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Your ‘Digital Marketing for the Arts’ Questions Answered
Episode 42

Your ‘Digital Marketing for the Arts’ Questions Answered

CI to Eye with Ashley Dunn Gatterdam

This episode is hosted by Erik Gensler.

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Erik and Ashley talk about how you should approach benchmarking your results to your peers, why you should not be buying ads on your local newspaper’s website, how frequently to post on social media, and much more!

Erik Gensler: I’m very excited to have this conversation. We wanted to put together a frequently asked questions at Capacity Interactive and I’m super excited to ask them to you.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Hey. Glad to be here.

Erik Gensler: I’m gonna start with one that we hear quite a bit, and that is how do these results compare to those of our peers in the industry, and are these results considered good?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yep. We get asked that one a lot. I wanna get one thing out of the way right at the start so I don’t start sounding like the White House Press Secretary-

Erik Gensler: Mm-hmm

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: And that really is that I think the reason some of these are frequently asked questions is because we as arts marketers, are scared of taking risks and making mistakes. We wanna hear that we’re doing something right, or at least not terribly horribly, horribly wrong. And we’re looking for what I always like to call the “magic formula,” because we don’t have the time, the resources, or buy-in from leadership and decision makers to try something new, to go out on a limb to measure those results, and then analyze them and be able to act on them and on our own data. And when we do upset that status quo with something like your catch phrase, “cut a print ad and make a video,” there’s often a really extraordinary pressure put on us to prove that it works instantaneously, right out of the gate. And of course, can’t respond to those sorts of things with, “Well, what was the ROI of your last print ad?” ‘Cause we like our job and we would like to keep it. So all of that is to say that I love having the opportunity to do this today. I have been answering these questions here for three and a half years, I do firmly believe that the only stupid question is the one that remains unasked. So I get to do this here today to all of people who are out there not obviously asking it. I do want to apologize in advance though, because a lot of my responses are going to sound something a lot like this, which is that I wish there was a definitive one size fits all answer to this question. We can absolutely tell you when something stands out as highly unusual but I read between 150 and 200..that’s probably conservative (laughs) display social and search campaign reports a month, and I can tell you that attempting to find digital campaign benchmarks for even something as universal as a Nutcracker campaign, for example, is a challenge. And we aren’t usually getting asked these questions after a campaign has far exceeded everyone’s expectations or goals. It’s usually when those results seem sort of mediocre or, a total bust and sort of first luck. And even with stellar campaign performance, it’s as difficult to benchmark those digital campaign results against a handful of your peers as it is to bench mark your overall ticket sales. It just ends up leading to more questions. Was there equal competition in the market? Have they made the same investments in their path to purchase? And their mobile experiences? How good are their lead collection efforts? How good at they are putting people into the bottom of that funnel? What other channels are they investing in? What’s the current demographic of this audience? So it’s why with a client who is new to digital, I’m usually actually trying to dig a little bit deeper in those conversations to understand how those final sales compared to previous seasons, what other outside forces were at play ( laughs), and whether additional campaigns were more or less efficient than other efforts. Direct mail for instance, things that can actually be measured. And then in the following season, being able to start benchmarking against our own data from that same campaign for that organization.

Erik Gensler: That leads me to the next question, which is what is a good ROI, or what is a good cost per acquisition, CPA? What is a good conversion rate? What is a good click through rate?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: I just literally sat before I came in here and read 15 or 20 reports and I saw all those numbers (laughs).

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: When we are starting at the beginning whether that is with a brand new client to us, or one we’re maybe testing out a new channel with or a new strategy, we do tend internally to aim for a 300% ROI on average. That means for every $100 you’re spending on a single ticket campaign, I’ll aim to sell $400 worth of tickets. That’s a pretty good return. On the flip side, though, the thing that you always say, which I totally agree with, is that anything over 1000% is too high. Again, these are benchmarks so neither one of these will be considered good or bad in 100% of all situations. But for single ticket campaigns, it’s easy to get astronomically high ROIs if all we’re doing is serving ads to previous ticket buyers or website visitors AKA everyone in the bottom of the funnel. That strategy is only gonna hold up for so long because we need to keep feeding that funnel with new prospects and finding new audiences is much more expensive than converting existing ones, but-

Erik Gensler: Digital or otherwise.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Exactly.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Exactly. So the key, is using the right KPI for the objective of the campaign, or that specific piece of content and trying to incrementally improve your own performance over time. This is how we approach all of our work. So let’s say a $25 cost per acquisition, how much it took you to drive a sale doesn’t sound great if your tickets only cost $30, right? We’re making $5 in profit on that. But if you have really subsidized ticket prices because you’re trying to attract new audiences and your estimated CPA, is cost per acquisition again, for other efforts like direct mail were $40, then the $25 CPA is really fantastic. The CI approach in everything that we do is always to keep pushing for better, so what we wanna see is incremental improvements to all of your KPIs over time.

