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4 min read

Arts Marketing 101: Audience Segmentation Models

Arts Marketing 101: Audience Segmentation Models

Dive into segmentation. Learn the why and how of segmentation and explore a segmentation model you can adapt to your organization’s needs.

Boost your theatre marketing plan with segmentation

Segmentation is the simplest and most powerful technique for improving arts marketing outcomes. In this blog, we’ll review what segmentation is and how it can empower you to engage audiences more effectively. We’ll then dive into a segmentation model that you can adapt to your organization’s needs.

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What is segmentation?

When you segment your audience, you divide it into different subgroups. Each of these subgroups has a characteristic in common. For example, let's divide our audience into two groups: Locals, people who live within a 30-mile radius of your venue, and Out-of-Towners, people who live further than 30 miles from your venue.  

If an audience is segmented, it means that, instead of one standard message, you can send multiple, specific messages, each targeted towards the needs and wants of one of your subgroups. 

Let's look at our Locals and Out-of-Towners. A last-minute offer of a ticket at a discounted rate might appeal to locals, who can easily travel to your venue on short notice, but might not appeal to out-of-towners, who have to plan to arrange travel to your venue. If you send this last-minute offer to all of your patrons, you might isolate your audience members who live further away – they could feel like you aren’t responding to their needs. However, by segmenting, you can ensure that the offer only goes to the appropriate people – Locals, who might be excited by the chance to attend a show the next day at their local venue for a discounted rate. 

Icons of people outlined in different colors float, a person selects a group of people.


How do I segment?

Within your organization, you should be able to segment audiences based on their location, the types of event they attend, the price point they choose, the donations they make, the frequency of their visits, and much more. If this data comes from many different sources, integrating it can be a difficult and time-consuming process. However, with the right tools, segmentation can be easy and seamless.

Having a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool that is integrated with your ticketing, marketing and fundraising functions makes segmentation easy. Your CRM should store different kinds of information against each contact. It will enable you to see a few kinds of data: 

  • Demographic Information
    • where a person lives, how old they are
  • Records of their attendance behavior 
    • which of your shows they’ve attended, what performance genres they seem to prefer, when they like to purchase tickets, the kind of subscription or membership type they have
  • Ways they've interacted with your communications
    • which of your emails they have opened and read through, which mailers they have been sent

A powerful CRM can integrate all of this data, making it easy to get a full picture of your patrons and their behaviors. If you’re not sure how to access this information, contact your CRM’s support team (and if you use Spektrix, guidance from our Support Centre will tell you exactly how to see all this and more). 


I’ve got data: now what?

Now that we’ve got all of this wonderful data on our patrons, we need to decide how to use the data to create useful segments. Of course, not all possible ways of grouping audiences will be useful. With such an overwhelming amount of data and seemingly infinite ways of slicing it up, knowing where to begin can be difficult.

Here is a simple segmentation model you can try right now. This model divides your audience into four segments based on attendance and location data.


Tips before diving in:

  • Ensure that each segment is clearly defined
  • Every patron should belong to only one segment – there should be no segment overlap – you don’t want to confuse people with multiple, non-targeted communications
  • Communicate with people based on the original segment that they were part of for the entirety of your season – continuity in the tone and style of communications tells each recipient that you recognize them and also allows you to build on previous messages

A person types on a computer that sits on a desk


Segment 1: Frequent Attenders

This segment will include everyone who has visited your venue three times or more in the last year. These are your most loyal audience members, which means that you can write communications which assume a certain level of familiarity with your organization. You can also contact them fairly frequently, secure in the knowledge that they’ll love hearing from you.


Segment 2: Recent Attenders

Your Recent Attenders segment might include anyone who has attended a performance or signed up to your mailing list in the last six months, but should exclude frequent attenders. By targeting this segment, you can strike while the iron is hot; your communications can acknowledge their recent attendance and encourage them to re-attend. 


Segment 3: Locals

Creating a segment for those who live within a short distance of your venue enables you to target them with a unique set of offers. Group this segment using postcode lookup tools in your ticketing system, and be sure to exclude patrons who are Frequent and Recent attenders (Segments 1 and 2) to ensure each patron is only receiving one set of targeted communications. By excluding Segments 1 and 2, you’ve created a group of people who live in close proximity to your venue but whose attendance has lapsed. Because of their proximity, encouraging them to revisit is a lighter lift, and they might love a last-minute offer like the one we modelled in our first segmentation example.


Segment 4: Lapsed Attenders and everyone else

This segment is comprised of the remainder of your database – all of your patrons excluding Segments 1, 2 and 3. This group is unlikely to appreciate a weekly email send, and you will need a different communication strategy to engage them - for example, a personalized ‘We Miss You’ email with a targeted incentive, like a ticket discount or an invitation to join you for a season launch, ‘reunion’ drink or other event designed to show them they still matter to your organization.


With your segments effectively defined, the next step is to develop an understanding of that segment’s desires and motivations. Our Key Messages Worksheet, part of our Motivations and Incentives guide, will help you establish key information about each segment that you can use to drive effective offers and communications.  

An audience full of people smiling and clapping.


Make the model work for you

Options for segmentation are endless, which means that you can, and should, tailor your system to best fit your organization and audience. Robust analytics and a user-friendly system will enable you to determine your ideal segmentation model. 

Once you’ve established your segments and have started targeting them with tailored messaging, you can collect data that will allow you to analyze the effectiveness of your approach. See what’s working and what isn’t, and iterate accordingly. At the end of your season, take a look at how audience members have progressed through your segments; did you transform recent attenders into frequent attenders, or bring some lapsed attenders back into the theatre? Over time, you can learn more and more about your audience and what kinds of communications and offers they respond to.


A picture of a non-binary person, Dex Manson, with short, black hair, wearing a white long sleeved shirt and blue pants smiling into the camera.

 Dex Manson (they/them) is a Project Manager at Spektrix