Custom Audiences Are Here to Stay

If you do any type of online marketing (and who doesn’t do some these days), you may have come across social media advertising. The ROI delivered from social media advertising can seem too good to be true, “£60 will deliver my advert to how many?!” But, look a little deeper, and you may start to question the real ROI from these ads.

The issue is that some social media advertising is just too broad – basically throw it at a wall and see what sticks. Ads that are aimed at – well everyone – will miss the vital mark: conversions.

Custom audiences allow you to re-engage with anyone who has given you an email address. In this blog post we will talk you through what custom audiences are, and why they will change your outlook on social media advertising.

Conversions, Conversions, Conversions

The objective is to turn your social media advertising into real sales. In order to do this the advertising needs to be much more targeted and less generalised. This is especially true with you think that 98% of people visiting websites take no action.

While you certainly can create a broad demographic filtering when you create your first Facebook or Twitter advert, it is not as exact as it could be. You may even get a decent number of likes or shares but will that translate into someone spending money in your venue?

Think of your own experiences online. A boosted or promoted post pops up on your feed. Do you really care about what it says or where it comes from? Likely not, and you probably ignore it. In some cases you might click on that post, but the truth is the post is not as targeted as it could be and it is really hit or miss.

Email Address Plus Custom Audience Creates a Better More Targeted Way

To improve your ROI from social media advertising, and drive conversions, the best way forward is to target customers who already know you and have spent money with you before. Custom audiences can target your current customers across different social media platforms. This is done using a customer’s unique digital passport – their email address – the one fairly constant bit of information people use across multiple websites.

In fact, retail stores in the US now routinely ask for email addresses at checkout, regardless of type of payment method, club card status, etc. Using just a few vital pieces of data, retailers can then create custom audiences for their social media advertising. In some case studies, ROI for custom audiences has been as high as $32 in sales for every one advertising dollar spent. Custom audiences targeting has a 14% lower CPC and a 64% lower cost per conversion rate than category or interest-based targeting alone.

Upload Your Email Database and Create Custom Audiences

Right now you have hundreds if not thousands of customer email address on your database Why not use them? Upload them into Facebook and Twitter and target your customers.

By uploading your database as a custom audience you should see more ROI as you know who your target is, and that they are interested in your venue. There are loads of different ways you can use custom audience, you could create them for lapsed customers, genre specific audiences and so on, the possibilities are endless.

Custom audiences are not just for Facebook either, Google has announced that it too will be launching a similar custom audiences feature.

We are going to be growth hacking custom audiences, so keep on the look out for more on how to create different custom audiences soon. If you are not signed up with us you can sign up here to stay up to date on how growth hacking can help your business.

Don’t waste your time (and money) targeting people you don’t know anything about, use custom audiences to maximise your ROI and drive conversions.


Direct Messages in Twitter: New Changes Will Help Build Customer Communication

Last week Twitter announced new changes to their direct message (DM) feature. This quick shot post will look at a few pointers on using Twitter’s DM feature, and how to use it best with your customers.

Previously, direct messages or DM on twitter – where you can direct message another user – required both users to follow each other. With the new changes, you can now send and receive direct messages to and from anyone. The new changes are designed to boost the private side of Twitter.

If you haven’t previously used DM in Twitter, the advantage is that you can have a private twitter exchange. For example, a customer may want to speak to you through Twitter, but not necessarily have the exchange be completely public. With Twitter’s new group DM, you can now communicate privately with a group of people on Twitter, for example, the audience for your next show (though the group limit appears to be 20 for now).

So how best to use Twitter’s DM?

DM is like another tool in your customer service arsenal. It is the perfect place for sensitive customer service conversations to take place without being in the public eye. Twitter’s DM will also act like a tracking tool, allowing you to see a full record of the conversation and follow up. DM can also help you get a tweet seen with the new embedding feature.

However . . .

DM is not an advertising tool. The biggest way to lose followers, and get a serious backlash on Twitter, is to use DM’s like adverts. DM’s should still only be conversation based – not ad based. Promotional tweets will get you better exposure for that objective – and not cost you customer loyalty. As a follow up to this, automated DMs should also be avoided (for example, an automated DM as a thank you for following, etc). Feedback from most users shows that automated DMs seem spammy, and can turn people off.

