Event marketing

The Event Marketing Lifecycle: When Can You Sell the Most Tickets?

When and where you market your event is critical to ticket sales, and thanks to a plethora of data, we can now map the entire marketing lifecycle of an event to determine when the best times to sell the maximum number of tickets.


Post invited by Sophia Vaccaro by Eventbrite

It would be great if you could plan your event advertising strategy based on what you to wish would happen with your ticket sales – but you know that wishes don’t mean much in this industry.

Instead, base your strategy on the actual results of events like yours. ToneDen experts have worked with countless events to refine their marketing strategies and have identified a surefire timeline for event marketing success in the process.

Here’s how to determine the best timeline for spreading your ad spend across the ticket sales lifecycle.

Properly allocate your ad spend throughout the event sales cycle

The most important factor in your event advertising plan is the typical sales cycle of the event.

Every event has an arc: the sales curve that follows when people buy tickets. For most events, sales increase when tickets first go on sale because you built anticipation when you first announced your event. Tickets only climb again in the last days before the event. Between these two periods is a relatively stagnant “maintenance” phase when sales plummet.

Understanding these steps is key to mastering any type of event promotion, especially paid social ads. Your audience has different motivations at each stage of your ticketing lifecycle. It’s your job to nurture their ticket buying intentions until they’re ready to buy. If you spend all of your advertising budget during the maintenance window, for example, you won’t see the sales you need.

“One of the biggest mistakes event promoters make is to advertise an event well in advance and spend a lot of money on the initial advertising phase,” says Ali Shakeri, CRO and co-founder of ToneDen . “But they’re neglecting to tap the interest of initial viewers.” In other words, you got people to find out about your event, but you ran out of expenses to remind them to buy tickets once they were ready.

Instead of an “initial ad blitz” approach, Shakeri recommends adapting to the nuances of each stage of the ticketing lifecycle. Your strategy should encourage potential ticket buyers to the point of “conversion” – the point when they actually buy tickets.

For a typical event, Shakeri recommends breaking down your ad spend as follows:

  • 40% Combination of listing and listing stages
  • 20% Maintenance Campaigns
  • 40% clearance

Adjust your advertising spend based on your type of event and its fans

This generic distribution is not suitable for all types of events. Your ad spend should also consider the demographics of your audience.

Here are some examples of events where you would approach expenses differently.

Tiered Ticket Events & Festivals

Events with more complex ticketing systems – like festivals with tiered versions of ticket types – may require a more complicated advertising strategy.

ToneDen Data: For festivals, 15% of tickets are sold in the first week and 24% in the last week. That leaves 61% of tickets sold in the tiered ticket release stages in between.

To attract all types of ticket buyers at such events, you’ll want to raise awareness and inspire conversion at every ticketing stage:

  • 10% Announcement
  • 30% top tier tickets on sale
  • 10% 2nd level tickets on sale
  • 10% third tier tickets on sale
  • 40% clearance

family events

Family events often see earlier ticket sales. Older, higher-income audiences tend to plan ahead, so your advertising will rely heavily on early efforts:

  • 40% Combination of listing and listing stages
  • 30% Maintenance campaigns
  • 30% clearance

Nightlife or weekend events with last minute fans

According to an Eventbrite survey of 2,000 Americans, 43% of Americans plan a party just 1-3 days in advance, while most people (19%) only plan their weekends on Thursdays.

Comedy shows are a good example of an event that tends to attract last-minute ticket buyers.

ToneDen Data: Comedy shows only sell an average of 6% of tickets in the first week. 75% sell in the last week — and 31% in the last day.

For these shows, you could spend more money up front to encourage people to buy tickets earlier. At the same time, you want to be fresh in the awareness of last-minute shoppers. So, a more appropriate ad spend for such events might look like this:

  • 50% Combination of listing and listing stages
  • 10% Maintenance campaigns
  • 40% clearance

These are only rough estimates of how your event’s typical sales cycle might influence the cadence of your ad spend. There are also other factors at play. For example, events located in “party cities” like Miami and Las Vegas have a different sales cycle than those in more conservative cities like Columbus, Ohio, where people tend to commit more in advance.

Considering the budget allocation that makes the most sense for your event is the first step in developing an effective advertising strategy that will ensure you sell.

Continue to develop your advertising strategy based on the event marketing lifecycle

Ready to create a comprehensive advertising strategy based on data and expert advice? Check out the full ebook, The Ultimate Event Advertising Plan for Busy Event Creators.

Sophia Vaccaro: Bay Area native, snake enthusiast and live music lover, Sophia writes fantastic books for young adults and blogs for Eventbrite. There haven’t been many crossovers so far, but only time will tell.