Festivals naturally suffer from engagement dips and spikes that can be unpredictable and ultimately, unsustainable. One thing we know is the organic fan interest lifecycle can be categorized into five stages:
- Anticipate (Pre-Sale)
- Discover (On-Sale)
- Sustain (Final Push)
- Execute (Festival-Day)
- Extend (Off-Season)
The issue? Most events struggle to capture, control, and amplify these stages - especially after their event.
That’s where fan-based marketing can help you:
- Generate organic excitement and qualified leads, even months before event day.
- Sell more before event day by ensuring every dollar spent reaches fans.
- Extend organic engagement with your fans and their friends long after your event.
Today we're exploring different ways you can engage with fans at each stage.
Stage 01: Anticipate
Running on a yearly festival timeline means you’re not going to be top-of-mind for most fans come pre-sale. So, taking full advantage of that short window is crucial.
This stage is all about creating “concentrated buzz”. Let fans’ natural energy and hype around your upcoming festival carry you with targeted engagement opportunities to “fuel the fire.”
8-11 months before event day, digital fan engagements are a great way of offering value to early buyers while collecting valuable fan data. Data that can help you measure interest and target more efficiently for an early sales push. Adding these to your digital ads strategy can vastly impact how you reach your fans and build toward opening day.
Contesting Tip for 2022: UGC (User Generated Content) is an incredible amplifier of “hype” when used correctly. Give fans an incentivized opportunity to share content that connects to your festival, then build their content into your organic plan.
Stage 2: Discover
6-8 months before the festival your lineup should generate sales.
The data you collected during pre-sale will help you start to craft audience segments which you can use to personalize your lineup launch, ensuring you’re reaching the right fans with the right
content to push your sales over the finish line.
Build moments for engagement around your lineup to garner further leads. Use “Lineup Predictors” and Personalized Playlists as teasers & “fit” detectors.
Build on your strategies from the “anticipate” stage and fill fan inboxes, SMS and social feeds with relevant content. Your fans love to see content about their favourite artists, so make sure to give them direct notifications and ads on the artists they really bought the tickets for. Personalization pushes conversions.
Stage 3: Sustain
1-6 months before the festival, you’re preparing your fans for a stellar experience.
Making sure your ticket sales are taken care of lets you focus more on the fan experience and ensuring excitement is building. Lineup announcements are when the hype will be at its peak, so don’t settle for simple word of mouth here. Use the data collected in your Anticipate and Discover stages to target friends of fans and lookalike audiences to push ticket sales to the finish line.
This final push will enrich your database further for any final decisions you might need to make leading up to event day.
So, what does that look like?
- Already sold out?
- Run a personalized playlist campaign that allows fans to craft festival specific playlists directly linked to their Spotify.
- Create a Waitlist campaign for next year to gauge interest and grow your comms list beyond this year's attendees.
- Last push?
- Prizing campaigns like spin-to-win or Sweepstakes are a great way to convince those “on the cusp” buyers to convert. For those that don’t go on to make a purchase, you can now more easily re-target them for next year.
Stage 4: EXECUTE
Come festival day, make sure you’re using all the tools at your disposal to give your fans an experience of a lifetime.
Take advantage of SMS opt-ins from pre-festival campaigns to send fans real-time updates, exclusive offers, or (based on your opt-in language) even activate sponsorships.
In-venue activations and User Generated Content (UGC) are great ways to keep fans engaged throughout the weekend(s) and promote the event organically on socials.
Getting otherwise unknown fans engaged and into your database allows you to expand your reach for next year.
The point is that you should be tracking your fans on event day, in whatever way you can. This will pay off in deeper reporting to offer to sponsors as a selling point and will provide your team with some spectacular insights.
Stage 5: EXTEND
After your event, you want to:
- Keep the brand buzz going
- Remain top-of-mind for longer and keep the cycle going for sustainable festival growth.
- Plus, keep sponsors engaged with promotional opportunities throughout the year using the database you’ve established.
Well, it may not be simple...but the beauty is that all your efforts this year will set you up for next year. Use all the data, insights, and audiences captured from this and past years to propel you towards higher reach and more success next year, and beyond!
The Festival marketing landscape can be unforgiving.
Each year brings on new challenges and changing tastes.
That's why growing a first and zero-party database that you own is key.
Interested in more ways you can enhance your digital engagement strategy?