Learning with TBOE

Simon Dell at The Business of Events 2019

Consider the audience at all stages of interaction, says digital marketing expert

Posted on May 30th, 2019 in Customer-Centricity, Event News, Marketing for Events

With the online world playing more of a part in our lives – personally and professionally – it pays to have a good handle on digital marketing tactics. Especially when part of your role may be judged on the return on investment (ROI) you get from your digital marketing strategy.

Simon Dell, director of Switch Your Business, spoke about how to get the most out of your digital marketing efforts at The Business of Events 2019, answering many key questions including:

  • What digital touchpoints should you be working on?
  • How much should you be spending?
  • How should you measure your return on investment?
  • How can you best waste your money?

The basics of digital marketing

Digital marketing is a necessity for all businesses and events these days, but many organisers get thrown in at the deep end without being given a clear strategy to work with. Any successful strategy has to have your audience at its heart.

Simon mentioned that there are several important areas where your marketing comes into play for your audience: when they learn about your event, when they’re thinking about going, when they buy a ticket, the service you provide afterwards and then the after-event work that builds loyalty and entices them to come back for the next event.

He said, “There are five key areas you need to understand from a digital marketing perspective. And in each section, you need to treat people differently. They need different content, different messaging.”

How much should you spend?

As a general benchmark, Simon suggests that a business spends five to ten per cent of their revenue on marketing but warns that no two events or businesses are the same.

The reason it’s hard to give a simple answer to this question is because every event has different challenges. The needs of a brand new event are different to one that’s been running for a decade, and factors such as the size of the venue, the price of the ticket and the industry you’re working in can all have an effect.

What is more important is that you spend it strategically and don’t just jump in blindly. He gave the analogy of ships going into battle in the old days to illustrate his point.

He said, “I also say to people, let’s not go out there and spend thousands and thousands of dollars straightaway.”

“Years and years ago, when old ships went into war, when they started to engage the enemy, they would start by shooting bullets at each other. That seems ridiculous because they’re hundreds of metres away from each other and a bullet’s not going to cause any damage to a ship. But they would understand the wind speed and trajectory. Once they’ve fired that bullet, they’d fire another one taking into consideration the elements.”

“They would do this three or four times before firing a cannonball. They did that because cannonballs are bloody expensive. You couldn’t be working out how far away a ship was using cannonballs, you had to use bullets. Digital marketing is exactly the same.”

How should you work out your ROI?

No matter how much you’re spending, you’ve got to make sure that you’re getting something in return. In digital marketing, it’s relatively easy to do because all the data is clearly shown, whereas in traditional marketing it’s harder to track the actual benefits of, say, a billboard campaign.

There are different ways to measure ROI, but for Simon the best formula is: (net profit divided by cost of investment) x 100.

He explained, “ROI is important. It underpins the entire success or failure of your event. If I spend $100 on digital marketing and I make $200 in revenue, with a $50 profit, then my ROI is 50% and I’ve actually made a loss.”

How do companies waste money on digital marketing?

As with any form of marketing, there are good strategies and there are bad ones. Simon gave a few examples of the most common mistakes he sees businesses and events making online.

  • Skimping on web hosting and having a slow website
  • Failing to use filters and targeting with online ads
  • Not paying for branded ads on Google
  • Preparing marketing material without considering what your customers want
  • Paying for ‘cheap’ SEO services from a dodgy company
  • Not having a mobile-friendly website
  • Creating ads without dedicated landing pages
  • Not making use of your database

Simon also gave advice on a few areas to focus on to succeed: to target your advertising as specifically as you can, to fully understand your KPIs and to make sure that you put some focus on brand awareness, even though this doesn’t have such an obvious ROI.

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