” or “Only 10 tickets to the event left!” creates an urgency that will inspire some buyers not to put off booking their place.
Last minute offers
Also, avoid “last minute” offers, these are unpopular in the events industry. If a loyal attendee bought a ticket 3 months before the event they will be disappointed to find out they could have bought the ticket for less by booking a week before the event.
Ticket release times: when and how much
There are some tricks of the trade when it comes to the when of ticket sales: creating a game plan for what you are going to sell, when, will help ensure you maximize your ticket sales.
Create a timeline of how many tickets you’d like to sell at each point.
Set a date and stick to it
Avoid saying “The event will be at the end of June,” this is too vague. Pick an exact date, and stick to it.
Often, event organizers have a lot of plates to spin, and are tempted to move the date around: but it gives the event a less significant and unprofessional feel.
If you announce the dates (and the date the tickets will go on sale) well in advance, it will allow the opportunity to build momentum and will increase the chances that you’ll sell out.
When you announce your event and ticket sale date, also let people know how many tickets will be available—this will immediately get potential attendees thinking about booking as soon as ticket sales are open.
Secret release of tickets for loyal fans
If you have a supportive audience: friends, colleagues, peers, patrons, and attendees from previous years’ events, show that you appreciate them by offering them a special discount for signing up early. The discount doesn’t have to be huge, but should be enough to motivate and thank them.
Tell them about the secret release a few days in advance, and then again on the day they are able to buy, or give them a special discount code.
Announce your event at least a month in advance.
Announcing your event well in advance is one of the best ways to make sure it sells out.
"Sold out events sold their first ticket an average 32 days before the event, compared to 20 days for events that didn't sell out"
- Tim Raybould, CEO of TicketLeap
It takes time for word to spread via the social media network of your potential attendees. If you wait until the last moment, it won’t give your event time to gain momentum and spread.
Early bird pricing
Early bird tickets increase the urgency to buy.
You can even have more than one type of early bird pricing to encourage people to buy who can’t make or miss the initial offer.
As mentioned earlier, make sure the discount is actually enticing, don’t discount your tickets too much, and you should limit the discount availability.
Make the amount of tickets left available visible
On your landing page and ticket sales page, make it clear how many tickets are left. This can either be done as
a percentage: “80% sold out”
seats remaining: “Only 30 seats left”
or amount of tickets sold: “120/150 tickets sold”
This will encouraging your audience to be more decisive about getting their tickets.
You can also update your audience through email, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn as tickets become less and less available (for example: “Have you got your ticket yet? We are 80% sold out!)
Promote your event: Influencers, social media, and paid for advertising
To sell out an event, you need to create a buzz around it.
Let people know it is happening, and entice them to join. Let’s explore three ways to get the word out and encourage people to click.
Contact your influencers and ask them to spread the word
Third-party endorsements will always carry more weight then tooting your own horn.
Influencers don’t need to have a million twitter followers to be incredibly influential. A person who is able to motivate 100 people to do something (while they might only have 200 followers) is far better for you than someone who has 45K followers, but only 5 will act on their suggestion.
So, what can you do here to ensure maximum exposure? Cast a wide net.
When asking for help, here are some tips:
Keep the ask simple and to the point. Everyone is busy. Really busy. The easier you make it for them to help promote your event, the more likely it is they will help.
Tell them why it is valuable to them to share it with their audience
Be clear about the date, time, and location.
Offer examples of posts, or pre-write the copy for them
Offer a discount to their audience with a special discount code
Here are some suggestions of influencers you can ask to help promote:
Whether you’ve got a celebrity keynote speaker or a emerging workshop trainer, ask them to help promote the event. They could write a blog posts that promotes their session, and give a sneak preview of their expertise. It will get more attendees excited about their session, and you get free content (that your guest blogger will likely promote to their network) to drive ticket sales.
Remember the group we talked about earlier, your supportive audience? Your friends, colleagues, peers, patrons, and attendees from last year’s event. This is a great group to ask to spread the word about the event. Email them and ask them to email their network, share on social media, or write a post about why they are looking forward to the event.
Organizations within your industry
In every industry, there are organizations who can benefit from knowing what events are in the area, and who will be there. They are perfect candidates when it comes to helping you spread the word. Contact them, tell them about your event, and ask if they would be willing to share your event with their audience. If they agree, this will help get your event in front of an audience you might not normally have access to.