Erik Gensler: Here’s another question we get asked quite a bit. And that is what is the ideal length for a video?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Just for fun, I actually took this question to the place where we go now to ask all of our burning questions: Google Search. And as I started typing the question, “What is the ideal length … ” the first four auto complete options that I could choose from that dropdown were … ” For a YouTube video,” “For a blog post,” “For a podcast,” and “a subject line.”

Erik Gensler: Oh God. What’s the podcast length?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: I don’t know, but I- (laughs)

Erik Gensler: (laughs) I should Google that.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: … think if there was one right answer to all of these questions, we would all be out of a job. But because I am a curious and relentless person I actually clicked through every blog, article, and study that showed up in that first page of search results and I can very definitively say that if you ask 10 or 20 different people this question you will get 10 or 20 different answers. Here is one. Buffer analyzed the top 50 videos on YouTube back in 2015 and said that the average length was two minutes and 45 seconds. So three minutes kind of became the ideal number. That was of the top 50 most popular videos. But that was also the same year that Microsoft released that study that we love to quote that found our attention strongs had dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds over the previous 10 year, one second less than a goldfish. So if the average person is only going to watch eight seconds of those three minutes before getting distracted, they’d better be a really amazing eight seconds. And this is all of course directly tied to the increased use of mobile devices and those stats are actually now from three years ago, so they’ve changed even farther. So the best answer is: It depends on who you’ve made that video for, what device and channel they are consuming it on, how interesting it is, and what your desired outcome is. So HubSpot, whose blog is a really great resource for tips on content creation, found that their Instagram videos, their own, that received the most comments were 26 seconds long. So they aim for 30 seconds on that channel, even though the max is actually 60. And their logic about that was because we scroll faster on Instagram than we do on other channels because our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than texts. That was really fascinating. That same analysis that they conducted for themselves or for their own past performance, determined that one minute was the ideal length of their videos on Facebook and two minutes on YouTube. Again, those insights are extracted from their own data and their approach is tailored to their particular goals. So we really need to be doing the same thing inside our own organizations. I tell a version of this story a lot, that as a former costume designer I’m really likely to be captivated by a lengthy video about the construction of a complicated costume or a set even from an organization I have no prior relationship with. But that won’t be true for you. I don’t know what yours would be. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: How to make my tomatoes more red.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: (laughs) I could’ve guessed that one. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: And neither one of us are necessarily gonna sit and watch something like that if we get it in an email in the middle of the work day. At that point I might be able to consume a 10 second video or a five second video. And later in the day I might be open to watching 10 or 15 minutes. I told this story what time that I happened to get onto New Jersey transit where I had an audience in front of my mobile device and Seattle Symphony went live of a video of this woman playing, I couldn’t even tell you the name of this instrument, which tells you how much I know about classical music (laughs). But it was a crazy contraption that had a whole bunch of different things that you do with it. And I watched it the entire way home. 30 minutes of a Facebook live video as a person who is not an avid, symphony goer. And so there will always be exceptions to all of those rules if you catch someone in the right moment. So I think what I’d really like to say an answer to that is: Tell the best story that you can in the least amount of time because our attention strongs are short and we do our on multiple screens at all times. And so for that reason you also wanna be repurposing all of that content you create, into lots of different lengths and formats so that you can be sure that you’re getting in all those different micro moments.

Erik Gensler: And really taking advantage of those first 10 seconds where I see quite frequently where organizations will spend those first three seconds black screen, logo appears- logo fades. Okay, we’re into the sixth second and I have seen (laughs) nothing but your logo, so-

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: That’s exactly right. I was teaching our new incoming cohort of interns and full time employees and someone was asking me about this. Whether we can measure how many people are sort of tapping click to play and whether they’re doing that with video enabled or not. And I was first of all just fascinated by that kind of curiosity ’cause that’s exactly what (laughs) kinds of questions we should be asking of our- especially our organic content in organizations. And I think it is interesting that you actually do have to think about all of those things now with all of that content you’re making. So what is the ideal length of the video is only like one teeny piece of the puzzle now.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Is someone watching those first three seconds in an auto playing feature without sound enabled and how-

Erik Gensler: Right.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: … can you capture their attention in that moment?

