Earlier this month, Heather Maitland and I were part of a Ticketsolve online workshop with Theatre Forum Ireland and a bunch of keen Arts Marketers from Arts Centres and Theatres across Ireland.
Following on from our Missing Audiences report back in July, we wanted to explore how we could ‘reset the dial’ with our audiences and really start to understand what we should prioritise. Should we focus on luring back those who haven’t been back to us since before the pandemic, or should we work hard to attract new audiences, and then keep them?
These are big questions, and have a big implication on staff time and marketing budget, neither of which are at a premium right now.
So our takeaways were to get 3 baseline metrics with data from your own booking systems - as the starting point for making these decisions
1: A database overview.
If you were to take a look at all the people on your database - you might have 20,000 - how many have actually booked and paid for a ticket since January 2018 (a reasonable timeframe)? This might only be 10,000. And then of those, how many do you have GDPR permissions to talk to? In many cases this might be only 1 in 5 of your overall database - so instead of thinking you have a database of 20,000 potential customers, in fact, you can only actively talk to 4000 people.
And of THOSE people, how many were frequent bookers (2 or more per year, in either 2018 or 2019) before Covid - and how many have been back since January 2021?
This is essential stuff to know if you’re going to know how to engage with people going forwards.
2: Communications Venn
Of the people you CAN talk to, it’s important to know HOW you can talk to them. There could be a whole swathe of people that you can ONLY post things out to, and others you can ONLY send emails. If you know that there is a significant proportion of your contacts that you can only send things to by post, that really helps with the decision-making around who you send your brochures to; and if those who are only receiving emails aren’t opening them, then your only ‘bite of the cherry’ is wasted.
We have lots of ideas about how you can increase these permissions if yours are low - including considering using Legitimate Interest instead of Consent; but again, it will help you work out if this is a problem for you and something you should focus on.
3: Frequency pyramid
Look at your bookers in 2019 (pre-Covid) and work out what proportion of them fall into each of the frequency bands above. Ie. how many bookers came once only in 2019, as a percentage of all bookers in that year? Typically this can be over 70% for a regional Theatre or Arts Centre.
Understanding the value of these customers can help you work out whether you’re better off investing efforts in encouraging the frequent attenders to buy once more, or working on the larger cohort of ‘oncers’ - as there are far more of them - even getting ¼ of them to return once more each might make a bigger impact than constantly hassling your frequent attenders.