Conferences & Events

Big Break Digital Marketing

Tiffany Berry

In an effort to boost registration during specific weeks at Big Break, I utilized paid Facebook advertisements to target students at schools that would be attending.

Targeting Schools

The first step in our strategic planning process was to determine which schools we would be targeting.

Non-Christian Schools

One group of students we wanted to target were those that attend non-Christian colleges that have Cru movements on their campuses and/or have attended Big Break in the past.

We looked at registration statistics from the past three years to pinpoint which schools would most likely be attending. Then, we compiled a list of the schools with the top 10 highest attendance in years past for each week of the conference.

Christian Schools

Another group we targeted was likeminded but uninvolved students at Christian schools. These students perhaps didn’t have Cru movements on their campuses and had never heard of Big Break but would be interested in spending their spring break on mission.

Strategy Testing

Strategy #1: Target individual schools (one ad → one school)

The first portion of our advertisements targeted individual schools. For these ads, we created customized target audiences. Typically, we targeted men and women, ages 18-22, then further narrowed the target pool down based on relevant interests.

Some of the interests we targeted within our audience included: the specific college they attended, missions, mission trips, Christianity, other Christian organizations on their campus (such as Navigators, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Christian sororities and fraternities) and popular Christian speakers or music artists.

Here are results of ads that targeted individual schools:

  • University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire - Reach: 1,970, Web Clicks: 3
  • University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign - Reach: 3,348, Web Clicks: 17
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison - Reach: 3,704, Web Clicks: 18
  • Miami University - Reach: 4,582, Web Clicks: 13
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Reach: 2,458, Web Clicks: 22
  • Northwestern University - Reach: 2,049, Web Clicks: 1

Strategy #2: Target groups of schools (one ad → multiple schools)

We also created ads that targeted two groups of schools that were on spring break during Week 3 of Big Break. Here are the results of those ad sets:

  • Christian schools:
    We targeted 12 Christian schools in one advertisement. This ad had a reach of 24,787 and 26 website clicks.
  • Non-Christian schools:
    We targeted 15 non-Christian schools in another advertisement. This ad had a reach of 11,019 and 306 website clicks.
  • Other factors we tested:
    • Graphic versus video – For our ads, we discovered that graphics performed better than the promotional video.
    • Targeted advertisement versus boosted post – At the beginning of our campaign, we discovered that for our purpose, placing paid ads was more effective than paying for a boosted post on our timeline.
    • Ad duration – Typically we ran ads for one to three days.
    • Budget – We spent anywhere between $12 and $50 on ad sets in this campaign. Our results had a positive correlation with how much money we put towards each ad (higher budget = higher reach and website clicks).

Creative Strategy

We created a variety of advertisements using provided Big Break images and promotional material.

We also used the Big Break promotional video in place of a graphic for one of the advertisements.


In total, our ad campaign had a total reach of 53,917. Over 400 people clicked through to the Big Break registration website. While we did not see a particularly strong correlation between registration numbers and the dates our ads ran, our results point to a success in building brand awareness of the Big Break conference.

Through social media, thousands of people were exposed to the conference who may have not known about it before. In a continued effort to boost registration numbers, in the future, we would suggest conducting further research on when students begin planning their spring break trips, and implementing the ads in correlation with those results.

Related Topics:
Digital Missions

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