Update: 5 Things Event Organizers Can Learn from Amazon
In the world of ecommerce, Amazon.com is a role model. From its humble beginnings selling books, the internet juggernaut has grown into an “everything store” where you can get anything delivered — sometimes in a matter of hours. Two decades in, the company now enjoys an unrivaled reputation for usability and sales, and made $136 billion in revenue in 2016.
What does this have to do with event ticketing? A lot, actually. With credit to Brad Stone’s book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, here are five Amazon-inspired business practices you can use to start selling more tickets, sooner:
1. Understand your seasonality curve
Most retail businesses see a big spike in sales during the holiday season. Ironically, this booming sales season nearly sank Amazon in 1997. New to the retail game and unprepared for the massive holiday spike, Amazon quickly found itself running out of products to ship — and staff to ship them. CEO Jeff Bezos called for an emergency “all hands on deck” meeting and asked every single employee to pull graveyard shifts to help out in the warehouse.
Bezos learned his lesson, and the next year, the company was much better prepared for the holidays. By taking the time to understand its particular seasonality curve, Amazon lowered costs and saw net sales increase 283% over the prior year. From then on, Amazon has run projections for each upcoming year based on past sales data to ensure they’re prepared for high-demand seasons.
For event organizers, the seasonality curve is not always about the holidays. Most often, sales spike when tickets first go on sale and in the final days leading up to the event, with a lull in between. But like in retail, being prepared to handle heavy traffic on your ticketing site is key to increasing revenue. As many breweries with high-demand bottle releases know, there’s nothing worse than a site crash that hurts your sales — and your brand.
There are also ways you can counteract the typical sales pattern with clever marketing. For example, you can frontload more sales with tactics like early-bird pricing, competitive VIP spots, discount codes, and well-timed email reminders.
2. Regularly monitor performance
Every Wednesday at Amazon, the leadership team goes through current data like weekly sales and customer support volume. For event organizers, even a 10-minute weekly check-in on key metrics is incredibly helpful. These check-ins help you understand what’s working and what needs improvement in real time so you can make smarter decisions, faster.
Online ticketing providers like Eventbrite typically provide charts and graphs to help you easily track your sales data. Google Analytics is another great way to measure your metrics, including how many of your site visitors are converting to customers, and how users are flowing through your site. Checking your metrics can help you improve your conversion rate, and assess your particular event’s seasonality so you can be prepared next year.
3. Obsess over conversion rates
While tracking your website metrics, you might notice that not everyone who visits your site buys a ticket. Why not? Amazon asked the same question. The company found that the single biggest factor affecting conversion is what visitors see on your site when they arrive.
Traffic can come from many sources, and people might arrive at your ticketing page without knowing much about your event. So front and center, it’s crucial to answer some basic questions:
- What is this event and who will be there?
- Where and when is it?
- Is the public welcome?
If information is so far down the page that visitors have to scroll, as many as 38% never bother to find out more. Conversion rates suffer when visitors don’t get what they need immediately — and the purchase process is no different. Over 30% of potential attendees give up in the middle of a purchase due to frustration.
4. Go mobile
When laying out your website and event page, keep in mind that not everyone is viewing them on a big screen. In fact, these days, more people view ecommerce websites on mobile devices than they do on computers. Take a cue from Amazon here. The company saw the larger cultural shift to mobile before anyone else, introducing the Kindle one year before the Apple app store and three years before the iPad. Today, Amazon’s app is one of the most frequently used in the world.
The takeaway? Make sure your website displays well on mobile so you don’t lose valuable visitors. It’s also important to:
- Reduce the amount of fields that stand between your website visitors and their ticket purchase. More fields means more bouncing, so keep them to a minimum.
- Make sure your page loads quickly. Every millisecond of load time makes a difference in terms of bounce rates. Amazon found that the company’s revenue increased 1% for every 100 millisecond increase in their site loading speed.
- Ensure that your payment process is mobile optimized. Studies show a 160% increase in purchase completion when it is.
5. Focus deeply on customer experience
Amazon’s relentless focus on customer experience has been a key differentiator for their business. In fact, when envisioning his company, Bezos originally purchased the domain name relentless.com before deciding that Amazon was a better moniker. (Fun fact: if you type in relentless.com, it still redirects to Amazon!)
Customer experience encompasses every interaction the customer has with your event brand — from the moment they become aware of it to their actual experience at your event. Bezos knew this and was always an advocate for the customer when it came time to make decisions in executive meetings. It’s said that during a heated negotiation, he pulled an empty chair into the room. When managers asked who was coming, Bezos responded, “That’s for the customer!”
Distributed commerce is one way that ecommerce pros like Amazon stay leagues ahead of competition. Amazon “buy” buttons are all over the web — not just on Amazon’s site but on tons of other websites, across social media and in Google ads. Smart event organizers are also taking advantage of distributed commerce to better serve their customers. With distributed commerce partnerships like the one between Eventbrite and Facebook, you can allow event-goers to buy tickets right where they discover your event.
Amazon’s focus on customer experience, conversion rates, performance monitoring, and seasonal planning are all strategies you can borrow from the ecommerce giant to sell more tickets.
To learn more about how you can use distributed commerce to sell more tickets, check out “How Distributed Commerce is Transforming the Ticketing Industry.”
Maddie Veal, Eventbrite, May 23, 201