BLOG 19th October 2021

How to turn your one-time attenders into die-hard fans

It’s already October! And this means we’re entering the third stage of our audience journey: when your audiences return to your organisation a second time and more. This year, we’re interested in audience loyalty and what it takes for audience members to reach this ultimate step up the loyalty ladder. We’ve previously talked about the first time audiences discover your organisation and when they visit you for the first time. This time, we want to focus on the sweet spot that happens right after their first visit. They’ve come through your doors, you’ve given them a fabulous experience and they’ve enjoyed themselves a lot. Now what? How can you make sure they’ll come back again? And again? And again?

In this blog, we want to list the tools that will help you nurture your new relationships with your new audiences and how to turn these new acquaintances into your most devoted fans.

What do you know about your audiences?

At this stage, you’ve had a few interactions with these new audience members. They may have followed you on social media, visited your website, booked a ticket. They may even have had a chat with your Front of House. That’s a lot of opportunities to learn more about your new visitors.

You may have guessed; the first step is to gather everything you already know about your audiences so you can use this information to establish a plan of action. Good news is all the tools you need are within your reach, for free:

  • Online analytics are your best friends. Whether it’s looking at Google Analytics for your website and your different social media insights, all the data these platforms can reveal are gold. They won’t only give you basic demographic information about your audiences, but they will also show you what motivates them to engage with you online or to attend in-person.
  • If you have a ticketing system, there’s nothing better than to look at your audiences’ behaviour. How do they book? Is it via your website or phone call? How many tickets did they book in one purchase? How did they end up on your ticket page? Was it via your Facebook event ticket link? Or via some press coverage?
  • Involve your Front of House staff. Did they have a conversation with an audience member who said it was their first time visiting? They may have some special insights you could use when deciding what to do next.
  • Of course, there’s always post-visit surveys you can send to your audiences. Short and sweet is how we like them, especially when they’re sent to new audiences.

What to do with this information?

At thrive, we did some research, looking at box office data to uncover insights into audiences for venues and festivals across Northern Ireland and identify benchmark figures for our region. We found that in Northern Ireland, only 30% of ticket bookers return to an organisation the following year. Although it is quite low, it’s not a reason to be pessimistic. On the contrary. Figuring out how well you’re retaining audiences will guide your strategy and point which area you should be focusing on. For example, if you need more returning audiences, it’s about strengthening your relationship with your current audiences rather than trying to bring new people in.

Once you’ve gathered all the information available about your audiences, your next step is to segment your audiences based on what stage of their relationship with you they’re at. If they’ve only came to your space once, they will have different expectations and motivations than someone who’s visiting you every week. Ideally, each segment should get their own, tailored offer. The ultimate goal is to bring your audiences closer to you, and you closer to them.

The most common offers are cost-saving rewards but it really doesn’t have to be. It could be anything from discounts, freebies or personal touches – you have complete control on what they are and that means you can be as creative as you want to be.

Let’s go back to the friend analogy

Instead of audiences, think of them as friends. What would you do if you met someone new and you really enjoyed their company? You would probably text or call them shortly after you met to let them know you had fun and you’d love to see them again. Should it be different when you think of your relationships with your audiences? At thrive, we think both relationships should be treated the same way. And who knows? These new audiences may well become your new BFFs.


From now until January 2022, look out for more similar content about how to find out more about your audiences, tips on the type of audience data you should collect, segmentation and more. This content is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

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