Virtual Event Strategy to Drive Traffic and Engagement

Content & Messaging
July 1, 2020
Sporting Goods & Outdoor

Key Takeaways

Paid Channel Focus Allocation — Instagram: A relatively small number of major men’s activewear brands have incorporated Instagram advertising into their channel mix in a significant way (see paid channel overview). For example, The North Face’s monthly IG ad spend of $30 - $100K USD is not even 10% of their overall spend. While IG continues to becomes a more competitive and difficult platform on which to build an organic audience, IG advertising remains a relatively non-competitive way to reach a highly relevant audience and drive action.

Paid Social Tactic — Balanced Campaign Objectives & Sequential Retargeting: While not the focus of this case study, it’s worth pointing out that the North Face is making good use of a variety of campaign objectives and sequential retargeting with their Instagram campaigns to introduce people to the brand (via brand awareness ads), nurture a relationship with the brand via valuable and entertaining content (the Summer Basecamp virtual event), and eventually drive conversions efficiently with a dynamic retargeting campaign that directly promotes products relevant to users’ browsing behaviour on the North Face eCommerce site.

Cross-Channel Activation Tactic — A Virtual Event Supported With Organic, Paid, and Web: The Summer Basecamp event is an example of high-quality execution of a virtual event that actually drives digital results, something that many brands are struggling to learn how to activate since the onset Covid. Some key success factors are:

  • Incorporating Ambassadors: Brands with strong existing ambassador relationships like the North Face are well positioned to host virtual events, since ambassadors can bring their subject matter expertise & personality to the content of the event, while also promoting the event to their followers, and finally by publishing creative assets that can be further boosted by the host brand. The North Face didn’t do this for the Summer Basecamp, but we’ve seen brands generate great results by providing ambassadors with budget to run ads from their own accounts to promote brand-sponsored events.
  • Focusing Content on educational & entertaining subject-matter: The Summer Basecamp event focused programming on topics that a) are relevant to the North Faces brand, b) Engaged ambassadors, and c) Aligned with audience interests such as photography and wilderness survival skills.
  • Hosting the event on-(web)site: The SBC event was hosted on The North Face’s eCommerce site, generating 11,000 visitors. Consider testing the results of virtual events hosted directly on social platforms against those hosted on-site.
  • Incorporating a contest: Instead of running a standalone contest, the North Face incorporated on into SBC to re-engage participants. However, results of the contest weren’t strong, only generating 15 UGC posts. Consider making contest entry requirements both low effort and something that supports overall digital objectives (tagging a friend, following an account, following our brand on a different platform, etc.)
  • Spin the Flywheel with UGC: Efforts to generate UGC and build it into the event promotion flywheel were more successful outside the contest, taking advantage of participants actual stoke on the content of the event itself and getting to interact with North Face ambassadors. The North Face did a good job of collecting and re-promoting this UGC in compilation videos while tagging the original creators.

Supporting the Contest & Event with Paid: So much effort goes into creating an event and promoting it organically, but promoting it with paid is often left out of cross-channel virtual events.

The North Face significantly increased their Instagram ad spend at the end of the summer from $0 in July to +$98K in August.

North Face - Ad Spend

The North Face focused their ad spend at the beginning and end of August splitting it between three campaigns: a giveaway, a dynamic retargeting campaign, & children’s clothing ads.

North Face - August 2020 Ad Spend
Ad #1 | Ad #2 | Ad #3

The largest spike in IG ad spend coincided with a giveaway to celebrate the end of summer and their Summer Base Camp campaign.

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The giveaway and campaign punctuated the end of North Face’s “Summer Base Camp” initiative where TNF partnered up with their ambassadors to hold free virtual lessons & activities for campers during COVID-19.

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The North Face worked with various ambassadors for their Summer Base Camp program, such as Jimmy Chin who hosted a workshop on how to build a pinhole camera, and Coree Woltering who taught Maps 101 & orienteering.

@jimmychin | @coreewoltering

Throughout the campaign, The North Face engaged with their followers by sharing user generated creations on their own channel through compilation videos:

North Face - Instragram - User-Generated Creations
Post #1 | Post #2

This initiative drove 11K site visits in July when the Summer Base Camp program launched, which is 5X higher than the average page traffic in July.

North Face - Web Traffic

While website traffic results of Summer Basecamp were strong, the activation only resulted in 15 UGC contest entry posts, which is quite small for The North Face’s audience size. This might be due to the fact that entrants were required to post a photo rather than tag friends in the comments.

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Mentioned and earn reach were much stronger than direct content entries for Summer Base Camp.  The #TNFsummerbasecamp hashtag garnered nearly 200 posts with a post from Jimmy Chin generating 63K likes & 288 comments.

North Face - Instagram - #TNFsummerbasecamp
#tnfsummerbasecamp | @jimmychin

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