Erik Gensler: And can we measure all of that?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah. 100%

Erik Gensler: Of course.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Indeed we can.

Erik Gensler: Here’s another question. I have 347 productions or concerts in my season but only eight hours in a day and a very limited budget. How do I decide which shows or productions or concerts to run my digital marketing campaigns for?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah. That is a tough one. There are a couple of ways to approach this if you’re just getting started. Shira Green who is our superstar Director of Business Development will always coach prospects, and then that continues on with us when you come on to work as a client, to support the winners. This seems sort of obvious (laughs) but we do find ourselves saying it a lot and you just don’t set yourself up for success if you choose to run big digital campaigns with a lot of acquisition spent for those productions that you already know are going to be a really tough sell. Digital is not a magic wand. Let us spend money where we can make you money, whether that is by getting you closer to 100% capacity for programming meant to attract new audiences or helping support dynamic pricing efforts through really segmented and well-paced campaigns for shows with really big goals. The other is getting out of this individual, show by show, budgeting cycle and starting to think in all of your free time in those eight hours a day (laughs). How you can get creative about how you budget in the future. So as opposed to thinking of which concerts get a digital campaign and which don’t think about allocating extra large media budgets and effort to those big budget shows where we can create a lot of content and afford to do a ton of acquisition spending. Finding new audiences. And then supporting the rest of the season with re-marketing only on Facebook and display as one example. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Digital can be a really cost efficient way to get you to sort of what you’d expect to be your average capacity for those sort of tougher or mission-driven productions we like to call them. (laughs) We all have them. And that can potentially save you some money that you would typically spend on more traditional or costly efforts. So, we’ve been talking about this idea of a sort of patron-centric approach and that people aren’t as buyers thinking of you running these individual campaigns all season long. They’re thinking of your whole season and what they wanna see in it. And, we’ve talked about this idea of can you run a little bit of digital before you send out your direct mail so that you maybe can save some costs on not sending the people who’ve already purchased and you’ve converted them through a much cheaper channel where you can actually track it directly back to what you’re doing.

Erik Gensler: Or something that we’ve started doing a lot of or testing is running digital after someone’s seen a performance so that they can evangelize and share it. Again, this is not necessarily having to be campaign by campaign. It’s more tactical.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah. Yeah, and that’s great.

Erik Gensler: Or show by show. Yeah.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: And that idea requires us to budget in a slightly different way because we think of the X amount of money that we have set aside for A Christmas Carol to just be to get butts in seats. And this is starting to think about how can you slice and dice your marketing dollars to support the long term audience development goals and ticket sale goals for an entire season at once?

Erik Gensler: Exactly. Speaking of budget, another question we hear quite a bit is how much money should I budget for X, Y, Z campaign?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: I actually do have two data-driven approaches that we like to take. This is much easier to show (laughs) in an Excel document than it (laughs) is to explain on a podcast.

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Let’s say you have five shows in a season and an overall goal of a million dollars in ticket sales and a marketing budget of $100,000. If one of those shows makes up 25% of that overall goal, so it’s responsible for 25% of that million dollars. It should also get 25% of that marketing budget. And then of those numbers that you have assigned to that production, you should be aiming to allocate 40% of that to digital. That is going to feel very scary and painful to some folks.

Erik Gensler: We just are going to release our Benchmark Survey and I can give a little preview that across the close to 200 organizations that we that answered the survey. The average is 30%. And when you look at national averages, not just the arts. the average is closer to 40% of marketing dollars being spent on digital, so I don’t think that’s too crazy.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah, it’s definitely not too crazy. We have people on all ends of that spectrum too so that averages obviously on average somewhere in the middle, but for anyone who’s sort of hearing that number and thinking like, “Oh my God I’m not anywhere close to that,” or, “Oh my God I’m double that,”- that’s okay. (laughs) We definitely have people all across that and I think like, we have one client who is as close to 100% digital as you can get. So if you’re scared that maybe you’ve taken on too much risk by being over that 40% , this is all measurable.

