This concludes a brief overview of what went into a new website and new digital strategy for a performing arts organization. At the start of the season, the opera was in a precarious position. I had to work with a 35% overall marketing budget cut, so I knew I had to be more efficient with the marketing dollars I had to my disposal.
Because many parts of the digital strategy were outsourced, the opera had spent a little more than $40,000 on all things online in the previous season. This season, the number barely reached $15,000, yet we were able to significantly increase the effectiveness.
Aided by a new ticketing solution launched simultaneously, we increased online single ticket sales from 28% to 55% of total single ticket sales while delivering a greater ability to analyze patron behaviors, track conversions and account for advertising spending.
Going into the future, the next steps should include eliminating those points that skew data in Google Analytics. In the course of the season, I identified a handful of these issues and we need to find fixes so that the data is more accurate. You won’t want to make decisions on flawed or incomplete data. So even though certain banner ads didn’t seem to perform very well, I wouldn’t want to make radical decisions just yet.
Furthermore, we only started collecting e-commerce and conversion data for one production. As all arts marketers know, no opera or symphony concert or ballet sells in the same manner. What are the noticeable differences we can detect in the conversion data and what can we learn from these differences?
In addition to making the data stream more accurate by eliminating points that skew data, we should make sure we add certain elements in the strategy. We started testing this in Google AdWords already, and we can apply what we learn there in other areas. How does different marketing content perform in identical groups? Next steps must definitely include small scale A/B testing, in either email messages or landing pages, where one (random) half of the gets one message and the other (random) half gets another message.
But what becomes very clear is that if you have the human resources, and a knowledgeable staff, you can bring much of your digital strategy in-house. A company like Venture and tools like Google Analytics and Google Grants offer free or low-cost alternatives to expensive agencies.
Outsourcing can typically get you all the fish you want, at a cost. It’s much better, however, to teach yourself, or even have someone teach you, how to fish.
I am proud to have built a strong digital foundation and by collecting and analyzing data we will be able to fine-tune this foundation to become ever more efficient.