Why Should Ecommerce Brands do Events?
One advantage brick and mortar has over ecommerce is that they provide a physical location for their fans where they can touch, feel, and experience the brand. Connecting fans to your brand and creating loyalty is not only the goal of every company, but it is the way to ensure growth and survival. If you are an ecommerce brand you have the challenge of finding ways to build those connections. Content marketing and social media is one way to do it, but the social media landscape is very competitive and younger generations are leaving social media. What are you to do then to build those connections and find new customers? You should start doing events.
In late 2014 at Grunt Style, we were talking in a leadership meeting one day about our over-reliance on Facebook and our need to start diversifying our marketing. We were an excellent social media company that had at that point nearly 1 million followers (it's well over 2 million now) but we were too heavily reliant on Facebook and were worried that at any time an algorithm change could cause us serious harm. As we talked about what to do differently to not only attract new fans, but to build stronger relationships with current ones, we settled on the idea of Grunt Fest. Let's throw a party and give our fans a place to meet with us and interact. From that idea which lead to Grunt Fest 1, that sold a whopping 17 tickets, to the last Grunt Fest my team was responsible for in San Antonio that sold over 6,000 tickets and booked major music acts, I learned the value of events for ecommerce brands and why if you are running a brand that exists online, you should be doing events too. Here are some of the lessons.
Acquiring new customers is the name of the game in any business. If you are a growing ecommerce brand, acquiring new customers is your life blood. You are probably already doing a good job running social media direct response ads and have a good remarketing/retargeting plan in place that follows people all over the internet. Want to find a new stream for people? An event is the way to go. People are becoming immune to internet advertising. There is so much of it now that it's white noise. Events though? People see those. Use your analytics to target a location with a strong customer presence and you'll find that you will bring in new people to your brand, even if they don't buy tickets to your event. The interest generated in your event will bring new people to check you out leading to new customers and new money.
Beat the Facebook Algorithm
Every business that works on Facebook is concerned about the algorithm. Ask any business and they'll tell you a story about an algorithm change that either hurt them or suddenly helped them. That up and down and uncertainty can be incredibly frustrating and nerve wracking. One of the ways to take advantage of the algorithm is to pay attention to the things that are important to Facebook. When you know their objectives, you can start to understand some of the ways they will manipulate the algorithm. For example, one of Facebook's objectives is to create a sense of community and to bring people together. As such, they value events very highly in their algorithm and will show that information to more of your fans and potential fans. They go so far right now as to notify you of events that you haven't even said you were interested in just because your friends are interested in them. If you want to get your brand out in front of more people, start an event and start putting out content on your event page and you'll see the benefits.
You may be thinking that you don't have the budget to do brand awareness campaigns and that every penny you spend has to be on direct response with a directly measurable ROI. I know you're out there thinking that because I was the same way for a long time. Once we started events and event marketing, I discovered that I was wrong and it was something we should have been doing all along. Why? An event is an experience and study after study shows that your fans, particularly Millennials, value experiences over things. Putting on an event attracts those new fans who are looking for new experiences and, if you do your event right, creates the connection to your brand that no amount of direct response advertising can create. An event creates brand awareness and builds loyalty in just about the most cost effective way possible.
We are all in business to make money. If at the end of an event you have found you have lost money, you didn't do it right. When we started our Event Group at Grunt Style, we didn't give it budget support from big GS. The Event Group was expected to be self-funded from their own sales and their budget came from their own events. The results were incredible and completely worth it. We only had one event in the countless number of events that we ran that was a net loss on the event. All other events were at least 20% profitable. That's right, events make money. You should be making money on your event from the day of the event. When you add immediate profitability to all the other benefits from acquisition to increased loyalty, running events as an ecommerce brand becomes a no-brainer of an idea.
After that compelling and interesting information, I don't see how any ecommerce brand could not be thinking that they are going to start doing events. As so happens, I happen to know some people who used to do these events for a big ecommerce brand but are now out on their own and doing it for anyone who wants this powerful tool to grow their business. If you've got questions about what I've talked about here, reach out and we can answer any of your questions and get you on the way to expanding your business.