The following guest post is by Aaron Clark, VP of mobile operations at ePrize, a company specializing in digital, mobile, social and live-event engagement.
From big stadium games to multi-day music festivals, a live event is one of the most memorable experiences for fans. Live events have a way of fully absorbing attendees with memories that continue on well after the event. But, are brand marketers missing an invaluable engagement opportunity?
Are we talking about starchy ads in arena? Not quite. Dynamic billboards at a stadium? We can do better.
Why not engage with the crowd and give them something to do during intermissions and commercials? Capture the power of these 40,000 screaming fans -- who not only already have their mobile devices handy, but are already using their mobile device to check Facebook or Instagram during breaks in the action. Providing compelling competitions, trivia contests, and user-generated content on the Jumbotron, brands can capitalize on this existing user behavior and start a one-to-one conversation with a fan.
Let's be honest -- everyone loves to see their name up on a big screen. But take the Kiss Cam up a notch by allowing fans to dictate the action and provide the on screen content via photos, tweets and texts. The bonus? This content extends into your social spaces, extending the live event experience to a broader web audience.
The win/win is that brand marketers today can collect relevant consumer insights and open a direct line of communication that continues on long after the live event. But to take full advantage of the technologies available and harness a captive audience effectively, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
Engage at Peak Points
Timing is imperative to getting an audience engaged. At a concert, for example, the majority of mobile participation takes place during the final minutes leading up to a headliner’s set, when fans are focused on the stage and surrounding screens. Take advantage of the audience’s attention at these integral times. Entice your highly-charged fan base to participate with incentives such as upgraded seats or VIP backstage passes.
Ford Motor Company took a cool approach to fan engagement during the American Idol tour. Ford recorded two spots with the featured artists. During the pre-show, Ford played 10-second teaser clips for three Ford music videos and asked the audience to vote for which full video they’d like to watch during intermission, for a chance to win backstage passes. Votes were revealed during intermission with another promotional spot presented by the actual featured artists. Leveraging the talent in two highly visible interactive videos resulted in over 87,000 participants (an increase of 110% compared to the previous year’s event) and almost 50,000 more qualified email leads.
Provide Authentic Value Through SMS
Consider a multi-day music festival. While a live events campaign can use hashtags to extend reach to those who are not attending, use "narrowcasting" to reach only those inside the walls with event updates.
The annual CMA Music Festival takes advantage of narrowcasting capabilities to advise attendees of stage changes and artist updates throughout its multi-day event. Those inside the venue can get exclusive access to special offers like last-minute seat upgrades.
This provides a value exchange to attendees so there's no frustration or missed action.
Have Clearly Written and Visible Instructions
To connect with people, they need to understand what you're asking them to do. Make interactive billboards as accessible and easy to understand for the audience as possible. The call to action for consumers should be clear, concise and frequent. Make participation seamless. We recommend each instruction spot lasts at least 90 seconds, and the more spots the better. Verbal announcements can also improve audience awareness and participation in a live campaign.
After You Connect, Collect
Remember, marketing engagement at live events via interactive billboards results in a direct line of communication between your brand and the consumer. So use that information to your advantage! Be sure to collect consumer insights based on information you glean and leverage that data. Build a database of opted-in mobile phone numbers and email addresses for marketing efforts. Reference the opinions and attitudes of your consumers for interactive marketing campaign plans. This isn’t only about engaging with your audience, it’s about creating a lasting and more personalized relationship with brand loyalists!
Continue the Conversation
The clear value in leveraging brand engagement at live events is to capture an already captivated audience. However, the opportunity is larger than that. Use live event engagement tactics to convert participants into brand ambassadors with compelling messaging following the event. Don’t let the end of the final set mean the end of your marketing communication efforts. Brands should certainly limit post-event communications based on the user's preference, and of course maintain transparency throughout the process. But make the most out of communications after the live event. Create brand awareness and excitement.
You’d be surprised that among brands today, live event marketing is still an underutilized tool. This is in large part due to the lack of knowledge and experience with successful strategies and programs, and people fall back on what they know. But think about it, when your billboard comes up on the Jumbotron, would you rather see fans reach for their phones ignoring you, or reach for their phones to interact with you?
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