5 Ways to get your first virtual escape room customers

Hello and welcome to the latest in our special series of escape room marketing blogs centred around the ongoing worldwide pandemic. Before I get started, I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are healthy.

Last week I shared all of the fantastic reasons to start running virtual escape rooms. Before the world went crazy, only a small number of escape room businesses offered virtual experiences. But as many escape rooms have had to temporarily close their doors, some have started running virtual rooms as a way of creating some income.

But running them is not just a fantastic way of creating income. As I shared last week, escape rooms should start running virtual experiences because:

  • There are less costs associated compared to running physical escape rooms
  • You have a much greater reach – potential customers are no longer limited to people who live locally and within decent travel distance. Anybody, anywhere, can play your virtual escape rooms
  • There’s great potential to get past customers to book onto your new virtual experiences
  • Whilst they’re becoming more well known, virtual escape rooms are still just a drop in the escape room ocean – they’re still unique, they stand out, and they’re different
  • They’re also incredibly helpful to people who need a distraction and a literal escape from the sad and distressing reality we’re all facing
  • Virtual escape rooms are also a great for when your escape room is able to reopen in the coming weeks/months – you’ll have a list of new leads to advertise to, and it may still be worthwhile continuing to offer virtual experiences alongside physical ones

Anyway, I don’t want to go into detail for a second week in a running as to why you should run virtual escape rooms. But suffice to say, you should strongly consider it!

Today, I want to help you to get your first customers should you decide to start running virtual experiences. I’ve gone over the dozens of different marketing strategies open to escape rooms and picked the top 5 I believe will be of most benefit to new virtual escape rooms.

But before I do that, I need to make 2 very important points:

  1. Virtual Escape Rooms are new to people

What does this mean for your marketing and efforts to get customers? It means your messages need to include very specifically how virtual escape rooms work and what people should expect. Manage their expectations and make it really clear what they’re signing up for.

  • Virtual Escape Rooms are new to you

What does this mean for your marketing and efforts to get customers? It means that, at first, you won’t have any reviews for your virtual experiences to use in your marketing. Reviews are essential to getting new customers, so as soon as you run your first sessions make sure to get reviews and most importantly – USE THEM! On your website, your booking form, and throughout all other marketing including the 5 strategies I’m going to share with you today. This will make it easier and easier for you to get more and more customers.

Right, let’s dive into strategies! And as you read through each, please make sure you take notes so you can start implementing the strategies you want to. This applies whether you already run virtual escape rooms, have decided to but haven’t started yet, or are still weighing up your options. So take notes!

Strategy 1 – Past Customers

A great starting point for marketing your brand new virtual experiences is your past customers. They’ve played at least one of your physical rooms before, they know you and your brand, and they undoubtedly love you!

This makes them great for getting your first virtual customers, as you don’t have to start from the beginning and gain peoples trust, etc.

There’s many ways of marketing to your past customers and getting them to sign up for your virtual experiences, but for today I want to focus on the 2 that will do the best in the current climate:

Emails + Texts

To carry out this strategy you need at least the email address of your past customers, but also ideally their mobile number too. If you only have email that is fine. Ideally you’ll also have a way of sending emails-en mass, and texts too.

But what are you going to email and text to your past customers, that will make them book your brand new virtual experiences? Here’s 2 templates you can use and alter as you seem fit:

Email

Subject: [Name], Play Our Brand-New Virtual Escape Experience!

Body:

Hey [Name],

All of us at [The Best Escape Room Ever] sincerely hope this email finds you and your loved ones healthy during this trying time.

To help people escape from reality a little, we’ve just started to offer virtual escape room experiences! And as a past customer of ours, we wanted you to be amongst the very first we invite to try these out.

You may be thinking, What is a virtual escape room?

Instructions will vary depending how you choose to host virtual ERs

Virtual escape rooms are just as exciting and challenging as normal ones, but you can do them from the comfort of your own home via a PC or laptop!

To learn more and to book your very own virtual escape experience, CLICK HERE.

