What Sponsors Want: Data and Analytics to Grow Your Festival Sponsorship
What do sponsors want? If I had to boil it down to one thing, the answer is undoubtedly data.
After all, any sponsorship seeker can say they delivered X, Y, and Z objectives, but talk is cheap. A sponsor wants you to prove it, and the only way to do that is through data.
Data proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that you did what you promised and then some. It’s the foundation you should use to build your sponsorship agreements, both with current and future sponsors.
Your festival should want data too. Procuring it, although time-consuming, tells you who’s attending your festival, how much they’re engaging, and what they want more of.
This guide will delve into a dozen key performance indicators you must pay attention to if you want to please sponsors and grow your festival.
1. Audience Data
Let’s start with the big one: audience data.
While the analytics and KPIs I’ll go over throughout the rest of this guide are certainly important, none matter more than audience data, in my humble opinion.
Audience data paints a comprehensive picture of who your audience is. That said, sponsorship seekers define audience data differently, so allow me to tell you how to correctly collect it so you can make something out of it that matters to sponsors.
The best way to gather audience data is through a survey. In the survey, you want to ask pointed questions about your festival attendee’s demographics, geographics, and–biggest of all–their psychographics, aka their motivations, beliefs, and opinions.
Here are some topics to focus on in your questioning:
- Why they attend your festival
- What their most favorite and least favorite parts of the festival are
- What other events they’ve gone to in the last six to 12 months
- What brands they enjoy watching, reading, consuming, and otherwise engaging with in areas like travel, retail, insurance, automotive, entertainment, telecom, and financial services
Once you have this data, you can then parse it down. Initially, you can group your audience by broad demographics such as male versus female or by income, location, or occupation and industry.
This is where too many sponsorship seekers stop, which is a huge mistake. Broad audience segments are only your starting point, not your finishing point!
Instead, you want to take each of those broad audience segments and extrapolate at least 25 data points from each.
Doing so requires you to dig really deep into your audience segments to divide them by specific criteria. I’m talking about going as specific as boroughs or neighborhoods in a city or town!
I know this seems like a tremendous amount of time and trouble to go through, but it’s worth it. Your sponsor has a target audience, and they want to see which segments of your audience match their target audience.
The broader your audience segments, the harder the sponsor has to work to make a match. Considering how early into sponsorship a sponsor may see your audience data, they might deem it not worthwhile.
2. Attendance Data
The next KPI that sponsors want is attendance data for your festivals.
This data is a lot easier to produce, or at least, it should be. As the festival owner or promoter, you must keep track of who’s attending your festivals.
That’s the only way you can determine if your event has grown year over year, if it’s attracting roughly the same number of people, or if it’s stagnating.
If your festival issues digital tickets, during the event, your festival staff will scan the QR codes. You can then determine how many people attended your festival based on the number of scanned QR codes.
What if you still do paper tickets or printed tickets? That’s fine too! The tickets will have a code the staff must scan. The process isn’t as streamlined as it is for digital tickets, but it still works.
You can’t use the number of tickets sold as your benchmark for festival attendance. Someone can buy a ticket and not go to your event for any reason, whether they got busy, they got sick or their family member did, or another obligation came up.
Your attendance numbers tell you who was there with 100 percent accuracy.
The only reason you shouldn’t have attendance data is that your festival is in its first year. Once your event gets past that momentous first milestone, you must have attendance data going forward.
When working with you in a sponsorship capacity, sponsors want sales.
If you chose a sponsor your audience gels with, promote them efficiently at your festival, and have the audience attendance you promise, your sponsor should see an influx of sales.
Precisely how much did sales increase before the sponsorship versus after? You don’t always have this data right off the bat, as it has to come from the sponsor. When you finally receive the data, you should see a marked increase.
Don’t forget to track your own sales, as they’re important for gauging how successful this year’s festival was. Tally up your ticket sales, merch sales, food and drink sales, and anything else purchased during your festival.
Here’s another significant metric to measure: conversions.
If you’re not so into marketing and sales, let me explain what a conversion is.
A conversion refers to converting a lead to a customer. In other words, they made a purchase, and you can now count them among your customer base.
Conversions are commensurate with sales in this case. The attendees at your festival were leads to your sponsor. If they purchased something from your sponsor, that counts as a successful conversion.
Thus, if one number is on the upswing, the other will be too.
5. Website Traffic
Even if you work with a cash sponsor instead of a promotional sponsor, the announcement of the partnership will naturally drum up interest. People will become curious and begin visiting both your website and the sponsor’s website in a higher-than-average volume.
Some sponsors attain to more website traffic, usually if they want to promote their brand. Through an awesome activation at your festival, you can make it all eyes on your sponsor.
That will naturally generate site traffic.
You should monitor your festival’s website traffic too. Keep in mind though that more traffic, while good, is only short-lived. Once the hype around your festival dies down and especially after your festival, the traffic will decrease.
That’s why your website must have opt-in forms to increase email list signups, but I’ll get to that a little later.
6. Online Searches
The next metric to track is the rate of online search.
As I talked about in the paragraphs above, the announcement of sponsors for your festival will generate new interest. This should increase the rate of online searches for both brands.
