How to do customer engagement, festival style

What can Glastonbury teach you about your marketing? Profusion CEO Natalie Cramp looks at how festivals excel at customer engagement 

With the sun beaming (sometimes) and music festivals like Glastonbury to Standon Calling happening every other weekend, I got to thinking. What’s their recipe for success? After all, they keep their customers coming back time and time again. Festivals haven’t lost out to the digital revolution like our high streets have.

We Brits are still happy to don our wellies, stand in a field, get soaked and be charged good money for the pleasure of a terrible night’s sleep (or five). We don’t opt instead to sit at home streaming music, rejoicing in the saved time and efficiency that would bring. We want the customer experience.

So what is the magic ingredient? Why are festivals so good at customer engagement and what can they teach us for our business?

Unknown brand? Let them discover you

The first things we think about, of course, are the headliners – the known brands that make it easy for festivals to attract an audience. This argument only goes so far, though, since many folk buy their tickets before the headliners are even announced. What festivals do brilliantly is making not having a clue who you’re watching a celebrated achievement – it’s a rite of passage to ‘discover’ a band.

When my friends and I came back from the Isle of Wight Festival recently, it wasn’t the headliner we were talking about but Eddy Smith & The 507, who we met on the ferry and saw on the smaller stage. We’re converts and proud to tell everyone we know. So, smaller brands – you have no excuses for not acquiring customers. Turn the fact they don’t know you into excitement and the reason why they should engage. Everyone wants to be ahead of the curve of ‘the next big thing’.

The Chillout Zone: Welcome and follow-up journeys

Like all businesses, festivals have their first timers – new consumers of their product. The question is how do they give them such a wonderful experience that they come back for more, and bring their friends too?

What’s their welcome journey, from that first customer touchpoint pre ticket sales to the ‘farewell and thanks for the memories’ at the end? Every customer who hits your database needs that welcome journey. As a business, you need to understand their touch points and ensure they have the most seamlessly positive experience. Not just that, you need it to be easy for this to happen, at scale and without you.

That’s why we call this the ‘chillout zone’ of the festival.

At Profusion we build, automate and optimise those welcome and follow-up journeys so your marketing team can sit back, safe in the knowledge your first timers are being looked after and will start shouting about you to others.

The Other Stages: Content and channel auditing

There’s always the old timers, the loyal following like my friend Lindsey. Glastonbury is where she met her husband and they haven’t missed one since. How do you keep that consistently positive experience that they love, but also surprise and delight them with something new each time? I like to think of this area of customer engagement as ‘the other stages’ – like the techno arena or circus tent. These customers don’t just watch who’s on the main stage and head off. They really understand and engage in all the festival has to offer.

At Profusion, we do a content and channel audit for you providing recommendations on how to keep content refreshing, engaging, and hyper-personalised based on the data you hold on your customers, or the insight we help you build.

The VIP Area: Customer lifetime value

The VIP Area is where you making sure your most valuable customers have the perfect experience. To make this happen, you first need to understand your customers at an individual level to know who your VIPs are.

We do this by predicting the lifetime value of your customers so you know who are your diamonds in the rough, who you can and should give discounts to, and who gets the VIP treatment from the customer service team. We also help you build your loyalty scheme, which gives you far richer data on your customers. This means can target much more effectively and drive up your sales.

The Camping Field: Email deliverability and sender reputation

The camping element is where hygiene factors come into play. At a festival, it’s all about finding the right pitch and spacing between tents. Can you find your way home? Are you close enough to the music to avoid a long walk, but far enough to get some sleep? Can you get some shade so the sun doesn’t wake you? And what are the nearest toilets like?

For you as a business, the equivalent is email deliverability and sender reputation. Everything else is pointless if your hygiene factors aren’t right – if your emails aren’t getting through to your customers. Perhaps they’re landing in their junk folders or the junk folders of other customers like them, because their email service provider recognises that customers with similar characteristics don’t read your emails.

We provide strategies to drive your emails straight into the inbox, reducing bounce rates and increasing the chances of your content getting to your audience.

Food Stalls and Bars: Customer segmentation

Remember that no festival is complete without an array of eateries and bars. Back in the day you could get a burger or fish and chips if you were lucky, now customers want vegan, Fairtrade and gluten-free options among a vast choice of world cuisines. How do you know what the right food stalls or products are for each customer? How do you know where to place them in relation to the stages and the kind of music people like? That’s why you need to segment your audience, understand their preferences and personas, and who to target with what. Want to go one step further and help your consumers find the right product for them? That’s why we created a product recommendation engine for one of our clients.

The Ticket Gate: Send time optimisation

Finally, there’s nothing that ruins a great experience more than a queue at the ticket gates or for the taxi home (Isle of Wight falls down on that one). That’s why you need to make sure your email and SMS campaigns get there right at the time people want to engage with them.

At Profusion, we’ve created a send time optimiser, that sends your campaigns to different individuals based on the right time and day for them. This significantly increases click and open rates, which as we all know leads to increased sales.

So, if you’re interested in creating a festival of customer engagement to drive your brand forwards, connect with us. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of this summer of festival fun!


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Natalie Cramp

CEO, Profusion


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