The Digital Experience and its Impact on Overall Festival Performance

Christian Hill is the Managing Director of Project Simply, a digital design agency that works predominantly with festivals and venues to create beautiful brands and digital experiences.

We’ve recently embarked on a global insight piece that aims to distil the opinions, issues and successes around the marketing & digital experience of all types of festivals and events. Working with the likes of Field Day and Parklife, we’ve also gathered some expertise around what constitutes a great digital experience, so here are our top 10 tips for making sure your festival gets the best start in the digital realm.

1. Always push the creative envelope – We’ve found that the festivals that are as creative as possible – whether it’s through yearly theming or simply creating something absolutely standout – receive better initial social buzz, reach and kudos. Don’t underestimate the power of strong branding and design.

2. Keep your ticketing process easy peasy – Don’t overthink the onsite ticketing process and options – be clear, be concise and let your customers make their selections on the ticket provider’s portal. If you are doing onsite ticketing then the same rule applies: keep it simple. Too many times festivals confuse the user and this just leads to drop offs.

3. Create for the team, not just the customer – We’ve found that the digital festival experience can be a stressful one for those on the digital and marketing teams. By creating a content management system that’s easy to use, provides loads of flexibility, and takes the headache out of the usual back and forth, it can make a project feel way more fun for all. Think about the longterm and create digital tools that can grow with the festival; don’t keep reinventing the wheel.

4. The mobile experience is crucial – It’s no shock that mobile is the most important experience in this space, so make sure you design it first. Focus on making sure your line-up & experiences are clear and make it a cinch to buy tickets at any point. Fixed full-width ticket buy buttons work beautifully.

5. Speed is key – Most websites are image and video heavy, which is fine, but make sure you are using the right image compression and hosting to make sure your site loads super fast. No one’s sticking around for long loading times.

6. Remain objective – We all do it – get lost in the excitement of what we want and just assume we are the customer. We aren’t. Before you get going, map out your core users and the key objectives across the website and each individual page. Always check back to your objectives to make sure you are achieving them.

7. Get personal – It’s sometimes hard to jump in and plan out a personalised communications strategy…it even gives me the sweats. Start simple. During the sign up process ask one or two important questions that will allow you to personalise your relationship with your customers. Great starters are ‘Favourite artist / music’ and ‘Favourite food and drink’. This opens the door to send relevant information that adds value.

8. Get chatty – Email has served us well but the implied relationship is not personal or conversational. To really engage your customers it can help to introduce chatbots that have the ability to get very personal, relevant and timely. Again, start simple – create something that onboards people, gives them easy access to important information, and ask a few pertinent questions that will allow you to send quality content. This is also a good way to sell merch and receive social shares though competitions and incentives.

9. Use video and great imagery – Line-ups are great, but ultimately people just want to have the best festival experience with their friends. You need to convince a customer that your festival is going to give them this experience, so you’ll need to show off with relevant and brilliant imagery & videos.

10. Think about the before and after – Don’t neglect the pre-registration and thank you pages. Put time, love and attention into these, as they are key customer contact points that either encourage them to engage with a desired action or just bore the pants off them.

We need your help as we are still conducting our insight study. If you work for a festival and can spare 10 minutes we would love to get your opinion. Our goal is that through shared knowledge we can constantly better the festival experience for internal teams and your customers.

Take the survey here, and please share with anyone you think is suitable.