How do you get started?

Twitter DM is opt-in and there are a few steps you need to take to get it set up correctly on your Twitter account.

We are here to help as well – just let us know!


Are Beacons Really The Next Big Thing?

Beacon technology has been around for a while. The UK is finally catching up, but will beacons help or hinder the ever critical customer experience? We look at what beacons are, how they might work in a theatre, venue or festival environment, and what it takes to get it right.

What are Beacons?

Beacons or iBeacons are proximity-based transmitters that can communicate with smartphones, tablets, wearables and the like. They use blue tooth technology and similar to NFC (near field communication) devices, can be used in a variety of settings. The beacons (like Estimote that lets you build apps along with it) “ping” to the nearest smartphone and can then deliver information, targeted marketing messages, etc.

Why are Beacons so exciting?

Proximity-based marketing and advertising has long interested marketers, for obvious reasons. The best time to trigger a purchase is getting the timing right. What better time to push a targeted message then when a patron is standing in front of your coming soon poster, or walking past concessions? But it is difficult to track every single customers path. Enter smartphones, tablets and wearables. While wearables are still emerging, smartphone penetration in the UK and Ireland is nearing the 60% mark.  This level of penetration combined with, how inexpensive beacons are for brands to purchase and install, (Estimotes are unobtrusive stickers), means beacons can be deployed quickly and cheaply. What’s more, smartphones now have all the inbuilt tech necessary to receive messages.  The barriers to beacons are very low.

The big benefit here is of course being able to send targeted messages, promotions and information exactly when a customer needs/wants it. But perhaps even more importantly is the ability to gather valuable data on patrons (with the caveat that it all in compliance with EU directives). This will give a much clearer and broader picture into the full patron experience.

In a theatre, festival or club setting beacons could be placed throughout. As patrons walk around beacons will “ping” their phone and allow them to interact with the information or message. This allows you to track the path of patrons and see what interests them. This information is essential in providing a richer experience for customers. This sort of tech also allows for a more content to be pushed at the right time. Beacons can also be attached to merchandise, giving customers more information or offers if required. Imagine festival goers passing a beacon giving them “up next on this stage” information, or patrons getting a reminder message about their intermission drinks.  Or when leaving an ice skating venue, a customer might get a message with a discount on their next skate session. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

However . . .

There is still an unknown quantity here and that is patrons themselves. Will they find beacons annoying or worse creepy? There has been much talk of the coming Big Data Backlash amongst consumers, will beacons be shunned because of this?

Beacons are really exciting. They give a real opportunity to engage customers in meaningful, new ways. Knowing how much is too much with beacons will be important, as will ensuring that beacons provide actual valuable content and not just marketing and promotion messages.

Companies such as Tesco and Waitrose are already trialling beacons, and companies such as Estimote make it easy for smaller organisations to try beacons for a reasonable price.

Have you considered beacons for your organisation? What do you think about beacons, are they appropriate for your organisation?


Using Data to Welcome Back Lapsed Customers and Increase Customer Retention

While growing and finding new audiences is at the forefront for arts marketers, so too is keeping the audiences you have. Loyal customers account for only 20% of total customers, but are drivers for 80% of revenue – and customer retention is certainly less expensive than bringing on new customers. With that in mind, we look at how Ticketsolve can help you identify lapsed customers and welcome them back.

Customer loyalty and retention is a hot topic regardless of industry. But for arts, festivals and theatres, where funding it is getting squeezed day by day – it is critical to retain customers as much as possible. There are two strands to retention in this sense – how do we keep customers coming back in the first place and how to we draw back lapsed customers?

Keep Customers Coming Back for More

In order to keep customers coming back, we need to create targeted, behaviour driven campaigns that attract them. That is, post purchase messages that drive conversions.

