Welcome Katy!

Have you met Katy yet? We are super excited to introduce you to Katy! Our newest superwoman in support!

Katy comes to us with amazing box office and sales experience. In addition to support experience, Katy has also worked in front of house, and has both hands on and supervisory experience in theatres. Katy has a keen creative spirit, with an interest in photography and painting and drawing.

Katy’s previous experience includes Royal Court Liverpool, Theatre Royal St. Helens and Tate Liverpool.

If you have not had a chance to say hello to Katy, please do!

Welcome Ling!

We have always worked hard to ensure Ticketsolve is as user friendly as possible. But it was definitely time to take Ticketsolve to the next level. Enter Ling.

Ling is Ticketsolve’s UX guru bringing focused experience in user design, and work flows to Ticketsolve. Her experience spans both desktop and mobile, and across both front and back end design.

She has worked in a variety of industries from travel to financial services, but always with an eye towards usability and positive user journeys.

Usability is critical to Ticketsolve, so with Ling, we aim to hone in on bringing Ticketsolve’s ease of use forward.

We are super excited to have Ling on board, and especially excited about the design direction she is helping create for Ticketsolve.

Welcome Ewan!

There are so many exciting new developments coming down the line at Ticketsolve. But to execute effectively, we knew we needed to grow the development team. Enter Ewan.

Ewan joins Ticketsolve’s development team bringing not only an impressive technical skills, and a solid background in the arts. Ewan has over 10 years of software development experience, with a Masters in IT. He has been responsible for writing code, project delivery and project management for a variety of organisations through the UK.

Ewan has worked extensively within mobile integrations, ruby on rails and ember. As an agile developer he fits well into the agile environment of Ticketsolve, bringing an eye to quality and testing.

Ewan has a diverse arts background including museum and gallery multimedia installations, web development, multiscreen video art works, developing video interview systems and a video production management app.

We are delighted to have Ewan on board – welcome!

How Can Crowdfunding Help Fundraising in Your Arts Organisation

Chances are you have come across “crowdfunding” before. However, did you know it can help your arts organisation gain valuable exposure, create real engagement with your patrons, and of course, raise money for your projects? 

In this post we will explore what crowdfunding is, and how it can help with fundraising in your arts organisation.

What is Crowdfunding?

While not a new concept, crowdfunding has exploded through the use of the Internet and social media. People from anywhere in the world can donate funds to any project, in which they are interested. In return for their financial contribution, funders are given rewards (typically related to the project). Some research shows that in 2015 over $10B was raised in the arts industry alone, making this a vital avenue of additional income for cultural organisations.

How Can You Use Crowdfunding in Your Next Project?

You may be thinking,”This all sounds great, but what does my arts organisation have to offer potential funders?” Let’s be clear; crowdfunding is not a donation in the traditional sense. You need to give your patrons something in return for their donation, so it’s more like clever marketing than fundraising. This is where your creative side comes into its own. While you may not have a “product” to give in exchange for contributions (though merchandise could work well here), you can offer a plethora of “exclusive” extras.

So let’s say for example, you have a new production within your organisation that requires some additional funding to help build the experience. Crowdfunding can help bridge the funding gap, but we need to consider what rewards we can offer in return for contributions. Take a look at the scenario below:


A patron contributes ₤100 to the overall goal of ₤5000. For their ₤100 contribution they will receive two free tickets to the production, their name in the programme and a meet and greet with the cast after the show. If a patron contributes ₤500, they receive all of the above, plus an exclusive dinner with the director of the show and front row seats for the performance.

Taking a real life example, The Wexford Arts Centre has successfully used crowdfunding campaigns to increase funding levels. In addition to funding they have also increased engagement from their patron community – a real bonus.

Below is an example campaign Wexford recently completed through Fundit.ie

wexford-arts-rewards

Your rewards can be as small or as big as you wish, but remember, never lose track of your final target. Creativity is the key to successfully achieving your goals. The more exclusive your reward is, the greater the chance of people contributing.

Crowdfunding Does More Than Fund Your Projects: It Generates Great Awareness.

Crowdfunding not only offers patrons a concrete incentive to contribute and be a part of your project, it also raises awareness and offers meaningful engagement with your local arts community. The people that do contribute will no doubt raise awareness which will in turn increase the level of interest and engagement, and in turn more contributions to your project.