Erik Gensler: We have a couple of case studies online for certain campaigns. People have done 100% digital and for other things they haven’t. So there’s a case study we recently published for the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park for their on sale, which was all digital and was their most successful on sale ever. We have a case study with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for Ailey 2, where they did a digital only campaign where they knew their ROIs were gonna be lower because they had to spend their acquisition dollars on digital. But again, super successful, beat their goals, so I guess on a one size fits all this is organizations strategically using digital where they know they can win.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yep and side line for a second, the thing that we have to and say is that people are approaching that, let’s call it the 100% digital mark, aspirational goal is that as you’re starting to allocate more and more dollars into digital out of your media budgets, you need to be thinking seriously about how you’re investing in your digital infrastructure and increasing the investments there because the more high quality traffic that you’re driving to your website from all these digital campaigns the better you want to get at converting those folks as well-

Erik Gensler: Yeah. And what do you mean by infrastructure?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: I mean improving your mobile experience investing in Google Analytics so that you can really measure what is working and what’s not working on your website. A/B testing those efforts. So can you make really, really incremental changes. A shift of 3 to 3.5% conversion rate can mean a huge amount of money if-

Erik Gensler: Yeah. So that was your first data-driven approach. What’s the other option?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: So the other is when you’re a little bit farther down the road. So we have some data to look at from past campaigns to inform how we maybe budget a little more granularly for future ones. And that is to think of how many orders or conversions purchases you hope or expect that digital campaign to drive. So another way that we like to phrase this is what-what percentage of your house do you want the campaigns that we’re running to be responsible for? This is obviously not an airtight perfect system (laughs). And then we’re gonna use our own benchmark cost per acquisition as opposed to like whatever is out there in our peers in the industry to determine what you need to spend. So if it has cost us on average $25 to drive a ticket purchase via Facebook and you wanna see 100 of those conversions, then you need to spend $2,500 to make it happen. Easy, right? (laughs), my last thought, we should be aiming for that 40% that research says that that is forecasted to grow to 45% by 2020 for most marketers. Spending what you’re comfortable with but actually maybe slightly more than that, what might make you a little bit uncomfortable.

Erik Gensler: I hear this one occasionally, which is how far in advance in my production or exhibition or concert should I begin my digital campaigns?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Putting aside all of those variables for a second. Around time of year and casting and what percentage of your house is gonna be sales to single tickets, et cetera, et cetera. All those things that we have to keep in consideration when we think about starting any kind of campaign, not just digital. I would say that probably on average our digital campaigns generally start two to four weeks out from first performance. This varies by genre. It depends on if you’re talking about a production that runs all summer versus something that is has two performances. It’s a whole different ball game when we start talking about exhibitions for muses or things like that that are super long running or branded, just branded campaigns. So let’s pretend that I’m talking specifically about single ticket campaigns for performing arts centers. And as a field I think that came from we’ve all gotten really comfortable with this idea that more and more people were buying closer to performances so we wanted to be spending that money as we got closer to the start of that, thinking that that was when we were gonna get in front of everyone who was ready to make a decision. And so we were letting things like direct mail and some of those efforts drop really super early to just see like what could we get from some initial reactions but not starting visual campaigns and really running print and other efforts until much closer to performances. But our Vice President, Christopher Williams, went to a session recently and shared a study when he came back from DCA that buffed some of that and showed some really interesting trends that over the last 10 years with increasing numbers of single ticket buyers purchasing more than three months out. Particularly at performing arts centers and orchestras. I thought that that was really interesting. The study noted that they had not addressed whether or not those are lapsed subscribers still maintaining early buying habits and I would guess that that does have a lot to do with it, but this has had me thinking since we were listening to that about how we might shift our flighting to support that kind of behavior. And I would say even farther that like again, this is not one of those one size fits all things. If we know, if an organization is willing to share historical sales data or particular campaign sales data before we’re starting a campaign, that can really impact how we do it just those flights because we don’t wanna just say, “Well on average theaters do this two to four weeks out” when you’re buying behavior actually is completely-

Erik Gensler: Right.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: … different from that.

