Tamara Mendelshon VP of Marketing at Eventbrite.com joins Mike McAllen for another installment of Meetings Podcast. Tamara dives into EventBrite and how it saved the marriage of founders Kevin and Julia Harts 😉 to the way it has helped thousands of meeting organizers easily set up events and understand their audiences through simple analytics to improve, share and build great experiences for their events and meetings. The Eventbrite Story with Tamara Mendelsohn is the first show of 2013.
Mike McAllen: Welcome back to the Meetings Podcast. It’s Mike McAllen from Grass Shack Events & Media. And today as the first guest of 2013, we have Tamara Mendelsohn. Tamara is the VP of Marketing with Eventbrite. Is that correct, Tamara?
Tamara: Yes. Hi, Mike. Thanks —
Mike McAllen: All right.
Tamara: …for having me on the show.
Mike McAllen: Thank you for coming and it’s…we were just talking about before we started this it’s freezing cold and I wish I could be running to place. Actually I have a treadmill in my office which I do my e-mail on and I was on it this morning that was like nice and warm and then once I sat down, I’m freezing again. Anyway, [Laughter] why don’t you…you work with Eventbrite and why don’t you tell me a little bit about how you got to Eventbrite because I was…did a little research on you and your background? You are an Analyst with the Forrester Research.
Mike McAllen: How did you choose to pick Eventbrite as your place to spend all your time at?
Tamara: Yeah, so…so for those of you who aren’t familiar with Eventbrite, Eventbrite is an online website that lets anybody sell tickets online to their events. So, you know, whether you are a hosting a non-profit gala or a conference or a 5K or 10K run or literally any type of event you could ever imagine, you can use Eventbrite to manage your event, to spread the word and promote your event and collect online. And I made my way to Eventbrite actually from Forrester. I spent a lot of time there thinking and working on e-commerce with various retailers and studying how people were integrating and incorporating the internet in to their shopping behavior and their sort of purchase process. And became fascinated with how social media actually was beginning to influence e-commerce more and more.
And what I saw with Eventbrite was this really amazing opportunity, this industry of events and ticketing that are really not been transformed yet by e-commerce. And this sort of magical thing that happens with events which is that people want to talk about them, people want to share them and social media was having a great impact on the space and so was, you know, when I found Eventbrite and met the founders which is really excited about the business and the opportunity there and didn’t waste any time diving right in.
Mike McAllen: Nice. And so, can you tell us the story of Eventbrite? I’ve heard it before and I really liked how it all went rolling.
Tamara: Sure, yeah. So, Eventbrite was found in 2006 by a group of three, Kevin and Julia Hartz who actually are husband and wife team. They were just recently engaged at the time and decided to start a company together, right? And they’re starting So…so decided to…to start Eventbrite with their third co-founder Renaud Visage really set about to, you know, really transform one of the last e-commerce which isthis online ticketing space. And I think being here in Silicon Valley at the time, you know, we’re constantly surrounded by technology innovation, we see all the great things and great transformations that technology brings but at the same time we were seeing how, you know, people were spending more and more time in front of their devices, in front of their screens. And I think, you know, there’s this always sort of depressing New York Times articles that said married couples spend or three out of five married couples spend more time with their computer than they do with–
Mike McAllen: [Laughter] Nice.
Tamara: And so…it went like Kevin and Julia and Renaud recognized was the value of meeting in and of gatheringwhat happens, the magical things that happens at events was really powerful and would only become more powerful. And so they really devoted their time and their mission to using technology, using online technology to bring people together offline and that was really best start of Eventbrite was empowering anybody to be able to create events and promote it online as at the time, you know, you really only had…had some of the very, very biggest technology vendors like Ticket Master or something and really can only afford them if you are a big venue or if you’re a stadium or something like that and for everybody else, you know, people were sending out e-mails and sending RSVP and bring cash to the door or mailing their check and there really was no…not a technology solution.
Mike McAllen: Wow. So, what you’re saying is they designed it to save their marriage so they could make meetings with each other?
Tamara: [Laughter] Yes.
Mike McAllen: [Laughter]
Tamara: The first reason were yeah, with —
Mike McAllen: [Laughter]
Tamara: to each other but [Laughter] —
Mike McAllen: [Laughter]
Tamara: …you know, they created this technology. You know, Kevin had some great experience in the payment side and really understood e-commerce and Julia had much more of a media background and together with…with Renaud really created this really easy to use technology that literally anyone could use to create events and start gathering more people together.
