So, what is ‘calendar marketing’? Calendar marketing is the communication of events based information, direct into the personal calendar or schedule of the customer.
It’s an exciting new communications channel for marketers, to add to the mix as part of any event based marketing strategy.
Consider a sports organisation who releases a new competition schedule. The avid sports fan (or their assistant!) will spend an hour or so entering their favourite match details into their own personal or mobile calendar (eg: MS Outlook, iCal, Google Calendar, iPhone etc), so they can plan ahead and organise their life.
What if they could click a link and have this information automatically imported into their personal or mobile calendar of choice? And further, be kept up-to-date with any updates or new events to suit their profile?
Well, thanks to the adoption of ‘internet calendars’ and ‘webcal‘ protocol by the major calendar and mobile device platforms, they can, using a system such as ECAL.
ECAL enables a user to subscribe to their favourite events and calendars, direct into their preferred personal, mobile, tablet or even social calendar such as Facebook. Entries are content-rich with reminders, event details, broadcast information, social links and Quick Links to facilitate sales and engagement (eg: buy tickets, book hospitality, view latest video).
A publisher can use the ECAL online system to create their calendars, and to produce the widgets they need to place on their website and Facebook, to display these calendars to their customers and make available the calendar subscription feature.
What’s important to note is that ‘calendar marketing’ has a clear element of consumer choice. Since it is ‘subscription’ based (it’s free), it is entirely up to the user to choose which events they want in their personal calendar – which is considered a private and sacred space.
Within this personal calendar space the user retains control, with the ability to ‘show’ or ‘hide’ calendars at any time, or they can switch off at any moment by simply deleting the calendar subscription. Modern media consumers demand this choice, and enjoy this level of control.
The modern media consumer is also increasingly mobile. In fact, over 40% of users who utilise the ECAL system subscribe to calendars direct to their mobile device calendar, such as iPhone. It’s a strong indication that today’s modern consumer is more mobile than ever, and increasingly managing their schedule via their smart phone.
There are some critical issues being addressed by calendar marketing. The average corporate consumer sends or receives close to 200 email messages a day, resulting in ‘inbox chaos’. So, a system like ECAL enables users to clean up their inbox.
Email has been the traditional method of communication for event-based organisations, but major sports and entertainment organisations are experiencing falling email ‘open rates’, now as low as 5-15%. The message rarely cuts through as consumers engage in other platforms and communications to satisfy their needs, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
With this ever-increasing fragmentation of the communications market, the time and skill required by the average marketer to get the message out has increased, increasing costs.
For publishers, calendar marketing delivers some very important benefits. By using a system such as ECAL, publishers can establish a dynamic connection with their customers’ personal calendar, bypassing the inbox. This is incredibly powerful.
ECAL works as a virtual ‘front door’ for publishers, acquiring the user at the point of interest, and taking the customer through the entire ‘life cycle’ from acquisition to high value sales.
ECAL also works across multiple channels, so in an instant, it will keep your website up-to-date, as well as your Facebook and the personal schedules of your customers, saving the publisher time and money, and streamlining the events publishing process.
The need to print schedule cards becomes diminished as modern customers become more mobile. Consider again a major sports organisation that may print one million schedule cards at a cost of say $350K per year. Some ECAL clients are now going completely digital with ECAL for their schedule release, and diverting the traditional printing budget to boost their digital marketing campaigns.
Digital marketing is more measurable and accountable, with an attractive ROI model.
ROI in calendar marketing is a function of the ‘Subscription Rate’ (customer acquisition); ‘Calendar Impressions’ and ‘Calendar Activity’ (increasing awareness); ‘Click Through Rate’ (increasing engagement); ‘Click to Purchase Rate’ (increasing sales); and ‘Efficiency Rate’ (time and cost savings).
The appeal of ‘calendar marketing’ is that it delivers a more relevant, more specific and a more effective means of communication for any event based information. It’s not just restricted to sports and entertainment. Organisations big and small, across virtually any market could utilise a technology system such as ECAL.
The ‘calendar’ or ‘task’ function in popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and iPhone have all received significant advances recently, with new features and updates. Google+ recently launched Google+ Events, which provides a good insight into where the ‘calendar’ space is potentially headed. Siri in iPhone will likely replace the dog as man’s best friend. As a result, systems such as ECAL will have a larger role to play in the future, in being the ‘bridge’ for marketers to be able to effectively sync with all these platforms and features.
Calendar marketing is on the rise. It’s certainly an exciting, legitimate and increasingly vital part of the marketing mix, for any modern event-based organisation.