Erik Gensler: And you should have a lot of that data in your CRM hopefully.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: I bought tickets four months ago to a production that is coming to St. Ann’s Warehouse and that is really atypical of my buying behavior, but it was something that I really wanted to see and I think was obviously gonna be a sellout so how can you capitalize on moments like that and start really early and make sure you don’t miss a window to do that? It may not make sense to start acquisition campaigns six months early unless you do have something like that that is gonna be a bit of a blockbuster production or a really hot ticket. But if I as a potential ticket buyer and coming to the site at the start of a season and exploring the production detail page or sort of hopping around and looking at things on your website, I might actually be ready to transact long before you’re sort of prepared to gear up with your campaigns and you don’t wanna miss that opportunity to convert me with a re-marketing banner or a Facebook post or some other piece of content.

Erik Gensler: Right, so that means having some sort of content ready as the next touch point and it also means if you don’t have that content ready at least having the infrastructure built so when you do have it ready you’re saving that re-marketing pool so you can activate those people further down the road.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yep-

Erik Gensler: Which we pretty much do by default.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: When we were talking about how to approach budgeting you have to think about that. If you have the capacity to make all the banner creative for your entire season we could be building what we call like a faux dynamic retargeting campaign at the start of a season. So that while we might not start some of those, acquisition efforts and that sort of heavier content creation you need on Facebook. We could start by just making sure that at the bare minimum we have coverage throughout your entire season anytime someone comes to your site and browses a production that you’re eventually gonna need to sell tickets to.

Erik Gensler: A lot of our clients are strategically doing this. Like they’ll float some content six weeks before and the goal of that floating of the content is just to get people to engage with that content, get them to come to the production detail page, get them to watch the video. Then we’ll stop the campaigns for a couple weeks and then closer in when we have more budget and we know we’re gonna see more returns we’ll then turn on the retargeting. ABC. Always be capturing leads.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yes. (laughs)

Erik Gensler: (laughs) You could use them later. Just make sure you’re capturing them.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yep.

Erik Gensler: Next question. Should I be buying direct ads on my local newspaper’s website?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: You are looking for a measurable return on your investment, then we strongly advise against direct buys. Here is your black and white answer number two (laughs). It will almost always be more expensive and with far less return than behavioral display. We run our clients’ campaigns on the Google display network, where you are charged on a cost per click model as opposed to buying on CPM, cost per 1,000 impressions. That means that you only pay at the point that someone has clicked an ad and we know that a huge amount of actively actually comes from impressions. You can target based on buying and browsing behavior, including re-marketing to your website visitors. You’re reaching people as they browse around multiple websites on all of their devices and then ultimately reporting on both click through and view through conversion activity. So we actually had the chance to test this with a client, I would say a year or so ago. And in a single day a head to head experiment. We served 76% the number of impressions on the Google display network than were shown on that local newspaper’s website for less than 10% of the cost. So we spent $650 compared to what was a direct buy of $6,500 and while we didn’t obviously serve the same number of impressions we got pretty dang close at 76%. The full results of that case study including like the actual return in ticket sales (laughs) conversions are on our website. But again in most cases we are just going to far outperform those efforts by really taking advantage of the-the sort of reach in frequency that we can get on Google display or another behavioral network.

Erik Gensler: It’s really again tied to your objectives. I love how you answered that. Like if you want that the clear answer is if you want an ROI and you’re doing performance-based marketing, you should be buying behaviorally. If there are other reasons for you to be in that newspaper, meaning your three top board members read the arts section on the newspaper’s website everyday and their support is going to fund your budget dramatically, okay, that’s not an ROI objective and you-you should be on there. That is branding. That is or something else.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: My response to that too with obviously a ton of empathy for like not actually being on the front lines in a conversation like that is like well your board member is giving you money. They want to see that investment being spent the most efficiently. I know that this is hard but showing them the results of a case study like that and saying “Of the $10,000 that you donated to this organization in the last month I could have done this with that as opposed to making sure that I showed up on the newspaper that you happen to read.”

Erik Gensler: Definitely.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: The newspaper website.

Erik Gensler: Definitely. So you can find that case study by just Googling “Capacity Interactive direct buy?”

