This marketing campaign did very well and, in this case study I’ll share the…

  • Emails
  • Ads
  • Landing Pages

… and the results of this event marketing campaign while revealing the strategic and tactical thinking that went into each decision.

Like any good marketing campaign, there was no manipulation involved.  No tricks.  No hacks.

We simply marketed an amazing event with a well-designed campaign and it performed very well.

(NOTE:  I’m taking on a small number of private clients and, if this note is in this article, it means I have an opening.  Learn more here.)

Let’s get right to it…

The Results

When I write a case study, I start with the results.  This isn’t meant to brag (in fact, these results may seem small to some) but only to demonstrate that this campaign did well and you can trust the information herein.

I have had similar results with this same campaign over and over with this event business.  It’s a formula that works for this business.  Your goal should not be to necessarily copy this exact campaign but, instead,  be inspired to search for the marketing campaign formula(s) that work for YOUR business.  That said, I hope there are components of this campaign that you can swipe and put to work immediately.

By the Numbers:

Business Name: Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers (Yep… that’s what I said)
Event Name: Coast 2 Coast Bicycle Tour
Offer Price: $8,900

Total Sales
: $214,100 (On a 60% Margin.  Nice pay day.)
Total # of Email Subscribers: 4,226
# of Emails Sent: 7
Ad Dollars Spent: $195.17

The Offer

Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers is an event company that provides supported bicycle tours and vacations.  Bubba calls it “pampering.”

He and his staff arrange the route, itinerary, lodging (some rides they camp, others they stay in luxury) and support the bicyclists as they ride.  Most of these events are approximately one week and traverse scenic routes like the Florida Keys or the Great Allegheny Passage.

The ride I’m outlining here is the big boy.  It’s a 52-day ride across the United States that is fully planned and supported by Bubba and his crew.

It’s a big commitment to register for the Coast 2 Coast ride and it ain’t cheap.  It’s an $8,900 investment and 52 days of your life to do this event.

Here’s a customer that has made it half way across the U.S. on this ride:

As I said: Big commitment.

And that commitment level is important to know.  We aren’t selling an impulse buy item (a pack of gum, as an example) — not by a long shot.  A buyer will do a LOT of homework before plopping down $9K and committing 52 days on the seat of a bicycle. (My rump hurts just thinking about it.) 🙂

This event is fantastic.  It’s well planned and well executed by a crew of professionals.

But a great product isn’t enough.

The offer must be equally good.  In this case, we employed an offer that included four elements:

  1. Discount – We offered $500 off the registration fee for the Coast 2 Coast Tour
  2. Bonus – We offered a free upgrade to a better tent (a $200 value)
  3. Payment Terms – We allowed them to pay a 10% ($895) deposit now and the rest of the balance later
  4. Limited Time – This offer was only available for 5 days

[RELATED:  You can read more about structuring offers in my article entitled: “Not Making Sales? Don’t Kill that Product or Service Until You Read This…“]

The digital marketing campaign for this event had three phases, each with a different goal.

  • Phase I Goal: Drive awareness and interest for the event and segment anyone showing interest.
  • Phase II Goal: Educate interested prospects about the event and the offer by asking them to opt-in (subscribe) to an information session.
  • Phase III Goal: Make the sale.

I wish we could just skip it all and make $9K sales without all these phases and other fiddle faddle but — that’s just not how it works.

In any case, here’s the campaign in its entirety:

Phase I: Awareness, Interest & Segmentation

This business has a small email list of a little over 4K subscribers.  As you can see, we use MailChimp.  I don’t love MailChimp but it gets the job done.

For some, 4K may seem like a large email list and, for others, it may seem extremely small.  I’ll do another article soon on building an email list but, suffice it to say, you can grow a list fast if you fix these mistakes.

We also had a very small ad budget (as you’ll see) but, in the end, this campaign was driven by email with Facebook ads as a support mechanism.

We sent three emails to the entire list of 4,000+ in this first phase.  The goal of these first emails was to segment the email list into two groups:

  • Group 1: Those interested in the event
  • Group 2: Those NOT interested in the event

We counted anyone that opened or clicked on any of these first three emails as interested.  We stopped emailing those that did not open one of the first three emails.  Well… we stopped emailing them about this event anyway.

Here is how the emails laid out by day.

Phase I, Day 1 – Email

The first email had a very direct subject line and body copy.  The whole idea of this email is that it is an announcement.  We want to inform the prospects about the ride and load up on the benefits of joining this bike tour:

While I did mention the offer (not shown in picture above), the point of this first email is to inform and layer on the benefits.  Making $9K sales directly from this first email is highly unlikely.  That said, we drove a lot of awareness and interest here and started the process of separating those that were interested in the event from those that were not.

Phase I, Day 2 – Email

The second email has a similar purpose to the first.  I’m looking to drive excitement and inform.  But, in this second email, we layer on some social proof as well.  We want to show the prospect that others have successfully bicycled coast to coast with this company.  I’ve highlighted these “social proof” statements with red boxes:

Again, we used a very direct subject line and body copy in this email.  I want anyone interested in this ride to “raise their hand” by opening/clicking in these first three emails.  If I make a sale, that’s great!  But with a 9K event, very few sales are made in this first phase.

Phase I, Day 3 – Email

The last email in this phase is purely emotional.  This ride is a deeply personal journey and an item on many people’s “bucket list.”  This email reads a bit like a story and is told almost entirely in pictures.  The subject line of this email reads similar to something you would see on Facebook or other social media.