Your event sponsors
Your sponsors have a vested interest in your event being a success. More attendees means more face time with potential buyers. Provide sponsors with email copy, pre-written social media posts, and discount codes so it's easy for them to promote.
The people in your organization
Encourage your team to promote your event to the people outside the company they are talking to. This could be a simple mention in a meeting, a social media post, or a link attached to their email signature. Galvanizing the whole team to help get the word out can help you sell tickets.
We can’t have a conversation about how to promote and sell out an event without talking about social media. In this section, we will outline the top networks to promote on, what to say, and when.
Where to post
To start, organize which platforms and profiles you have access to and how often you’d like to post about the event.
For example, does your event have its own social media profiles?
Do you have access to the organization’s pages?
Can major influencers (e.g. the CEO or founder) from your organization post about the event?
Which platforms do your audience use? Where is the conversation happening?
Once you’ve collected where you will post, figure out the what
What to post
Start with general announcements: the dates, the times, the location, when tickets will be available to buy.
While simply posting once a week that the event is happening will probably hit the news feeds of some of your followers, keep in mind that you want to create engaging material that will get them excited about your event, and that they can share with their audience.
You will want to create excitement and conversation around your event. Here are some ideas of content you can post that will generate buzz and interest.
Educate the audience by posting interesting tidbits and videos about what is going to be discussed.
Links to the articles promoting the event from your influencers
Retweet or share the posts from your influencers talking about your event
Sharing content (videos, articles, post) from the speakers.
Relevant and new articles and stories from influencers on the topics you will be discussing
Stories and insights from the people behind the event.
Reading list of relevant content
Photos from last year.
The history of the event or location.
Promote the location: including HD photos, facts about the city, interesting things people can see before or after the conference, the venue, highly reviewed places to eat: get the attendees excited about where they are going.
Testimonials from audience members from the year before (video or written).
Dwindling ticket availability
Top tip: occasionally give the audience an incentive to stay interested by offering a ticket giveaway, a VIP upgrade pass, or a giveaway of books from the speakers.
When to post
This really depends on where and what you are posting. For example: posting every day on Facebook that you have an event with the registration link will get boring quickly, and you will oversaturate. Whereas on an active Twitter account, once a day might be just fine.
As a general guideline, you should update each platform weekly with new information, including a link to your registration page and the amount of tickets you have left.
Advertise on social media.
Use targeted ads to promote to your event directly to people within you industry and include links to the registration page.
There are many guides to getting started with paid-for advertising on social media, but here are some to get your started within the major networks.
“How to promote an event on Facebook: An epic guide” by Bizzabo
“How to Market Your Event on Facebook” by AdEspresso
“How to Use Twitter Ads: The Complete Guide for Business” by Hootsuite
“How to Leverage Twitter Ads to Promote Your Event” by Eventbrite
“Setting up a Successful Twitter Advertising Campaign” by SproutSocial
“How to promote an event on LinkedIn in 2018” by Valoso
“A Guide to LinkedIn Ads: How to Run a Successful Campaign” by Hootsuite
“The Why, What, When, and How of Promoting Events on LinkedIn” by the Event Manager Blog
Ad calls-to-action throughout your organization’s website.
Just because you have a standalone website for your event (or landing page) doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t maximize on your organization’s website.
While it might seem obvious to use the prime real estate on your organization’s main page to promote your conference (with a pop up or banner ad,) you don’t need to limit yourself to this.
Consider adding ads to your:
Banners and square ads on various webpages
Mentions with links in your blog posts, or leaderboards/ads alongside your blog.
Links on the bottom of the webpages
Make it easy for anyone to find information about the event and register from anywhere in your website.
Announce your upcoming event at current events
While your audience is having a great time, networking and learning and being entertained: use their captive attention to talk about the next event.
Once again, don’t be vague here by saying something like: “Make sure you come to our next event!” Instead, specifically say the date and why they should come, for example “We are going to be diving into how AI will completely transform the flight industry at our next event on June 29th.”
While you don’t have to divulge all the details, you do want to give them enough to inspire them to want to sign up. Get the buy-in while the attention is high.
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