If your sponsor is intent on building up their brand, online search is a fantastic metric to measure. It proves that the methods you followed created interest in the sponsor brand.
7. Social Media Mentions
This next metric is another must for those sponsors interested in expanding their brands, and it’s social media mentions.
Social media always has its figurative finger on the pulse of what’s trendy and viral. If other people talk about your sponsor’s brand unprompted, you want to know about it.
It would take you forever to search for brand mentions manually across all the many social media channels out there. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it that way. Instead, you can use tools to monitor mentions in real time.
These tools will come in handy when measuring metrics for future sponsorship arrangements, so if you find a paid tool you like, I’d say it’s worth spending the money.
That said, you don’t necessarily have to shell out. You can always try free tools for measuring social media mentions, like HootSuite, Talkwalker, and Social Searcher.
When you have the time, make sure you’re measuring your festival’s own mentions. While the rate of mentions won’t be particularly high for most of the year, in the months leading up to your festival, you should see your mentions increase exponentially right up until the big day.
8. Email List Signups
I said I would get back to this, so let’s talk about email list signups.
I want to reiterate my point from before. Website traffic looks impressive on a chart or graph, but it will not sustain itself. People look up your sponsor around the time of your festival, then they drop off.
That’s why driving email signups is so important. In exchange for basic contact information like a lead’s name and email, they join the sponsor’s email list (or yours!).
From there, leads and new customers are now on the email list, where they receive personalized, nurturing content to drive forth the professional relationship.
How do you inspire website visitors to sign up for an email list? You have to provide valuable content like a checklist, chapters of an eBook, or something else your audience finds covetable.
9. Brand Reputation
A brand is only as good as its reputation. Once that tanks, it’s very difficult to renew consumer trust. Note how I didn’t say impossible, but it will be an uphill battle.
That’s why reputation management is always a good metric to keep an eye on. I wouldn’t say it’s as important as the other data you’ve accumulated for your sponsor so far. You only want to make sure your sponsor’s reputation hasn’t dropped in working with you and vice-versa.
You can always look at brand reputation when prospecting for sponsors to determine how receptive your audience may be.
So how do you track brand reputation, anyway? The same social media mention tools I recommended earlier will do the trick.
10. Net Promotor Score
No list of data and analytics for festival sponsorship would be complete without discussing net promotor score or NPS.
NPS categorizes an audience into three groups: detractors, passives, and promoters.
To generate an NPS, you only have to include a single question on your sponsorship survey: How likely would you be to recommend the festival to others? Ask for a score between 0 and 10.
Then wait and see what kinds of responses you get.
Detractors are not at all likely to recommend your festival. They answered with a score between 0 and 6.
The worst detractors are those with a score between 0 and 3. They’re deeply unhappy with your event. It’s worth trying to determine why so you can make changes and improvements to your festival for next year.
The detractors with a score between 4 and 6 are neutral but still detractors. They still have big problems with your festival that are worth addressing and possibly ameliorating.
Those who scored between 7 and 8 are passives. These audience members are better to have than detractors, but they don’t really care too much either way about your festival. You need to get them more attached to the event so they’ll feel passionate.
Promoters are very likely to recommend your festival. They scored a 9 or 10, with a 10 being the highest possible score. These are the most loyal and enthusiastic audience members who love your festival, never miss a year, and always talk it up to friends, family, and colleagues.
Using NPS gauges customer loyalty and indicates holes in your audience approach.
11. Email Open Rate
More email signups are great, but how do you know if people actually engage with the email content you send? There are two more metrics to track in that regard.
The first is the email open rate. As the name implies, this KPI determines how many people open email messages.
You never know if your audience has your emails sent to spam or otherwise filtered so they don’t even show up in their main inbox. You should compare the email open rate against the number of people on your email list to gauge how engaging your email content is.
12. Email Click-Through Rate
Going hand in hand with the email open rate is the email click-through rate.
The click-through rate indicates how engaged the audience is with the content they receive, as it measures the number of clicks an audience makes on the links in the email copy.
Anyone can open an email. Heck, sometimes, it even happens accidentally. Email open rate thus isn’t the best indicator of audience email engagement. It should be paired with the click-through rate to make determinations on email marketing success.
Sponsors want data and analytics. These cold, hard figures prove their brand has grown, their sales have increased, they’re making plenty of conversions, and customers are engaging.
Depending on what your sponsor’s goals are, you must begin tracking these metrics. You can weave them into your sponsorship fulfillment report to prove you delivered as promised. The data just shows how you delivered.
You can also incorporate sponsor data into future case studies, which can help you become a sponsorship magnet and win even more sponsors.
Don’t forget to track all these metrics for your own festival to review your growth and areas of improvement!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Baylis is the President and CEO of The Sponsorship Collective and a self-confessed sponsorship geek.
After several years as a sponsor (that’s right, the one investing the money!) Chris decided to cross over to the sponsorship sales side where he has personally closed tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals. Chris has been on the front lines of multi-million dollar sponsorship agreements and has built and coached teams to do the same.
Chris now spends his time working with clients to value their assets and build strategies that drive sales. An accomplished speaker and international consultant, Chris has helped his clients raise millions in sponsorship dollars.