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Social Media Marketing versus Email Marketing

Are you wondering how to best market your events? Is there a specific action you want your customers to take when they see your ads? Are you relying primarily on Facebook to interact with your customers? How well is it working for the time and money you are putting into it?

We did some testing of our own so that we could determine where to focus our energies. We create event awareness to our target audience by running print ads in Chesapeake Family but in this test we wanted parents to take action and pre-register for the Camp Fair. Here are the results of our pre-registration marketing test.

Case Study: Is Social Media Marketing good for a Direct Response Marketing Campaign?

Every year Chesapeake Family has a one day Summer Camp Fair where parents can come and talk to camp directors and decide which camp is the best fit for their child that summer. Chesapeake Family wants parents to physically attend the camp fair and interact with the vendor camps. In conjunction with print and online advertising and digital directories, the Camp Fair offers vendors a one time, face-to-face opportunity to meet with parents, their target market. But parents are busier than ever, why should they take the time to attend an event when they can find the information online and in a huge printed directory? The challenge is to find a reason for parents to attend the Camp Fair and communicate that justification to them.

We had noticed that most of the camps attending Camp Fair offered a special discount or incentive on enrollment rates if a camper signed up for their camp at the Camp Fair. Our motivation for parent attendance at the Camp Fair was to create a flyer with all of special offers and give it to parents as they entered the Camp Fair.
To receive the special offer flyer on the day of camp fair we asked parents to pre-register. It is a win-win for everyone. Parents get big discounts, camps get new campers, we get parent e-mail addresses.

We promote the Camp Fair heavily in print, online, in our e-newsletter and via social media starting at least six weeks prior to the event. The call to action to pre-register was promoted one week before Camp Fair. Parents were directed to a landing page, optimized for search engines, where they pre-registered for the special camp deals. The call to action (pre-registration) ads were placed on:

  • ChesapeakeFamily.com tower ad
  • Chesapeake Family e-newsletter (Wednesday only)
  • Facebook paid advertising (48 hours prior to the event)

And the results?

We looked at two different time periods, the 72 hours prior to the event while we were paying for Facebook ads, and the two weeks prior to the event during which time we used a variety of marketing tools.

For the 72 hours prior to the Camp Fair (using paid Facebook ads) pre-regisration came from the following sources.

Chesapeake Family e-newsletter: 49% of the pre-registrations.  Results of 72 hour paid Facebook promotion

  • Google search: 18.6%
  • Paid Facebook ad: 18.6%
  • ChesapeakeFamily.com tower ad: 14%
  • Clearly the e-newsletter was the most effective method for collecting pre-registrations over the short time period of 72 hours prior to the event.

Over the course of two weeks, 288 parents pre-registered. The source of pre-registration over that two week period proved to be:

  • Referral from other sites: 2%
  • Paid Facebook ad: 5.5%
  • Unpaid Facebook promotion: 12%
  • ChesapeakeFamily.com Tower ad: 13.6%
  • Search engine (Google): 28.8%
  • Chesapeake Family e-newsletter: 37.8% 

Even over a longer period of time the e-newsletters proved to be the best source of traffic for getting parents to pre-register for the Camp Fair. A well-rounded marketing plan that includes a landing page optimized for search engines, promotion on ChesapeakeFamily.com and via social media appears to be the best course of action to ensure a good response.

Longer term advertising on Facebook (beyond a 36 hour period) is not within our event budget and did not appear to substantially increase our pre-registration, although we may experiment again with another call-to-action campaign.

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