Getting Started

pjimage-1
Platforms such as KickstarterIndiegogo and FundIt have made crowdfunding a project easy to set up. In many cases, you can have one ready to go within half an hour. Their user friendly interfaces allow funders to easily donate to campaigns they are interested in supporting. Many crowdfunding sites do take fees (typically around 4-5%) of all monies raised, and some require you to achieve your set monetary goal before you can receive funds. Companies such as GoFundMe require no set monetary goal, but do collect fees, so it is important to read the FAQs before setting up a campaign.  

Arts and Business NI have a great toolkit that can help you get started (and it’s free).

Why not give it a go? Set yourself a small target on a specific project coming up, choose your reward and give it a try. Stuck for ideas? Give us a shout and we’d love to brainstorm some ideas. 

Social Media Algorithms: No Seriously, Keep Reading

Social media algorithms are something you need to know about. No seriously, keep reading we promise it is relevant. For arts organisations who rely on social media marketing (and those that are thinking about it), things have changed, but it might not be all that bad.

Algorithms may seem like some strange voodoo magic 8 ball, but they are the trend in how content is displayed in social media.  Since their founding, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. have all overhauled how content is presented to users. Going from chronological to algorithmic doesn’t mean the end of the world  for your theatre’s social media campaigns – you just need to make some changes and tweaks to keep eyes on your content.

Algorithms Focus on Users

Simply, algorithms are a set processes or steps that computers execute. In other words, given a certain set of conditions, a computer program will deliver a certain output based on the algorithm.

What this means for social media platforms such as Facebook, is that they can provide content that is linked to behaviour, and is likely what the user wants to see.

Social Media is all about Engagement because of Algorithms

In the early days, social media content was presented in chronological order. Now with algorithms, this has completely changed. Let’s take a look at a few different types of social media platforms, and the algorithms that underpin them.

Even if you are a theatre, festival or arts organisation that only uses minimal social media marketing (check out this article on social media marketing and arts organisations), say posting on Facebook, understanding these algorithms can help you create better content.

Facebook: Engagement and Relevance

Facebook’s algorithm changes extremely fast. But it is still based upon how often, and how much users engage with a post. How often it is liked or hidden, what is the level or depth of engagement and its overall performance. Based on the above,  your focus needs to be on engaging and relevant content for your given target. Keep in mind that Facebook hides posts that it deems are not relevant – so again it pays to focus on engagement within Facebook.

Consider how you can incorporate more photos and videos of upcoming shows for example. Maybe look at Facebook drives for fundraising objectives. Likes and comments are the name of the game in Facebook and getting your audiences to engage.

Twitter: Relevance and Followers

Twitter still offers a chronological tweet timeline, but the platform is moving to algorithms as well.  The “Tweets You Missed While You Were Away” feature promote certain tweets based on relevance. While this feature can be turned off (it is not straightforward), it is important to note that most people don’t look at twitter constantly. That means, when people do open the app, you want your tweets to be in the select “Tweets You Missed” top section. As with Facebook, promoted tweets are based on relevance and engagement.

For arts organisations that means looking at what your audiences have engaged with. Was it the tweet with the show reel? Was it the box office staff picture? Was it a post about fundraising for your theatre refurbishment?Algorithms reward high-performance users, since the more people who engage with an update, the more often that users updates will be promoted, thereby amplifying the effect of popularity.

Instagram: Relevance

As Instagram’s user base has grown it made sense to move to a more algorithmic based approach to posts. So rather than a chronological onslaught of posts, users see relevant posts based on their past behaviour or posts they have engaged with. While posts are not hidden in Instagram (like they are in Facebook), it still will force business to focus on engagement and relevance.

These are just a few examples of social media platforms that have changed, but the broader expectation is that they will all move to this sort of idea.

What About Organic Reach in this Context?

Good question. With algorithms playing such a heavy part in promotion, organic reach for your arts organisation becomes more difficult. But it really depends on how relevant and engaging you can make your content. Ticket discount offers and show or festival promotion posts will work – to a point. Your audiences are interested in your theatre or festival – engage them with great behind the scenes content. Encourage more user generated content and content that matters to your audiences.

Algorithms Mean New Users = New Eyes for Your Content

Social media companies are not employing algorithms for nothing – they are trying to get new users onto their platforms. This of course presents challenges, but also presents a great opportunity for you! Learning how these algorithms work (and more importantly how you can harness their effect) is vital. As social media platforms increase their new user base, your box office can access new patrons too.

