Brian Bauer’s passion for music is perhaps surpassed only by his love of psychology.
A third-generation drummer who studied briefly at Berklee College of Music, the President of Bauer Entertainment Marketing opted to focus more on social sciences after graduating high school because “I just love how people tick”.
His devotion to music and psychology – you can throw sport in there as well – has served him well professionally, giving him a unique insight into the ticket buying behavior of audiences.
Since founding Bauer Entertainment Marketing in Nashville in 2015, the company has helped grow more than 500 music, sports and entertainment companies including X Games, NASCAR, Ryman Auditorium, and Uber.
An expert in Conversion Rate Optimization, here Bauer offers a selection of insights into maximizing ticket sales, taking in everything from removing barriers to purchasing to whether ‘find tickets’ is more effective language than ‘buy tickets’.
He does, however, offer one caveat:
“Even though there are rules to the road, because the audiences can shift from event to event, you're going to find different audiences in different phases,” he smiles. “And so it takes constant testing. Each event necessitates its own testing.”
Know Your Audience and How To Speak To Them
“A very common pitfall with social media is that you're posting the same exact content in the same exact way across each social channel. And you're missing that opportunity to really connect in a more authentic way.
“You have to meet the audience where they are. And because each event caters to different audiences, you're going to have to make sure that you're speaking in the language that makes sense to that audience.
“There's just so much advertising and so much noise and so much competition for eyeballs and dollars, that those that are personalized win the day. When you are speaking directly to a consumer’s pain points and challenges and they can recognize that, ‘Oh, yeah, you understand what I'm going through and you're uniquely positioned to solve that for me’, that's a recipe for success.”
“A very common pitfall with social media is that you're posting the same exact content in the same exact way across each social channel."
Buy A Ticket From Yourself
“It's sometimes shocking at the lack of clients who have actually bought their own ticket and have gone through the process of buying from themselves. Because quite often, there are roadblocks that they had no idea exist.
“And so going through that user experience and purchasing really helps reveal things getting in the way of that purchase process. Things that maybe are okay but could be a lot better. And then also maybe things that aren't yet implemented that could really help improve the process.”
Be My Guest
“One of the data points that's really unique in our space in the ticketing world is the amount of abandonment that occurs when there's the requirement to create an account before checkout as opposed to just offering a guest checkout flow.
“Up to 35% will abandon if you force them to create an account with that ticketing platform. I think the concern that [event organizers] have is, ‘Oh, well, then I'll miss out on their data.’ Even with a guest checkout flow, you'll still get their contact information, it's just that they won't have an account with the ticketing platform.
“So you know, it's just something to consider when it comes to which ticketing platform and which options you want to turn on and enable and disable. That’s worth testing as well.”
“Up to 35% will abandon if you force them to create an account with that ticketing platform."
Fewer Clicks = More Sales
“Every click from when somebody lands on a landing page to when they're entering their credit card, every step along that way is on average a 33% drop off.
“So, if you think about some of these checkout flows, and you’re 10, 11 clicks in, you've had to select your seating map, no, I don't like that seat, I'm gonna zoom back out, all this process. Compare that to the Amazon 1-Click Buy. I mean, that's the end all be all of conversion rate optimization.
“Wouldn't it be amazing if the e-commerce world finally trickled down into the event space? That’s my dream.
“On average, only 2%, of site visitors are actually going to buy a ticket. What would 1% more be? An ultimate game changer. That would be millions and millions and millions of dollars difference, if we could just add one more percent to our conversion rates. So that's where I hope to see the industry go more.”
Create Urgency and Scarcity
“There’s oftentimes a lack of urgency and scarcity. ‘Why should I buy a ticket now when I can just wait for the day before or the day of and see what the weather's like? I'm looking at the seating chart, there's tons of available tickets right now, there's no real reason for me to buy now. So maybe I'll come back later, maybe I won't.’
“So you know, can you combat that with things like pricing tiers, or added value options? First 500 people to buy tickets get a bobblehead, whatever. That kind of stuff really can help move the needle.
“And then messaging the urgency around, ‘One Night Only’. Or what is the unique thing? Maybe this is the first time that these two teams have played each other. This band is playing its full album. That kind of stuff makes this special.”
“So there are so many more options for fans to buy now than there ever has been. And so it's not just good enough to put on a show."
Communicate the Value
“Lack of perceived value [is an issue]. So if you're not feeling you're getting enough bang for your buck.
