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How to Sell High-Dollar Event Tickets With Paid Traffic

The 1st Annual Traffic & Conversion Summit sold 258 tickets.

This year (the 7th Annual T&C) we will host almost 3,000 entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers in San Diego.

But T&C isn’t the only event we put on at DigitalMarketer. In fact, we hold so many events we have an entire team of people that do nothing but plan our events — and it’s up to the Marketing Team to sell tickets to those events.

We know a thing or two about putting “butts in seats.”

Today, I’ll share with you the paid traffic campaigns we use to sell tickets to high-ticket events.

But first, understand that…

Selling Event Tickets is DIFFERENT

They’re not your normal direct response traffic campaigns (although we were 855% ROI positive on our Traffic & Conversion Summit campaigns in 2015).

You can’t expect to set up one traffic campaign directly to your sales page and see results.

It takes an entire promotional strategy with multiple traffic campaigns working together to build a relationship and ultimately sell tickets.

Why?

Selling tickets to live events is different than asking someone to opt-in to a Lead Magnet or purchase a product.

Live events are the ultimate level of commitment. For someone to purchase a live event ticket, they’ll need to…

  • Buy the ticket
  • Arrange and purchase airfare
  • Arrange and purchase hotel accommodations
  • And commit to being “out of pocket” for the duration of the event.

A live event offer isn’t some digital product that will arrive in their email inbox to be consumed at their leisure. Or a widget that will ship to their doorstep.

It’s a major commitment to attend a high-ticket event like Traffic & Conversion Summit.

So… as with all paid traffic offers — the first thing to consider is…

What’s the Ideal Traffic Temperature?

Traffic temperature is a way of expressing the relationship you have with the audiences to which you’re running these paid traffic campaigns.

It’s difficult to run traffic directly to a “cold” audience (people who don’t know you or your brand) and expect them to purchase a ticket to your high-ticket, live event.

It’s like asking for marriage on the first date. It’s creepy. The relationship isn’t developed.

It’s best to only target your “warm” and “hot” audiences with ads that send the prospect directly to your sales page to buy a ticket.

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The “warm” people are your acquaintances. They are…

  • Leads that opted in to your email list (that you’ve uploaded to a traffic platform)
  • People who have visited your website (and you pixeled them!)
  • Facebook fans, Twitter followers, YouTube channel subscribers, etc.

Your warm audience is more likely to be interested in your event because they’ve already been introduced to your brand, maybe they’ve read one of your blog posts… they’ve consumed something of value.

Your “hot” people are your buyers. They’ve purchased from you. They are MOST likely to purchase event tickets because it’s the ultimate ascension path. They bought your product/ service and they liked it so much they’re ready to experience it in person.

Maybe you’re thinking…

I don’t have “warm” or “hot” audiences. How do I sell tickets?

Start early, if you can. 5-6 months before the event start running traffic campaigns to pieces of content that are “splintered”  from the event.

Content ideas:

  • Guest blog posts from speakers
  • Pieces of content that tease presentations at your event
  • Speaker bios
  • Video of past event presentations
  • A crowdsourced blog post featuring a set of event speakers

Running traffic to these pieces of content will allow you to build warm audiences to then leverage when it’s time to start selling tickets.

Speaking of selling tickets… that’s why you’re reading this, right? Here are the three keys to success…

1. Use Audience & Message Segmentation

At Digital Marketer, we teach you to be specific in your messaging and targeting. This is even more important when promoting live events.

Running ads that simply state…

“Hey, World! Come to this event, it’ll be good”

… is NOT going to cut it.

You have to splinter out pieces of the event that will be attractive to your audience.

You also have to speak to different segments of your audience to create specialization.

For example, we run ads that just target Digital Marketer Lab members…

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Notice that the image features a few forward facing Digital Marketer team members. Our “warm” audience probably wouldn’t recognize these faces (or care), but you better believe that our lab members (a hot audience) likely will…

With the photos, we’re appealing to their desire to hear us speak in person.

If you’ve held the event in the past, running ads to past attendees is segmentation gold and super low hanging fruit. Simply upload their email addresses to the traffic platform and say “Let’s do it again.”

