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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Biscoe

Data Lifebouy!

It’s really easy to get lost in data. There’s a saying that goes:

You‘re drowning in data. Start swimming in it!

This is really, a very true statement. There are so many options for data to look at it becomes a bit overwhelming. I would however argue that some of us don’t know that we’ve got data to start with!

Your ticketing system should be able to easily define how your data is measured and pulling reports needn’t be a days task for the Box Office Managers (because lets face it, they’re the key to the data to start with! But more on that another day!). If you’re struggling to get the data you need out of your system, then it’s for one of two reasons;

1) You need to get a new ticketing system.


2) The data you’re looking for isn’t measurable in the way you want it.

Yes unfortunately, we’re often asked to bend data to a narrative that doesn’t exist. Didn’t manage to retain as many first timers this year? That’s because you didn’t. Didn’t develop an audience you set out to? What you tried didn’t work. No matter the narrative, your data is true and you’ll have to rethink your strategy if you need to up your retention rates or draw in new bookers.

So what should we be keeping track of in the sea of data? Here‘s my Lifebouy of a few ideas that might just save you.

- Average Ticket Price

Encouraging early booking is key to loyalty from customers. The rule is simple, the earlier people book the better choice of prices and seating they will have. Tracking your average ticket price will mean that you can be sure your customers are paying for the cheapest tickets earlier, thus creating demand for seats. Last minute bookers will likely be irregular theatre go-ers and will pay a higher price. Your ATP should gradually increase towards the date of the first performance, and last minute discounting should be avoided at all costs. Reward your early and loyal bookers with the best priced seats. Don’t reward bad behaviour.

- Permissions

Another simple idea to keep you afloat. Keep track of the number of people you can talk to and new contact permissions you get each week. It might be great to see new signups coming in from the hard work the marketing team are doing, but if there is a leak in the bucket it’s time to plug it. The aim is of course to stop people unsubscribing from your database. When you’ve a lot of shows to sell its easy to hit people multiple times with separate marketing emails. Analyse where people are dropping off and what type of email it was that you sent - then stop it! 3 well thought through campaigns are better than 7 messy ones. Keep track of your subscribed bookers and learn where your pitfalls are. Aim to be able to contact a minimum of 50% of your database in at least one way. Lastly,

- Return visitors

Want to run a successful arts organisation? You’re going to need an audience, and if they didn’t like the last show they saw, or the Front of House experience was crap, they’re not going to come back... unless you invite them. Keeping tabs on the number of people who have had their first visit and haven’t rebooked yet is the first step to loyalty and ultimately a thriving business. You’re most likely to retain first timers right after they’ve seen a show, so hit them up with a post show email emblazoned with the words “we’d love to see you again” and a beautiful photo of an epic moment in the show they’ve just seen to remind them of what an amazing experience they’ve just had, and ask them on a second date. Not all first timers are easily swayed though, so you’ll need to entice them with a juicy incentive to book again, and quickly! Still not booking? Ask again. Still no? One last try. And nothing? Maybe think about asking why they haven‘t returned. Follow the figures and keep yourself up to date with how many people are now not a ‘Booked Once’ metric.

And that’s just the start, but these are my top 3 things that I‘d recommend you keep track of to keep you treading water in the sea of data. But don’t cling on to the lifebou, learn to swim!


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