Recreating A Digital Strategy For The 2018 Ekka

Hand holding the Ekka mobile application as the digital marketing strategy is recreated.

As I reside in Brisbane, I recently had the pleasure of attending the 2018 Royal Queensland Show with my family. This was my third time attending the Ekka, and it was by far my most memorable experience to date. The attractions were amusing, the atmosphere was vibrant, and the entertainment was world-class. 

But despite the positive experience I had at the Ekka, there was a large part of me that knew I could improve the overall experience as an end-user… with the use of technology, of course.

After reading Lauren Holliday’s blog post about recreating a content marketing strategy for Slack, I was inspired to re-formulate an existing brand’s digital strategy of my own. With a background as a digital marketer working in the tech industry, I wanted to create a strategy for the Ekka that would harness technology to not only sell more show tickets, but also enhance the overall experience for end-users (myself included).

As a national exhibition, the Ekka continues to rely on more traditional channels to promote the event. Now being a millennial, I of course, can’t remember the last time I turned on a tv or a radio. This year, I hadn’t actually engaged in any pre-event content related to the Ekka.

Now before I dive into my own digital strategy, I did want to take the time to recognise some of the laudable digital experiences created by the Ekka’s team:

SnapChat Filter
It was great to see the Ekka embracing SnapChat as a platform to engage with younger users. 

The 2018 Brisbane Ekka SnapChat filter.

Live Video
This year, the Ekka did a brilliant job of harnessing the power of live video across Facebook. Several times a day, the account was creating live content to showcase daily events, shows or interviews.

Mobile Application
The mobile app was not only intuitive to operate, but offered genuine value to end-users. The app featured plenty of informative Ekka content, the ability to create an event plan, and also an integrated 3D map that seamlessly linked to points of interest. On top of this, it was also great to see the app utilising AR to further enhance exhibits – but I’ll cover more on that later in this post.

2018 Brisbane Ekka mobile application.

Facebook Events
For each main show throughout the Ekka, the digital team had created a matching Facebook event to encourage engagement and ultimately sell more tickets. Registered users were able to share the events within their Facebook network, where other interested users could then purchase tickets through the event page itself.

Instagram Story Highlights
Instagram was by far the Ekka’s dominant platform for distributing content this year. Their frequent in-feed posts were not only engaging, but their use of Instagram stories was also commendable. I was particularly impressed with the story highlights created to recap each day’s activities.

Instagram story highlights from the 2018 Brisbane Ekka

Before I move onto my own digital strategy, I’d like to first note that as I don’t work for the Ekka, I don’t have direct access to any internal data or existing strategies. Throughout this post, I’ve formulated my strategy with access to publicly available tools and content.

 

Content Marketing
Diving into my strategy, I’d first like to focus on the content that the Ekka was publishing leading up to the event. This year, the Ekka made great use of
YouTube as a platform to publish video content. This included interviews with farmers, behind the scenes footage, and promo videos. This video content was also cross-posted throughout their social channels.

Facebook post published by the Ekka in 2018.

When analysing the content published from the official Ekka social accounts, I also noticed that a large proportion of the content was simply shared news stories promoting the event. 

Screenshot of the Brisbane Ekka Twitter account retweeting social media content.

Although this of course is a strategic way to repurpose content, the Ekka has such great potential to create their own native content that would drive longer, more meaningful engagement.

If you were to visit the Ekka website, you’d notice that majority of the featured content includes some basic details about each attraction and exhibit. As it stands, there’s currently no blog for publishing on-going content.

My strategy would create a blog where the Ekka could share its rich story, and educate users about the exciting experiences that the event has on offer. This would ultimately help drive pre-event ticket sales online. Some engaging pieces of pre-event content could include:

Top 5 Posts
These posts would include a summary of the top five attractions, foods, experiences, or events to see at the Ekka. Most of this content already exists, but is siloed throughout the website. Each mention of the event could be linked to the attraction on the website, or even deep-linked into the Ekka app. This would enable users to then add these experiences to their in-app Ekka planner.

People Of The Ekka
Similar to the existing YouTube content, this blog series could interview the farmers, performers, and volunteers responsible for bringing the Ekka to life. This longer-form content would help share the inspiring stories that resonate with users on an emotional level. The posts would also conclude with a CTA encouraging users to come and meet the featured worker at this year’s event.

Ekka History
Talk about the history behind the Ekka and some of the renowned traditions. For example, a post could cover how the infamous strawberry sundae was brought to life. This form of content would educate users about the rich history that the Ekka carries.

Ekka Stars
The Ekka has a myriad of existing partnerships with renowned influencers. These include radio hosts, actors, sports players, and celebrities. By taking the time to interview these individuals, the Ekka could create a series of posts that share what each influencer is looking forward to at this year’s show, as well as their favourite Ekka memories. When shared within the influencers network, this content would drive high-engagement.

