Five Easy Steps for Brilliant Loyalty Campaigns

Do you roll out your renewals/memberships on a traditional season or year-round schedule? Either way, follow this simple checklist to ensure you wow your returning patrons with a bright and brilliant loyalty campaign.

1. No Patron Left Behind: You may have a variety of potentially returning patrons from flexible and rolling subscriptions/memberships to multi-event–but single ticket–packages. Generate a comprehensive list of all your loyal buyers to receive a renewal notice–whether it be for next month or the next year. For example, many OvationTix partner theaters sell “peel-off” subscriptions and may easily forget to roll over their two-play or three-play subscribers into the the entire upcoming season.

2. No Dollars Left on the Table: Offer the same or slightly higher loyalty level–and associated price–to the customer. So if your theater offers a 20% discount on the introductory subscription rate, you may consider offering a 10% discount on the regular subscription rate the following year. Loyal subscribers/members will return less because of the price/discount and more because they enjoy the experience you provide and other benefits. Many theaters will offer added-value items like complimentary drinks, an exclusive event invite, or access to a donor lounge instead of a discount.

3. No Errors in the Process: Take the time to ensure rollover and other data is correct for all your customers. OvationTix helps identify errors in the automated rollover process but remember: mistakes can be made manually on a spreadsheet or at the mailing house/printer just as readily as they may appear in your database. So, in addition to keeping your OvationTix database clean, be sure to check your mailed or emailed invoices/form letters and other materials throughout the process. For example, names should match addresses, which should match seats/shows/tickets, etc. Pro tip: if 30 randomly selected invoices reflect completely accurate information, you are all but certain to have an entirely “clean” mailing.

4. No Opportunities Unturned: Your subscribers and members are loyal to you for a reason. Do not take one unreturned email, postal mailing or even personal phone call from you as indication they do not wish to join you again. While it is important to be responsible about the pace and quantity of communications you send, certainly one–and usually two or even three–of each type of communication performs well in terms of return-on-investment (ROI) of dollars and your time. As always, include the opportunity for patrons to change their communication preferences though unsubscribe links, change of address forms, so you can respect their wishes.

5. No Tolerance for Mediocrity: The lifetime value (LTV) of your loyal subscribers/members can easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars. So treat these patrons as the valuable assets they are: give ample opportunity for feedback/seating requests, clearly communicate any donor benefits (if applicable) that complement a ticket purchase, and take every opportunity to engage them. If you expect long phone queues upon mailing or emailing your first renewal notices, consider staggering these campaigns or upping your phone sales staff. Think Disneyland here: find opportunities to delight and surprise your loyal patrons. These are NOT your typical single-ticket buyers. The surprise/delight might come from minimizing expected friction in the renewal process; it might be as simple as saying, “Thank you for subscribing for more than XX years.” Or delight may come in more tangible ways like offering invitations to exclusive events in association with purchases or offering gifts like a complimentary concession item and swag.

Performing arts organizations have been participating in loyalty programs for many decades, so research  how other theaters have been doing this and continue to innovate on this model.

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