Keep the Online Buzz

I’ve preached the importance of social media before, but here I go again!

Previously, we discussed the marketing potential of having your customers share information about your event with one another through their vast social media networks.  But creating your own social media presence is just as important.

Communicate with your customers on an ongoing basis to keep them excited about your events.  Use Facebook, Twitter, email blasts and blog posts to share info and keep customers engaged.

And give them the opportunity to converse with you, too!  Social media is a two-way street.

A great way to make your customers feel important is to have a simple contest.  Give away a pair of tickets to a concert to the best fair food photo or provide an all-you-can-ride wristband to your 500th follower.  The cost is low for you but will go a long way with your customers.

Another great customer service you could offer is simply responding to questions your followers post as soon as you can.  They expect you to interact with them in the same way they interact with you, so please make sure the person in charge of your social media is passionate and ready to put in the time and effort to create your online personality.

A consistent and interesting voice is the key to social media.

Measure Your Website’s Success

Before I began working with Saffire, I was just your average website user spending too much time online shopping and playing on Facebook.

When I joined the team, I realized just how much thought and effort went in to making sure customers were going where businesses wanted on a site and completing the tasks they desired.

And I noticed, I had been “following the leader” without even knowing it!  (I’m a true sucker for marketing, but we can discuss my home shopping network habits another time.)

To say I was stunned by the tracking and reporting taking place would be an understatement, but as I took time to study the reports I realized there is so much information you can gain for future improvements by simply paying attention to the habits of your customers.

In order to get the most of your site and continue to enhance your online presence, ensure your site is meeting its goals by utilizing tools like Google Analytics. This is a full- featured, FREE program  you should be taking advantage of no matter how big or small your website may be.

Here’s a quick list of Analytics features:

  • Setting goals specific to your website and tracking the progress
  • Ecommerce statistics
  • Watch how people get to your website and how long they stay
  • View your visitors by their location
  • Track the views, visits and length of time on specific pages

It may sound too good to be true, but lucky for you it’s as real as can be.

Maintain Your Website with Ease

The focus of a fair, rodeo or festival doesn’t stay the same for long.  When the lights go out on Monday night, they are busy preparing for Tuesday.  And once the 2011 season wraps, they are planning for 2012.

Your customers are the same way.  Their interest switches back and forth daily, and your website needs to reflect up-to-the-minute information.

We’ve talked before about how hard it can be to get in touch with your webmaster for a quick content change.  And while those in the web industry can appreciate your frustration, your customers simply can’t.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We live in an age of instant gratification. When your customers want something, they want it 5 minutes ago.  (Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but you get the point.)

You need to keep your site fresh and up-to-date by changing features and updating event information on the fly. We recommend a friendly admin site which allows you to efficiently manage your website content, without needing a web developer to do it for you.

Can you imagine holding the power to your website in your hands?  Sounds like a dream come true.

We’ve discussed the importance of Do-It-Yourself before, so let this post serve as a reminder that you can control your website.

Do a little research to find the tools that work for you. Your website can reach its full potential, and it’s time to get started.

Share the Event Experience

Through my research of fairs, festivals and rodeos, I have been impressed with the large following of each event I’ve examined.  People are passionate about their local events!

But whether it is time or location, sometimes things just get in the way of actually attending your favorite event.

A great option is to invite site visitors to experience the event via your website with live streaming.

Streaming your nightly events will engage customers and give them an authentic taste of your event, whether or not they are able to see it in person.

This is really a win-win situation for you.  Not only will you expand your audience, but Jimmy’s grandma in Montana can see him show his steer at a rodeo in Alabama.

And everybody likes a happy grandma!

Let Customers Share Events

Word of mouth is a powerful tool.  People aren’t afraid to share their opinions, both good and bad, on social media.

Your customers are one of your best marketing tools, so making it easy for them to share event information is essential.

Give them the option to share events on top social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the ability to forward custom messages to friends via email.

Don’t believe me?  Check out these statistics.

Twitter boasts 175 million users who send an estimated 75 million tweets per day. They predict their average growth to be 370,000 new users every day.