The algorithm based social media trend is not perfect. Many complain that their target audience can miss even relevant tweets. Or that it allows businesses to “game the system” (tweet what they believe the algorithm will like). While this is true, I cannot see platforms reverting back to non-algorithmic based systems. For one, it improves their users experience, and two, it encourages new users to try the platform through filtered content. Finally, and I think we can all agree to this one, it helps to screen out a lot of content noise for everyone.

The upshot for your arts business is that you have to make content that is relevant and engaging for your target audience. Try and look at user generated content. Don’t throw out ticket sale after ticket sale – try and really connect to your audience and use those algorithms to your advantage.

Remember – algorithms change all the time. And so must your marketing.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 MailChimp Automations You Can Implement Right Now

Since introducing our new MailChimp automation, we have been inundated with questions from all of our excited users, and most recently at our UK User Day. The Ticketsolve and MailChimp integration lets you automate communication with your customers based on their behaviour. To put it more simply: you can send really targeted emails, automatically to your customers – just based on what they do.

“B2C marketers who take advantage of automation – which includes everything from cart abandonment programs to birthday emails – have seen conversion rates as high as 50%”. eMarketer, Email Marketing Benchmarks

If you want to know more about the integration give us a shout or read about MailChimp automation and Ticketsolve

If you are ready to get started with MailChimp, we thought it would be helpful to have all your questions (or at least the questions we have had thus far), gathered together into one place.

  1. How do we get started?
  2. Which automations should we run?
  3. How effective will it be?
  4. What does success look like?

Rather than over complicate things, we like to keep it simple, so we can get started quickly.  If we can boil down MailChimp and just hone in on a few key tasks we are far more likely to achieve our goals.

So here is a a simple wish list of 5 automations to get you started with Ticketsolve and MailChimp.

Follow up after ticket purchase

After ticket purchase is a prime opportunity to present recommendations to your customers. MailChimp’s recommendations tool is based on algorithms similar to to Amazon “if you like this” will might like this based on what your audiences have purchased. The example below shows the bones of the MailChimp recommendation tool.

pasted_image_at_2016_10_19_12_04_pm-3

Campaign to win back lapsed customers

Reengaging customers (as opposed to finding new ones) is certainly a good bet. MailChimp allows you to develop a series of win-back emails to encourage inactive patrons to re-engage. The trigger could be as simple as if a patron hasn’t purchased in 52 weeks the automated win back campaign will kick into play.

pasted_image_at_2016_10_19_12_04_pm

Thank your best patrons

The patrons who purchase from you on a regular basis are important to your business, so let them know. Send a simple thank you, invite them to a special VIP membership program, or offer a discount. The below example details the trigger i.e., when a patron spends more than £500 in the last 365 days. Once the criteria is reached the automation starts.

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-17-00-15

First time customers

When a patron purchases from you for the first time they should be sent a series of tailored mails:

  • To welcome them
  • Asking how they find their experience
  • A reward to come again.

Here is a great example that we experienced. We went to a local restaurant for the first time, and at the end of the meal we were presented with a 15% discount for our next visit. We have been back 4 times in the last 12 months.

pasted_image_at_2016_10_19_12_04_pm-2

Membership renewal

A very simple auto membership renewal automation, the trigger is: once a patron is 48 weeks into their annual membership an auto renewal will be sent.

pasted_image_at_2016_10_19_12_05_pm

MailChimp automation is a real game changer.  They are very simple to set up and the results will speak for themselves. We will be sharing several posts on this topic in the future to help you keep the momentum while sharing our customer’s suggestions and best practices.

Using Instagram and Pinterest as Part of Your Arts Marketing Tactics

It is likely you are extremely familiar with the likes of Twitter and Facebook, for your social media marketing, but how much does your organisation use tools like Instagram and Pinterest? Is it worth including these two in your arts marketing arsenal? In this post, we will look at how Instagram and Pinterest can be a great addition to your marketing toolbox.

What are Instagram and Pinterest?

Instagram is a photo and video sharing social networking site. Besides sharing on Instagram itself, the app works well with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.

Pinterest is a social bookmarking site that uses imagery, and allows community members to share their “pins”.

Both are useful for searching for specific topics, building engagement and community.

Their intrinsic value is that they are based in visual content. Latest research shows that the brain processes visual content at a staggering 13 milliseconds. Far faster then reading content. For customers today, dealing with such an onslaught of content, visual content is certainly the way to go.

But why bother?

