Trying to define Meow Wolf is like trying to define joy. It’s the sugar jolt of a popsicle on a hot day; it’s the rush of dancing with strangers in the dark. In other words, Meow Wolf is ephemeral, evolving, music, arts, events, experiences and installations, a project-turned-startup formed by eight artists with energy, dreams, DIY bravado — and an angel named George R.R. Martin.
In 2008, “Meow Wolf started as an arts collective in Santa Fe, New Mexico,” Megan Cohen, Social Marketing & PPC Specialist for Meow Wolf tells ToneDen, “who found rigid barriers to entry into the traditional art world. The collective started making immersive, renegade art in small, DIY spaces and people loved it. After years of experimenting with temporary installations, we created House of Eternal Return, our first permanent exhibition.”
From that eight member collective, Meow Wolf has matured into an almost 400-person company, with expansion bringing their mind-bending immersives to Denver, Las Vegas, and Washington DC. But even without such huge plans on the horizon, Meow Wolf Santa Fe is more than busy. “We hosted 150 events last year,” Cohen says. “We do our own pop-up installations. Now we have an immersive weekend experience Taos Vortex.”
There’s no pause button on artistic energy, which is why Meow Wolf’s events team trusts ToneDen — as Cohen puts it, “great marketing automation software with an intuitive UX that saves a lot of time.”
Improving on Ads Manager
Before joining the team at Meow Wolf, Cohen ran her own marketing firm in Albuquerque. An expert in PPC advertising, she’s especially knowledgeable about the ways that music and events marketers can benefit from ToneDen.
“I was immediately drawn to the power of a call to action of ‘BUY TICKETS,’ which is unbelievably still not available through the Ads Manager platform,” Cohen says. “I really noticed it when I finished my first campaign: it only took me a third of the time it usually takes me to publish an ad in Ads Manager. And I thought — wow, the developers strategically re-formulated the process that a PPC marketer would want to go through to create their ads.”
Time-saving and intuitive, ToneDen keeps people like Cohen from getting lost in the labyrinth of Ads Manager. “Before [ToneDen] I had to spend a lot of time duplicating, creating lookalike audiences, and honestly just dealing with the glitchy side of Ads Manager.”
These days? Cohen can bypass some of those glitches and shortcut to running event ads and building out the events team’s email and Messenger lists.
Announcing Events and Upping Audiences
As you’d expect, seeing music at Meow Wolf is an extraordinary experience. The venue holds 400 people, and that magical, visionary milieu permeates the space. Hosting indie rock, jam bands, pop, hip hop, electronic, house music, and more, Meow Wolf shows routinely sell-out.
“I’m always shocked that I get such a great response from these fairly low budget campaigns,” Cohen admits.
One of those shocks came in the form of South African folk singer Gregory Alan Isakov. Isakov’s back-to-back appearances at Meow Wolf Sante Fe “sold out almost immediately because of our marketing efforts. It was cool to see it sell out that fast — definitely and partially because we were directly reaching people when it went on-sale.With higher open rates, messenger is often times superior to email marketing for our audiences.”
For the Isakov shows, Cohen used ToneDen’s Event Announce playbook. Here’s how it worked: ToneDen helped Meow Wolf Sante Fe launch a Facebook ad campaign to promote the upcoming Isakov shows. When the tickets went on sale, anyone who’d commented on the post received a message from Meow Wolf Sante Fe’s Facebook page with a link to buy tickets.
Designed to sell tickets and grow your Messenger list, the Event Announce playbook led Meow Wolf’s events team to make $335 on a campaign that cost $80. The announcement ad reached an audience composed of fans interested in Gregory Alan Isakov. 2.75% of those viewers, or 92 people, engaged with the post. In its second stage, 31 people responded to Meow Wolf Santa Fe’s message announcing that the Isakov tickets had gone on sale; 29 of those people subscribed to Meow Wolf Sante Fe’s Messenger list — a 93.55% opt-in rate, meaning fans you can count on for this show and the next.
To totally clinch the Isakov shows, Cohen ran a simple conversion campaign on the day of on-sale. Spending $80, she ran an ad announcing that tickets were now available. The CTA button? “Buy tickets.” By running this conversion campaign, Cohen was able to track the effectiveness of her ad. Of the 99 people who clicked on the ad, 26 bought tickets — a purchase rate of more than 25%. That $80 investment brought in nearly $2K, a 24.4x return on ad spend.
Meow Wolf’s events team understands the value of building a following. For Cohen, ToneDen has been “great for me to obtain email addresses and Facebook Messenger subscriptions,” especially when she sees “so many people buying directly from the Messenger platform.”
There’s no shortage of unpredictability in this industry, whether you’re advertising art installations or rock shows. “Event marketing is interesting because if the show doesn’t sell, the marketing is often criticized,” Cohen admits. “But if the show sells really well, it’s attributed to the talent. It’s nice to be able to see the correlation between ticket sales and the timing of your marketing efforts.”
When you automate social marketing, you want dependable results, even if your ethos is all about the ephemeral. As Cohen puts it:
“Anyone in music and events can definitely benefit because of the tailored features ToneDen has. I mainly use it for events, but I also think there’s a lot of features designed for artist management as well.”