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Building Blocks for Reopening: Keeping Audiences and Donors Warm

Building Blocks for Reopening is our guide to great customer and donor relationships. Each of our Building Blocks helps you lay the foundation for a CRM strategy that’s key to bringing audiences back to live events. As the sector begins to reopen, we want to share some simple, practical steps that you can access and action one by one when the time is right. 

We’re publishing a series of Building Blocks looking at the different stages of reopening. Maybe you’re running a seasonal or outdoor-only programme, maybe your venue is being refurbished - there are many reasons why your building may be closed temporarily. While your venue is dark, you can use the time to keep your relationships warm through targeted communication and storytelling.

The Building Blocks series focuses on physical reopening; if you’d like to learn more about streaming or on demand content, visit our Online Content blog series.

Keeping your audiences warm: reasons to act now

While your venue is closed to visitors, spend some time on segmentation, communication and data capture. It will pay dividends once events are back on sale. By placing your audience at the centre of your strategy, you’ll find that even light touch communications can build on their proven eagerness to return.

The needs of your organisation may have changed. Redefine your priorities and set yourself up to maximise the potential of every digital touchpoint.

Keep existing supporters close and prepare to develop ever deeper relationships by understanding the different segments of your audience, where they are on their loyalty journey and what might motivate them to take a next step.

5 Things you can do now (with a little help from the Building Blocks)

1. Tell your story and engage your loyal supporters

In the absence of live events, build a set of stories centred around your organisation, your team and your artists. The goal of your communications at this stage is to keep audiences and supporters feel included in your journey. Don’t stop encouraging loyalty just because your doors are closed.

Create stories with relevance to each of your segments. Take them on virtual backstage tours, keep them up to speed with developments, engage with online conversations or give them opportunities to learn. Your content needn’t be glossy, time consuming or expensively produced. The primary goal is to connect. 

Keep your most loyal supporters engaged by using research findings to plan relevant, personalized content. Send targeted email solicitations, and make sure your website’s working for you. Make compelling cases for sustained support and create clear links for people to donate or join as members. Identify touchpoints and automate them where possible to preserve staff time for more personal interactions and planning.

2. Set targets in line with your ambition and budget

Look at your organisation’s ambition and budget to define and prioritise your new audience targets. Some possibilities include:

  • Selling more tickets overall
  • Increasing audiences for a specific programme strand or activity
  • Building an audience which better reflects the diversity of the community you serve
  • Any combination or variant of these

Attracting new audiences can be both costly and time consuming, so consider the potential costs and benefits of each new audience target to identify the most urgent areas of focus. Calculate the costs of not doing the work. If your target is to increase sales for all or part of your programme, how will income be affected if those tickets remain unsold? If you’re aiming to diversify your audience, define why you’re doing so and what the benefits are.

3. Capture information and data

While your audiences are exclusively online, make sure you’re capturing information about how people are engaging with your website and social media channels. Developing a Digital Data Capture and Conversion Plan can tell you what they’re interested in, and flag up any links or journeys which don’t work. 

Robust data collection is a first step towards understanding and engaging with new audiences. As well as contact details and marketing consent, find out more about your target audience’s interests and behaviours to guide your communications with them. If you’re running online events, ask people to book tickets (even if they’re free) to collect contact and interest data. 

Potential bookers may be protective of their own data, and unwilling to give it up for nothing. Offer low-cost incentives to encourage sign ups: reserve content, welcome offers or prizes for those who join your mailing list.

Beyond your own site, build partnerships with organisations you know your target audiences engage with, and set up promotions or data sharing activity - with customers’ consent - to boost both your audiences.

4. Segment for success

Target your communications to specific sections of your audience to sow the seeds for deeper relationships in the future. Create a Buying- or Relationship-based Segmentation Model, or to find information on other models and contact details from experts who can help you implement them.

Segmentation can help build your understanding of booking and loyalty behaviours to create a Loyalty Plan. It’s a good time to make loyalty a key part of your strategy. Use your CRM system to identify new types of loyalty behaviours and how these fit with your existing audience knowledge. 

Many people have shown their support for your organisation. Create a segment to identify first-time donors. Find out what they value about your organisation, and send thank you messages or updates on your activity to demonstrate the value of their gifts. By continuing to communicate actively with your regulars, they’ll be eager to book as soon as they’re able to do so.

5. Understand supporters’ motivations

Understanding the motivations of new and existing audience segments will prepare you to encourage further loyalty. Create a Continual Improvement Plan to measure the impact of each message and communication medium. Replace assumptions with data-led decision making, based on quantitative reports. Try out different options, and ask your supporters directly, to find out what’s right for you.

Things to explore:

  • What motivated people to accept account credit rather than a cash refund? If you learn that all or part of your audience did so because of their love for your venue, target that segment with a membership campaign.
  • What is motivating members’ behaviour right now? Have recent events temporarily or permanently changed their relationship with your organisation?
  • How can you keep regular attendees interested? What do they value in your activity or communications whilst they can’t attend?

Building Blocks for Reopening:

  • Continual Improvement Plan: A Continual Improvement Plan is key for tracking your CRM strategy’s needs and successes.
  • Digital Data Capture and Conversion: Attract website visitors and maximise the potential with clear calls to action.
  • Essential Segmentation: No CRM strategy works without segmentation; get started with creating Buying- and Relationship-based segmentation models.
  • Integrated Emails: Create exceptional, personalised and effective emails, combining and reinforcing insights gained from your CRM system
  • Loyalty Plan: How to build a plan when customer loyalty has changed, and how to measure success.
  • Motivation and Incentives: Learn how to motivate your audience segments to return with the right incentives.