According to Facebook, their average user creates 90 pieces of content per month and has an average of 130 friends.

They estimate all of their users combined spend over 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month.

Social media is the easiest way to connect and interact with your audience and is not hard to integrate into your site with simple sharing services like Add This.

Provide a Friendly Shopping Process

Over the weekend, I was doing some online shopping at a site I’d never made a purchase from before.  I added several items to my cart, but the checkout process became so complex I simply decided the cute dress wasn’t worth the hassle.

So please, don’t give your customers an excuse to not complete their purchase.

Ticket sales are the bread and butter of your event revenue, so make purchasing tickets easy.

If you sell tickets directly, a fully-integrated shopping cart ensures customers never leave your site, so they aren’t sent to unfamiliar websites with pages that don’t match your identity.

It shouldn’t matter if users are buying tickets directly from you or from a vendor’s website, the shopping process needs to be streamlined, friendly and intuitive. Think about your own online shopping preferences.

For example, you may think the more information you gather the better, but the truth is sometimes people just want to make a purchase.  Plain and simple.

If I find myself wanting to buy something else from you, that’s when I’m ready to give you more information.  Giving the option to checkout as a guest will go a long way with many first time visitors.

So consider this another reminder that a user’s online experience is just as important as their experience at your event.

Deliver Enticing Information

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet, because I need to practice what I’m about to preach.

Writing for the web is different.  Our online attention span is much shorter.  And we find it easier to digest information presented in segments.

So get to the point.  And keep it simple.

You need to provide valuable information that will entice customers to keep looking around your website because the information you are providing is easy to find and understand.

Don’t make your customers dig for the details: present them with essential event information up front in a clean, enticing format.

And PLEASE make sure that date, time and location of an event is in a prominent location.

See, you read the whole post today didn’t you?  Simple, clean content is key.

(It’s even okay if you just read the bold words.  I made them bold on purpose.
So don’t underestimate the power of formatting either!)

Grab visitors with a bold design

Yesterday, we discussed the importance of having visitors find your site.  So now that you have them there, what is going to make them stick around?

You’ve heard it time and again, but let me remind you: you have 7 seconds to make a first impression.

And the first thing that grabs the attention of a visitor  is the design. If a visitor isn’t intrigued in the first few seconds, the quality of your content won’t matter because they won’t stick around long enough to read it.

Think about it.  When you look at a website that is out of date, how does that make you feel about the organization?

To me, it feels like they are behind the curve and may be a little “old fashioned” so that may not be an event I want to attend.   If their website isn’t professional, do you think their organization or event will be?

I know that may sound harsh, but coming from a twenty-something who forms most of my opinions based on a company’s online presence, its the truth.

And make sure your fair, rodeo or festival website design shows your visitors the personality of your event. The design options for entertaining and unique events like yours are endless, so let your imagination run wild.

You know your event is worth it, so now is your chance to show everyone else!

South Texas State Fair Website is Live!



It’s a Good Time to Have a Great Time at the Fair!
And we couldn’t agree more.

We recently launched a new Saffire Website for YMBL and the South Texas State Fair. Take a look!

This project presented some new challenges to our team and we were happy to provide YMBL with everything they were looking for in a webssite.

Because the focus of the website changes so drastically between fair season and the rest of the year, we created two very different designs for the site.  We wanted customers to know the focus immediately once arriving on the site so they could find what they were looking for quickly.  You’ll want to check out their site again in a few weeks to see the year-round design.

We incorporated our ecommerce platform into their site so they could sell tickets online for the first time. They can now accept payment online for tickets, vendors, sponsors and YMBL memberships.

This was our first time to create a “Member’s Only” section for one of our event websites.  The Member’s Only section allows YMBL members to update their profiles, pay for memberships and see upcoming community events as well as member specific events.

Now, you’ll just have to trust us on how good the Member’s Only section looks, because we can’t show you.  After all, it is Member’s Only!

We also helped The South Texas State Fair expand their reach with social media and already has over 100 Facebook fans!

Chris Colletti and his team at YMBL were a pleasure to work with and we can’t wait to hear about their successful event this year.