An Experts Guide to Selling Event Tickets Online

By Oliver Hinton

With an anticipated 'Post Covid' boom in live events expected, and to help you get your plans in place, we’ve put together a detailed guide on event ticketing strategies with tips and advice from industry experts, event managers and top marketing tactics. So when you are ready to get going, perhaps these guides could help you sell out even faster!

Event Ticketing Strategies 101

We’ve outlined eight of the most popular ticketing strategies used by event managers all over the world. However, it’s important to note that not every tactic will be right for every event and it would be seriously impressive if you tried to tackle all these in one go.

If you’re just starting out then consider picking one or two ideas to help you sell more tickets online. If you’re a more experienced event manager then perhaps expand / refresh your current strategy with some of the tactics listed here.

1. Pre-release event tickets

One of the most common strategies used by event managers to sell more tickets online is to kick start your sales by offering pre-release event tickets.

Everyone likes to be given the chance of getting something before everyone else, so offering your members, previous customers and the customers of your sponsors some kind of reward is a great way to launch an attention grabbing campaign that can boost early ticket sales online.

Consider the following for your event:

- How can you make this exclusive?
- Where and how they can purchase their pre-sale tickets?
- How will you promote it?
- How you incentivise people to buy pre-release tickets – perhaps offer the best seats at the event, free merchandise, VIP or an early bird price point thats too good to miss.

early bird ticket strategies

2. Early Bird Tickets

Early bird tickets are another release stage that is at your disposal as an event manager, to help encourage early online ticket sales.

This popular ticketing strategy can be used as a powerful price incentive to target two key customer groups; your event’s biggest fans and customers that might be sensitive to price and are looking for a great value deal. The most common way to use this strategy is to offer customers an incentive to buy a ticket well in advance of the event date, this is most commonly a monetary incentive like a discount or extra entitlements, such as VIP access, freebies, or added ‘money can’t buy experiences.’

vip ticketing strategy

The key here is to work out if this strategy is right for your event, as it’s important to note there that offering an early bird price isn’t right for every event.

If your event is likely to sell out anyway then you run the risk of losing margin that you don’t need to lose. However, before you make this decision consider benefits to running an early bird price:

- People don’t like to miss out! There’s nothing better than being able to say that tickets are legitimately flying out of the door in your marketing and it can actually really help to boost extra ticket sales.
- People who’ve already bought tickets to your event instantly become event advocates that are likely to spread the word on your behalf by telling their friends, family and colleagues (in person and via social media). The potential marketing value of this group of people is not be underestimated!
- Early online ticket sales mean that you could get access to funds that can be re-invested in other key aspects of your event like making a commitment to invest in some additional marketing or putting down deposits on key event elements.

social media promotion

The big question is how much discount should you offer?

When it comes to working out how much of a discount to offer it’s important to consider that offering too little and the price isn’t attractive enough to drive the early sales you desire, offer too much and you’re eating into your margins - this a direct hit to your end profit.

Expert insight: We recommend price differentials of around 15% (and higher) will resonate with customers to act now. But note: the longer out (from your event) that you are asking a customer to commit then your offer should be more generous.”

If you’re going to use this strategy then it’s crucial that you make sure it’s right for your event, and your customers if you want to ensure that it helps you sell more event tickets online.

3. Do you offer a premium option?

Most events will have a percentage of customers who either love your event so much or have extra budget to spend that they are willing to pay extra to make sure they get the ultimate experience. So it’s your job to make sure that you provide an offering to cater for these people.

Build a ‘premium’ package that gives these people access to extras, such as unlimited food and drink, access to reserved sections of your event, exclusive queue jumps or meet and greet opportunities. If you work to put the right premium package together don’t be surprised if your top tier tickets sell out before the standard ones!

ticketing strategy guide

4. On the other hand you could create a lower pricing tier

However, you might decide that taking the opposite approach to ticket pricing could would better for your event, increasing ticket sales by adding in a lower-tier ticket option.

Perhaps you could consider offering a half-day ticket rather than entry for the full day, or think about how could you restrict access to certain part of the events or maybe offer a ticket that does not include food or drink.

