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How Theatres Can Increase Ticket Sales from Email Marketing

A wall of white envelopes.

On average, email marketing campaigns return $38 for every $1 spent. In the right hands, email marketing campaigns can lead to significant increases in revenue for theatres. However, many marketing departments are not seeing similar returns from their campaigns.

With separate systems for ticketing and marketing, arts marketers have difficulty identifying patron data that would enable targeted and personalized emails. The lack of shared patron data has led arts marketing departments to rely on mass emails, which result in low engagement from their patrons. There is ample opportunity to use email marketing to cultivate attendance, upsell patrons more of what they want, and grow loyalty by showing patrons the organization cares about their interest.

To increase return on email marketing investment, box office and marketing departments need to work together. By consolidating patron information into a shared resource and creating targeted, compelling communications, they can connect patrons with the programming and messages that appeal to them most and drive up retention and attendance. 

Explore how theatres leverage their patron data to segment and personalize their email marketing campaigns and create compelling incentives that drive up attendance.

Personalize Theatre Email Marketing 

If an organization is not seeing success with their email marketing, it’s likely because campaigns weren’t customized or personalized enough to the audience they wanted to reach. With a constant lack of staff time and tools, it can be all too easy for arts marketers to fall into the trap of building one or two mass email lists and sending everyone the same content rather than speaking to the distinct interests within different cohorts of their patron base

To engage your audience and increase ticket sales, consider using these tactics:

Create segmented communications 

In email marketing, segmentation is vital to helping individuals feel as though they aren’t getting a mass email, but instead something that’s meant only for them. Successful CRM Segmentation for Arts Marketers begins at the Box Office. Start with having a patron database where an organization can strategically record key information. Beyond contact information and address, the customer record should include all of a patron's attendance history, places to record their preferred genres, and what items they have purchased in addition to tickets, like donations and merchandise. 

Related Reading: Four Arts Fundraising Strategies that Drive Donations

With this information, marketers can create segmented lists that will help them deliver more impactful content. Whether a member of the audience is new to the organization or a loyal patron, an email that speaks to them will have a much greater impact than something vague or that’s clearly meant for someone else. 

Without segmentation, not only can email communications fall flat, but they can cause patrons to unsubscribe. By personalizing emails to match customer profiles, organizations can improve open and click-through rates, and increase ticket sales.

Related Reading: CRM Segmentation for Arts Marketers: Setting Up Your Database

Create compelling drivers for loyalty

With a segmented email strategy in place, marketers have a viable platform for incentivizing their patron base to increase loyalty and attendance. Incentives should always go beyond discounting tickets to fill empty seats which can lead to patrons to expect discounts. Instead, they should be looked at as finding what piece of information will push these targeted groups to attend. 

Frequent attendees might appreciate the incentive of receiving an email that recognizes how much they like musicals, and knowing that if they buy a flex package of next season’s musicals they can get a small percentage discount (nudging them toward full subscribers). This has the double benefit of locking in more revenue for the organization while giving patrons more of what they want and showing the organization knows them.  

Meanwhile, targeting lapsed attendees with messages about the organization missing them and rewarding loyal subscribers with a periodic drink or food offer are other ways that targeted and well thought-out offers can help build stronger connections with different patron groups.

Move beyond lists

Having consistent and accurate patron information is crucial to sending these targeted communications. Before cloud-based CRM systems were widely available for arts organizations, marketers and box officers had to dedicate large portions of their time to consolidating information stored across different areas of the organization into usable lists. Once those lists were intact, they became a go-to information source, but just as arduous to clean as they were to put together.

Now, technology allows more opportunities for organizations to store their data in a living database, so all they need to ensure accurate lists is for everyone entering in patron data to be on the same page.

To ensure their information is consistent and useful, marketing and box office leadership should create a shared process for how their staff members enter new patrons into the database, update existing records and handle duplicates. They should communicate with their teams about any new fields they add to the customer record and how they can go about collecting that information. It’s also important to allocate a bit of staff time for routine database cleanups, breaking down an overwhelming task into digestible pieces.

Strategic database planning allows marketers to confidently know who their patrons are and maximize the results of their marketing programs. 

By having a theater marketing plan and executing a strong email marketing strategy, theatres can increase ticket sales and attendance through targeted, personalized marketing communications. It can also improve audience engagement and drive patron loyalty over time. 

Discover how theatres are using targeted email marketing to build loyalty and increase revenue by downloading Chapter 1 of the 2019 Insights Report


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