If you use Ticketsolve, then you know you the system helps to collect vital patron data that you can use to create targeted post purchase campaigns. Ticketsolve is integrated with MailChimp, which means all campaigns can be tracked, from opens to click throughs to purchase, so you can see how your post purchase campaigns are doing.

Ideally your ticketing system should let you create these retention points earlier – and then carry through to post purchase. So for example, within Ticketsolve, features such as recommendations and cross selling allow you to offer show recommendations based on the purchase, or add ons such as drinks or meals.

These sorts of smart features are no longer a nice to have. Patrons have begun to expect these recommendations and appreciate the idea that you are offering suggestions they may be interested in.

Still, even with the best recommendations in the world, some customers will lapse. Using data, we can look at re-engaging these customers.

Purchase Frequency

First, we need to determine what the average time is between purchases. Now this may be tricky depending on the buying patterns of your patrons. Do they tend to buy for the season or do they buy more ad hoc? Do you see a spike in purchasing right after a show – for other shows? Average purchase frequency can give you a sense of when a customer is “lapsed”. So if it is 11 months between purchases for your patrons, those who fall outside of these parameters can get a targeted message.

You may want to also consider splitting the groups here further. Repeat customers may have a shorter time frame between purchases, than new customers Are there any repeat customers who then become lapsed?

In this way you can now determine, with data, specific times to send messages.

RFM Analysis

Now what about recency, frequency and monetary analysis of customers? This is really interesting information to understand total number of purchases and the total lifetime purchases per customer. This gives an even deeper view into lapsed customers and their behaviours. Perhaps you have customers who buy infrequently, but buy a lot – they are not necessarily lapsed, but just purchase differently. Still other patrons bought a lot once, but haven’t bought since. Each of these types of patrons can be identified and targeted with a system like Ticketsolve.

Ticketsolve can help you identify lapsed customers, and then using integrated MailChimp, you can create campaigns to win back these lapsed customers.

What Messages to Use?

While even a simple, “We’ve Missed You” campaign is useful, using other data such as previous purchase history or timing can let you target your message more effectively. Current recommendations based on previous purchases or perhaps discounts or even complimentary items are excellent ways to welcome back lapsed customers.

While this is only one strand to customer retention and lapsed customers, using data to create targeted campaigns and segmenting your lapsed customers can help you zero in on those customers with targeted messages and campaigns.

Do you use Ticketsolve to target lapsed customers? Do you want to learn more about how we can help you increase customer retention? Contact us!

Don’t forget to check back, we’ll have a video showing you how this is done within Ticketsolve.


Get the Most from Your Marketing Budget

When our customer community gets together, the discussion often turns to marketing. Specifically how to get the most from marketing budgets, given the demands on overall budgets. In our post today, we look at some ideas on getting the most from your marketing budgets and how Ticketsolve can help along the way.

Online all the time.

Recent ecommerce studies have shown that more and more people are purchasing online than ever before. A whooping 9 in 10 people purchase goods online in the UK spending an average of £1,175 per annum. In Ireland 2.6 million people go online to purchase spending €1,392 per annum.

That is a lot of spending power online. And perhaps pretty obvious. However, not everyone is online, so before throwing all your euros and pounds into the digital basket consider your target market.

Is your target market online?

While some of your target market is probably online, some may not be online at all. Consider a story related to us by one of our customers. He gets a phone call from a rather irate and frustrated customer who was unable to get a ticket to a show (said show being sold out). After probing further, he soon found out that the patron isn’t really online at all. The patron had missed all the tweets, facebook postings, emails, paid for ads and banners about the show. He had been waiting for his mailer, that he always gets, and when it didn’t arrive, he called, only to find out the show he wanted to see was sold out. This is only one patron granted, but our customer wondered how many patrons they had lost to moving over to all digital advertising and marketing.

The lesson here is about knowing who your customers are, and where they are getting their information. Going digital is smart, so long as you don’t lose your other patrons along the way.


Offline – think targeted.

So if a portion of your budget needs must go to offline strategies, be sure they are very targeted. This will minimise costs and waste, while still allowing you to communicate with those customers who are not online savvy. Also, consider how your offline efforts can be reused. There may be ways to create reusable offline materials for other purposes.

