Case Study

How Eventbrite Successfully Used Paid Marketing to Drive Incremental Ticket Sales

In early December, a team of Eventbrite marketers were given the challenge to safely drive end-of-year ticket demand for our event organizers during an uncertain time due to the ongoing pandemic. The campaign took place during what’s typically a highly active time in the industry — New Year’s Eve — but the lessons learned extend well beyond the end-of-year countdown. Below is how the campaign played out along with our expert takeaways to inspire your own marketing.

Open-bar parties, concerts, cruises, masquerade balls, zoo parties, even bike rides — to kick off 2022, event organizers hosted an array of New Year’s Eve experiences on Eventbrite.

As Eventbrite Senior Content Marketing Manager Rudi Greenberg shares, “It seemed like after nearly two years of off-and-on lockdowns, creators and consumers were eager to get back to partying.”

Eventbrite typically sees a massive spike in New Year’s Eve demand at the end of the year

New Year's Eve Ticket Demand Eventbrite

Our data shows that the majority of total New Year’s Eve yearly ticket sales are transacted in the last two weeks of the year, with demand especially concentrated in the week of New Year’s Eve.

As Eventbrite’s Senior Director of Global Marketing, Gareth Hornberger, puts it, “People are looking for New Year’s Eve events to attend with their friends, and many are last-minute planners.”  Hornberger led a cross-functional team of marketers behind Eventbrite’s latest New Year’s Eve campaign.

“This was an important opportunity to support our event creators. We concentrated our investment in paid media during the final week of the year, so we could capitalize on the last-minute New Year’s Eve planning frenzy.”
–Gareth Hornberger, Eventbrite’s Senior Director of Global Marketing

Leveraging expert event curators to recommend the best New Year’s Eve events

Eventbrite’s New Year’s Eve plan entailed a New Year’s Eve collection — a handpicked assortment of the top experiences in Eventbrite’s most-active US cities — promoted via paid social ads to drive traffic to these experiences and generate ticket sales. 

“Directing traffic to curated pages of high-quality events allowed us to spotlight the best inventory on Eventbrite while also addressing a pain-point for consumers: finding a great New Year’s Eve event to attend at the last minute.”
–Hornberger

But curating high-quality events would turn out to be just one part of the puzzle.

Omicron’s impact on holiday events hadn’t been felt — yet

When Hornberger’s team began crafting the New Year’s Eve campaign, “Omicron” was still just a letter in the Greek alphabet. COVID-19 had been a factor for more than a year, but as the Delta variant waned, seasonal trends looked promising. 

“One thing that gave us hope and encouragement was Halloween 2021,” Hornberger says. “It was one of our best-performing days of all time. That signaled to us it was worth betting New Year’s would be big.”

And as the days shortened, and November and December rolled on, all seemed according to plan. Greenberg began focusing on New Year’s Eve events in five US markets: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. 

A targeted approach to paid social marketing, designed to move consumers from awareness to purchase

Meanwhile, Performance Marketing, helmed by Marta Martin, was gearing up to run a multi-channel social ad campaign across Facebook and Instagram.

Martin targeted two different audiences for a reach of 800,000 people that were highly likely to be interested in purchasing New Year’s Eve tickets. Her upper-funnel approach consisted of lookalike audiences — users with demographics and interests similar to those of existing followers of Eventbrite on social media — composed of heavy ticket buyers. She then retargeted people who had previously visited Eventbrite looking for events or New Year’s–related pages in the last 30 days.

Video, always a high-performing asset, featured heavily in the social ads.

The strategy was set. The events were vetted. The ads were queued. Finally, after weeks of work, the New Year’s Eve marketing campaign launched on December 20 — just as Omicron started to dominate in the US.

Real-time monitoring and edits to ensure safety in events and messaging

If two years of a global pandemic have shown us anything, it’s the power of agility, level-headedness, and resilience. That’s how Hornberger approached this curveball. 

