How Do I Make the Most of Summer Camp Campaigns?

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Ali Blount AUTHOR: Ali Blount
Aug 08, 2023
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Summer is the season of camps—and we don’t just mean the ones with tents! With schools out in your local communities, summer camps are a golden opportunity for arts organizations to inspire and nurture the next generation of artists, musicians, and performers. But in a digital space as crowded as your favorite beach, it’s not always easy to make a splash with your camp-focused digital campaigns. We’ve got you!

This year’s bustling camp season is winding down, making it the perfect time to look back on successful “camp-aigns”! And since we’re currently in the most sweltering time of year, we’re sharing some actual hot tips for you to reach your best-ever camp KPIs next year.

HOT TIP #1: GET THE TIMING RIGHT

First things first when it comes to camps: timing matters. If you start running your campaigns in the spring, you’ll miss out on many potential camp attendees. Summer camp sign-ups typically happen in two waves:

  • January–February for the early planners (often coinciding with on-sale dates)
    May–June for the last-minute scramblers

Ideally, summer camp campaigns would run from January to June to catch both waves and anyone in between. However, since budgets often don’t allow for such long campaigns, we recommend planning to run your campaigns in flights to maximize efficiency.

  • In Action: We used this flighting method for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s summer camp Meta campaign to great success. The first flight ran from mid-January through mid-March, while the second flight ran from the beginning of May to the beginning of June. Both flights saw nearly the exact same purchase conversion rate. This strategy allowed us to capitalize on the most active windows of time—when most users would be looking to determine their summer plans—while being as efficient as possible with the budget.
  • The Results

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  • In Action: We ran a paid search campaign for the summer camp at the Academy of Natural Sciences (ANS) starting in early January. Looking at their click-through rates (CTR) from January through the end of June, the peak hit in January–February, then rates fell for March and April before they spiked a bit in May and June.
  • SEM Results
    23-06 Summer Camps-Revised Bar Chart
  • We also ran a summer camp Google display campaign for ANS in that same timeframe. We used both responsive display ads (RDAs) and static image banners, with RDAs driving a much higher CTR of 1.44% as compared to 0.52% for the static banners. These ads served only to a pool of individuals who were being retargeted after visiting the summer camp landing page.
  • Display Results
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HOT TIP #2: BE STRATEGIC ABOUT TARGETING

While we typically want to spread messaging far and wide when selling tickets, targeting for camps and classes requires more nuance. Be thoughtful about who sees your ads—and when.

  • In Action: To support their audition-based Summer Intensive, we worked with Philadelphia Ballet to run a campaign on Meta from December through February. We broke this down into three consecutive flights with each flight targeting a more specific audience:
  • Flight #1: Generally advertising auditions across the country
    Flight #2: Audition information that only served out in the locations where auditions were happening
    Flight #3: Directed at accepted students to highlight the various wonderful aspects of the program as they made their decisions
  • The Results
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  • In Action: We kicked off summer camp campaigns with the Alliance Theatre on Meta by targeting the full range of potential campers, from acquisition to retargeting, with ads driving them to an email submission form—an excellent way to bolster the Alliance’s database.
  • Camp ads ran from the end of December through the end of May in five flights, and with each flight, the targeting focused more and more on the most likely purchasers through retargeting audiences. While 57% of the overall spend was dedicated to acquisition audiences in the first flight, by the last, that percentage was down to just 8%.
  • The Results

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HOT TIP 3: INVEST IN PAID SEARCH

Summer camps and classes are prime candidates for paid search (SEM) campaigns. With parents frequently searching terms like “educational camp” and “[your city name] summer camp” as they research summer plans, you want to ensure your offerings appear at the very top of the search engine results page as often as possible. These campaigns often see blockbuster results since they’re such a natural fit for SEM.

  • In Action: While Alliance Theatre ran several flights on Meta, we kept their Google campaigns consistent, serving ads on both paid search and Google display from January through the end of April. Compared to 2022, Alliance this year increased their paid search spend by 17% and saw a revenue increase of 38%.
  • The Results
    23-06 Summer Camps-08
  • In Action: We also ran a paid search campaign for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park to complement their Meta flights. This campaign started in March and ended in May, giving the Playhouse some coverage during the break in their social campaigns.
  • The Results
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  • In Action: Remember that ANS paid search campaign that saw its strongest results in January and February? It saw 49% of revenue come in during those months. Ads in the month of January alone drove a 5,900% ROI. While the other months saw a decrease from this apex, sales were phenomenal throughout the full flight.
  • The Results

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TURN UP THE HEAT ON YOUR CAMP-AIGNS

Keep these hot tips in mind as you start planning out your summer camp efforts for next year. Increasing efficiency and ensuring your ads consistently appear in front of your target audiences will help you spend wisely and drive revenue.