By: Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso
Take a look around at any city attraction or entertainment event you go to. Whether it be a sports game, concert, bowling alley or amusement park, there’s a very good chance you’ll see dozens of people on their mobile devices answering a text or call, snapping a photo with friends or scrolling on their social media accounts.
While some entertainment venue owners can find this frustrating as attendees might be paying more attention to their phones than the actual event, they should look at the situation from a different angle. Because smartphones are practically glued to our hands, there’s a huge opportunity to market to and engage with consumers via their mobile devices. Instead of worrying if they will see your flyers, billboards or digital displays, take the message to the device their already using.
There are a multitude of mobile marketing campaigns that entertainment venues can implement, but two in particular stand out – SMS text codes and beacons.
SMS Text Codes
A text code, also known as an SMS short code, uses a keyword and a 5-6 digit phone number to engage individuals and invite them to opt in to a text program. To do this, customers must send a text message with a specific keyword to the designated number, such as “BASEBALL” to 55555. Once the text is delivered, they will receive a message back confirming their participation and can be provided several options from there:
- A link to a digital reward, such as a coupon to show to the merchandise counter
- Multimedia messages like videos and photos of their favorite players
- A link directing them to a branded microsite that could direct them to real-time game updates or behind the scenes exclusive information
Two great real-world examples of this can be found through Blue Calypso’s recent partnerships with North Texas Performing Arts (NTPA) and the Salem Red Sox minor-league baseball organization.
- NTPA: By opting in, theatre goers accessed a customized microsite offering information around upcoming shows, auditions, quick links to become a member, donate and purchase tickets. In addition, the microsite enabled and encouraged advocates of the theatre to share their support within their social communities, amplifying the message through digital word-of-mouth marketing.
- Salem Red Sox: To provide the best in-stadium fan experience possible, the team will provide game updates in the event of inclement weather, as well as offer deals and promotions to fans who have opted in.
Text codes are a popular strategy that all entertainment venues and attractions should consider regularly deploying at events. The costs to send a message to those subscribed to your list is extremely inexpensive (think a few cents per message). Additionally, text codes have an extremely high market penetration rate. Nearly all mobile phones today have text messaging capabilities, making it the most widely-used basic feature. With 90 percent of Americans owning a cell phone, according to Pew Research Center, this ensures that nearly everyone is capable of receiving messages.
Consider implementing various text codes throughout the venue to offer attendees discounts on food, drinks and merchandise. Also, this tactic could be used to enter fans into a sweepstakes or giveaway contest. Consumers are likely to participating in a marketing campaign that does not require much effort for them, but still offers a great reward.
The next level up after text codes are beacons. These are small, portable devices that can be placed anywhere in a venue or nearby location. The technology relies on a smartphone’s Bluetooth connection to transmit information directly to a mobile app listening for the beacon’s signal. These devices are highly cost effective (with the average beacon costing just $25) and are bought through mobile solutions companies that often provide the software needed to program and manage the messages being delivered.
Whether it be a universal or branded one, the customer must first download an app connected to the attraction or venue that will listen for the beacon’s signal. Once the beacon is initially connected and the customer opts-in to receive information, the user’s smartphone will automatically begin receiving messages. These are delivered each time a connected smartphone passes by a beacon, regardless of whether or not the app is open at the time.
Like text codes, the possibilities of beacon triggered messages are endless. If deploying both, utilize beacons not only as a way to push discounts and promotions, but also to increase engagement with customers. For example, a zoo could install beacon devices around each exhibit and offer fun facts on the specific animals that live there – providing potentially exclusive information to guests who have the zoo’s app.
Both marketing tools allow participants to customize how they want to engage with the brand before, during and after their visit. In addition, entertainment business owners are able to collect customer data – giving them a direct insight into how their audience wants to interact with their brand.
Today, the traditional marketing tactics can still work to engage guests at entertainment venues, but it should not stop there. Continue to deploy a balance of promotional and informational mobile marketing tactics to build a loyal fan base that will in turn increase regular attendance and incremental revenue.
Andrew Levi is the founder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Blue Calypso, an innovator and pioneer in the development and delivery of location-enabled mobile engagement solutions. Using its patented cloud-based platform, the Blue Calypso solutions elevate the consumer shopping experience through an engaging in-store mobile immersion, while capturing real-time shopper behavioral analytics for retailers and brands.