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: Let’s turn to social media and a question that I got a lot a long time ago. Less now, but it’s certainly worth talking about. And the question is our audience is mainly 55 and older and still subscribe to the local newspaper. What’s the point of advertising on Facebook, Instagram, and digital?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Last year we conducted a really massive (laughs) study in collaboration with WolfBrown of the media habits of performing arts ticket buyers you can hear much more about that on the podcast that the two of you did with our incredibly smart colleague, Johnna who oversaw that study with WolfBrown and the analysis. And we confirmed some of our assumptions that all print media readership increases with age. On average 77% of respondents 65 and up read a local newspaper on at least a monthly basis, compared to 25% to 18 to 34 year olds. But here is where this gets really interesting. 53% of those 65 and up print readers also used Facebook. Or reported that they used Facebook. 89% of them consumed news online and 90% of them were visiting the organizations’ websites to conduct research and purchase tickets. And all age cohorts actually reported reading news online more than in print, except for those aged 75 and up. But even 83% of that cohort consumes news online compared to 97% in print. So the ratio there isn’t that far off. So this idea that people over the age of 55 and up don’t use the internet just doesn’t hold water. The data just does not show that. So again it means that we need to be in all of the places that our audiences are spending their time and we just see over and over again that that 55 and up audience is still there. They might not be quite on Instagram yet ’cause that’s where the young folks are. But they are definitely-

Erik Gensler: It’s getting more, though.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Going to Facebook in droves.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. And Instagram surpassed the billion users a couple months ago and it’s really- The usage is growing, and as it grows it’s usually most-used platforms when they’re growing. We see it with the 20-somethings and the 30-somethings and the 40-somethings and then it gets older. Like we saw with Facebook and now we’re seeing with Instagram. How many times should we be posting per day or per week on Facebook or Instagram?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: My first response to this is always as often as you have something really good to share. And if no one is engaging with that content or your organic reach, or any kind of reach it, on certain types of posts are dismal then I would say put the brakes on and figure out what is actually resonating and being seen. What I can tell you about the frequency caps in Ads Manager for Facebook and Instagram ads is that in the Facebook newsfeed a person won’t see ads from a single page or app more than once every six hours. In Instagram feed people won’t see an ad from the same advertiser more than once every three hours, and that goes up to once every 12 hours for Instagram stories. So at Capacity we aim for about an average frequency of just two to three impressions per post that we’re promoting per audience segment. Because after that we just feel like it starts to look like wallpaper. If you’re coming to Facebook and Instagram constantly for new content and newsfeed is being updated constantly from their algorithm but I’m still seeing the same piece of content from an organization for four straight weeks, It’s gonna get really easy to start to ignore that. And that means that depending on your average daily reach in the campaign, we might need to ask you to refresh that content every few days. That might be a week. It might be every two days, depending on where we are in your campaign cycle. So those sort of limits from Facebook were all about paid advertising, but the reason why I share them is that Facebook is setting those because they want to ensure that each person using their platforms is seeing really interesting and relevant content. So again, while I don’t think that there is a hard and fast rule. And that’s part where I just am curious if you disagree, as to how frequently you should be posting, I think that what it is saying, “As long as every time you’re about to hit publish you can say, “Is this interesting and relevant?””

Erik Gensler: Absolutely.

Erik Gensler: Next question. Why should I target the same people on Facebook through CRM targeting that I’m sending email to?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: So let’s first talk about what it means to target people on Facebook from a CRM list. So Facebook allows you to upload a list of prospects or previous buyers, et cetera. Whatever your ideal sort of segment is. I believe there are something like 14 identifiers that you can upload first/last name city/state most importantly, obviously, email, mobile number, et cetera. And Facebook hashes that information and then matches it to Facebook users. So that what you are doing is giving Facebook an audience of people that you can target who are in your database already. It’s all anonymous so just so you’re not handing over people’s email addresses to Facebook.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: So a couple years ago SalesForce and Facebook released a co-study together to measure the real impact of that particular approach of taking that list and uploading that and targeting them with Facebook ads. And of the half a million people on the list that they uploaded, big, huge list (laughs) 18% only opened the email. I’m gonna go slow here ’cause it’s a lot of percentages. 27% only saw a Facebook newsfeed ad. And 16% of that list saw both. So 16% of that half million people had seen both a Facebook ad and had opened an email. So if you’re following that math, that means that actually 39% saw neither. And we can get back to that in a second.