In a word: engagement. Content presented in this manner is fast and easy for customers to engage with. If done well, it can also lead to shares in a way that written content cannot, increasing your reach. And because Instagram for example, easily integrated with Facebook and Twitter, you can tie in Instagram with these other forms of social media you already use.

How do you use these services best?

Before we get into the ideas, let’s talk about frequency and timing. While it will largely depend on your goals, You need to post at least one or more photos on Instagram per day, and between 4-10 pins per day on Pinterest. Don’t overly worry if it is less, or more, just be sure to track your results so you can see what is working and what isn’t and adjust from there. As always, quality content matters, so try for the best quality pictures and posts you can.

  1. You’ve got a lot of material. Arts and cultural organisations have opportunities to take a lot of pictures. Backstage, event set, even audience arrival can build buzz. Try a “Picture of the Day” campaign it can really showcase your organisation. Again, try and choose something engaging that will get shared.
  2. Build buzz. Are you going through a refurb? Rehearsals started on the spring programme? Are the festival marquees going up? These are all great ways to build buzz and track progress for your fans.
  3. Backstage pass. This is similar to number 2, but could be more focused on behind the scene images. These progress type pics are a great link into donations and membership opportunities with your customers. Seeing the progress, gives a great focus on where donations are going and why they are needed. If you do this type of campaign try and focus on the story these pictures are telling. That will help to create a narrative your fans can relate with.
  4. Visitor content. Instagram and Pinterest are best used when there is a two-way conversation. Why not try hosting an Instagram competition or even showcase visitor content. This sort of sharing not only builds engagement, but it also build community.
  5. Tie ins and offers can work. While you certainly need to think differently about your Instagram or Pinterest strategy as compared to Twitter or Facebook, Tie ins and offers can still work in this medium. This audience images as part of competitions and giveaways or similar.
  6. Hashtags. This is a must for Instagram. This is how people search. Keep it relevant, but not too narrow so people can find you. So for your theatre you may still use a #theatre tag, you can also add more specific location or show tags so you can be found.

Last thoughts, remember that this takes time. Building a following, understanding what works for your audiences and what doesn’t, finding the right mix of audience engagement – all will take a bit of time. Remember to integrate your Pinterest and Instagram strategies with the rest of your social media so you have a coherent message. Keep the photos natural and spontaneous! And remember to have fun!

 

 

Welcome Aoife!

You have probably had a chat with her already (she’s pretty great right)? But we haven’t formally introduced our “newest” Ticketsolver yet – Aoife! Understanding the challenges of box office and marketing is second nature to Aoife, our newest Ticketsolver who joins us in Customer Support. Aoife has an incredible amount of box office, communications and front of house experience, workig in organisations in both Edinburgh and Dublin. From supervisory roles to admin and marketing Aoife has really run the gamut within venues. Her previous work includes a diverse range of theatres and festivals such as Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Filmhouse Cinema, Red61 and Project Arts Centre.

She has worked both on back office projects – and with plenty of ticketing services –  as well as customer facing roles working directly with patrons.

We are delighted to have Aoife on board bringing her great problem solving skills and customer service experience to Ticketsolve. She has already made a great contribution to the team, and our customers!

Audience Segmentation: Get Started Quickly

In our last post, we looked at why audience segmentation is important to ROI and specific models that work well. Today, we want to take a look at some ideas to help you easily and quickly start segmenting your customers. Even with simple segmentation you can start to tailor your marketing messages (making them that bit more persuasive), and as a result see an increase in conversion rate on your marketing activity.

Segmenting in Ticketsolve: Straightforward, Quick and Easy

Within Ticketsolve, there are two quick ways you can start segmenting your customers.

  1. Filter your database using our bespoke report writer, and then add tags to customers.

Or

     2. Use customer categories. This method requires box office agents to add customers to the category at point of sale (you can also give our lovely support team a list of customers we can do that for you en masse).

That’s it. A really simple and easy way to get started with segmenting. But how should you segment them? What is the best way to split up customers into categories that make sense to your business and that will make the most impact to ROI?

  1. Lapsed Customers

Repeat after me: winning back lapsed customers is far cheaper (and easier) than trying to find new customers. So with that in mind, our first stop most definitely has to be to identify customers who have not been to an event in the last one to two years. Once segmented, you can then use a variety of campaigns to encourage them to re-attend. Promotions, coupons, offers etc., can be part of your arsenal. Even an email with just some pictures or a little “reminder” of the event that they attended can work really well. Ometria have written a great blog with called how to send great lapsed customer win-back emails. The article has some great tactics to use

  1. First Time Customers

Most definitely, first time customers need a different communication approach than long standing customers. I think we can all agree that a great approach is to start a conversation with them – really get them in engaged with you. You don’t want to bombard them with loads of emails about what’s on (but don’t stay completely silent of course). Instead try talking to them; ask what they thought of their first experience at your venue, maybe offer them a little discount or a free drink on their next visit. Entice them back again. The objective is to turn your first timer into a customer with two or three visits a year – then you’re in business.