By creating their own organic content, it would allow the Ekka to control the way in which they engage and educate their audience. This strategy wouldn’t rely on other publishers to create the main source of content. It would also be beneficial to drive users to the Ekka website in order to create a retargeting audience for paid ads… which of course, leads me to my next point.

 

Paid Strategy
As a performance-based digital marketer, I’m passionate about leveraging paid platforms to help drive real conversions. As the Ekka already maintains a strong organic search ranking, I’d like to focus on developing an engaging social strategy. Being a family-oriented event, I believe there’s immense potential to engage target users through enticing social ad creatives.

Now again, without working for the Ekka, I’m unable to entirely understand their exact digital strategy. With the help of Facebook’s new ads and info tab for pages, I can however, garner a general idea behind their paid social strategy.

Screenshot of the Brisbane Ekka Facebook info and ads tab.

Before I dig into my own strategy, I’d again like to review the current work from the Ekka’s digital team.

Screenshots of the Facebook ads targeting users for the 2018 Brisbane Ekka.

Good:

  • Engaging ad creative – images & video.
  • Purchase-event CTA.
  • Engaging use of emoji’s throughout ad copy.

Room For Improvement:

  • Unused ad fields (newsfeed description & display link). With blank text fields, these ads can seem uninformative.
  • Ads focus on only a handful of the available attractions.
  • Currently not leveraging engaging ad formats like canvas ads.
  • Some of the ad headlines are quite blunt.
  • Some ad copy encourages users to purchase tickets ‘at the gate’, not online.

My Solution

I’d like to create more enticing ad experiences that not only educate users about all of the main attractions, but also prompt users to purchase their tickets online, not ‘at the gate’.

My paid strategy would begin by creating several Facebook canvas and carousel ads. Each of these ads would focus on showcasing a particular element or attraction at this year’s show. As an example; a dedicated carousel ad would showcase some of the exciting Ekka foods, whereas another would feature the animals on display. Each of the attraction features would of course link to the relevant content on the Ekka website. At this stage, these ads would target a top-of-funnel audience to drive initial engagement.

Carousel Ad

Facebook ads for the Brisbane Ekka, created by Digital Marketer, Lachlan Kirkwood.

Canvas Ad

Now as the Ekka hosts an average yearly attendance of 300,000 – 400,000 people, I would assume that they’d have a historical database of at least one million unique users. This valuable database could be leveraged to create an initial custom audience for targeting.

These initial engagement ads would also help form the second stage of my paid social strategy…

When creating audiences in Ads Manager, it’s possible to generate custom audiences based on users who have engaged with unique canvas and carousel ads.

By doing this, I would develop a variety of custom audiences based on the users who have engaged with each unique attraction. This would allow me to identify which users are interested in attending the Ekka for the food, the animals, or other entertainment. 

From here, I would then create more specific video or single-image ads, using a personalised message and a stronger CTA. As these ads would be targeted towards users who have shown interest in these attractions, I could also assume that they’d see a higher conversion rate. 

Facebook ads promoting the Brisbane Ekka, created by Digital Marketer, Lachlan Kirkwood.

At this stage, I would also create lookalike audiences based on each niche – helping identify users who haven’t previously attended the Ekka, but could be interested in particular attractions on offer. As a helpful tip, within these ad sets, I’d also recommend excluding users who have already converted, as well as the database of historical attendees. This will help avoid any ad wastage or overlap.

Following a similar approach to the lookalike audiences, it’d also be possible to develop a variety of custom retargeting audiences. These would be based on the specific pages a user visits on the Ekka website. This retargeting audience would also be shown the more targeted ad variations.

Unfortunately, without access to any of the Ekka’s existing Facebook data, I’m unable to provide accurate forecasts into the performance of my ads. However I could make the assumption that from all of the audiences I’d target, I could expect at least one million unique users to be shown an ad (remembering that actual audience reach will be lower than an ad sets overall size). 

Now if I was to use the data provided by WordStream within their yearly Facebook performance report, I can establish that the average conversion rate across all industries is 9.21%. This means that under the assumption that my ads would reach one million users, I could expect 92,100 of those users to convert. This is equivalent to roughly a quarter of the total Ekka attendance.

Taking this data one step further, I can identify that the average price of a single adult ticket is $35. At this price, this would mean I’d expect a total ad revenue of $3,223,500.

As I mentioned, this performance forecast was developed on some personal assumptions, however, I do feel as though this end result is an achievable outcome.

 

User-Generated Content
Whilst covering ways to drive value from social channels, I’d also like to briefly touch base on user-generated content. With over 400,000 people attending this year’s Ekka, there was certainly no shortage of content being produced by attendees. 

Although the official Ekka accounts did republish user-generated content from time-to-time, the account could have done more to partner with local influencers to create consistently engaging content. 

Instagram influencer at the 2018 Brisbane Ekka.

Using Scrunch’s influencer marketing platform, I was able to classify a range of micro-influencers who are not only based in Brisbane, but publish content that is relevant to the Ekka. One of Scrunch’s unique features is its ability to analyse and benchmark influencer engagement rates across specific platforms. By leveraging this data, the Ekka could ensure they partner with influencers who maintain a high-engagement rate (over 6.67%) across Instagram. 