Or hit REPLY if you have any further questions.

Take care,

[The Best Escape Room Ever]

Text

Hi [Name], hope you and your loved ones are healthy. If you’re looking for something to do with your family at home, you’ll love our brand new virtual escape experiences. Click this link to learn more: www.examplelink.com/virtual

And it’s as simple as that. This is by far the best way to get your very first virtual experience customers, and to start building reviews you can use to get even more customers.

Strategy 2 – Social Media

You’ll already have a following on social media, in particular Facebook. This will be full of both past customers, and people who have yet to become a customer (notice the yet). If you’ve been following my blogs in recent weeks, you’ll know that I recommend you continue to engage with your followers on Facebook with regular positive posts, news, puzzles and brain teasers.

You should continue to do these very often, but time to time sprinkle in a promotional post that highlights your brand new virtual experiences. Promotional posts can take many forms:

  • Launch posts – announcing the brand new experience available
  • Review posts – sharing fantastic reviews your virtual experiences have been getting
  • Trailers/teaser video posts – sharing enticing short videos showing what people can expect from your virtual experiences
  • And general promotional posts in between

Here’s some templates you can pick up, alter and use in your social media promotional posts:

Launch post

So excited to announce that as of today we’ve started offering virtual escape room experiences.

These are perfect for families to come together for an hour and overcome some challenges all from the comfort of their own home.

To learn more and to book your virtual experience today, visit www.examplelink.com/virtual

Review post

Just one of the dozens of fantastic feedback we’ve been receiving from families who have been trying out our brand new virtual escape room experiences from the comfort of their own home!

To learn more and book your own experience, visit www.examplelink.com/virtual

Trailer post

If you’ve heard about virtual escape rooms, you may be wondering what is involved and what happens compared to normal escape rooms? To help explain, we’ve made this handy short video and trailer to reveal all.

And if you want to book your very own virtual experience, visit www.examplelink.com/virtual

General promotional post

We have 2 slots remaining for our virtual escape room experiences this weekend!

Get together with your loved ones and face a virtual challenge the likes of which you’ve never faced before – just as exciting and just as challenging, as the real thing…

For more info and to book, visit www.examplelink.com/virtual

Another great post you might want to consider doing is a competition where players can win a free or discounted virtual experience. But that is up to you.

The key with social media is posting often, with different and engaging content – with a mix of all 4 types of promotional posts I’ve demonstrated above.

Onto strategy 3…

Strategy 3 – Facebook Ads

Sticking with social media, but this time specifically Facebook and their paid ads platform.

As there is a cost factor involved, this may not be a strategy you want to utilise at this stage. However as many other advertisers are currently not running ads, it’s a lot cheaper to run them right now.

Plus, Facebook Ads allows you to target a much larger audience than just those who follow you, allowing you to build a bigger following AND get new customers for your virtual escape rooms at the same time.

Facebook Ads is a hugely complex system with many opportunities to market your virtual escape rooms. But for now, let’s keep it simple.

From as little as $5/£5 a day, you can run ads that are basically copies of the posts you’re sharing on your page (I’d recommend a video trailer if you can make one) – but to a much wider audience. Remember, with virtual escape rooms you’re no longer limited to the local population as potential customers. At the very least, you’re now limited to the country you’re in. But language and technology barriers aside, there may be other countries you can advertise to.

But for now, just do your country. Keep it simple and keep your budget small – at least until you can start seeing results from it – new customers!

I’ve purposely not gone into too much detail with this strategy, as I realise it’s not for everyone. With the investment of money required, the time to learn the system and use it, means probably 95% of you won’t want to try it which is fine.

If you do however, there are many guides online and if you want specific guidance please feel free to email me at dan@virallybot.com – As well as being an escape room marketer, I’m a huge Facebook Ads geek and I’m happy to help you get started in any way I can 😊

Onto strategy 4…

Strategy 4 – Google Ads

Next is another marketing strategy that requires an investment in advertising spend: Google Ads. Many of you will already be familiar with the platform, and it’s a great way of delivering traffic to your escape room website. And you can start with very little money and scale if and when you start to get customers from it.

