Fear Overload puts on the ultimate adults-only Halloween events to frighten the heck out of even the most seasoned scary house lovers. The company finds enormous success capturing potential customers through digital advertising, after years of trying to lure thrill-seekers through out-of-home advertising.
Fear Overload spends about $50,000 annually on digital marketing, according to Andrew Raymond, VP at Fear Overload. "The Google AdWords campaigns run from late September, gradually ramping up through October," he said, adding that keyword bids never go above $1.50. "Most of the funds get spent mid to late October because that's when traffic begins to pick up."
Last year, mobile users made up about 50% of traffic to the Web site. This year 70% of Web site traffic comes from mobile. So next year the company will invest more to optimize the mobile site, Raymond said. The campaign money also will go more toward mobile.
Overall, AdWords accounts for over 70% of Fear Overload's marketing budget, per Dave Polanco, company founder. Every year, the company increases the amount spent on AdWords due to continued success. Another 25% is spent on other online marketing channels. Polanco calls online marketing the key to the company's success.
The tight window of opportunity around the Halloween holiday requires skill to generate a profit. Oct. 4 kicked off the fifth year for the elaborate and gory 18-night haunted house extravaganza in San Leandro, Calif. Digital ads contribute to a more than 90% increase in annual revenue. It enabled the company to branch out with Scream Park California into Sacramento, opening for the first time this season
Fear Overload spent the better part of the past year updating the Web site with content and video on its home page. "Traffic to the Web site has doubled since the upgrade," said Andrew Raymond, VP at Fear Overload. "We focus quite a bit on search engine optimization, and spent several months trying to improve rankings."
While the company spent its early years unsuccessfully marketing on street billboards, posters and flyers, last year it began investing in Google AdWords -- optimizing its Web site with a professional content trailer and other content. The company also built out social campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
The company does special events throughout the year, but it's the two-week, four-day window around Halloween that generates the most revenue. During the off months the 70-person company spends time constructing and creating the haunted houses, and optimizing and preparing for the marketing campaigns by creating the budget and allocating funds.