Q Theatre case study

How We Sold Tickets To A Comedy Festival at 29X ROAS

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As an agency owner, you literally have dreams at night of your ideal client. A client that shapes the industry you love, that stands for what you stand for, and that just generally does really cool things.

So when Alice from Q Theatre approached us to run FB ads for them, I couldn’t believe my luck. As a film geek and theatre enthusiast, my vision for our agency was to sell tickets. To movies, to operas, to theatre shows, to escape rooms, to anything that could sweep people away for the night. Experiences they won’t forget.

And now an ethical theatre company that cared about their artists and about creating the perfect night out for theatre fans wanted to work with US? We had no choice but to accept their request for a Comedy Festival campaign and create the best strategy known to man.

So we got to work.

First, we audited their ad account. Like so many businesses, they had try to run their own ads but to little avail. So we took a deeper dive into their assets and ad account and quickly pinpointed the issue.

These guys had everything going for them. They had lists of data from registered theatre goers – which is gold, only they weren’t using this information right. They had all the tools to create an incredible lucrative campaign, but the set up wasn’t ideal. This is where agencies come in. You have the puzzle pieces, we just put them together in a clean, strategised manner.

Pro tip: never use a seed audience and a lookalike audience made from said seed audience in the same ad set.

Identifying the stumbling blocks

The biggest bottleneck they were facing was that they were using custom audiences and lookalike audiences in the same ad set. Without going into too much boring detail, if you take anything at all from this case study, let it be this: never use a seed audience and a lookalike audience made from said seed audience in the same ad set. Essentially, one cancels the other one out and you’ve got a really messy situation that doesn’t sell any tickets.

So we had a look at their CRM (in this case, Mailchimp) and looked at the information we had sitting there. We then exported relevant lists and added them into their Audiences. We proceeded to create a lookalike audience based on this lists.

In other words: we had one audience that was exactly our target audience as they had been proven previous purchasers, and we had Facebook create an additional audience for us made up of people with similar interests and online behaviour as the group of proven purchasers.

So instead of dealing with cold audiences, we immediately had one warm and one lukewarm audience. At a later stage, we also added a RED HOT audience, but we’ll dive into that a bit later.

Creative that converts at 75%

For this comedy festival, we were promoting eight shows. So we decided to test a few different creatives. First, we went with the most intuitive, logical option: a carousel. Another great industry tip: your first idea is always your best idea. The carousel actually majorly outperformed the other creative we tested. 44% of all initial ticket sales came from the carousel.

 Another thing we did was split test. For every ad we created that took people to the Q Theatre show page, we also ran the exact same ad that went straight to the ticketing platform, Patronbase.

But just because one creative works well for some, doesn’t mean it works for everyone. So we kept testing creative, which included some single image ads of shows with big names or bright images, and we also created a few feature images which combined a few images from several shows.

Surprisingly, and up until this point unseen for us, every single piece of creative we had live (there were 18 ads in total) converted. We got sales off every one. In fact, off all the ads combined, we got 746 links clicks of which 563 converted to sales. That’s a 75% conversion rate!

Let’s hit ‘em again!

No Facebook advertising campaign is complete without retargeting. This is the part where we basically approach the people who have shown interest but did not purchase tickets again.

For the Comedy at Q campaign, because we had to use the retargeting budget sparingly, we combined an audience of previously interested prospects. How did we do this? Well, we targeted people who had clicked any card on the carousel to visit not just the Comedy at Q homepage but any of the shows specifically, and people who had previously engaged with the Q Theatre page or any of the ads we had previously shown.

If you take another lesson out of this case study, it’s that if you’re not retargeting, you’re leaving money on the table. Off $320 in ad spend, our retargeting campaign generated another $4,717 in ticket sales.

Pro tip: if you’re not retargeting, you’re leaving money on the table.

The results: Let’s talk numbers

So you’re here because you read the headline and thought: “29X ROAS?!” – so let’s talk facts and numbers.

The Comedy at Q festival featured several shows, nine of which we pushed through Facebook advertising. Q Theatre initially had a budget of USD800 to work with. However, they are based in New Zealand so this roughly worked out to be NZD1230.

Keep in mind they regularly run engagement campaigns and events, and have a huge following on their Facebook page, as well as data lists from their CRM. A brand new ad account would need to see a much larger budget to get this kind of return on ad spend.

We usually make sure we have about a third of the budget to put behind our retargeting campaign, so we started off with two ad sets of NZD450 each, putting NZD320 aside for retargeting.

We started off with a Top of Funnel (“cold”) campaign, which we ran for 26 days altogether. We also informed Q Theatre that with extra budget, we’d be able to run an extra ad set which would make a real difference in the final ticket sales.

Thanks to their Head of Marketing and their total trust in what we were doing, they managed to allocate another NZD300 to add an extra ad set. 13 days in, we launched a third ad set, which in the end brought in an extra NZD7110 in ticket sales.

The Top of Funnel campaign saw a total ad spend of NZD1200, and resulted in NZD39,743.32 in ticket sales. The custom audience of previous purchasers saw a return on ad spend of 17.31. The lookalike audience we build based off this list resulted in a return on ad spend of 55.20, and the ad set we added at a later stage with the extra budget, a lookalike audience we had created based on Q Theatre’s page engagement, got a return on ad spend of 23.70.

The Bottom of Funnel (retargeting) campaign, which we launched halfway through the Top of Funnel campaign to ensure we had a big enough pool to approach, and which had a budget of NZD320 allocated to it, resulted in an extra NZD4,717.71 in ticket sales, making for a return on ad spend of 14.74.

At the end of 26 days, we spend a total of NZD1,520 and sold NZD44,461.03 in tickets, making for an average of 29.25 return on ad spend.

The strategy

The funnel we used here for these low-ticket events, was a minimum viable ecommerce funnel, as the tickets were sold online. The average price of a ticket was around $30, and the average order value of each purchase was $78.

This is roughly what the funnel we built out looked like:

Needless to say, the comedy festival was a great success. How did we do it? By applying a simple ecommerce strategy to an events campaign. 

Wondering what strategy your event needs to sell tickets at a high return on ad spend? We’d be happy to check out your event – get in touch!

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