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And why not segment by location? Running ads in the city where your event will be held is a no-brainer.

These people won’t have to worry about travel expenses, so the barrier to entry is lower.

Notice that we really highlighted the picture of San Diego in the ad image, we want to catch their attention as they scroll through their newsfeed… no better way to do so then to use imagery of their city.

Last year, Daymond John was the keynote speaker for T&C. We were able to “splinter” Daymond from the event and appeal to people who would be specifically interested in hearing him speak.

You don’t have to have a big name speaker to make this work. You can also segment out presentations or specific content focuses from your event.

For example, our event is about digital marketing but this year we’ll have a track that focuses just on podcasts.

You better believe we’ll run ads to the podcast community… essentially splintering out that track to attract people who are interested in that topic.

2. Use Ads to Create/ Reinforce Scarcity

Our promotional strategy for T&C is robust. We have different “tiers” of pricing that increase as we draw closer to the event…

This year, we started at $497… but we will increase as so: $697 to $997 toi$1497 to $1997

It’s like a music festival. Ticket prices are always lowest when they’re first released. As long as there is demand for the tickets, they’ll only get more expensive as you get closer to the event.

It also gives you something to talk about. When we’re about to raise the price of tickets, we can email and run ads to let our audience know that the price is going to increase.

This creates SCARCITY. We sell most of our tickets during the 3-4 days before a price increase.

Why? If someone knows that they want to attend the event, and they know the price is going to increase $200 in a few days, they’re going to buy NOW.

Your traffic campaigns should function as a channel that is distributing these deadlines and moving people to take action — before they miss out.

About to increase the price of tickets? Run ads to your audience to let them know.

Here are a few examples… I simply switch out the 72 hours with the 48 hours, 48 hours with the 24 hours, etc….

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The BIGGEST scarcity move you can make is when you’re actually closing down ticket sales completely. You’ll likely sell the largest chunk of tickets when you let people know that they’re about to be gone forever….

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3. Use Retargeting to Bring Them Back to the Offer

As I said earlier in this post, the buying cycle for event tickets is very different from a “normal” traffic campaign.

People have to “think about it” – there are more factors then just money in play when deciding to attend an event.

That is why retargeting is SO important.

You have to stay top of mind. You have to continue to remind them about the event.

This is also the lowest hanging fruit and highest performing ads you’ll run in terms of ROI.

They’re also the easiest.

Last year, Ryan Deiss (our Founder and CEO) shot a quick video that said something like this…

“Hey there (arms waving), before you go, if you’re watching me right now it’s because you’ve heard of Traffic & Conversion Summit – XX discount is about to end, if this video is here then the offer is still active, BUT -you have to get it now!”

We ran this retargeting video on Facebook and YouTube. The audience was people who had visited the T&C sales page minus buyers.

Here’s the Facebook ad that we ran…

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Notice that the ad not only reminded them to go back to the page but also reinforced the scarcity aspect.

Our YouTube retargeting campaign was the most profitable and it took 20 minutes total to shoot and set up.

Here’s the simple video we used…

The campaign also had a 3,858% ROI!

The biggest takeaway here… think about WHO you’re running these campaigns to…

  • How can you leverage your existing audience to sell event tickets?
  • What content can you run to cold traffic to build that audience (and attract ideal event attendees)?
  • How can you segment your ad campaigns to speak to specific segments… whether that’s by location, speakers, specific event content, etc.?
  • Are you using your ads to create scarcity?
  • Are you retargeting?

(A quick tip to wrap things up…)

Create a Facebook event for your live event.

On the Thank You page after someone purchases a ticket, ask them to join this event and select that they’re “going” on Facebook.

Tell attendees that you’ll use this event for communication purposes (which you should). This is another touch point to get them excited before the event.

It also has a virality aspect. When people join the event, it will show up in their friend’s timelines, at no cost to you.

This is FREE advertising. You’ll also notice below that there’s a place to put a link to your tickets. Last year, we sold 62 tickets from this link alone – at no cost to us!

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And that’s how we sell tickets to high-dollar events using paid traffic campaigns.

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