Erik Gensler: So you reached 61% on the list. That’s not bad.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Great. Yeah. Not bad.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: So of the folks in the middle who saw both, 22% of them were more likely to purchase than people who had seen only one. Either the email or the Facebook post. On top of that, running those ads on Facebook extended the reach of that email campaign by 77%. So if you have open rates hovering around 20% there’s a benchmark for ya. (laughs) And you send an email out to 10,000 recipients. We have to assume that there are 8,000 folks on that list who didn’t open or see that email. That’s a big, huge list, so if we’re taking that list of 8,000, or preferably the whole list, and uploading that, we can potentially extend that reach into that 10,000 number. And this happens a lot. People change their email addresses you’re emailing too frequently or too infrequently, or not selling relevant anticipated (laughs) personal content. And so can we try to reach them in this other channel since we already have done this really hard and often expensive work of collecting that lead in the first place? And maybe we’re just not getting in front of them in email in that particular day for instance. So I really believe that we still need a really strong mix of traditional and digital channels and then a variety of digital channels (laughs) to move people through that path to conversion. And I think that what is really interesting about that is, it can feel like, “Well I spent money to collect the lead and now I’m spending money to convert them,” and like isn’t that true of everything that we’re doing? (laughs) but what is making our digital efforts more efficient is we can actually then start suppressing those folks from Facebook and email campaigns once they’ve transacted.

Erik Gensler: Yep. And that CRM targeting capability exists in Instagram and exists on YouTube. I think with during the time of study it was Instagram advertising was maybe in its infancy, but that’s a tactic we can use across multiple platforms now.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: And bidding up search for paid search is great, so-

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Mm-hmm.

Erik Gensler: If somebody searches for your organization or a related keyword and they’re already in your email database, you definitely want to bid more on them so they don’t go to something else.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yep. Right.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: How are you able to connect the people who see ads to the purchases they make, which is essentially asking how does digital tracking work?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah, so it’s taken me years to explain what I do for a living.

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: I’m sure this is true of you too (laughs).

Erik Gensler: Yeah. I still don’t think my parents could explain. Maybe.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: No, probably not. (laughs) I like to use the metaphor that it’s like a shark tag. You have a whole bunch of them attached to you and they are sending data back to various platforms about what pages you’ve visited and what you did while you were there. That’s the layman’s explanation of how that works, so for example Facebook provides us with a pixel that we place on pages of your website where we want to track conversions like you of a key page or a purchase. And when someone comes to your website that pixel fires and if Facebook can link that activity to a Facebook user who has been shown an ad your campaign records a conversion.

Erik Gensler: Right. Very clear explanation of something pretty complicated.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: (laughs)

Erik Gensler: We could probably spend an entire podcast going into the details of that and you could probably do that.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: (laughs) That’s right.

Erik Gensler: I mean, you’re the person I would ask that question to.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: I’ll say that it is a full half day training session when people come in into our Capacity University.

Erik Gensler: And that’s just to introduce it, really-

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: (laughs) Yeah.

Erik Gensler: Not even really become an expert in it. This is an interesting question. When is the bottom going to fall out of Facebook?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: I wish I had a magic crystal ball for this answer, while we might be seeing a drop particularly around an election cycle (laughs) in Facebook growth & daily usage, we are seeing a pretty simultaneous increase on Instagram. People are moving between these two channels right now. But right now Facebook is still used extensively across all age cohorts. We learned that in our study as well. And people are still spending an enormous amount of time on that platform, so we believe that it remains the most powerful advertising platform accessible to us as arts organizations and should absolutely still be the top line item in our budgets. When I got asked that question I said that first of all, I fundamentally believe that it’s not happening any time soon (laughs). They are simply too big for that and they have way too big of a user base, but-

Erik Gensler: Two billion users, that’s way bigger than any country right now.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah, and then like there’s an addition there in Instagram too ’cause some people are on both and some people are on one or the other. But I think that like that’s what we do. So if we’re in charge of your media dollars in social we are constantly paying attention to make sure that we are optimizing your campaigns to-to reach people as they’re moving across those devices too. So we’ve even internally started to talk about, Facebook and Instagram in the same breath when we set up campaigns and budgets for campaigns so that we can move really organically between those two platforms.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. I would also say this is only really super relevant if you have a huge budget-

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Mm-hmm.

Erik Gensler: … because the truth of the matter is, if you have a tiny budget, you don’t have the money to reach all the people you want to reach-

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yep.

