Event Marketing
February 16, 2015  •  by Jane Carter

Affiliate Marketing 101 for Events

“The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

– Sun Tzu

A popular technique to stimulate sales for large events is to assemble a group of people to sell tickets on your behalf. This is referred to as Affiliate Marketing. There’s many approaches to this method, all that can prove successful if executed correctly.

The key to affiliate marketing success is through careful preparation and tracking. Taking a page from Sun Tzu, it’s crucial to be calculative. Think critically about your target audience and what types of affiliates can generate the most ticket sales for your event. Diving in without a plan can be a recipe for disaster.

In this post, we’ll show you the types of affiliates worth looking into and how to setup proper tracking to measure results.
Read on to learn more about leveraging this channel to your advantage.

Types of Affiliate Marketing Channels

Relevant Influencers

Two types of influencers to think about here. The first, similar to local event sites, are influencers in your community. Target influencers who carry a lot of authority on Twitter or Facebook. A simple shoutout to their followers can help boost traffic to your registration site. Check out Followerwonk for influencer research. The second type are influencers relevant to your type of event. If you have speakers, then using them as affiliates is a no brainer! Much like sponsors, they stand to gain more from a sold out venue.

Street Teams

This is a grassroots tactic that became popular in the ’90’s with entertainment companies. A street team is essentially a group of people that ‘hit the streets’ to help promote an event. If you see stickers or flyers around town promoting an event then you’ll know that the organizers are utilizing this affiliate channel. Usually the team is comprised of individuals associated with the event. These could be interns, students at a local college, or a group hired by an outside marketing firm.

Your Attendees

Whoa, how can attendees be affiliates for an event they’re already attending? Let’s think about this for a second. Brenda purchases a ticket to your event. Seeing that she probably doesn’t want to go alone, she asks her friends if they want to attend as well. Naturally, your attendees are going to draw additional ticket sales. It’s socially inherent for events. The opportunity with affiliate marketing is providing a reward to ensure this viral action to occur. Providing a discount for sharing your event page is a surefire way to make this happen.

How To Properly Reward & Track Your Affiliate Efforts

None of the above affiliates will help drive ticket sales without a proper reward and tracking system in place. If the motivation isn’t there, then kiss your dreams of a packed event goodbye. Remember what the military general says, those who win make many calculations beforehand.

Reward Types

Commission on a ticket sale

When you give a small percentage of the ticket sale to your affiliate. This is the classic affiliate example.
Who this works with: Blog & Event Listing Sites, Street Teams

Discounted Tickets

When you give a promo code for a discount on future ticket purchases to your affiliate. Playing into the social element, this works best for current attendees as it incentivizes their friends to attend.

Who this works with: Your Attendees, Your Sponsors

Free Tickets

When you give free tickets to an affiliate that benefits from high attendance numbers. For sponsors and influencers, you can set aside some free tickets for them to promote through their respective networks. These affiliates can then create contests and giveaways for the free tickets to drive attention to your event.
Important note: While free tickets are a great way to drum up interest, sponsors and influencers should be completely fine with no affiliate reward. This is due to the mutual benefit of high attendance numbers.
Who this works with: Your sponsors, Relevant Influencers

Creating a Tracking System

This is super easy to setup if you’re selling tickets through a free online event registration platform. What you’ll want to do is navigate to the referral tracking system (located in your dashboard if you’re using Ticketbud). What you’ll do from here is create a code for each of your affiliates.

Each code is a unique identifier. So if Pepsi is a sponsor, type in Pepsi or something of that nature. After creating all your codes, you’ll see a URL link underneath each one. Each link has your code at the end of it and is used to track each affiliate’s performance.
The next step is to reach out to all your affiliates and give them their unique code to use for promotion. This is where the magic happens. The referral tracking system will track every click and sale attributed to your affiliate. In real-time, you can see exactly how many tickets your affiliates are bringing in. Awesome, right?

At the end of your event, you’ll have a complete report of all your affiliate sales. Calculate commissions and analyze what affiliate channels performed the best. Do you have any successful strategies when it comes to affiliate marketing for events? Get the discussion going by commenting below!
Further Reading:
Sharing Best Affiliate Marketing Strategies
The Ultimate List of Affiliate Programs