5 Ways to Keep Your Event Attendee's Engaged During COVID-19

Preface: On July 30th, our Marketing Communications Specialist at Hive, Anima, wrote a blog called 3 Email Marketing Tips for Events during COVID-19. It's now the middle of November. I’m currently sitting on my couch (aka my office), uber eats is on its way, and I’m sporting my professional pajama’s, eager to start writing part 2 of this inevitable series.

Depending on the regulations of your venue’s location, you may have strict capacity limits, fewer shows to announce, or maybe your venue is temporarily shut down until further notice. If any of those situations sound like what you’re currently dealing with, this blog is dedicated to you. I’ve heard time and time again from our event customers, how do you keep your subscribers engaged if you have very little or no shows at all to announce? We’ve officially passed the stage of giving out refunds, announcing cancellations, rescheduling, and rescheduling again and again. So now what?

Here are the most successful tactics we’ve seen our event customers use:

  1. Run contests for merch, discounted tickets
  2. Gather genre interests from your subscribers
  3. Host virtual events
  4. Share information about venue relief funds
  5. Share local new music, news, anecdotes from staff

Not only are these tactics great for engaging your subscribers, but it’ll also strengthen the long term deliverability of your emails! If you aren’t sending emails consistently, you’ll have to re-establish your sending reputation with IPs (like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo) by sending to smaller engaged groups of subscribers before blasting your entire list again. But if you’re with Hive, we take care of this for you with our automatic IP warmup so that you can blast your list right away when you can start sending big blasts again!

Run Contests For Merch, Discounted Tickets

Contests, contests, contests! I can’t stress enough the benefits of running a contest for your business. Not only is it a great way to grow your contact list and social media following, but it's an amazing strategy for getting old and new subscribers to engage with your emails. Don’t have merch? Not a problem - create a discount code that can be redeemed at any time for future show announcements! Shameless plug, if you’re a Hive customer - you can use our built-in contest feature for free! Here’s an outline of a contest strategy you’ll see the most success with:

  1. Run contest on all social media platforms
  2. Make one of the entry requirements that the entrant consents to join your contact list (This is the default with Hive’s contesting feature)
  3. After you’ve chosen your winner, send an email to all entrants thanking them for entering and include a discount code for the merch or ticket item

Since that list of entrants have already expressed that they’re interested in the item, you know that they’ll be very likely to engage with an email offering them a discount and more likely to complete a purchase than a subscriber who hasn’t entered the contest. It’ll also encourage them to keep an eye out for more contests in the future!

Related: 9 Clever Contest Strategies to Drive Participation

Gather Genre Interests From Your Subscribers

If you haven’t collected genre information before or are looking to get updated preferences from your subscribers - now is a perfect time! Collecting genre data lets you send targeted emails to subscribers who are more likely to engage with the email because they’ve shown interest in that specific genre. You can collect genre data in a signup form on your website or by sending your current subscribers a form to fill out from an email campaign!

If you’ve already collected genre data, you can email those specific subscribers and ask them to confirm if the information is up to date or if their preferences have changed. It’s worth mentioning to the subscriber in the email, that you’re collecting this data to ensure that they’ll be the first to hear about shows they’re interested in once your venue returns to a normal show schedule.

If you’ve just finished running a contest, that’s also a great time to ask the new subscriber to let you know what they’re interested in! If you’re a Hive customer, you can easily create a sign-up form page that you can link out to in an email campaign to collect that data!

Host Virtual Events

Most people start and end their days glued to their computer screens, especially if they’re working from home. If you have the ability to live stream an artist from your stages or play recordings of past shows, let your subscribers know! Especially if you have genre data stored already, leverage that info and give your subscribers something to look forward too. If you’re not sure what type of virtual event to host? Send out a survey or signup form to your subscribers and ask them  to share what content they’d be interested in seeing!

Share Information About Venue Relief Funds

If you have a venue relief fund, share the news with your local subscribers. If a subscriber donates, send them a follow-up email thanking them for their support! Think: if you just walked into a store and donated to charity at the cash register, wouldn’t it be strange if the cashier didn’t acknowledge that you donated and just stared at you blankly? You should base your email strategy off how an exchange like that would happen in real life!

These types of “thank you” emails also get high engagement which is great for your overall sending reputation, especially if you’ve just set up a subdomain in your ESP!

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Email Subdomains

Share Local New Music, News, Stories From Your Staff

In addition to sharing show updates, try sharing updates about new artist in your area, local news (try airing on the side of sharing positive news - it’s what the people need!), or sharing stories from your staff, like favourite recipes or movie recommendations! The second largest entertainment venue in Brooklyn, Avant Gardner, adapted this strategy internally to their staff, to keep spirits high and engaged during isolation. Try testing out new content with your staff first, then send the blast to your most active subscribers and see how they engage with the content before sending it to more subscribers.

Related: How NYC Venue, Avant Gardner, Adapted their Email Strategy to Engage People Better in COVID-19

Wrap Up

Keep in mind, most event companies are probably experiencing the same stressors that you’re likely working through right now. Don’t be afraid to share ideas with other venues or cross promote if a venue you care about is suffering. If you’re waiting on approval from your boss to greenlight a new email strategy, take this time to clean up and re-organize your subscriber segments or re-vamp your newsletter templates. Hopefully at least one of these tactics has caught your eye or inspired you to revisit your email strategy - you got this!