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Reflecting on the Spektrix Insights Report

Data is just the beginning

We live in an era of unprecedented access to data. Writing the Spektrix Insights Report and seeing its reception in the sector has been an amazing learning experience for me on the unparalleled value of data to the arts and culture sector and its limitations. Those of us who want to make sense of the world (customer and donor behaviour included) have to not just find information, but ensure it is applicable, actionable and understandable. No small feat!

As far as I know, the Spektrix Insights Report is unique in providing a large-scale raw data set of performing arts audience behaviour. Representing over 25,000,000 tickets, donations, memberships and merchandise sales across 343 organisations, this is a treasure-trove of information. Yet, I have been struck time and again as I was writing the report, and with the public response to it, how the numbers are critical but not sufficient to understanding.

Getting to understanding takes context, inspiration, debate and collaboration. That’s why the Insights Report contains more success stories, research and broader industry expertise than ever, it’s also why we’ve been so delighted by the sector response the report has received.

The response so far

The most immediate response to the report has been to our findings on access to wheelchair bookings online. The data showed a major gap between online bookings overall and bookings of seats using our system’s “wheelchair holds” online. Because of the structure of anonymised aggregate data, we can identify this seemingly important anomaly in the data, but we can’t apply a cause.

It was always our desire that the sector would take these facts and respond with the context needed to really understand the causes and impact of low levels of online bookings of this kind. We are very happy that it did.

Research by Attitude is Everything along with responses published in The Stage and Arts Professional and on Twitter by wheelchair users indicate that these bookers want the choice to book online and feel unable to access this service. This is further backed by the experience of Chichester Festival Theatre, who have seen major increases in such bookings after a major effort to increase online access for all, the success story we published in the report. The data showed us what was happening, the sector response showed us why.

 

I also learned a lot from reading Indigo’s Katy Raines take on our email segmentation data. Our data is showing that segmented emails are roughly twice as successful as unsegmented emails. Yet unsegmented emails are still frequently being sent. Through her experience, Katy brings some important insight into why that is and what to do about it. The Insights Report itself identifies organisations massively outperforming the average for even more inspiration.

I was particularly thrilled when a client CEO challenged us on our reattendance statistics during a consultation. His organisation was performing below average in this area but he was far from bothered, they had a strategic focus on attracting new audiences and their performance indicated that efforts were paying off. This is a great reminder there is no one blueprint for success and organisations need to take their own missions and strategic aims into consideration when benchmarking against the data.

We love these in-depth one-to-one consultations and taking a bespoke approach to advising our clients and the sector at large. If you haven’t already done so, we invite anyone interested to book in for one, to focus not just on averages and cookie-cutter advice but on what KPIs make sense for an individual organisation’s strategic aims. Just, drop us a line on consultation@spektrix.com - and that offer applies if you’re Spektrix user or not.

What else should we be talking about?

It was great to see the Achates Prize for Philanthropy highlighting one of the statistics I found most interesting in the report: for donations under £50, online transactions were 6x more likely to contain donations whereas donations over the phone or in person were almost 2x more lucrative.


The data alone can’t tell us why this is happening, but we do know from successful organisations like Octagon Bolton that this is likely because the online purchase path asks for a donation every time, but until there is buy-in from front-line staff, they don’t always ask. When they do, people are likely to give more! What’s remarkable is that this pattern of greater value occurring with person to person interaction persists for upselling items (like parking or drinks), and across all types of transactions in the data set.

Automation is transforming the world around us at a dizzying rate (for example, just four years ago, the majority of tickets were sold by sales teams over the phone or in-person, now 60% are sold online without sales team intervention). The efficiencies and customisation this affords the arts and culture sector must be harnessed. At the same time, this presents a paradox as we know person to person transactions of all kinds increase value. As a sector, we must wrestle with this paradox. I hope the report inspires much more of the sort of clear thinking and innovation on the subject which brought success to Octagon Bolton, it will be needed to remain successful in an environment in full flux.

Liv Nilssen, June 2019

What next?

If you’re not using Spektrix yet, or want to know more about what we do, please do drop us a line on consultation@spektrix.com.

You can also start interrogating the data right away by taking our Insights ChatBot Challenge and benchmark your organisation’s performance against the rest of the industry.

  • Discover the optimal online booking conversion rates.
  • Explore audience reattendance metrics.
  • Measure email marketing efforts against your peers.
  • Identify new opportunities to increase donations.