HR23 – Building a Multi-touch Ecommerce Programme for the Conference

Harm Reduction International runs an annual conference for the Harm Reduction community, to share innovations and best practices in this highly sensitive and important space for public health and social progress.

Like all in-person events, HRI’s annual conference was disrupted by the Covid19 pandemic. Their first in-person event in three years was due to take place in April 2023, but unlike in past years, tickets were not selling spontaneously and organically to the Harm Reduction community of activists and health practitioners.

The HRI team knew they faced an initial challenge in that HR23 would take place in Melbourne, Australia – the first conference outside the US or Europe, and a long and expensive destination for many to travel to. With this context, they knew they would have to – for the first time – find digital audiences to whom they could actively market the in-person conference. They also needed to improve the ticket sales process, to increase purchases from their existing CRM lists.

ODV Digital was initially hired to manage a paid social marketing strategy for HR23. But we soon realised that a more integrated approach was going to be needed. We started by partnering with HRI’s website manager to improve the ticket purchase flow, by introducing contact capture early in the process, drastically shortening the path to checkout, and implementing Pixel Conversion Events along the way.

With the website improvements in place, we were able to implement a paid social strategy which included both direct sales – optimised for conversions – and lead generation through the early contact capture, which could be remarketed to via an automated Email sales programme. Leveraging website content and ChatGPT for AI variations, we wrote a series of emails for HR23, which were auto-delivered to all those who entered the purchase flow from paid social ads but failed to convert on first touch.

We wrote copy and built creative using Canva for static Meta Sales ads and, with the Meta Pixel now in place, were able to optimise to Broad audiences for Prospecting conversion ads, while simultaneously building Custom and Lookalike audiences from website visitors for Retargeting.

The target number of ticket purchases was only 12, such was the uncertainty with which HRI approached their first paid digital campaign for a conference.

Our results blew these targets out of the water! While only spending two thirds of the allocated budget, we sold 20 tickets directly through the Meta ads, and a further 29 through the post-ad Email journey, making 49 ticket sales in total – 4X the Target Volume.

And these sales were delivered at a CPA of only 16% of the max target cost we had been set, giving a significantly higher ROI than we had hoped for.

The campaign was so successful that, with a few weeks to go, HRI asked ODV Digital to pivot the remaining spend into a new campaign – to recruit participants for a ‘virtual’ screening of in-person event. As we were not able to drive direct purchases of tickets, we focused on a Traffic campaign which delivered almost 30,000 website visitors at only £0.02 CPC, at a CTR of 1.77% (on static-only creative, built by ODV Digital).

Our lovely clients at HRI were thrilled with the results:

“We were completely blown away by what Clare and the team were able to achieve for us in a relatively short period of time – we surpassed all targets, and also gained knowledge about our customer base that we’ll be able to carry forward.

We were totally at ease with Clare from day one – she’s genuine, uber-competent and does exactly what she says she will. Working with Clare was like working with a friend!”

Lucy O’Hare, Conference Director, Harm Reduction International

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