  1. Loyal Customers

Your loyal customers are different. They are visiting you more than two or three times a year. They expect you to know them on a personal level. And you should know who they are, what they like to see at the venue and what they had for breakfast (okay maybe that’s over the top.  But how about their favourite drink?). Not to come off too big brother-ish, but when you use the data that you have on them in your marketing activity, you are showing them that you really do listen and you really do know them. This gives them a sense of belonging and and anticipation on what’s happening at your venue encouraging them to visit again. 

  1. Staff

A lot of venues forget to segment their staff. This is a very important to remember as including your staff in reports could skew results, and if you include them in marketing activities it could also cost money.

  1. High Value Customers

Do you know your highest value customers? Those customers that spend the most with you, but maybe are not also donors or members yet? Looking closely at the customers that spend the most with you, and segmenting them into their own category is a great way to identify new donors, members or at the very least gives you an opportunity to start a deeper relationship with those customers. For example, if a customer has spent over £2,000 in the last year you may want to start a conversation with that customer about maybe becoming a member or even better – a donor. Giving them better value for their patronage will go a long distance in developing loyalty. In these instances, consider a handwritten letter or a phone call – that personal touch will go farther. 

  1. Schools and Local Business

Schools and local businesses really need a category to themselves. Not only will it improve your overall reporting, but schools and business need a different strategy. Consider that schools and businesses can become enthusiastic ambassadors for your venue. Regular updates about what’s on, plus some comps (so they can come to the venue themselves) is a great way to get them engaged. The word of mouth they can generate to their customers, parents, children, etc., is really worth a few comps. 

Admittedly this post just scratches the surface on segmentation. What we wanted was to give you the basics so you can start quickly and simply. If you want, you can of course fine tune the filters to really pin down certain customers. Most important is to just get started! If you start to implement some of the above start to see results straight away. Happy segmenting!

Audience Segmentation

ROI. You are doing everything you can to maximise ROI and then some. But if you are not looking at audience segmentation you are missing out on a great ROI opportunity for your campaigns. Every theatre, arts centre or festival can look at audience segmentation, and tap into a great way to get to know your audiences better, attract new audiences and clean your database.

In this blog we will touch upon some of the more popular models, and then in a few weeks, we’ll follow up with another blog to give you some ideas on how to segment your database using tools within Ticketsolve.

There are a lot of segmentation models out there running from the simple to the complex.  Let’s take a look at a few.

One of my favourite segmentation models is Cultural Segments by Morris Hargreaves and Mcintyre. I did quite a bit of work on this in my venue days. What is great about this model is that it splits customers into eight different segments that are based on their intrinsic beliefs and why they want arts and culture in their lives. Customers need to fill out a questionnaire in order to be segmented, but it is an excellent segmentation model. Try it here

Another model that I like is the Audience Spectrum by the Audience Agency, which is used in their Audience Finder application (also used by the Arts Council of England). This model has ten different segments for audiences, and is based on their attitudes towards culture, and by what they like to see and do. It’s a little different to Cultural Segments as it profiles the population at household and post-code levels.

Experian’s Mosaic is one of the more popular profiling models. What makes Mosaic different is that it doesn’t take into account the customer’s intrinsic values. Instead, Mosaic looks at the population at a postcode level. I personally think this segmentation model is a little tired and dated now as it doesn’t give you a picture of individuals, which is what you really need and want from solid segmentation.

There are so many more out there that can be used such as Acorn, Audience Loyalty Healthcheck and others. However, most if not all of the the segmentation models out there require a lot of time, effort and money, which, let’s face it, is something that many venues simply don’t have. While they are complex, they will certainly get you thinking about your audiences in a new light. Segmentation is most powerful when used in combination with targeted marketing campaigns focused on individual wants and needs.

This is our first in a series of blogs about segmentation. In our next instalment we will talk about easy ways that you can segment your customers using tools within Ticketsolve. We will also give you ideas on how you should start to segment your audiences. Be sure to check back soon for more on segmentation.