“And on that note, none of these events happen in a vacuum. There is so much competition going on. Live Nation just put out their report – 43,600 Live Nation events happened last year. Just Live Nation events. It's mind blowing.
“So there are so many more options for fans to buy now than there ever has been. And so it's not just good enough to put on a show.
“You have to make sure that you understand the competitive landscape: how are you priced compared to others? What are you offering compared to others? It's a minefield, but it's a really important thing when you think about it from a conversion rate standpoint.”
Celebrate The Wins
“There's a phrase I've started to use called FOSO. We all know fear of missing out. So this is a fear of selling out.
“I think that there's a huge opportunity that even if there's an event where VIP is doing great but there's tons of GA tickets left and what have you, celebrate the wins. Make sure that you're using, even if it's just one section that has sold out or that has low tickets, leverage that as your content and messaging and put that out to the world that, hey, we're thrilled to announce this quadrant of whatever is no longer available. And that's going to trickle down, that's going to create FOSO and drive more people to buy other tickets.
“Maybe people can’t afford the VIP [package]. But if they see that doing well, then they'll trickle down and they'll look at GA.”
Test, Test, Test!
“Testing is the name of the game, that's our bread and butter. We have this motto, if you can't measure it, you can't market it.
“And so we have CRO software that we will add to websites that allow us to serve A, B, even C and beyond variations of these landing pages. We've got the control, and then based off our hypotheses we will test different things. So we'll test button colors and language and placements of content, the list goes on.”
“You’d be shocked at how ‘buy tickets’ versus ‘find tickets’ – something as small as that – can make a massive difference in terms of how many people will buy."
Mind Your Language
“You’d be shocked at how ‘buy tickets’ versus ‘find tickets’ – something as small as that – can make a massive difference in terms of how many people will buy.
“What we found was that ‘find tickets’ tends to work a little more strongly, the caveat there is it's about expectation. And so it actually performs better when there are more steps, when they actually have to do the searching. So when it sets that expectation for them, that there are multiple steps to go where they need to select their seats, ‘find tickets’ works better.
“‘Buy tickets’ sets the expectation that it’s just a simple process, I can just buy now. If it's a soft ticket kind of thing, ‘buy tickets’ tends to work more strongly.
“But test. Again, it's going to be different for every event.”
The Price Is Right
“There's been tests done around the font size of your price – the bigger the font size, people will interpret that as being more expensive. You know, the classic power of nine, where it's $60 versus $59. Well, people interpret $59 as being significantly less expensive.
“The amount of digits – so if you've got $59.00, people are going to interpret that as being much more expensive than just $59 with no cents digits. So those are the kinds of things that you want to be testing to make sure that you can optimize checkout.”
"If you've got $59.00, people are going to interpret that as being much more expensive than just $59 with no cents digits."
People Love a Competition
“What I love to do is have the announcement and in conjunction with the announcement, have a win-it-before-you-can-buy-it contest. And that gives us the opportunity to capture a bunch of data on people that are kind of raising their hand saying, if this was available now I'd buy it.
“But it builds up a lot of excitement, it makes for great social media content. And then particularly on tours, if you've not played that market before, and you don't have a database to leverage, it's a really great mechanism to get that database.”
Segmentation Is Your Friend
“At Bauer Entertainment Marketing, we tend to use an RFM score, where it's Recency, Frequency and Monetization.
“Recency – how recently somebody bought a ticket.
“Frequency – how frequently they're buying from you.
“And then Monetization – how much they've spent. There are some historical sales there that you can use for segmentation.
“So typically via email marketing, we’ll leverage this kind of segmentation, where you’ve sent an email to a segment, they've opened it, clicked on it, but they just haven't bought.
“That’s an opportunity to retarget and refine that segment further. We find that to be really an avenue for selling incremental tickets.”
Don’t Forget Email and SMS Marketing
“The data supports that email in particular sells the heck out of a ticket. I think the general populace has been trained to be receptive to email communication from that standpoint. They're just very comfortable with that.
“I think SMS takes that to another level. You have to be a little bit careful because I don't think that the general populace is as fine-tuned to being as receptive to something that's just a little bit more invasive. So you have to be careful around your pacing.
“But it's getting 98% open rates on average, right? And so just making sure that it's authentic in what you're presenting, and valuable. That's going to help ensure you're avoiding unsubscribes.”