Arts marketers know that customer relationship management is at the core of every successful arts organization, and that remains true now more than ever. After a turbulent 12 months of changing teams and huge customer service challenges, here are five of the top arts CRM tips we’ve shared with Spektrix users that can be used by anyone with an interest in cultivating and retaining audiences. These strategies are easily implementable with the tools already available to most arts organizations, so they only require a small amount of time and little or no budget.
Tips for using arts CRM to nurture audiences during Covid-19
1. Use your communications tools sparingly
Think back to all of the customer service emails you have received over the last year. Like me, I’m sure you’ve received at least a couple of dozen emails from every hotel, supermarket, credit card company and restaurant you’ve ever done business with - all of them telling you that things have changed and with a promise to keep you updated. Looking back at those emails, there were a fair few that made me reach for the unsubscribe button. Why does a hotel I stayed with in 2016 think it’s necessary to tell me they’re closed, even though I’m not booked for a future stay?
At the start of the crisis we all leaned into the need to communicate fast, far and wide — a natural reaction for that time. But in the rush to communicate, marketers run the risk of messaging too frequently without sharing anything new, and for customers to stop reading. If I’ve switched off and you’ve done the same, your audiences have done it too.
The best communications I’ve received over the last 12 months have been relevant, infrequent, informative and most important of all - human and empathetic. Unless you have a really good reason to contact your database en masse, don’t. Arts marketers who segment their communications will see more engagement and fewer unsubscribes because they’re communicating the most necessary information to the most relevant audiences.
2. Use automation to save precious time in your team
Thinking back to event closures last year, amid the thousands of messages from audiences about refunds and exchanges, there were many more messages pledging support. New and existing audiences started to donate, members renewed their memberships, and organisations converted tickets to donations. Now that many of us are working in smaller remote teams, keeping up with essential customer service tasks is harder than it was at the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, an increasing number of venues have adopted streaming, reaching new audiences previously beyond their grasp. With a scaled operation and smaller teams to support them, it’s key to make sure you capture the opportunity to connect with those first-timers while you have their attention.
Making careful use of some simple automation tasks now helps you to ensure that every donor is thanked, tickets converted to donations acknowledged and membership renewals recognized while keeping admin time and inbox workload to a minimum.
- First-time customer buying tickets for a streaming event? Consider how you can use email automation to communicate with these customers in a way that meets their needs, versus those audiences who already understand your offer. Thank them for their custom and make them feel welcome.
- Make sure you’re automatically thanking audiences who donate, every time. Make sure your thank-you is warm, thoughtful and explains to the donor what their gift will support and why it is important. Already a Spektrix user? Get going with automatic emails here.
- Are your most regular buyers watching your streaming content? Many regular pre-Covid attendees have made the switch to watching streaming performances, but not all of them will. Consider a short, concise email programme that shares positive feedback of recent first-time streamers and tell the story of how easy it is to get connected and start watching.
3. Empathy and relevance in communications is (still) really important
This period of time continues to be difficult for most of us, one way or another. To ensure that your communications cut through the noise, reflect on the context of who will be reading them. Often, there’s no need to acknowledge the difficulties we share as the context is a given. But, sharing the creative endeavours of your organization is valuable.
What can you offer that brings a smile to your reader, or reminds them of the fantastic experiences you’ve shared with them in the past? Draw on your existing knowledge of what audiences engage with to reinforce your relationship with them while your doors are closed.
Get started by reviewing your most recent campaigns and carefully looking at click reports. Identify which segments of your audience are interested in particular content and make sure to look for clues of what is less interesting. Use this insight to create future campaigns with dynamic content so that your audience segments receive messages that are tailored to their own preferences and appear as thoughtful and considered.
4. Use CRM to understand your new audiences. Who are those first-time streamers?
Many Spektrix users have told us that audiences have joined them to watch online content from places far beyond their typical geographical reach. Whilst there have been few positives in recent months, it is often said that crisis breeds innovation and change. Redefining and expanding the definition of "community" is definitely one.
In a recent Spektrix webinar, Creation Theatre shared their experiences of producing work designed for streaming which went on to attract audiences from 33 countries including Australia, Malaysia and Mexico. While the long-term future is still playing out, right now we have an opportunity to capture the attention of new audiences, build relationships and gain support.
Up and running with streaming? Consider the following to cultivate new audiences:
- If your event is live, and if it is appropriate to do so, welcome new and returning audiences at the start. Help create the sense of "event" by telling audiences who is watching with them. This could include calling out a few of the different geographic areas who have tuned in for the stream.
- After every streaming event, run customer lists to find your new audiences and interrogate where they’re located. Automate the process by using post-show emails to thank them for attending and ask them to tell you why they did and what they thought. Sometimes a quick survey works, but sometimes inviting them to just reply and send a few candid sentences back will give you amazing insight.
5. Develop a loyalty plan to transform those messages of support for your organisation into donations and memberships
You might not have had the opportunity to interrogate who those audiences are that converted their tickets into donations or made one-off donations in recent months. We all understand that audiences are missing the experience of engaging with the arts and we can be confident that many will return to us as soon as they’re able. But in the interim period, how can we work to make sure those early gestures of support are recognized and acted upon?
Take a look at the Spektrix Building Blocks for Reopening guide for advice on how to identify who those audiences are, understand their motivations and then use arts CRM to build a loyalty plan to nurture them towards regular engagement and support.
Ben Park is Global Head of Marketing and Communications at Spektrix.