As arts organisations, the focus in the run-up to the holiday season is usually on pantomimes and festive shows. But there’s still time to make the most of the seasonal goings-on and encourage customers to spend their present-buying budget on the performing arts.
Gift vouchers are perfect for this. Lots of arts organisations offer vouchers all year round, but they provide an ideal opportunity around the holiday season to capture a little festive cheer for both customers and venues. They’re easy to set up and simple for customers to buy and to give, since they fit any budget and are instantly redeemable. They’re especially good for anyone frantically searching for that really last-minute gift – you can even buy a gift voucher first thing on Christmas morning, and have it ready to be used immediately.
Here’s how you can sell the experience of your events through gift vouchers over the festive season, even with just a few weeks to spare.
1. Promote them via email campaigns
There are loads of ways you put your gift vouchers front of mind, but the quickest and most effective way is to send out voucher-specific email campaigns. With an eye-catching email template and some clever marketing tactics, you could see your gift voucher sales rise significantly. Check out these campaigns we’re particularly big fans of.
Sheffield Theatres sell their gift vouchers all year round, but in the past few years they have seen a massive rise in voucher sales over each festive period thanks to some dedicated and savvy marketing.
They usually start giving vouchers a Christmas-specific push as early as September, but keep at it as it gets closer to Christmas. The impact has been huge. Take their figures for 2016 when they sold £11.5k worth of vouchers in September alone. That’s not a bad start, but it gets better. In October and November sales increased to £16.5k and £28.5k respectively, while in December 2016 they sold a staggering £80k worth of gift vouchers.
One of the ways that Sheffield gave vouchers an extra push was to send a campaign (which you can see below) on Christmas Eve promoting gift vouchers as a perfect last-minute gift, emphasising how they’re instant, easily-purchased and hassle-free. Even so close to Christmas they achieved a 28% open rate on that email, and sold over £4,000 worth of vouchers in a single day.
£80k revenue just from gift voucher sales alone is an incredible result. It shows that with a little extra push in the run up to and over the Christmas period you can achieve some pretty impressive growth figures. For Sheffield Theatres, that was a 180% increase.
The New Wolsey do a brilliant job promoting gift vouchers. Since 2013, they have produced a voucher campaign every year, and coupled with a variety of marketing tactics have seen great results from this activity.
In 2015 they sent out a ‘last-minute’ campaign on 23rd December, which resulted in over £1,500 worth of gift vouchers sold in just two days.
In 2016 they sent their voucher campaign (which you can see below) on the 10th December, with a clear call-to-action taking customers to the voucher page on their website. Following this campaign, they sold over £9k worth of vouchers in the two weeks before Christmas, compared to just over £4k in the two weeks before sending the campaign – an increase of 116%.
2. Make them easy to find on your website
This one might not be so easy to pull off last minute, but if you’re going to sell vouchers on your website, you’ll want to make sure you've got an easy-to-use page so that it’s as simple as possible for customers to find them. You can then link out to it from elsewhere on your website, ideally the homepage where customers can easily find it, and then sit back and rely on your site to help you promote gift vouchers as an option.
New Wolsey Theatre’s homepage
The New Wolsey Theatre make Gift Vouchers & Ideas prominent and easy to find on their homepage.
3. Get creative with design
Redesign your marketing assets with some festive cheer to make them more appealing.
New Wolsey Theatre’s Christmassy gift voucher page
We love this beautiful page that the New Wolsey have built especially to showcase vouchers over the festive period.
If you’re going to be selling vouchers online, you’ll need to email them out to customers, so format the email template to match your branding.
Town Hall & Symphony Hall’s branded gift voucher email
4. Set up pre or post-show emails
How about setting up pre or post-show emails to send festive emails to anyone who’s booked for an event in the run-up to Christmas? This way you can make sure that anyone attending your festive events will know that they can pick up a gift voucher as well and pass on the experience of your organisation’s offering to their friends and loved ones.
5. Create festive Print-at-Home tickets
If you don’t have time to redesign your online pages, the next best and easiest thing to do is to redesign your Print-at-Home tickets. If you’re a Spektrix user at a venue with Print-at-Home tickets, set up a PDF template with festive flourishes, including a mention of vouchers. This way customers who haven’t signed up to your mailing list, but who are receiving Print-at-Home tickets, will still be able to hear about your offers and vouchers.
6. Make use of email automation
Use email automation to set up programs that remind everyone on your mailing list how to purchase vouchers. Then send a follow-up email on the 22nd December reminding only those customers who haven’t yet purchased a gift voucher that there’s still time to pick one up as a late present.
7. Use your box office team to raise awareness
Your box office team are invaluable in helping to raise awareness of gift vouchers. A well-briefed box office team can boost your voucher sales throughout the festive season.
Gift vouchers are the perfect last minute Christmas campaign idea. It’s not too late to make a push so help your customers to give the gift of experiencing the arts this holiday season.