BLOG 15th April 2019

Post and Email Marketing Permissions in NI Venues

Each year, we run a box office benchmarking project with venues across Northern Ireland. In 2018, 18 organisations participated, 7 in Belfast, and 11 across the rest of the country – including theatres, arts centres, and festivals.

In addition to getting crucial insight into their own individual audience behaviours, the project provides an opportunity to pull out the wider trends that are appearing in the data.

This year produced some interesting insights. Here’s the headlines of what we found about audience marketing permissions – before GDPR had a chance to make a real impact.

Marketing Contact Methods – The trends before GDPR

At the end of 2017, the average NI venue could only contact:

  • 45% of customers by post.
  • 40% of customers by email.

This means that they had both the contact details, and permission to market to that person by that method.

Geographic differences:

However, there was a marked difference between email and postal contact rates in Belfast and outside of the city.

Belfast venues can contact more people by email than by post:

  • 41% of Belfast customers are contactable by email.
  • 26% of Belfast customers are contactable by post.

Regional venues can contact more people by post than by email:

  • 51% of regional customers are contactable by post
  • 36% of regional customers are contactable by email

For venues, this means that when they run and email or post campaign, it’s hitting less than half of their previous customers. Getting a previous attendee to come back is an extremely cost-effective way of growing your ticket sales and attendance rates – generally much easier than attracting a brand new customer. So it should be a priority to have high contactability rates for existing customers.

The other thing to take into account here is the place both marketing methods have within your wider marketing mix. Is it worth it for you to prioritise getting contact details and permissions for both post and email, or does it make sense to concentrate solely on one method?

What can we do about it?

We’ll be able to take a closer look at how GDPR has affected these contactability rates in 2019’s box office reports. But until then, there is still huge room to improve marketing sign-ups from both existing customers and those with a casual interest in your venue.

Here are a few things that came out of our conversations with venues we worked with this year:

Communicate the benefits of subscription

Ticket-buyers need to feel confident that their data is secure, and that they won’t be bombarded with irrelevant leaflets and newsletters. Tell them about the benefits of subscribing – will they get special offers or early booking priority? Be clear about how often you’ll send material out, and let people know that they can easily unsubscribe.

For those buying their tickets at box office or at the door - make sure that all venue staff are fully bought in to getting new people onto your mailing list and know what message to send.

The MAC improved their sign-up rates by having a very clear message around what that would mean. They listed the benefits, and assured customers that they would only get emailed twice a month, and that they would only receive the printed brochure twice a year.

Examine your return from print and email marketing

If you’re getting low levels of print or email marketing permissions, it may not be just about how you are making the ask. Customer preferences change over time, and some people may no longer want as much contact via print or email.

If you haven’t changed your print marketing plan for a while, it could be time for a re-fresh.

The Crescent recently took a look at their print marketing strategy, to make sure it was giving them a worthwhile return on investment. They reviewed how many bookings they could attribute to print, and then reduced and re-targeted who received the brochure. They ended up with a much more efficient print marketing campaign, and some extra money to invest in digital marketing channels too.

Make sure you’ve considered ‘Legitimate Interests’

The compliance date for GDPR has been and gone (we’ll always remember the momentous day of May 25th 2018…), but it’s still worth checking that you’ve got your data protection approach right.

Many organisations went down the consent route for marketing permissions under GDPR, when they could have used ‘legitimate interests’ instead. Put simply, ‘legitimate interests’ means you can market to those who have already purchased a ticket before, without requiring them to actively opt-in. You can see how to use legitimate interests for both post and email in our explainer blog.

Find out More:

If you’d like to get a personalised report and recommendations on your own customer trends, check out how to join our 2019 Foundations project. We also run GDPR planning sessions too. Or if you’d just like to talk through some ideas and get advice, you can always book in for a free Audience Appointment.

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