And I think this is sort of where social media began to have an impact. I think when they first built Eventbrite, they were really not to get super jiggy [0:05:22] [Phonetic] but they were optimizing for Google SEO, right? So, when someone typed in, you know, developer conference in San Francisco, that the links…the Eventbrite events would come up first in Google searches and Google really…I mean it still does dominate the search space. And so they were really kind of optimizing the business for that and Google was the number one driver of traffic to Eventbrite. But what…what we begin to see in sort of late 2008 was that all of sudden Facebook started driving more and more traffic to Eventbrite and you know, we [Audio Glitch] our Google Analytics dashboard and they’re…you know, and know that the…the number one driver was Google and the number ten driver was Facebook and then the number nine driver was Facebook and Facebook began to sort of climbed up the charts. And when they looked in to what was happening, they really saw two…two main interesting things occurring.
The first was event organizers where republishing their events in Facebook so that they could invite all the groups and all the friends that they were connected to for whom they may not have had individual e-mail addresses but they could invite to through Facebook and they would include a link back to Eventbrite and say, “Hey, buy tickets here or register for this event here.” And so people would click on that link and that was driving a lot of traffic. And the other thing that they were seeing was that when people would discover really cool things on Eventbrite to do like maybe an interesting band or an interesting speaker or a cool, they would copy and paste the URL in to Facebook and say, “Who wants to go to this event with me? I just bought tickets. Who else is in?” Right? And their friends would click that link and drive, again, drive traffic back to Eventbrite.
And so, what…what I think we were seeing was not a new behavior at all, right, because events are inherently very social people tell their friends abut them. The greatest sort of driver and promotional tool for events is word of mouth, right? And all that…that social media was…was kind of an amplification or like a megaphone for that. And so people were doing the same thing they’ve been doing for hundreds of years but now they just had a new tool to do that and it was a very effective tool with that. And so what Kevin and Julia sort of recognized very early was that they needed to build this in to the product and so we were the first company to really reach out to Facebook and have them open up their events API. And so what we took that behavior that we saw and we made it very easy for anyone to do. So, even if it hadn’t occurred to you to do that to post your event to Facebook as an event host, now, we made that very simple and easy to do.
As soon as you created your event on Eventbrite, we prompted you by saying, “Hey, with one click, you can post that to Facebook.” And on the attendee side when you discovered a cool event to do, with one click you could share that event with your friends and then Facebook just roar to the top of the charts, right? All of a sudden Facebook was our number driver of traffic and it really changed the game of promotion for events because all of a sudden you didn’t need, you know, thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars to be able to promote your event and draw an audience. You could use social media free to reach a very targeted specific group of people who are going to be interested in your event because one of their friends is going.
Mike McAllen: That’s so interesting because that is such the big…well, listening to this podcast there are basically meeting organizers and that is the biggest question that always comes up is like how to get the word out and if you already have your audience, you know, that’s…that’s brilliant that they thought of that.
Tamara: Yeah, absolutely because the…I mean there is that sort of shotgun approach that you can take and many people do in terms of, you know, buying space in newspapers or online ads or things like that but with social media, you’re reaching, you know, you already have an engaged audience and if you use that audience to then reach other people that they think would be interested in that event, you all of a sudden are getting very, you know, targeted and very specific with who you’re reaching and seeing much better conversion rates from that type of marketing. There is that really that really important credibility that comes from a recommendation, right? If my friend recommends an event or if I know my friends going to an event or if I know a colleague of mine is going to a certain, you know, professional event, that credibility really enhances or influences my decision to purchase a ticket as well.
Mike McAllen: Right. Yeah, it’s very interesting. And so now I see like does in Facebook now that they see that and that they’re doing their own event’s thing on there, when I see something like that that they do event they have an event.
Tamara: So Facebook has always had sort of an event component to Facebook and that that is what integrated with very early on. We’re the first company that they opened up their events API to so that you can publish your Eventbrite event in to a Facebook event.
So the Facebook event is really powerful because you can connect it to groups that you’re part of, friends that you’re connected with, you know, you can hunt down, you know, pages that are focused or talking about the topic that is relevant to your event and things like that and share it that way. And that’s how social media can be really well event. There is no, you know, Facebook doesn’t have the ability to sell the tickets and so, it’s a great promotional to us, a great complement to our service and that’s why we built that strong integration and they continue to be a great partner for us.
Mike McAllen: Yeah and it also seems to me that you guys are everywhere. So, you know, you have a presence like every meeting [Laughter] it seems like I go to or in the meetings and events industry, I’m sorry, or meetings and events industry you’re always there in such a presence. Is that you doing all that? You’re the…you’re the VP in-charge.
Tamara: A talented team.
Mike McAllen: [Laughter]
Tamara: But yeah, I think that we’ve realized that there was just a huge meet in the market for a tool like this, a tool that, you know, we really approached the problem that we’re solving from a technology stand point. We are a technologist. We sit here in Silicon Valley. We totally, you know, geek out about technology everyday and we’re really excited about the improvements and the innovations that are occurring all around us and try to really leverage them and bring them to people who may not consider themselves as tech savvy by making it super super simple and accessible and that is really always been our mission on to make it as easy as possible to help people gather more people together.