I’ve truncated it after the first few pics so you can get the idea of of the way this email was structured:

This email made exactly zero sales but the numbers showed that it was, by far, the most engaging email we sent in this campaign.

Phase I mission accomplished.

Phase II:  Subscription & Education

The goal of this second phase is to get interested people to register and attend a webinar.

Yep, I said webinar.

We called it an “Information Session” but, at the end of the day, it was nothing more than a good ol’ webinar using GoToWebinar software. Remember, registration for the Coast 2 Coast Tour is a major commitment and the prospective riders need all the information they can get to make an informed decision.

What better way to deliver that information than to have the owner (and host of the event) himself tell the riders what to expect on a live webinar call?

I’ll outline the details of the webinar in just a minute.  First, let’s examine the emails that drove registration to the webinar.

Phase II, Day 4 – Email

Again, this email is an announcement.  We want people to become aware that there is a webinar (we call it an “Information Session”) and we want them to register for that webinar.

The subject line is, therefore, very direct and informative:

Notice how I lay out the agenda for the webinar in this email so that, again, people can make an informed decision as to whether they should attend.  (SPOILER ALERT: Just over 80% of the people that ended up registering for this ride, attended this Information Session or watched the recording.  Super powerful.)

Phase II, Day 5 – Email

The second email about the webinar is super short and to the point.  The subject line highlights the benefit of attending the webinar and is careful to let people know that it is a free information session:

The links in these Phase II emails drove people directly to the GoToWebinar registration page where people could get signed up.  GoToWebinar took care of the rest by automatically sending registrants the info they would need to get on the call and periodically reminding them of the date and time.

Phase II, Day 6 – Email 1

This was the day of the webinar and the email I sent on this morning was super conversational.  In fact, we received a lot of replies to this email and the owner answered every one of them.  Notice how the subject line is phrased as a question.

Phase II, Day 6 – The Webinar

We had just over 100 people register for the webinar and around 50 showed up live.  Not bad for a free webinar.  Show-up rates for free webinars can be 20% or lower depending on the amount of time that passes between the prospect registering for the webinar and the webinar itself.  To keep show-up rates high, the webinar was announced and conducted in a compressed time period of 3 days.

The webinar couldn’t have been easier.  I was the host and the owner was the expert.  I walked through a set of FAQ’s that we put together (Where will we sleep on the Coast 2 Coast tour? What will we eat? How should I train? What bike should I ride? etc).  I also fed questions to the owner that were coming in live from the audience.

The webinar lasted an hour and, at the end, we revealed the special offer.  It went something like this:

“If you’re interested in this ride, act now.  The price is $8900 until midnight on October 1st — that’s just 3 days from today!  You can also get a free upgrade to the largest tent we have (a $200 value) if you register by the deadline.  The only thing you’ll need to do today is put down an $895 deposit and you can pay the rest later.  You can put down that deposit via PayPal on this page.”

We gave them the link.

Super simple.  We gave them a reason to act NOW.  We made them a good offer that was available for a limited time.

A few deposits came in immediately after the webinar but, again, this ride is a very serious commitment.  Most of the sales from this campaign didn’t come in until Phase III.

Phase III: Making the Sale

We had generated interest and engagement.  We had educated the prospective customers about the event.  We had made them an offer.

Now, it was time to close that offer.

Phase III, Day 7 – Email

We had made the offer on the webinar but, anyone that didn’t attend, had not heard about it.  And, those that did, needed a reminder.

It was time for another announcement email.  Notice how direct this subject line and body copy are:

This email has one purpose: make the sale.  As you can see, there is almost no discussion of the product itself.  We are past that point in this campaign.  This email is about THE OFFER.  We know they are interested in the product at this point — the question is whether they like the offer.

Phase III, Day 8 – Email

The subject line and the body copy of this email begin to stress the urgency to act now or lose out on this deal.  This is when the sales start rolling in.

Phase III, Day 9 – Emails

This is the last day of the campaign.  The price will jump $500 at midnight and the bonus tent upgrade goes away as well.

We sent two emails on this day and, because we ramp up the urgency a bit, we introduced some humor into the body copy.

The first email (above) on this closing day was sent in the morning.

This second email was sent 8 hours before the midnight deadline and continues with the humor a bit…

Again, the subject line and body copy are very direct aside from the brief bit of humor.

Phase III – Introducing Facebook Ads into the Mix

With a tiny ad budget (~$500) and a high-dollar, high-commitment offer, Facebook ads were only used to retarget the traffic that had visited the event landing page.

These ads were laser focused by targeting only those that had already shown interest — as opposed to generating any new interest from cold prospects.  This campaign’s success was owed to email and the ads were there for support.

As a result, the ads are pretty dang simple.  We simply want to remind these prospective buyers of the offer (and the offer deadline) when they visit Facebook.  The ad copy isn’t cute or punchy.  It simply states the offer.

Here’s the first ad…

And here is the second ad with the exact same copy but a variation of the image…

Bringing it All Together: The Sequence

This event sold out by the midnight deadline and generated $214,100 in sales.

The key to the success of this campaign was the sequence of the offers that were made.  As I said before, it would be great if we could just send an email or set up a quick Facebook ad and make a complex sale like this.  But that just isn’t how it works.

Instead, we first had to raise awareness and interest.  Then, educate the prospect with a webinar.  And lastly, give them a reason to buy now rather than later.

Again, there’s nothing manipulative about this campaign.  Nothing magical.  This company produces great events and we made a great offer.  This, plus a sound marketing campaign, made for a winning combination.

(NOTE:  I’m taking on a small number of private clients and, if this note is in this article, it means I have an opening.  Learn more here.)