Creating a lower priced ticket could open you up to a new audience with a lower budget or help to convince people who were undecided about whether to buy a ticket that’s it’s a good value deal they are willing to pay for.

5. Run some promotional offers

Everyone is used to seeing promotion offers, from buy one get one frees and competitions to loyalty points and buy more, save more deals. So it’s no surprise that many event professionals adopt similar techniques in order to sell more online tickets.

Expert insight: We recommend that you plan several short promotional campaigns into your ticketing strategies. If ticket sales are going well then you may find that you don’t even need to use these promotions, but it’s always a good idea to plan them in upfront, in case you need them to help boost ticket sales.

 Here are some common promotional offers you might want to try at your event:

- Consider offering a small group discount to customers that buy 5 or more tickets at once.
- Offer X% off tickets for the weekend when using Coupon code “XYZ”
- Create a special discount that can be shared with your Facebook fans or other social media followers
- Unique offers (so you can also track their success) could be released to the databases of organisations you are affiliated with (e.g. your exhibitors/sponsors databases)

6. Get in touch with people who have been to previous events  

If you plan on holding your event more than once then repeat customers are key to ensuring that your event is a long-term success.

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to promote your event is to reach out to people who you’ve already had contact with - anyone who’s previously bought a ticket to your event. You might find that they won’t all rush to buy tickets at the pre-release stage so make sure that you put some creative thought into other ways that you can reward them for their loyalty.

Consider express entry - early access - areas where they don’t have to queue for the toilet or to use the facilities.

event ticketing strategy

7. Harness the marketing power of people who’ve already bought tickets

Another way to maximise the ticket buying potential of your existing customer base is to offer incentives for them when they share your event with their friends, family and colleagues. Everyone who shares your event post of says that they are attending your event on social media can help to drive some serious revenue.

sell tickets online guide

So think about planning a referral offer that could be used to encourage customers who need the extra little incentive to share by offering free VIP upgrades or when they refer a certain number of their friends or family.

Real life example: Uber is a great example of a company who have done this well, they have offered a free ride to everyone who refers a friend, or Groupon who give you credit every time you refer someone.

If each of your core customers brought just one extra person you could quickly double the numbers of tickets sold. 

8. The final release & charge more at the door

Promoting a final release of tickets is the last opportunity that you have to remind people have to buy tickets online before the big day. Most event professionals tend to charge more on the door or at the gate so updating your marketing material to highlight the on the door price increase is a great way to incentivise people who’ve been leaving it until the last minute to buy their tickets.

Which leads us onto door prices…. If you aren’t putting the price up for tickets sold at the door or gate then you’re missing out. Unless tickets have completely sold out before the event day then it’s highly likely that you will get some on the day sales. In fact, if you don’t choose to charge more on the day then you may find that there is no incentive for people to buy tickets online before the big day. The extra money people pay on the day can also be used to offset some of the discounts you may offer in the run up to the event.

Always plan to charge more on the door and make sure that this is factored into your ticketing strategy from the start. Promote it in your advertising to make sure it’s clear.

There are many ways to ensure that your ticket sales are moving in the right direction, but as we’ve highlighted not all strategies should be centered around offering discounts to encourage ticket sales.

The key to having a good strategy that will deliver is in the planning. Be 100% sure on the revenue numbers you need before you start and have a clear idea on how you are going to hit these numbers with each of your ticket releases. Having this plan helps you to know when you need to adjust your plan and add in some extra promotions if sales are behind.

Expert tip: Expect the best for your ticketing campaign, but plan for the worst - then you will have every eventuality covered!

Event Marketing:  How to make sure your ticketing strategy succeeds.  

Don’t forget to implement these marketing tactics to make sure that your ticketing strategy delivers.

Once you have your ticket strategy in place it’s time to make sure it’s working hard for you. Here are some top tips that can help you maximise awareness and help you hit those numbers.

Make sure customers can buy your tickets online.

This one is a no brainer and has many benefits that you won’t want to miss out on.

