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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Biscoe

The BIG Re-Opening - 5 Ways to Segment Your Database

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

The announcement of a big arts package in the UK to the tune of £1.57 billion felt the arts industry sigh a huge amount of relief as the news broke before the embargo was even lifted. You can't contain that passion.

Now that we're at Stage 4 out of 5 for re-opening we need to start thinking about how we work out way back to full auditoriums.

The promise of this money in the form of grants and loans to cultural organisations up and down the UK means that we won't quite see the cultural apocalypse quite in the way we had all been dreading. Though this, of course, hasn't come soon enough for some and doesn't mean that we don't mourn the loss of those venues that couldn't sustain the beginning of the crisis, notably Nuffield Southampton Theatres, but also Southport Theatre, Artix in Bromsgrove, Square Chapel in Halifax, Haymarket Theatre in Leicester and more recently the handing back of cultural services from Vivacity to Peterborough City Council.

The key to sustainability for the future will require smarter thinking, more reflection, and less reactive decision making. We simply can't afford to throw this lifeline package out of the boat on one big marketing campaign to say 'we're open'. Smart communications, support from your local authorities, and building great relationships with the local media will all play a part in the safe re-opening of our venues, however, you may choose to do it.

So here are 5 ways we can think about segmenting our data when the right time comes (we wait with bated breath about a clear opening date for theatres for indoor performance without social distancing measures).

1. The Loyalists

Hopefully, throughout the troubles, you will have seen your loyal customers sharing news of shows going back on sale, commenting on social media posts, or perhaps even a supportive expression via email when you've had to exchange their tickets. The loyalists of your venue will be your key customers to keep sweet and you'll want them to be the first people back through your doors on that first night (whatever that looks like). Every venue has a different idea of what a loyal customer looks like so it will be down to you and your Communications team to decide what this might be. For most this will mean people with a membership but we shouldn't discount those that don't have a membership and still attend between 3-4 times a year. Don't forget that many of your audience members might consider a year trip to a musical or panto to be 'loyal', it might be worth looking at those people separately. Are you going to target them with some very specific offers, ask them to come and see something they wouldn't usually see or even give them a free drink on their first performance if they haven't yet booked any tickets for the future? This might not be your biggest segment of your database but they're almost guaranteed to be the ones that will spend the most money on their return.

2. The Up-To-Daters.

We've been emailing our customers with updates on our responses to the crisis, by either continuing to announce more rescheduled performances, or sharing online content and hopefully, your patrons have been engaging with everything that you've been doing. A segment to consider would be those people that have continually opened your marketing campaigns (if that's a measurable metric for you). The majority will probably not have booked any tickets just yet, but they'll be ready to pounce as soon as they're made to feel safe and comfortable.

3. The Determinators

There will be a small group of your database that will be determined to see that your venue continues to thrive during lockdown and will want to make sure that they're arts provision is alive and well when social distanced is eased or lifted. This might be people that have made a donation to an emergency appeal, it could be your army of volunteers, or even your extremely well-trained Front of House staff. These people will be those that are close to your organisation and will be the very first people that will share the news of your re-opening or new performances. They'll be your key players to start word of mouth and their R-rate will be huge. Give them good news and they will go far with it.

4. The Exchangers

A huge proportion of your current bookings will have been moved to late 2020 or some time into 2021. These people will have completely disrupted your booking patterns and if you're not careful, you'll not see quite the pick up in sales as you hope when the green light is lit because they'll have already 'spent' their money, but in last year - meaning they might still wait for another full year before buying any more tickets, we can't wait until 2022 for your single ticket buyers to by again. You need to encourage people that have exchanged their tickets due to the crisis that it's time to buy again, and that with the population heading back to work there might be a little more expendable money after people let the belt loose a bit. Seek out your audiences that have traditionally book tickets half a year or more in advance and let them know just how much they mean to you.

5. The Genre Bookers

You'll probably be able to look at your database and identify lots of customers that just book for your Panto, every year. These people shouldn't be too hard to reengage. However, you'll want to pay close attention to the non-panto bookers in your database, particularly the ones that only book certain types of events - comedy, musicals, music, exhibitions, workshops etc. Just like how we like to return to the same restaurant, we like to go to the same genre of theatre, well, because we like it! If you're able to split your database by dedicated genre bookers, you should be able to look at super detailed information about each of those genres, such as weeks out from booking, average ticket price, and popular postcodes. Beware though, just because someone has booked Carousel it doesn't mean they'll want to see We Will Rock You!


Today's actions:

- Spend some time identifying your segments and target audiences. The ones that should be easy to engage and the toucher ones.

- Design your campaigns to speak directly to the kind of booker you getting in touch with. One template and replacing the show image and copy won't work.

- Analyse your results, look at what worked and what didn't.

- Don't assume that you know your key segments. Use all your available tools to inform your decision making.


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