The biggest reason night clubs are closing down? Lack of Digitalisation.

Everywhere and ever more frequently, we’ve got night clubs closing down. A spotlight was put firmly on this fact when The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), the industry body that represents nightclubs, published their much quoted findings that Britain’s nightclubs almost halved from 3,144 in 2005 to 1,733 in 2015.

But why are night clubs closing down? Many reasons have been touted for why UK nightclubs are struggling including high business rates, new wealthy neighbours making noise complaints, changing customer habits (specifically of younger generations), too much red tape – the list goes on. After the high profile closure and re-opening of Fabric in London, the jury is still out as to how to ensure this much-loved cultural fixture does not die out for future generations.

Stuffy and Uncompromising Nightclub Industry

We at MyClubConnect believe the uncertain future of nightclubs in the UK is due to a lack of digitalisation in a digital age. Digitalisation is defined as ‘the process of converting information from a physical format into a digital one.’ Night clubs are closing down because, on the whole, they are absolutely useless at it. The nightclub industry that we know and love has fallen behind in the 21st century, feeling stuffy and uncompromising.

Social Media & Night Clubs Closing Down

When social media first came to the fore, it was an absolute godsend for nightclubs and event brands. Here they had the ability to reach thousands of clubbers for free! Facebook events became the digital equivalent of club flyers when it was still possible to invite all your friends to an event. Social news feeds were organised chronologically and all updates were seen by anyone who happened to be looking at their social feed when the updates were posted. Nightclubs were able to take full advantage and publish updates at the most opportune times, i.e. when people were most likely to be looking at their feeds, messaging friends and thinking about where to go clubbing.

Alas, no more. The advent of algorithms within social networks has really complicated matters. They mean that a nightclub can no longer guarantee a sizeable number of their clubbing followers seeing their posts. They mean organic growth is dying a fast death. All the effort spent building followers on Facebook for example was absolutely wasted with as little as 2% of a Facebook page’s fans now seeing posts. Nightclubs cannot even invite people to their events anymore (at least not through their Facebook pages)!

Social Media no longer works for nightclubs without paid ads

This is down to social networks looking to make money from brands marketing online. Paid advertising is now the only way to guarantee clubbers will see a nightclub’s posts on social networks. You may think this is fair enough; social networks need to make money just like anyone else. However, the decline of social media as a viable organic growth channel coupled with the costs of running a nightclub and extortionate business rates means nightclubs are struggling to have anything left over for marketing online.

In addition, even for the event professionals who are savvy enough to know how to manipulate social ads for their benefit, there is no guarantee that those who see the ads still love clubbing or indeed want to go out that particular weekend. A lack of online tools geared towards effectively targeting the right clubbers, in a world of digital consumption, is a huge contributor to night clubs closing down.

Outdated Marketing Tactics & Younger Generations

There is an important thing to note before we go further – that there is a time limit to marketing nightclub events. Clubbers only think about where and when they are going to go clubbing for a limited period of time. Generally this is just before leaving the house or while at a bar drinking. Nightclubs and club brands therefore have a small window in which to market to potential customers and convince them to come to their particular venue or event.

Girl Handing Out Flyers
By Carter McKendry – no changes made [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Flickr
Traditionally, those promoting nightclub events have circumvented this issue by giving out event flyers to people who are on their way to bars or roaming the streets looking for a decent night out. The question is whether this is really going to cut it for millennials, Generation X, Y, Z or whatever we are calling them these days. If they cannot find relevant, detailed information about nightclub events on their smartphones, are flyers going to convince them to go clubbing as opposed to another nightlife option that has been marketed brilliantly online with tons of social proof? Are they even going to leave the house?

We’ve heard all about these younger generations’ new habits. We’re told they don’t like going to night clubs, that they don’t drink as much as previous generations, that they would rather stay in and watch Netflix. Put simply, we don’t buy it. We think there are so many night clubs closing down and struggling to get these younger generations through the door mainly because they are not tapping into the minds of these young clubbers.

The younger generations ARE different, but only in their expectations of brands. They are savvy consumers that have been raised in an era of technological advancement. They expect information to be easy to find online.

It is actually pretty difficult to find the information one would need to ensure they have a great night out clubbing. We’re talking simple things here: opening and closing times, dress codes, music genres, entry costs. You could spend an age trying to find this information for nightclub events, something someone from a younger generation is never going to do.

British people struggle to find a nightclub playing the music they like

Specifically with regards to music genre, this issue has been highlighted by Rebecca McGrath, Research Analyst at Mintel, who says “46% of Brits said they find it difficult to find a nightclub that plays the music that they like”. It is not acceptable to young clubbers to look across dozens of poorly designed event discovery apps and night club websites with no filters, just to find out what’s on!

Let’s delve into the psyche of someone from a younger generation. To them, if you’re not online, you don’t exist. If their experience when trying to find out more about you is not an easy and simple one, you will not be getting their business. It’s no wonder younger generations are looking elsewhere for their nightlife fix!

This change in consumer habits is no bad thing; it is just the evolution of consumerism which forces innovation and technological progress. In fact, this evolution is one of the major reasons behind the creation of MyClubConnect Business and our MyClubConnect Web & Mobile App. We are providing the tools for the clubbing industry to evolve and bridge the gap between clubber & event professional.

Digital Marketing Expertise & Customer Retention

There is also a general lack of digital marketing expertise when it comes to nightclubs. Optimisation of a nightclub’s websites and marketing channels is a rare sight. It can be very difficult to actually get in touch with nightclubs and there is an obvious lack of effective customer service. We could go on!

Most industries are upgrading their digital offering to provide all the information necessary to a consumer – the nightclub industry has been left far behind.

Retargeting previous night club event attendees is a goldmine

Another huge issue affecting the ability of nightclubs to compete with other nightlife alternatives is a distinct lack of customer retention. On the whole, most clubbers enjoyed their last night out. So, why don’t nightclubs and club brands re-market to previous attendees by promoting their relevant upcoming events? Surely people that have just been to an event and enjoyed it are much more likely to be interested in the next one than people seeing a Facebook ad or Google Ad about a venue they’ve never heard of before? These previous attendees are a goldmine of untapped revenue.

Having said this, the lack of re-marketing and re-targeting is not entirely the fault of venues and club brands. A lot of re-targeting requires emails or a previous interaction on one’s own site. Many clubs and brands do not have the functionality to sell tickets online so they turn to a ticketing platform to handle the transaction for them. But this means they never actually see the valuable email address or have someone complete an action on their site. It may even be that clubs do not sell tickets at all and instead have free entry events. In any case, there are few industries where customer retention is more difficult because of the struggle to accumulate the email addresses or segment the actions of their most valued customers!

So it’s fair to say that, digitally, nightclubs are struggling – we think this is why we have night clubs closing down. But this is not an irrevocable situation. Work needs to, and can, be done to reinstate nightclub events to the status of a weekend staple.

We at MyClubConnect have built the only platform that takes into account the clubbing industry’s dire need for customer retention, the frailties of social media for events marketing, the savvy and discerning millennial clubber and a lack of digital tools geared specifically towards nightclubs and brands. If you’re a nightclub, clubbing brand or promoter, you could do worse than to check out what MyClubConnect Business can do for you.

Night clubs and clubbers deserve to #OwnTheNight and, with a little help from the MyClubConnect Apps, we believe they will again.

MCC love x

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