Influencer directory on Scrunch's influencer marketing platform.

Additionally, by using a pro-tier version of Scrunch’s platform, an influencers audience location data would also become available. This would allow us to interpret where exactly an influencers audience resides. By leveraging this data, we could collaborate with those influencers whose followers are predominantly based in Brisbane.

A screenshot of the data produced by Scrunch's influencer marketing platform.

As Instagram stories continually become more popular, the Ekka could have also made better use of the story repost feature, encouraging more users to publish more Ekka-related content.

The above suggestions cover the ways in which the Ekka could enhance its pre-event digital strategy. Now, I’d like to delve into how the event could leverage emerging technologies to drive positive user experiences throughout the show itself.

 

Artificial Intelligence
One of the most unpleasant experiences throughout the Ekka, is of course the large crowds of people, all trying to weave their way through the RNA Showgrounds. If you’ve been to the Ekka, you’ll understand how populated sections of the venue can get when certain shows begin. To ease congested areas, I’d recommend leveraging AI to help navigate crowds. But how would this work?

Upon purchasing their tickets, the parents of the family could have consensually registered some entry-level data about their family. This could include each family members gender, age, and any main attractions they’d like to see. Provided that someone from the family has downloaded the Ekka mobile app, they could be sent a push notification to not only alert them of the high-traffic area, but also offer them a personalised alternative within the same time period. Using a collaborative-filtering model, the notification could alert the family that there’s a monster truck show on at 5:45pm instead, as this is an attraction that would appeal to the two younger boys.

Another use-case for AI could be to identify the number of online tickets sold for certain days, accompanied by all of the user demographic data submitted upon purchase. By understanding what masses of people will be attending each day, it could send notifications to an internal Ekka application for attraction owners. This would allow them to gain valuable insights into how busy they’ll be throughout the day. Using this data, the exhibitors could then prepare more resources in advance, or even alter the duration of rides accordingly.

 

Streamlined Transaction Process
Another painful experience I’m sure we’ve all been a victim to, is getting your hands on one of the thousands of showbags on offer. Showbag Alley is renowned for being as chaotic as the Shibuya Crossing.

The Ekka mobile app does a fantastic job of enabling users to search and view the contents of all the available showbags. This alleviates the time spent deciding which showbag users would like to purchase at the marque. 

Brisbane Ekka mobile application user interface.

Although useful, there’s still immense potential for the app to streamline the entire process of end-to-end showbag purchases. When I personally went to purchase a showbag, both of the eftpos machines at the particular marque weren’t functional due to an intermittent network signal. 

If the Ekka had integrated a payments service within the app, it would allow users to link a credit card or PayPal account to complete purchases. Users could not only purchase showbags in advance, but also schedule a time to collect their goods – allowing them to skip the large queues upon collection.

The same could also be applicable across various attractions; whether it be ordering food or drinks in advance, or even pre-purchasing tickets for rides.

 

Augmented Reality
As I previously mentioned, I thoroughly enjoyed the 2018 Ekka app, which was developed by Brisbane’s own
Lightweave. My favourite feature within the app, was of course the integration of AR used to enhance the real-world Ekka exhibits.

Lightweave had done a laudable job to help drive a deeper level of engagement between attendees and Ekka displays. 

However, as a user myself, I could identify one more avenue in which AR could enhance the overall Ekka experience.

When navigating between attractions, I found the apps 3D map to be helpful. It allowed users to deploy a compass-like navigation index, pointing them in the right direction. As useful as this feature was, it was susceptible to real-world restrictions, including physical objects, or crowds blocking a labelled path. 

Although not necessary, this navigation feature could utilise augmented reality to create a more enticing experience for end-users. Similar to the soon-to-be-released Google Maps navigation, AR arrows could seamlessly direct users in real-time.

This navigation tool could also feature additional Ekka content. Special AR characters could emerge from attractions, or users could be encouraged to find and collect AR markers, almost like a treasure hunt. All of these concepts could help drive engagement and keep families entertained between attractions.

 

My digital strategy covers just a few of the potential ways in which emerging technology could not only help drive ticket sales, but enhance the overall end-user experience for Ekka attendees. Other areas of opportunity could include the use of Twitter Moments, Google My Business posts, and even AR Facebook ads – but I’ll save those for another post.

My experience at this year’s Ekka was surely one to remember. I can only hope that as the year’s progress, the integration of emerging technology continues to make my experience even more memorable. 

If you’re working on an exciting digital strategy leveraging similar technologies, I’d love to hear about it! Shoot me an email or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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About me: 

I’m a twenty-three year old Digital Marketing & Conversions Specialist based in Brisbane, Australia. With a passion for all things digital and tech, I aim to connect and learn from as many like-minded digital enthusiasts as possible. If you have a passion for emerging technologies and digital practices, I’d love to connect and hear your story.