You are going to seriously be busy running all aspects of your event. Outsourcing your ticket sales to your online ticketing platform is going to save you (and your team) many hours work.  Being online gives your customers the chance to buy tickets whenever they want and wherever they are. What better way to sell more tickets than to make it as easy as possible for them!

Save money, many online ticketing services such as Ticketebo are free for event managers to set up and get started.

Services such as Ticketebo also enable you to set up a personalised webpage for you event - making it easy for customers to find all the information and pricing and promotion details you have running. This is also handy for online marketing as you have a simple and easy link to share which directs people to a page with all the essential information they need to make the decision on whether or not to purchase.

Diversify your marketing channels

It’s believed that the average event only uses 3 - 4 marketing channels to promote, leaving lots of opportunity to try something new. If you have some extra budget and resource then why not choose a platform that looks to have a good ROI and put some marketing budget behind it.

Here are some ideas you might not have thought of using:

- Search Engine Marketing (PPC or SEO)
- Re-targeting
- Radio advertising
- Billboards
- Sponsorships
- Press Releases
- The Local Press

Shout about your event on social media

The power of social media should never be underestimates, it’s everywhere and most of your customers are using it – from music-loving teens to thirty-something sports fans and forty year old foodies.

FACT: Over 35% of the traffic to all Ticketebo event webpages today comes directly from our Event Organisers' social media channels.

Winning social media techniques

Getting your event out on social media is a great way to generate buzz and excitement about your event amongst a large group of people at very low to no cost. Use social media to promote the event page where customers can buy your tickets in a few easy steps.

Make the most of your databases and networks.

Regardless of whether you’re a novice or pro event manager you will know that there are lots of people that go into making your event happen; venues, caterers, security teams, entertainers, suppliers… the list goes on.

These are another group of people that also benefit from helping to promote a successful event that the business and brand is linked to. Send an email around to ask if they would be able to promote the event on social media or even via email marketing if they have a newsletter. The more people who know about your event, the more chance you have to sell tickets.

Are you using your customer databases?

If you’ve ever held an event before then it’s likely that you will have a database of everyone who’s previously bought a ticket from you. Sending out a email campaign that to market your latest ticketing promotions and releases is an easy and low cost way to get your event in front of people who are likely to be interested in the event your running.

event ticketing strategies

Make the right first impression.

If you’re sending out promotion material via email or social media or are promotion your event on a webpage then it’s essential that it creates a memorable first impression. Nothing hampers your chance to sell tickets than cheap or poorly designed marketing material that looks like it was created on Microsoft Paint circa 1997…

Your online event page is the cornerstone for all your marketing and promotions. After all, it’s the place where all the key information about your event is listed, such as the time, date and location (and ticket prices!) But when it comes to building a website or dedicated page for your event it doesn’t need to cost you money.

When you register your event with online ticketing software Ticketebo, you are able to create a webpage dedicated to your event for free. You can customise this page, adding all your event information, ticket prices and add images and logos.

free event website

When it comes to the rest of your marketing material (like posters and social media ads) make use of one of the many low cost graphic design services available online – we recommend that you check out 99designs or a freelance website like UpWork.

Re-target people who’ve already shown interest in your event.

If someone visited your event page but left without purchasing a ticket it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t interested. If you aren’t managing to convert customer who visit your event page why not consider setting up a re-targeting campaign.

Re-targeting is a hot topic in the online advertising space. Re-targeting is the practice of serving ads based on prior engagement. Re-targeting can be easy to get set up, but if you aren’t confident in trying it yourself then your best bet is to find an expert online who can set up a simple campaign for you.

event marketing sell tickets online

In conclusion...

The right ticketing and pricing strategy will not only help you sell more tickets, but it can also help increase your event’s profitability, one of the best measures of success.

Whilst a strong initial ticketing strategy is crucial, don’t forget to optimise ticket sales in the run up to the event by executing a number of strategies aimed at different people at varying times.

For more advice on ticketing strategies and how you can sell your tickets online, speak to the team at Ticketebo.

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