Four Marketing Investments Worth Your Time

Backed by Audience Data

AUTHOR: Johnna Fellows Gluth
Mar 30, 2022
6 Min Read

Warm weather is just around the corner, which means it’s time for spring cleaning! Now’s the moment to tidy up your CRM, spruce up your emails, and say goodbye to the marketing efforts that haven’t been “sparking joy.” With limited resources at your disposal, though, which projects should you tackle first?

Earlier this month, we released the 2021 Performing Arts Ticket Buyer Usage Study, based on survey responses from over 17,000 ticket buyers at 48 performing arts organizations. Be sure to read the full report when you’ve got the time—and check out the Key Findings Summary for a quick overview—but here, we’ve distilled the findings down to identify the top four investments worth prioritizing, based on ticket buyer behavior today. With this to-do list in hand, you’re on your way to a squeaky-clean digital foundation!

Top-Notch CRM Maintenance

This year’s study lands against the backdrop of the major shifts in the data privacy landscape over the last year, with Apple’s iOS 14 and 15 updates throwing digital platforms some challenging curveballs. The upshot? First-party data—the information that you own, that audiences give directly to you, such as email addresses and website activity—is more valuable than ever before.

Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the home base for your first-party data. Ideally, you can rely on your database to have up-to-date, comprehensive, and accurate data about all the ways each contact has engaged with your organization, from single-ticket or subscription purchases to donations, email engagement, and more.

Ticket Buyer Data
Frequency of attendance—not subscription status—is the greatest indicator of bond with an organization: 86% of frequent attenders (attended 4+ times/year) said they felt strongly bonded to the organization sending the survey, compared to 80% of subscribers. Your CRM is critical to identifying and strategically connecting with these most loyal ticket buyers.

Putting Data Into Action
Can you pull an accurate list of your frequent attenders based on the information in your CRM today? For more dependable data, consider adopting some of these practices:

  • Standardize naming conventions and develop consistent methods of recording patron information. Are state names spelled out or abbreviated in addresses (“New York” vs. “NY”)? Are donations received by mail recorded the same way as donations received online?
  • Continuously update contact records with activity and personal information as patrons interact with your organization. Ideally, this means ensuring that all integrations across platforms are updating patron data comprehensively (for example, that your ticketing system is accurately mapping data to your CRM) so you don’t have to dedicate many resources to manual entry.
  • Practice routine list hygiene to identify and remove inactive patrons. For example, send a re-engagement email to subscribers who haven’t engaged with your emails in a while. If they don’t opt in to keep hearing from you more, it’s time to stop emailing them.
  • Run lead generation campaigns on social to build your list of interested contacts.
  • Merge duplicate records.

Intentional Content Creation

In 2022, any great marketing strategy needs to start with awesome content. Directing resources towards timely, thumb-stopping, anticipated, relevant, and personal content is one of the most important investments you can make.

Ticket Buyer Data
More than ever before, ticket buyers trust and are influenced by your content—in fact, 58% of respondents to the study indicated that content from the organization is highly influential when making decisions about whether or not to see a performance. Facebook and Instagram are still the top social media platforms for daily usership among ticket buyers, and YouTube has the broadest usership, with 90% of respondents viewing videos on the platform at least once a month (but only 28% doing so daily).

Putting Data Into Action
How do you make your content stand out? Here are some strategies to try out:

  • Tailor your content to match the platform and the ways your audience engages with you there. Facebook and Instagram, with their high daily use, are great for timely updates and frequent engagement, while YouTube is a great place to host evergreen videos.
  • Prioritize the platforms you can create content for successfully. Not sure how to approach TikTok? No worries—only 11% of ticket buyers use the platform at all, and most of those are also on Facebook and Instagram, so for now, focus on creating thumb-stopping content for those platforms instead.
  • Experiment with ways to make your content more shareable so your fans can do the work for you. 57% of percent of respondents said that word of mouth was also highly influential in their decision to purchase tickets.
  • Hone your digital branding to make it instantly clear when content is from you, an organization they trust. This includes tactics like leaning on your brand colors, writing copy with a clear brand voice and tone, or developing regular content series that audiences come to associate with your page.

Stellar, Segmented Emails

Email may not feel as sparkly and new as other aspects of your digital strategy, but year after year, our study shows that a well-crafted email strategy is one of the most important marketing investments you can make.

Ticket Buyer Data
In addition to 93% of ticket buyers indicating that they regularly receive emails or e-newsletters with information about upcoming performing arts events, 90% are most likely to hear about upcoming arts events from email.

Putting Data Into Action
In a sea of marketing channels, email is the poster child for first-party data in practices and demonstrates the power of personalization and permission marketing.

  • First, make sure you’ve invested in your CRM maintenance. Email segmentation is only as reliable as the information in your database!
  • Greet new subscribers with a thoughtful welcome cascade that provides an overview of what kind of emails they can expect to receive from your organization going forward.
  • Ensure your emails have clear branding and engaging, relevant content.
  • Pay attention to user preferences—only send them the kinds of emails they want to receive.
  • Continuously optimize your email strategy over time, based on analysis of your email campaign results.

Holistic Website Analytics and a UX-Minded Culture

Almost all of your digital marketing campaigns—across social, search, email, and display—are linking audiences back to your website to learn more, purchase tickets, or donate. This year’s study shows that there is no device burnout in sight, and, in fact, audiences are more likely to be accessing your website from multiple different digital devices.

Ticket Buyer Data
Ticket buyers reported a 30% increase in using their smartphone at least two hours a day. That increase was 27% when we’re just looking at those 65 and older. There was also a 15% increase in ticket buyers under 45 using a desktop computer at least two hours a day outside of work time.

Putting Data Into Action
How can you make sure your website is meeting your audience’s needs across devices?

  • Invest in the wealth of data available through website analytics to understand how your audience is behaving on your website.
  • Constantly ask questions about how users are experiencing your website once they arrive. What friction are your users experiencing across devices?
  • A/B testing and other user research tools like Hotjar can help you identify and eliminate friction and give direction to improve the user experience to delight patrons while they’re on your site.
  • Take a close look at where you’re losing site visitors along your purchase path. Reducing friction at the finish line is non-negotiable to see a return on all of your marketing investments.

These areas of experimentation and analysis are often outside of comfort zones and can seem daunting when so much is already on your plate. You don’t have to go it alone! Seek out resources and work on integrating these practices, piece by piece, through iterative testing and improvements.

Hungry for more? Check out the full 2021 Performing Arts Ticket Buyer Media Usage Study, which is packed with more data-backed marketing tips to help you meet your audiences where they are.