Digital marketing

Digital and social media marketing is all that anyone really discusses. And why not? It is an inexpensive and engaging way to interact with your audience. Digital marketing does require its own plan and budget, and some research in order to optimally utilise things like twitter, Facebook, etc. When thinking digital marketing don’t forget about your website. Responsive design and new website design techniques can help distinguish your organisation considerably, while creating a seamless experience for your patron.

Digital marketing is moving tremendously fast, what is popular now, may not be in a few months time. So be ready to change, but . . .

If it works – stick with it.

To many times we change for the sake of changing. There may not be a real need for the change, but we think, I can’t possibly use the same marketing plan from the last two years! If it works and you are getting results, stick with it. That of course does not apply for building new audiences – that takes another layer of thinking.

Do what you can, but hire the rest

This is the single biggest balancing act. Doing what you can, but getting help where you need it. Getting the right help, while costs in the short term, can gain you some serious long term gains  – and cost you less in the long run. That also means being very smart about those hires.

Use your data and be customer driven

To make a budget go further, you have to be customer driven. This means you get fewer shots in the dark. But let’s face it, we all fail sometimes. Using your data to see where things have gone pear shaped can help you learn and come back smarter. Using Ticketsolve sales reports, plus your marketing stats from for example, Google Analytics and the new Twitter analysis lets you see how your marketing efforts are impacting your sales. Mailchimp, which is integrated into Ticketsolve and allows you to send targeted email campaigns, can be tracked to see opens and thus to track conversions.

Build your network and share

At Ticketsolve, we have a 150 organisations working to build amazing cultural organisations and fantastic patron experiences. This represents a huge opportunity to share, and learn from each other’s experiences so we all create better, leaner and more efficient organisations.

Want to join us? Have some great marketing tips?

Cognitive Fluency and Arts Marketing

Cognitive fluency may sound like an odd topic for our blog, but it has a huge impact on our decision making. Cognitive fluency means how easy it is to think about something. By and large this what our brains prefer. The harder your brain has to work – the more it balks at working. We prefer easy thoughts – brain candy if you will.

Cognitive fluency is even more relevant in a world with constant onslaught of information, data and short attention spans. We have to constantly and quickly sift through a ton of information vying for our attention. That is why “The Top 5 Ways to Flatten Your Belly/Build Your Business/Sell More Tickets blog titles work so well. They are easy and digestible.

So what does this mean in the world of arts, events, festivals, tourism etc.? Given that fluency impacts every decision we make, every interaction you make, we need to consider fluency when programming, marketing/selling and interacting with our patrons.

Understanding fluency can help you create effective sales and marketing campaigns, that are clear, easily digestible and effective. It can help you to attract new audiences, and even help to create attractive programming.

Take for example fonts. Research has shown that easy to read, legible fonts are more attractive to most people. The reason for this is fluency. Easy to read, familiar fonts have more impact and positive outcomes than hard to read fonts. Hard to read fonts made people feel wary and uncomfortable.

Fonts may seem like a small thing, but each element impacts the fluency on audiences – from the font choice to the marketing image choice to the programming of the show itself.

But here is the catch: fluent things are comfortable, familiar and boring. Disfluent things are intriguing, novel and innovative.

Understanding more about fluency can impact how we market and sell specific shows and events to various audiences.


Welcome to Priya!

We are delighted to welcome another new Ticketsolver – this time to the marketing team. Priya joins us from the United States (though has been on this side of the Atlantic for over 15 years), and will be helping to manage Ticketsolve’s content creation, PR and social media activities.

Priya comes with experience in corporate communications, advertising, as well as marketing, event management and content creation experience. Back in the day, Priya used to tread the boards, and was involved in the production and stage management of university shows in the States.

We are delighted to have her join our team!

Top 10 Tips for Marketing Your Show on a Budget

Here are some of our crazy (and no so crazy) ideas for marketing a show (or lots of shows) on a budget.

1. Create a Youtube channel and fill it with trailers from your show. There are some excellent video editing apps that can create videos from stills, posters and websites.

