PJ Taei is the founder and president of Uscreen, an all-in-one video monetization and live streaming platform that empowers video entrepreneurs and creators to monetize their content and build thriving businesses around their videos.
Thinking about hosting a pay-per-view (PPV) live event?
Don’t know where to start?
Here’s the thing:
While the idea of hosting a PPV live event may seem daunting, it’s possible to deliver a wildly successful live experience for your audience. You’ll need powerful content, a strong agenda, the right technology, smart promotion tactics and a little elbow grease to bring it all together.
And that’s what this blog post is all about. It’s a blueprint for creating a successful PPV live event.
I’ll cover how to find the best ideas for content, how to create an agenda, promote your event, the technology you’ll need, and what comes after your event to help your brand thrive and drive results.
But first, let’s define what PPV live streaming is all about.
What is PPV live streaming?
PPV or Pay-Per-View live streaming isn’t a new concept. It’s been used by large broadcasters for decades and was used to give viewers access to major sporting events or concerts.
PPV live streaming is a way for brands to host live broadcasts that audiences can watch for a one-time fee. Broadcasts are fed via the internet, making PPV live streams accessible for a fee. And depending on the platform you use, you can make live streams available on-demand after your live event (more on this later).
The major drawcard for PPV today is that it’s no longer only available to TV networks with expensive infrastructure. It’s available to anyone. With the help of easy-to-use tech (mentioned in this blueprint), you can easily become your very own broadcaster and host PPV live events.
If you build it, will they come?
While an amazing tool, most may not get why PPV live streams are successful. Why would anyone pay to watch a live event online? Here are three unshakable truths about what drives PPV live event viewership.
The chance to get what you want immediately will always have appeal. People are wired to seek out instant gratification sooner than delaying it. Live video draws crowds because it’s real-time material. It also offers a chance at an experience that appears to be less scripted, more spontaneous, and more engaging — psychological factors that have been identified to fuel instant gratification.
PPV live streams are exclusive events. They are designed to appeal to a large enough audience and, when promoted effectively, can generate the right amount of interest. In fact, research shows that 26% of consumers watch live videos for access to exclusive content or services.
PPV events also offer valuable information that’s hard to find in free and mainstream media. People looking for quality content are willing to pay for it.
Direct human-to-human contact
With the web and social media providing access to almost anyone, there’s also a chance to connect with like-minded people. PPV live events make it possible to engage directly with audiences, turning often one-sided marketing campaigns into a real-time dialogue with brands.
And this kind of engagement is on the rise. On Twitch, the Just Chatting category saw an increase of 137% in year on year growth in 2020.
How to plan a successful PPV live stream
Launching a winning PPV live event is possible and formulaic. Sure, you’ll need to get your creative juices flowing to take these ideas and apply them in your business, but they are easier to follow than you’d imagine.
Here’s a five-step process you can follow to produce your next PPV live stream.
1. Discover your best ideas
Hosting a successful PPV live event is all about providing value. You have to offer audiences something they are interested in. To do that, you must know who your audience is and what they want to get out of an experience with your brand.
Start with a customer profile deep-dive.
If you’re like most people, you’ve heard about personas, may have one or two, but may not really know how to use them to produce powerful live stream material.
And that’s understandable. Today, personas are great to have, but they often don’t make it easy to identify what audiences want to get out of specific brand experiences.
For example, what do viewers stand to gain by paying for and watching your PPV event? What value will they derive, and how does that value relate to where they are in the buyer’s journey?
The great news is that there’s a simple and easy way to address these questions. It’s called the Before and After Grid.
DigitalMarketer introduced it as a way to identify what customers want from brand experiences. It compares their current states (before they engage with your brand experience), and their after states (after they’ve experienced what your brand has to offer).
And it’s as elegant and practical as it sounds.
The grid helps you identify your ideal customer’s biggest challenges and their emotional states before and after they’ve engaged with your brand.
Here’s an example of how DigitalMarketer used the grid to promote DigitalMarketer HQ, their premium marketing training solution.
Finding your best live stream ideas comes from merging what you know about your persona’s needs, wants, and desires, and how they can be satisfied by applying the findings of your before and after grid.
Next, move to structure an agenda for your live event.
2. Create an agenda
Agendas are not written perfectly the first time, so don’t try to get it right immediately. Instead, once you’ve identified what to offer your audience, start by listing all the ideas you’ll cover during the live event.
Once listed, group ideas into sections, making sure all closely related ideas are together. Order your idea sections by priority and ensure they flow, and do the same for ideas in each section. Lastly, structure your sections so they flow.
Your agenda will act as an outline for your event. Having mapped it out, you can start hashing out each idea.
For example, if your audience is yoga enthusiasts, and you’ve identified their biggest challenge to be performing basic positions like the warrior, tree, and triangle poses, each pose becomes a topic to discuss.
Describe the challenge of finding balance while performing each pose, explain the common mistakes beginners experience, how to overcome them, and possibly demonstrate how to perform the pose by applying your unique technique.
3. Promote your PPV live event
Marketing your event is easy when you have completed steps one and two. Both steps set a foundation for all the information you’ll share during the event.
To get started, determine when you will start promoting your event. I recommend giving yourself at least a two-week window to get the message out.
With your two-week window established, identify the biggest benefits of attending your PPV live event. To figure out what these are, here are questions you can ask yourself:
- What one primary benefit will viewers gain from attending your event?
- What’s the secondary benefit they’ll gain?
- Once these benefits are realized, how will viewers be transformed?
- What are three-to-four minor benefits that your viewers will gain by attending the event?