But how can you use it to get customers for your virtual escape room? Google Ads is another very complex but genius system, but to simplify things lets focus on 2 parts:

  1. Who to target
  2. What to advertise

So firstly, who to target. This refers to what searches people Google in order for your ads to show. You want to advertise to those people looking for what you offer, or something very familiar.

Here’s some great examples:

Escape Rooms

Virtual Escape Rooms

Things To Do At Home

How To Keep Busy In Lockdown

They’re just a few, and you want to aim for 20+ to maximise your results. Think of what people would be searching that would suggest they would love what you’re offering.

Now let’s look at your advert itself. Unlike with Facebook, your ads will purely be in text format and will be split into 5 parts:

Headline 1

Headline 2

Headline 3

Description 1

Description 2

Here’s a template you can use and adjust for your very own virtual escape room Google Ads:

Headline 1: Virtual Escape Rooms from NAME

Headline 2: Fun for all the family

Headline 3: From the comfort of your own home

Description 1: Keep entertained at home during lockdown

Description 2: Only laptop + internet required

And it really is as simple as that. The key here is to ensure you target the right people by putting in great search terms.

There are many detailed guides online on how to set up your first google ads, but again if you’d like some direct help feel free to email me at dan@virallybot.com

Onto strategy 5…

Strategy 5 – Website

Strategy 1-4 focusses on one thing: to drive traffic to your website and to your booking page, so you can get new customers.

But sadly, not every person who visits your website will book an experience. Many will drop out, some because they’re confused, others because they can’t afford it, and some because they plan to come back but forget and never do. A huge reason is that the visitors are simply not engaged enough with you and your brand!

The list of reasons people leave your website without booking is endless, but the fact is a good chunk of website visitors will do exactly that. How many that is, is hard to say. Some escape rooms I speak with say 50% or more of their visitors leave without booking, others have much higher amounts. In fact, an average industry standard is as high as 97%!

So of every 100 visitors on average you’ll get to your website, 97 will leave and not book. How crazy is that?!

You’ve come far, you’ve worked hard to get visitors only for the majority to leave and not book your brand new virtual escape experience.

So how should you handle this? Well, you could just accept and deal with it. Or you can find ways of reducing this. I’m not saying you can ensure every single visitor books with you, but you can ensure a lot more do!

But how? The key is engagement.

If you can engage visitors to your escape room, if you can entice them, challenge them, draw their attention – they’ll be much more likely to book.

And a great way of doing this is providing free mini-games, puzzles, brain teasers. Note the word Mini. I’m not saying you have to create effectively an entire escape room for your website. But take the elements that people love the most – the challenge, the excitement. Put that into small games on your website, engage them, and turn more of them into customers!

This can seem complicated to set up, and as a busy owner who’s starting to run virtual escape rooms you may struggle to find the time to do anything like this.

Luckily for you, you don’t have to!

VirallyBot, the sponsors of this blog and proud marketers of over 50 escape rooms worldwide have recently created a Web Game Plugin.

In short, in less than 5 minutes you can have the plugin installed on your website, and visitors to your website will be able to play a mini-escape room right there.

And here’s the best bit – escape rooms who install the plugin generate 15% more bookings than they did before they installed it!

Honestly though, my words don’t do it justice. If you’d like to learn more, I’d encourage you to go to www.virallybot.com/pixel and try a demo out for yourself!

What are you waiting for?

So there you have it, 5 different strategies to get your first and subsequent customers for your virtual escape rooms. I’ve covered a lot there, but I encourage you to take 2-3 of the strategies and get to work with them right away. At first, getting customers may seem hard. But the more you get, the more reviews you have, the better your marketing will be and the easier it will become to get customers.

And you can start to generate vital cashflow whilst your escape room is closed, and even continue it long after you’re able to open again – which will happen, remember that!

Before I head off, on a personal note I wish you all and your loved ones all the best in the coming days and weeks.

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