2. You have a Facebook page right? Of course you do! Facebook is a great place for promos, refer a friend offers, giveaways and coupons (give us a call to see how Ticketsolve’s Facebook integration can help you do this).

3. Food and drink tie ins. How about a Ticket and Tapas night? Food and drink offers are a great way to giveyour patrons a “complete” experience.

4. Last minute tickets (typically students) are a great way to get butts in seats. You probably already do senior and group discounts, but what about military discounts? Or special offers for local clubs?

5. Are your audiences massively loyal? Get them to market for you – create a flash mob campaign, with the express aim to promote your venue.

6. Nudity. We’re kidding, you’re still reading our right? No really though. Mobile marketing opportunities abound. Local and regional “what’s on” apps are a great way to get exposure to new audiences.

7. Want to encourage more audience interaction? How about creating tweet seats, or set aside closing night as audience interaction night (a la the Globe back in the day – let ’em boo, cheer and be rowdy).

8. Donations night. For each ticket sold, a portion (opt in of course) can be donated to the venue. It is best to be specific and explain what the donation will be used for, e.g., create a whole campaign around this donation night.

9. Meet the actors, with a backstage tour. Offering special ticket packages can be a great way to encourage patronage.

10. Be active and engage – twitter, Pintrest, Instagram, Facebook . . .are your new bffs. But you have to engage your audience and be engaging.

Have some great ideas for marketing shows? Share them here with the Ticketsolve community!

Why Theatres and Venues Should Consider Kiosk Sales

It is hard to imagine a time when ticket sales via a kiosk was the height of innovation. 20 years ago it was – people were finally used to cash machines, so buying a ticket from a kiosk was gaining in acceptance.

Today of course, kiosks are everywhere. From cinema tickets, to checking in at the airport, to buying furniture kiosks sales are ubiquitous. If you have not previously considered kiosks for ticket sales, some benefits include:

  1. Fast secure purchase and entry for patrons.
  2. User friendly.
  3. Can function as collection only or pay and collection.
  4. Seat selection option available on kiosk.
  5. 24/7 availability for ticket purchase.

In addition, kiosks such as Ticketsolve’s are completely integrated. This means you get a full set of data whether purchases are kiosk based, online or at the physical box office.

Do you currently have kiosks sales? Are you interested in learning more about kiosks?

How to Use Facebook’s “Lookalike” Audiences

I was having a look around to see what new (or old) ideas pop up for Facebook marketing, and saw this article from Sold Out Run, that discussed the use of lookalike audiences within Facebook to reach new audiences.

The idea is that, Facebook is great for marketing and advertising your shows or events, but you can end up talking to the same captive audience that has bought from you before. Facebook allows you to extend your reach by creating “lookalike” audiences. That is, audiences that look like ones you are after.

For example, say you want to advertise a new comedy club event. Using Facebook’s lookalike feature, you could upload your existing data of previous comedy club event ticket buyers (email address is sufficient). Facebook can then generate a “lookalike” audience that has not previously bought comedy club tickets from you, but has some of the same characteristics as those that have bought tickets. You can then created a targeted Facebook ad campaign for that lookalike audience.

A little 1984ish I’ll grant you, but this is a great way to extend your reach. Keep in mind you don’t get the lookalike emails, you only get to create an ad that targets them. I’ll admit it might be hit or miss, but might be worth a small budget and trial to see if it works.

The critical piece here is that you have to capture the correct data, and that can easily upload that data in to Facebook to create your lookalike audience.

You could trial a lookalike audience with Ticketsolve data. Ticketsolve collects valuable customer data and buying information. Below is a step-by-step you can use to create a .csv file that you can upload into Facebook to create a lookalike audience.

  1. Create a line item facts view report in your reports.
  2.  Use  “events of category” filter to select a whole category, or “saw shows” to select a specific show, then save the report.
  3. Go to the downloads tab, click the customers option and then click the select “none” option.
  4. From the contact folder select first name, last name and email.
  5. Click the download button.

Have you tried the Facebook lookalike audience feature? How did it work for you?