We hosted a webinar to provide strategies and solutions for event organisers that have postponed or cancelled their events due to COVID-19. For more information on detailed strategies that we are implementing and solutions for postponed or cancelled events, you can watch our full webinar here.
Does our website development team need to edit the schema structured data for our event in the back-end?
Yes, your development team needs to check documentation at https://schema.org/Event and implement structured data. If you use structured data (schema.org) for your event, make sure that you use EventStatusType in your structured data (More at https://schema.org/Event) and change the status to cancelled or postponed as well as set the new dates. It is usually done in Google Search console. Your development team should be quite comfortable with making such changes but we are happy to point you in the right direction if you need any help.
Should we be using event response campaigns at the moment?
Event response campaigns can be really useful for informing your audience about date changes and updates on the current situation, and can also help us build remarketing audiences when we switch campaigns back on. We often build data on social by creating event response campaigns for launch events to say that an event is coming, then people can register in one click.
In the current circumstances, creating an event response campaign might be a sensible action to take. It means that if you build event response campaigns on social, there is a separate event response campaign audience so you can remarket to this audience closer to the show with messages such as “Live Registrations Open Now”.
For those that run events in the healthcare industry, how can we tweak the messaging for our delegate acquisition activity to address the virus related issues without sounding insensitive and too salesy?
We have lots of clients that run pharmaceutical and medical events. If introducing the topic of coronavirus into your ads will add value to the user then this could be a great approach. We can use various CTAs that are not too salesy, and by targeting the right users these should come across welcomed rather than pushy.
People are genuinely interested in information about virus spreading topics and vaccines for example. The event is going to have lots of value for users outwith the topic of COVID-19 but we expect that it will probably dominate a large proportion of the events in the healthcare industry. Make sure to only add the COVID-19 topic in if it gives value to your users. Consider using different CTAs including ‘Learn More’ rather than ‘Book Now’ or pushing discounts. At this uncertain time you’re trying to support your community with more information.
We have an event later on this year but are concerned that we will get negative feedback if we run ads for the event now. How do we best tackle this issue?
We have seen some clients with a ‘show must go on’ attitude or have events that are in June/July, which we would consider as borderline at the moment. We have seen negative comments on social media as a result of this attitude. It is sometimes difficult to win when there is such a big divide as people want to be compassionate and follow Government advice, but others have to get on with their events based on when they are in the year. For those people getting the push back right now – by showing you have considered the advice and how you’re dealing with COVID-19 at your event, then that’s the best way to tackle feedback at the minute.
We were due to go live with one campaign this week for an event in November but it seems insensitive to go out with sales messaging at this time and we understand from our sales team that exhibitors are holding onto their budget until nearer the time when they know what is happening. Based on this, when would you say is a good time to start an exprom campaign?
The key thing is that the messaging is useful rather than too sales focused, gather data and then when people are ready to buy in the future you will be ready.
It is still worth trying to start the campaigns so that you have enough time for the campaigns to run before the visprom campaigns. You need to strike the balance of not trying to squeeze in a rushed exprom campaign just to get it done when you know you need to run the visprom campaign in that 12 week lead time. If you don’t have time to run an eight week exhibitor campaign, keep in mind that you can always have an exhibitor remarketing campaign running whilst the visitor campaign is running at that time. Ideally we would run the exprom campaign 12 weeks before the event but if we don’t have that time, then we will do what we can in the time that we have.
To promote an online event, do you think boosting a Facebook event or boosting a Facebook post works best?
With the current situation we would recommend boosting events and posts – boosting events will allow us to build up this audience for remarketing and as a channel to provide audiences. Boosting important updates through posts will also be useful, especially if the situation keeps changing quickly.
If you only want to boost one, boost your Facebook event rather than your Facebook post. We suggest this as a boosted post consists of two steps to sign up, whereas boosting an event is just one step. This means that you can keep that audience and use it later when you are ready and when you run the actual live registration campaign. Boosting events is good as it is cheap and you might not be certain on what is happening over the next couple of months so don’t want to spend too much budget at this stage.
Do you have any advice on what we can do with all the registered people for campaigns that pretty much ran up to the event?
We would recommend that you contact them by email and let them know the date that the show has changed to. By expanding your remarketing lists, you are not going to lose people – and by asking them to transfer their ticket, you are giving them the best option. You should offer them the option to transfer their ticket and by providing this option, you will likely have a better response from them. It is worth bearing in mind that it is best to send out this message as soon as possible if you have not already.
We can also retarget users who have been on the website in a remarketing campaign with ads that highlight the new date and use a ‘transfer your ticket’ message.
We have used remarketing campaigns for some of our clients to those that have already registered for their events to let them know that the dates have changed. This won’t cost you too much as it is a small audience. We often do remarketing for free events, for people who have pre-registered in order to try to get them to attend and you don’t spend a lot on these campaigns but they are valuable. Everyone is cost saving at the moment so this is a useful trick that will not cost you much.
Do you have any advice for events that have been postponed but don’t have a guaranteed date and is there any point running campaigns at the moment?
For visprom/delprom we would recommend pausing these campaigns until you have a new date as otherwise there is too much uncertainty. You do not want to waste budget at the minute. There might still be an opportunity to run exprom and spex campaigns but be careful not to waste any money at this stage.
When should we be re-starting our campaigns? And do we need to start again (at the learning phase) so will the CPA be as high?
Ideally we would want to be running visprom campaigns for the full 12 weeks prior to the event date. As the campaigns will be restarting, they will go back into a learning phase and we expect this to follow the same path – higher CPA at the beginning until we get closer to the show. Starting the campaigns earlier and gathering awareness is going to be more important than ever.
Can you increase the size of RM lists?
Yes, this is something we have done for all currently postponed campaigns to make sure we can reach those interacting with the website pre and post COVID-19.
If you are running your own campaigns and you have remarketing campaigns set up in analytics, you are not going to lose anything by increasing the size of your remarketing list, even if you might not run the campaign this year. If your campaigns are on pause, it is still worth going back and changing the size of the remarketing list as it means that you can use it for something else and so that you do not lose that data when you come to use it again.
Do you have a guide on how much additional budget we would need?
How much additional budget you might need will depend on each campaign individually – different industries, show size and initial budget/spend will need to be taken into account. There will be more competition so we would anticipate that an increase on your original media spend would need to be set aside. We have seen organisers with events cancelled in March and this would then require you to reforecast for budgets later in the year.
We would say that there will need to be approximately a 20-40% increase, which we are estimating based on what we have seen with CPC. We will look at each campaign individually, different sectors, different targets and how many registrations you had that you think can attend again. You need to keep in mind that there will be more competition so it might be better value for money to run some campaigns now based around gathering new data – through content, articles, lead generation. You will then have built that audience at a cheaper time, rather than doing it when we anticipate it will get more expensive later this year.
People keep commenting about the event being cancelled on our social posts, organically & ads – what shall we do in this situation?
The best practice in this case would be to answer concerns in a response in the comments. We always want to go back and talk to people in the public forum if that is where they have raised their concern. If the comments contain offensive language or are aggressive towards the event, then it’s also possible to hide them. Sometimes you get a negative response for doing that so just bear this in mind.
For more information and to make sure you haven’t missed anything then click here to take a look at the latest article by Alex Velinov, Head of PPC at Tag Digital. You can also find out more about what the data tells us in one of our latest blog posts.
1st April 2020