Filed under e-commerce, Google, Kent, Mobile Search, SEO, Social Media, Web Analytics
How to ensure your fireworks display goes off with a bang!
Ashford Fireworks Display 2015
2015 is my fifth year involved in managing the online promotion of a fireworks display in Ashford, Kent. A market town of 50,000 people and the fireworks display is put on by the Ashford Rugby Club. My role has involved building, hosting and optimising the website as well as providing assistance on issues such as online booking and payment systems. As I write this article, 2 days before the event takes place on 7th November, website traffic and sales are up more than 165% on 2015. With pay at the gate customers, a total attendance of between 3 and 4 thousand paying customers is expected. Not bad for an event with a zero promotional budget. This article is about how to replicate that success.
The Key Components
1. Create a simple dedicated website
2. Mobile first
3. All the key information visible above the fold
4. A moving picture replaces a thousand words
5. Understand your market
6. Get a wide spread of traffic
7. Tickets need to be bookable online
8. Offer an incentive to book now
9. Learn from each year’s experience
1. Create a Simple, Dedicated Website
By simple we mean simple. A one page website of 16kb, running a Bootstrap theme, with less than 300 lines of code, including more than 30 lines given to analytics and comment tags. Dedicated, because the website is for solely promoting and taking online bookings for the fireworks display. For 11 months of the year the website largely remains redundant. The website and attendant services are provided free by Simply Clicks. That’s my business. My costs are negligible. In total, the theme, domain and hosting costs work out at less than £50 per year.
2. Mobile First – Especially if you want Facebook Traffic
Mobile Phone Browser Penetration Ashford Fireworks 2015
Almost 66% of the website’s visitors use mobile phones. A further 13% use tablets. Mobile users outnumber desktop and laptop users by a factor of more than 3:1.The site is therefore built primarily with the mobile user in mind. Facebook (See 6 below) accounts for more than 20% of total visitors and of these, 97% have used a mobile device. The simple rule here, is that if you want social traffic, you need to be mobilised. However, even when we exclude Facebook traffic from our device usage analysis, we see that 58% of Non-Facebook users have accessed the website via a mobile phone.
3. All They Key Communication Elements Should be Above the Fold
The date and time and a button for purchasing tickets are all clearly visible on smartphones, desktops and laptops. The event has other attractions than just a fireworks display. We have real ales, a beer bus, food stalls and children’s amusements. But these can all go below the fold, or be found by scrolling on a mobile.
4. A Relevant Moving Picture Beats a Thousand Words
Despite its minimal budget this year’s site has a moving graphic that demonstrates what the event is about better than a thousand words. In previous years we used a moving graphic. But the dynamic graphic has led to much better conversion performance, more inbound links and better social media traffic.
5. Understand your Market and the Conversion Process
This is a market largely for families with young children. The average booking value is £17 and the most common purchase is a family ticket for two adults and two children costing £15. 80% of the online bookers come from the 3 immediately adjacent postcodes of TN23, TN24 and TN25. The market is therefore very local, the bulk of customers living within a radius of 2 to 3 miles.
Anything more than a local market would be wasteful and largely irrelevant. Conversions and repeat visits were the only relevant metrics. For example, bounce rate is irrelevant on a one page website. Of the unique visits approximately 25% clicked the “Buy Tickets” button. Of these, 55% actually completed a purchase. Therefore the website had an overall e-commerce conversion rate of 14%.
6. Tap a Wide Spread of Traffic Sources
Deliberately, the site draws its visitor traffic from a wide range of sources
- Ashford Rugby Club 24.7%
- Facebook 21.2%
- Google 20.2%
- Direct 16.1%
- Other referring sites 14.4%
- Other search/social 3.4%
Of the traffic derived from the Ashford rugby club website, 71% had originated from search engines. Adding this indirect search traffic back into the overall calculation implies that approximately 36.6% of the website visitors originate from a Google organic search. Those of you that understand SEO will appreciate the lack of dependance on organic search. The site ranks no.1 for all the key terms but if the fireworks display website suddenly lost rankings due to the vagaries of the Google algorithm, all would not be lost.
The other issue the experienced SEO may spot is the traffic generated from referring websites. This imply links. Links are the gold dust of SEO. In this case we have a wide spread of links. Some we have put in place directly from sites we or the Ashford Rugby Club control. Some have come from credible sources, such as the local Kent media and tourist office websites. Other links have been requested from specialist local directories and others have been provided by specialist sites within the Fireworks manufacturing and distribution industry. We even have links from Mumsnet and Families Online.
7. Tickets Need to Be Bookable Online
This gives the website a primary revenue function. Yes, it is about communicating to the wider audience, but online revenue is the primary function. Online generated ticket sales provides the following benefits:
- Guaranteed attendance and revenue
- Less cash handling on the night
- Simplified accounting
- A potential database of future attendees
8. An incentive to book Now!
The incentive we have used is the same over the previous four events. A discount of up to 25% and of course people get the convenience of paying by credit card. In future years we may add other incentives to this.
9. Learn from Each Year’s Experience
Each year presents a new challenge. The rise of Facebook as a traffic source and mobile phones as the key access device have had major implications for the updated website design. But mobile usage also means many of our bookers no longer need a paper ticket. Indeed our volunteers checking tickets at the gate will be equipped with an app that can read smartphone screens. Paper records wil only be used as a contingency mechanism.
If you are reading this, have used the fireworks display website, made a booking or are planning to attend the fireworks display, I would be glad to hear your feedback. firstname.lastname@example.org.