How Hide & Seek Festival made their marketing spend 70% more effective

Co-founder Kurt Hurst shares the strategies that powered his festival to its best year yet.

Tucked away in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, you’ll find Hide & Seek — a boutique house and techno festival known for its intimate production and staging. Co-founder Kurt Hurst says, “We want to ensure that no matter where you go, you’re always connected with the people around you and the DJ.” 

After three successful editions of the festival, the Hide & Seek team had built a passionate, close-knit community. But they knew that relying on the same old promotional strategies wasn’t going to cut it for their fourth year. Like many other festivals we’ve spoken to, Hide & Seek were facing tough challenges. From a lack of data ownership sending their marketing costs spiralling, through to the cost of living crisis impacting customers’ spending power and the festival market becoming more competitive all the time, reaching an audience that is ready to buy is harder than ever.

So, to prepare for the 2023 edition of their festival, Kurt’s team switched to Easol. Our all-in-one platform enabled Hide & Seek to streamline their booking journey for a better customer experience, optimise their advertising with full data visibility and offer more flexible payment options for their customers.

The results of this change were clear to see: Our biggest number of sales to date,” says Kurt. They saw their cost per acquisition on paid media drop and conversions rise, leading to 2023 becoming their most successful year yet.

Here’s how they did it.

Total data ownership for smarter marketing

Before Easol, Hide & Seek used three separate tools to sell — one for tickets, another for coach travel and another for drinks vouchers via cashless wristbands. Not only was this difficult to manage for Kurt’s team, but it was also unnecessarily complicated for customers to book. Plus, with customers purchasing across multiple platforms, the team was left with only a small amount of low quality data on who was buying what for their festival. 

Hide & Seek had to use this limited data to try and reach their customers on Meta and Google, whilst also needing to push out essential customer communications for the festival, about things like travel and accommodation, at the expense of being able to truly sell what made it unique. As Kurt puts it; “We were spreading the message too thin, since we had to shout out three different things.” To make things worse, their low quality data meant these messages often didn’t even find the right audience, putting a strain on their marketing budget. 

This year, Hide & Seek completely turned this around with Easol. The festival was able to use one platform to sell everything on their own website, on their own domain. This immediately made the booking journey much more user-friendly, easier to navigate and ultimately efficient at converting. Customers could purchase all the components of the festival in a single transaction. It also unlocked total ownership over customer data — a powerful tool that enabled Kurt’s team to execute their most effective digital marketing campaign to date, across both paid and organic channels.

Without the need to run paid social campaigns that hit multiple different messages, Hide & Seek instead used all the data collected from their new booking journey to accurately target and re-target their potential customers with simple and effective comms about the festival’s real value points, namely the music, setting and community.

This significantly decreased the festival’s cost per acquisition on social media ads to 74% lower than in 2022. As Kurt says, “when promoting a festival, what gets people excited is the festival itself, not the coach ticket.”

With paid social being a more efficient channel for Hide & Seek, the team have been liberated to focus on marketing their event in more creative ways than ever before - especially via organic content for Instagram and TikTok. “We don’t do social media just to keep with the times,” says Kurt. “We actually really enjoy creating the content we put out”. Kurt adds; “Now more than ever it’s about putting faces to the project, we want to give a behind the scenes insight into what we’re doing, why we’ve booked a specific artist — rather than just putting a line up out with lots of names.” 

Digital marketing was once a huge strain on Hide & Seek, but since joining Easol its become a key component in helping the festival differentiate itself from the many competing house and techno events across the country.

Flexible payment options for more conversions

The impact of the cost of living crisis on consumer spending power is another challenge facing UK summer festivals. On Easol specifically, we’ve seen small festivals sell around 60% of their tickets in the final two months of their campaigns — a huge shift from the status quo of a few years ago. With smaller disposable incomes, potential festival customers are waiting later to buy tickets to their favourite events. And with cash-flow now highly unpredictable, running a festival has become increasingly difficult.

To tackle this problem, Kurt and his team used Easol’s payment stack to offer Klarna’s Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) payment option for their customers. Klarna and similar payment methods have rapidly gained traction among UK consumers generally, with an estimated 10.1 million people having used them in the last 12 months, a figure that is expected to double by 2024. 

Hide & Seek found that offering customers the option to delay their payment until after payday proved hugely popular in the final stages of ticket sales. After a teaser on social media promoting BNPL gained good traction, they started to integrate it fully into their campaign. 

“We ran ads around it, we launched email marketing, we promoted it on the website,” says Kurt. “It had such a high return, so we doubled down.” 

Despite being activated in the final 30 days of the campaign, BNPL ultimately accounted for 10% of Hide & Seek’s total sales. Kurt’s customers loved the ability to spread their payments, with this functionality driving a 28% uplift in week on week sales when introduced. All in all, close to 20% of customers used BNPL when it was made available.

The Hide & Seek team are already planning how to fold it into their 2024 strategy. 

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