How we used Manychat and Facebook Ads to sell show tickets with Free Tickets Giveaways

The following is an overview of a marketing campaign we ran using Facebook ads and Manychat's growth and broadcast features.

As I write this text, a few miles from where I am right now, more than a 1000 people walking in to a big concert hall, taking their seats, while behind the curtains, the performers, who traveled 10,000 miles to be there, are getting ready to take to the stage. In one hour from now the three Superstars of Russian Pop Music will perform before very excited members of Russian-speaking diaspora in Los Angeles.

Now, after the marketing campaign is complete, I wanted to share the experience, lessons learned and the tools I used - most notably, the Manychat.

By no means this was a sold out show but the organizers are moderately happy by the turn out. They knew it could be worse. The show was scheduled on such short notice that the marketing had only a month to run its course before the show date.

The organizers had mainly the following marketing channels to explore: (1.) a large email list of concert goers - the people who bought tickets before, (2.) the print ads in Russian-language magazines, (3.) commercials on Russian-language TV, and (4.) Facebook ads - a domain of mine: I was hired to manage the Facebook ads campaign.

I began my part by creating a very standard Facebook Ads campaign targeting Russian, Ukrainian and Armenian speakers in Los Angeles area. For an ad I ran a very nice video that the organisers have provided featuring the performers, their music and so on.

The campaign was optimized for conversions with a specific budget of $3500 that ran for the entire month right up until the day before the show.

I knew that this is going to be a very expensive campaign: we ran the ads in December - a very costly time to run ads on Facebook.

We needed something new - something that will take us off the beaten path. Usually, less-saturated channels cost less than traditional approach.

I needed a substitution for conventional Facebook ads, that could be less expensive and more effective.

Right around that time I was looking into Manychat, and various ways it can be used for marketing. And I had a good feeling about using it to promote the show.

For some of you, who haven’t heard about Manychat: (1.) it is a web service that makes it easy creating a Facebook Messenger chatbot, (2.) grow and manage a list of subscribers - much like email list, and (3.) broadcast messages to the said subscribers all at once.

Manychat has free and not very expensive paid options, and I manage to do everything with a free option.

After exploring few ideas I came up with simple plan: First, using FB ads grow the list of subscribers by offering them a chance to win a free ticket to the show. Then use broadcast feature to communicate with the subscribers by running a daily name draw to produce a winner. Send daily communication announcing the winner and sprinkle in a “Call to Action” copy to convert subscribers into tickets buyers.

I didn’t know much about Manychat. It was my first time I was using it for marketing purposes but I knew that it was a very strong tool especially because of the incredible opening rate if compared to email marketing: an incredible 90% (FB messages) versus 18%-35% (emails). Same can be said for click-through rate. That meant that I didn’t need a lot of people to have success.

I have created Facebook ads Optimized for messages and in plain language announced the free tickets daily draw:

“We are giving away free tickets for our new year's mega concert! In messenger write: "I want a free ticket", and you are in!”

When someone clicked on the ad, instead of going to a landing page it opened their Messenger app. The user then was met with a welcome greeting that included a button they could click and as soon as they did they were subscribed to our list.

From that moment forward their name were included in a daily draw. Every day at 8 o’clock the subscribers would receive a small video of a random name selector picking up the winner of the day. Manychat allows you to send a small-size video file to be opened inside the messenger. The video I have created for the name draw was Christmas-themes, very exciting full of tension.

This is a sample of the video that was sent to users every day. Names are blurred to preserve users privacy. 

That made the experience very titillating and addictive. Then a small message with call to action would appear that reads as follows: “Didn’t win? No worries! You can still go to the show by buying a ticket right here.”

It would be followed by the link that took them to the landing page from which they would be taken to a checkout to complete the purchase.

When I was presenting the idea to the client he was a bit skeptical. The concern was that the people will just wait for a winning ticket and will not buy anything.

My argument was that people who are genuinely interested in going to the show, will buy the tickets, no matter what.

Eventually, I was given a green light and small budget to test my ideas. I didn’t expect it to work right away, but to my surprise I had one sale on the first day of running my Messenger campaign, which was very encouraging.

In my mind the psychology behind this campaign was as follows: every day you would get to see someone, but not you, declared the winner. Day after day you experience a small, not very significant loss. Since the tickets were not a very expensive item (if compared to a car for example) - around $80 a ticket - the price you pay for the “winning” is not exuberant. So all I had to do is to make people say “the hell with it! Let’s buy the tickets already.” I called it an instant win.

At the request of the client - for still having the same concerns as in the beginning - I stopped running the ads ten days before the shows date and shortly after the lottery was stopped too. By that time I had around 700 people in the list and several purchases made.

On the weekend before the show I sent a few messages with the reminder to buy tickets and got quite a few sales from it. Five days before their show I sent short agitations with the link to the landing page. Each such message brought few more sales. And here we are: the day of the show is here. Hopefully people are having fun and the organizers are not terribly disappointed with my work.

Now it is the time to count our beans and analyze our efforts. We got the results of two fundamentally different campaign: a conventional Facebook campaign with video ads and a Messenger campaign with Manychat as a backbone.

The total amount spent on running Video ads was $3500, generating 56 sales of $45,000 in sales.

The spent for Manychat was $550, generating 19 sales of $5500 in total sales.

As you can see, the Messenger ads had performed much better, costing just $28 per per purchase as opposed to $56 in case of Video ads. Note that the average sale was around $300, 2-4 tickets per order.

Side by side the Messenger/Manychat campaign outperformed the Video ads 2 to 1, costing 8 percent less.

With such small numbers it is hard to speculate what would have happened if we spent all of our money on the Messenger campaign, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we did better.

Alos, let’s not forget that the organizers are left with the list of 700 plus people who they can turn to, to sell more upcoming events. In fact, I will recommend to continue this type of campaign for other shows and use the momentum to grow the list into many thousands of people. Imagine the possibility!

Those numbers mean you can sell out the show with one message sent. Or you can build a show by asking what performer people on the list want to see. You have an instant audience that you can tag into groups by interest and offer them the type of shows they are most likely to enjoy the most.

Now that I have this experience, I am looking for other products or services I can apply this way of advertising for. It will not work for everyone, since it has to have specific pre qualifiers to be a good fit.

Low cost to seller - since you can’t make people buy your product to participate in a lottery (per Facebook rules), the product you offer for free must not be a costly one. It is preferable if you have it in abundance or easily replenishable. We had 14 winners overall - a small number in a pool of thousand - we could afford to give it for free.
An attractive product - it must be a product that can generate an excitement. The subscribers should get thrilled with anticipation, awaiting for daily/weekly name drawing.

If you think that you have a product or a service that fit the bill and, you want me to guide you through the setup of a similar campaign, I will be happy to be of assistance. Contact me at to setup a phone call.