Event marketing

Reviews | How Digital Playmakers found a winning formula for event marketing during a pandemic

Marketing live events during a global pandemic must remain one of the most difficult times ever for the events industry and certainly one of the greatest challenges.

Despite this, Digital Playmakers has partnered with Threshold Sports to achieve record cost per acquisition (CPA), with a reduction of around 40% compared to the previous non-pandemic year and reaching a combined total of 14 million ultra/endurance related impressions across the UK.

The ambitious brief, Threshold’s flagship marketing event series, involved overcoming a complex set of obstacles. This included high levels of overlap between target audiences for events in conjunction with conflicting start times and game-changing government updates/turnarounds. Challenges were overcome using a mix of innovative and exploratory data-driven solutions. So how exactly did we pull it off for Threshold Sports?

Ensuring the success of live events during a pandemic

Our solution for pandemic marketing events focused on redesigning the customer lifecycle and reprogramming critical touchpoints across every customer journey. The team adopted an adaptable and responsive way of thinking about restrictions to create a revised course that reflects the current state of affairs within the industry.

Organized, responsive and reassuring communications for potential and existing participants were essential and had to be in line with the latest government announcements. We’ve designed messaging to build trust and authority, maintaining consumer trust across Threshold touchpoints.

In the end, actions speak louder than words. Reinforcing our communication strategy, Threshold offered a deferral program and a fully refundable guarantee for all registered participants. This combination of strong messaging and actionable trust alongside a highly respected brand has allowed paid media campaigns to thrive as if virus-free, giving a huge boost to customer trust in uncertain circumstances.

Beat Government Updates and U-Turns

We’ve adapted Threshold’s campaign schedules to match UK government announcements, national restrictions, a localized tier system and payroll concerns. This included the likelihood of reduced disposable income due to the recession, or 80% furlough payments. Our marketing campaigns had to be reactive in nature, extremely flexible around media spend, and agency time was mapped month-by-month against regularly updated campaign calendars. This has proven to be an extremely effective weapon against the pandemic and has maintained a prolific client-agency relationship.

Resolution of overlapping elements

The challenge with marketing multiple events to the same relatively small UK market (in a shrinking seasonal window) is the increased potential for overlap between target audiences. Audience overlap is inevitable, to some degree, but implementing localized and hyper-targeted content has helped combat this. The team excluded specific audiences from the mile for each event, ensuring maximum spend efficiency, reducing audience overlap, and ultimately ensuring extremely low CPAs.

Using micro audiences goes against Facebook’s recommendation for using their algorithm. However, Digital Playmakers have found their use extremely effective for localized event marketing, reducing our clients’ CPA by an average of 33% per campaign. Combining this tactic with event-specific interests, stage of the customer journey, and Threshold event internal audiences (which had been cross-referenced against each other) was another hugely positive aspect of the success of this brief. .

Overcome internal competition

Another challenge with overlapping target audiences is that sometimes you’re competing with yourself. Most contemporary digital ad platforms operate on an auction-based business model. In this case, paid social networks (Facebook Ads) and Google Ads. Therefore, the challenge here was to avoid implementing paid media campaigns that competed with each other and resulted in increased CPMs, potentially inflating CPA and reducing signups.

At Digital Playmakers, we overcame this by employing a robust audience micro-segmentation strategy for each of their campaigns, ensuring that they only market Threshold Sports events against industry competitors. rather than themselves. Increase spending efficiency by approximately 15%.

Rethink, Adapt and Succeed

Digital Playmakers’ partnership with Threshold Sports resulted in the successful delivery of record breaking results for our client. Achieve a record CPA and contribute thousands of new participants. Throughout a pandemic-induced recession.

The key takeaway from partnership is to remain flexible and responsive (adaptable). Don’t just stick to your campaign deadlines for convenience or because you planned it. The second is, don’t be afraid to completely rethink your strategy and start over (as long as there’s a justification for doing so).

More importantly, the partnership shows that in times of difficulty, it can be extremely beneficial to maintain (or even increase) marketing investments, instead of taking the more traditional reaction of cutting marketing budgets altogether.


If you need performance marketing help, the Digital Playmakers team is already at the start line and waiting for your call to start the race.

Tom Stride