These answers will help you produce creative content to promote your event. If you get stuck trying to figure out what viewers will gain, go back to steps one and two and dig deeper.
Understanding who your ideal audience is, what makes them tick, and what their before and after states are will simplify the entire process.
How to promote your event
One of the marvels of modern marketing is that getting the word out is easier than ever before. To promote your event, here are four powerful tools to use:
An event sign-up page
Capturing sign-ups is more logistical but crucial. Your sign-up page acts as a sales page for your event. It should communicate the value of your event.
Wanderlust is a well-known yoga and meditation brand. In this example, its live class sign-up page gives a short write-up about the benefits of “Take Back Your Power Vinyasa”, and how attending will help students create space for new energy and engage the world as their most centered selves.
Email is still a must-have marketing weapon for any brand’s arsenal. It generates strong results when used efficiently, with up to $42 in ROI. Promote your event using broadcast emails, share it newsletters, and reach out to partner brands for help.
How many emails should you send? What should your emails say?
The best way to illustrate how to promote your live event is by taking a page out of a live webinar email marketing strategy.
Why webinars? Webinars are live events. Some grant access for free while others charge a fee. This makes a webinar email marketing strategy the perfect fit for promoting your event.
Email promotion for a webinar is broken into two parts:
Before the event
Drive as many sign-ups as possible by creating enticing messaging. You should aim to send at least two emails before your event goes live. Each email must be filled with value and be enticing enough for your audience to take action.
And if you’re not sure what should go into your emails, here’s a look at what Teachable sent out to its audience.
To start, Teachable created a webinar around an aspect of their platform that many course instructors struggle with — getting started. The email uses smart copy, aptly displaying the webinar title as the “Teachable Quickstart Webinar” — enough to make anyone keen on launching a course on the platform jump at the opportunity to be a part of the webinar.
Teachable also shares exactly what you’ll get by attending in easy-to-read and understand bullets. And when you’re won over by the value, they make it easy to see what to do next by placing a “Register Now” below their call to action.
With your initial invite out of the way, be sure to send a reminder just before your event. While you may feel like you’re on to a good thing, sometimes people get busy and miss PPV live events. Beyond scheduling yours for a time when your audience is most likely to be free, sending a reminder an hour or two before you go live will help.
Traders Agency sends emails just before their live events start. Note how simple and to-the-point the messaging is, and how many opportunities readers have to take action and start watching the live event.
After the event
Post-event marketing is an important part of extending the lifespan of your marketing initiatives. And for live events, it makes it possible to generate more revenue off recordings with minimal effort, whether your goal is to start a subscription membership site or sell physical products.
Capitalize on recorded PPV live events by sharing news of your event via broadcast or newsletters, repurpose the live event into shorter videos for social media. Email on Acid included their webinar recording in a regular newsletter to get more people to watch it.
Spread the word on social media
Social media is a must for promoting live events. It’s an easy way to reach audiences. It’s also easier to convert fans or followers into viewers because you’ve done the work to understand what they want from a live event.
Smart social media marketers know that to get the best result from social media, you have to use eye-catching graphics, effective copy, and always include links to your event’s sign-up page.
ClickMeeting shows that social promotion needn’t be complex. In its post about an upcoming webinar, they made video the main attraction.
The great news about social media content is that you can be as creative as you want. Don’t stop at just one post. You can create multiple and add them to your regular social content calendar. They can include videos, still images, GIFs, or audio clips.
And like your post-event email, repurpose content from your live event to entice those that missed it.
Adobe’s Annual Summit is a live event but that doesn’t stop them from drawing larger crowds with on-demand sessions. In this social media post, they share the opportunity for LinkedIn followers to access a session from the event.
Leverage paid advertising
There’s no getting around how effective paid advertising is. It’s the fastest way to get eyeballs onto your event sales page, especially because your promotion window isn’t wide. To get the most out of your spend, dedicate some budget to paid ads and focus on a platform you know has more of your target audience. It will help you quickly figure out which ads convert the best and also scale them as fast as possible to drive more traffic and sign-ups for your event.
4. Choose your platform
If you’ve wondered about the technology to use to go live, this section breaks down all you’ll need. First up, you’ll need a live streaming tool. I may come across as a little biased, but using Restream is a smart choice.
Restream handles the recording and live streaming of video. Beyond its ability to stream to over 30 platforms all at once, it also comes with a scheduler to stream recorded events live, a chat tool to interact with your audience, an analytics dashboard to track event success, and the chance to run promotional content like ads during your event.
Where Restream acts as a live streaming tool, you’ll also need a live streaming platform to broadcast your PPV event. Uscreen offers live streaming and an entire, easy-to-follow help article on setting up a live stream using Restream.
Selling access to your event
While I’ve touched on the idea of promoting your events, you need to be able to monetize your PPV live videos. This is where your choice of live streaming platform is important. For example, Uscreen allows you to sell access directly from your sign-up page, without having to create any complex payment gateway integrations or hire a coder to get it all done.
You’re also able to create a pre-registration process, making it possible to sell seats before your event. And when it comes to the live stream, Uscreen covers all bases. Your event is carried by a large content delivery network to ensure that your live video doesn’t buffer.
Uscreen also makes it possible to convert your site into a live streaming website for viewers watching on desktop computers. Your event can also be viewed on multiple devices (using your own branded streaming apps), and it’s automatically recorded so you can offer it for sale later or include it as part of your subscription video-on-demand video collection.
PPV live events are a powerful tool. They can be used to engage customers directly and foster strong communities around any brand and product. But to run an effective and successful live event, you must know who you’re catering to, what would make for a great experience for your customer, and use tools capable of broadcasting your event from start to finish.