Erik Gensler: And so being really thoughtful of like, okay there are over two billion users on Facebook. I mean, obviously in your market that’s reduced-

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: But like it’s like you have tens of thousands of dollars to be putting your frequency, so I would say you’d even want to narrow your focus so you reach the right people.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Right. Yeah.

Erik Gensler: And…

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Agreed.

Erik Gensler: This is a question I’ve heard quite a bit. Can we target an obscure artist’s five Facebook fans? Why not?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: So first the sort of technical answer. Facebook doesn’t actually allow you to target another page’s fans. If you’re thinking about that in the way that you target your own creating an audience of your Facebook fans, which does mean that other brands aren’t doing it to you, which is great. When we add a particular artist to an interest segment, Facebook is actually looking for people who like pages or have engaged with content related to that selection. So if we come back to you and say “There wasn’t an interest selection” ’cause you’re not just sort of like typing a whole bunch of these in like keywords. You’re actually typing them in and seeing can you choose from that of targeting options. That means that Facebook doesn’t have a big enough pool of active users to target who-who would also still remain anonymous that have that interest. The non-technical answer is adding hundreds of obscured interests of any kind to an audience segment is way less efficient than relying on Facebook’s incredibly powerful lookalike modeling to build an audience of people who look like your current buyers or website visitors for instance and thus are not just fans of insert obscure artist here. But are also likely to get buyers for a whole host of other reasons.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, they’re using all sorts of signals of behavior, third-party data, first-party data, things you post about, things your friends have posted about-

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: That’s right.

Erik Gensler: And they have the models to be able to often target much better that interest. Which isn’t to say that and I think we (laughs) get a lot of clients asking us to put in some interests that often I have a hard time trying to figure out how they relate to someone who’s-

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Right.

Erik Gensler: …going to buy and is an interest really the best indicator of someone’s desire to buy something? I think in the case of an artist, sure. Like if I like an obscure band, absolutely. I want to be able to target them. Unfortunately we can’t do it that way, but we can find other ways to reach those people.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah, and let’s not be trying to spend that eight finite hours a day recreating the work that Google and Facebook have done with gazillions of dollars to create incredible algorithms to come up with these (laughs) kinds of audiences and audience targeting.

Erik Gensler: Here’s a question we get quite a bit. Do you advertise on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest. Should I be advertising on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: (laughs) So you have a great and fairly recent, I think, blog entry about this and specifically the Twitter question. And the answer is in 99% of cases no. In our WolfBrown study again when asked the question what social media platforms do you use in a typical week? Arts buyers responded that 65% of them were using Facebook, 19% were using Twitter, and 17% were using in- Pinterest. So not just obviously the size of those social networks, but also the active engagement of the users on those channels and obviously our study was specifically of arts buyers, so if you have a limited budget and limited resources for creating stellar content and again, a finite amount of hours in a day, do you want to be spending all of that time and energy and money where 19% of your buyers are, or where 65% of them are?

Erik Gensler: Right. Great answer. And I mean there are exceptions to that rule-

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Always.

Erik Gensler: … certainly, but if you are trying to reach people who buy tickets and you have a limited budget, that makes perfect sense.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yep.

Erik Gensler: So we’ve come to the last question and this is your CI to Eye moment. And the question is if you could broadcast to the Executive Directors, board, staff of over a thousand arts organizations with a piece of advice to help them improve their businesses, what would it be?

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: So this might feel a hair bit meta for the FAQ, but it’s actually very related to this idea of just putting on our sort of explorer hats. I love the catch phrase that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So I think that one of the keys to breaking that cycle in our approach to digital is that we have to be willing to be wrong. And that a lot of tactics that worked for a really long time may no longer be working. And if we’re in positions of power in those organizations, we have responsibility to create cultures where it’s okay to make mistakes in that instead of asking for flawless perfection in our digital marketing strategies or anything else for that matter, that we’re all making a commitment to taking smart and calculated risks. Some of those are going to end in failure, but that is how we’re gonna learn what works.

Erik Gensler: Amazing. Well thank you so much, Ashley.

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

About Our Guests
Ashley Dunn Gatterdam
Ashley Dunn Gatterdam
VP of Client Strategy, Capacity Interactive

Ashley Dunn Gatterdam is the Vice President of Client Strategy at Capacity Interactive. She joined Capacity Interactive after 10 years of working in non-profit arts organizations in New York City, including Manhattan Theatre Club, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Lincoln Center Theater.

Read more

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