And so we’d love being a part of the conversation and are really thankful for the way the industry has embraced us but I think the focus on really providing visibility and access to your data as an event organizer to help you better understand, you know, how your promotions are working, how your own marketing campaigns are working, where…you know, the influence of different social media channels for your event because some of the event organizers we talked to really find that Twitter is where their audience is and they have the most successful promoting on Twitter versus others, you know, Facebook or even LinkedIn. And so giving people the visibility and the data to help them understand where to best spend their marketing dollars and efforts is just really powerful for folks and we’ve seen some people do amazing things with our platform.
Mike McAllen: Yeah, I think that’s a main thing to hit on because a lot of people don’t look in to the, you know, what happened this year and let’s look back on how we did it. They always kind of just shooting from the hip constantly and it’s nice that you have so much, you know, reporting and tracking and the analytics that people can look at and actually people listening to this should, you know, put that on their list of their post-con is really to look back and see what they did because it’s so important to figure out where their audience is.
Mike McAllen: Because a lot of people don’t know it over there on Facebook or Twitter or, you know, they’re on the, you know, the local bulletin board. [Laughter] They need to figure it out, you know, and that…it’s really neat that you guys have those…those analytics and I know I’ve used them in the past and they’re fantastic.
Tamara: …and through…through that those analytics, we were able to publish some broader numbers who give people some benchmarks as well. For example, when…when the user shares an Eventbrite event on Facebook or when…you know, until he finds an event and they show it on Facebook. On average, it will drive $4.15 back to the event organizer and 14 visits back to their event page. If that makes . So, that’s an average but we’ve seen certain types of events, certain categories of events drive much higher dollar values or higher clicks. And you can compare that to something like the Twitter where for everytime somebody shares an Eventbrite event on Twitter, 33 people click on this. So, you know, more than double that at Facebook. But the dollar value is lower on average. So, even though 33 people will click on that link, it drives about a dollar and eighty five in…incremental sales for the event organizer compared to that $4.15 share on Facebook will drive.
And that I think just goes to show, you know, there is a lot of difference in and while that’s the average maybe for your particular that you find that Twitter actually drives a higher dollar value but we share all that data…all that data is sensible to you as an event organizer in the back end. And if you know that and understand that, then you can choose to spend, you know, more of your time and attention on Twitter than Facebook or vice versa.
Mike McAllen: Right. Oh, that’s brilliant.
Mike McAllen: Yeah. So, it’s so important. So, what’s the future look like? Is there anything coming up or anything to report that’s happening in the future?
Tamara: Oh, there always happening in the happening. [Laughter]
Mike McAllen: [Laughter]
Tamara: You know, currently the trends and one of my favorite quotes about the future, I try to remember I think that goes to something like, you know, the future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed. [Laughter]
Mike McAllen: [Laughter]
Tamara: It’s coming in the future we see hints of just as, you know, before we build all the formal integrations to Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, we saw that behavior happening, right? People were already doing that and we…we really put a lot of focus and emphasis in to watching how our users use our products and what their…what new technologies they’re adapting and that really influences are road map as well and I think right now, we’re very focus on mobile. You know, as I was sort of explaining before we watched Facebook kind of go from the tenth spot to the number one spot in terms of drivers of traffic. Now, we’re watching mobile Facebook rise through the ranks. I think it’s number five or six now in terms of drivers of traffic which is really interesting, right?
So more and more people are…are coming to Eventbrite via mobile devices and we spend a lot of time and attention over the last year optimizing our site for…for mobile usage because, you know, as more than, you know, bigger and bigger majority of folks are searching for things to do on their mobile devices. You have to make sure that the experience that you deliver to them is easy and friction-free and delightful. And so, we’ve been, you know, really spending a lot of time understanding those behaviors and what people are looking for in their…at being sure…being sure to be able to deliver on that.
Mike McAllen: Wow, yeah. So true, I mean I’m on my phone all the time now. [Laughter]
Tamara: Yeah and…and we optimized from, you know, a regular website on the mobile device to actually of a mobile specific experience for buying tickets. We saw conversion rates rise by more than 50%. So, I think it just goes to show that —
Mike McAllen: Wow.
Tamara: Experience that’s in the context of the device that they’re using or the context of the way they’re…they’re searching for things that it can have a very big impact on your business. And I think as an event organizer they think more and more about how they reach their audiences and how they get them to attend their events, mobile has to become a greater and greater part of the conversation.
Mike McAllen: I agree, I agree. Well, Tamara, thank you so much for speaking with me. I really appreciate it.
Tamara: Yeah, my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Mike McAllen: And I love to have you on again some time.
Mike McAllen: Okay, and please stay warm. It’s freezing.
Tamara: I’ll do my best. I’ll…and see if I can get a treadmill in my office.
Mike McAllen: [Laughter] All right, thank you. Bye-bye.