“When Omicron hit, the first things we asked ourselves were: ‘Can we responsibly keep this campaign running? And if so, how can we better highlight safety in our content and ad creative, and ensure curated events are doing their best effort to encourage COVID-19 protocols?'”
–Hornberger

The curation team revisited the New Year’s Eve collection to ensure that safety was front-and-center at every event featured. They focused on event listings that addressed clear COVID-19 safety protocols, so that Eventbrite could confidently recommend these experiences to attendees. That meant bulking up the collection with events that prioritized these measures.

Martin became diligent about monitoring and updating social ads and leaning into “party safely” messaging. The curated events alongside the ad messaging resonated with those ready to attend in-person events as well as those looking for outdoor events or vaccine verification.

As the variant surged, Martin stayed on the lookout for negative sentiment on social. “We monitored the campaign on a daily basis and were prepared to raise a hand the second we saw something wasn’t going right.” 

And yet, somehow, things were going right. 

As the wave increased, I anticipated engagement to decrease, but we actually saw the opposite. The week of New Year’s Eve, the collection saw the second-biggest week of its run.
–Rudi Greenberg, Eventbrite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager

The power of marketing events to the right audiences, and how this translates to our event organizers 

Eventbrite’s cross-functional team has several important takeaways from the New Year’s Eve campaign. 

Greenberg reflects: “We successfully leveraged a paid social campaign to promote a curated events collection. It’s rewarding to know that we helped our creators sell tickets during a time when it was uncertain if people would even want to show up to events.”

Martin, who notes a spike in conversions two to three days before New Year’s Eve, defaults to the data — a 3.7x ROAS (return on ad spend) to the tune of $275k ticket sales for event creators. This means that for every dollar spent on marketing, we generated $3.70 in ticket sales for our creators.

 

“Despite the COVID cases, we drove an incremental volume of ticket sales for our customers with this campaign.”
– Marta Martin, Eventbrite’s Senior Performance Marketing Manager

For Hornberger, the New Year’s Eve campaign is a testament to the power of promoting your events. 

Event marketing works,” he says. “And, in particular, paid social marketing works. Despite the COVID wave, we saw a massive amount of interest from consumers who were still interested in celebrating New Year’s. So for creators unsure about investing in paid marketing, we hope this signals to them the value of this approach. And Eventbrite has the tools Eventbrite Boost to help them do that.”

Eventbrite Boost is our all-in-one marketing platform designed to save organizers countless hours across launching, marketing, and measuring email and social campaigns. Fueled by exclusive Eventbrite insights, Boost subscribers can see when people are most likely to buy tickets, get 24/7 ad monitoring and budget optimizations, and generate campaign reports with actionable results.

And Boost’s automated interest targeting handles the hard work: Boost analyzes your event name, event category, and the keywords in your event description for you. From there, Boost generates a list of the most-relevant keywords associated with your event, matching these keywords with the top interests you could select for targeting on Facebook. Boost shares those interests with you, making it easy to automatically add them to your campaign for quick review and launch.

Looking back to look forward with our experts’ takeaways

Although New Year’s Eve 2021 may be behind us, the takeaways that can help creators today are numerous. 

Martin reminds creators of the power of social ads. By using Eventbrite Boost to run your paid social campaigns, you can sell more tickets, she says. In fact, our data shows that creators who use Boost sell 63% more tickets than creators not utilizing Boost.

She encourages creators to plan campaigns in advance and, for New Year’s Eve events, launch in early December. (It’s never too early to start thinking ahead!) “That will help Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithms learn. Then, I’d recommend increasing the spend during the last two weeks of the year,” she advises.

And, with any luck, the last two weeks of December 2022 won’t throw the same curve balls.

This is an opportunity to capitalize on this reopening moment in 2022: consumers are ready to experience live events again.”
–Hornberger

Put our learnings to use for your own events marketing.

Get started promoting your events with Boost today, or contact our team of experts to discover how Eventbrite can support your business getting to the next level.