Three Essential Elements to Engage Arts Patrons in 2019

Patron engagement is one of the biggest issues impacting performing arts organizations across the country. According to JCA Arts Marketing, two-thirds of audiences don't return each year.

There is so much more to engaging your patrons than just putting on a great event. You also need to create an excellent experience around these events if you want to keep them coming back.

With that in mind, here are the three elements that we believe essential to engaging your arts patrons in 2019 and beyond.

1. Create an optimal event discovery and purchase experience

The patron experience journey starts with patrons finding your events and buying tickets, so it's important that you get this first part right. Within the event discovery and purchase experience, there are several components that you need to focus on.

First, you'll want to maintain a clean website template. Use simple navigation, intuitive visual hierarchy and clear calls to action to make it easy for your patrons to find information about your events. This will increase conversion rates, and in turn, revenue for your organization. 

You'll also want to make the purchase process as easy as possible. Simplify your purchase field labels to reduce confusion and eliminate unnecessary fields to reduce friction in the purchase process.

We suggest that you enable guest checkout on your website. By forcing patrons to sign up for an account to buy tickets, you create another unnecessary step that makes them more likely to abandon the purchase process. In fact, 23% of people will abandon a purchase if they are forced to make an account first.

Finally, ensure that your website and purchase process are mobile-responsive. This will make it easier for your patrons to browse events and buy tickets on their devices. For OvationTix clients, 49% of online sales come through mobile, so this is one area you cannot afford to neglect.

2. Ensure a seamless experience on event day

Now that you've made it easy for your patrons to discover your events and purchase tickets, it's important that you ensure that things go smoothly on the day of the event. Here are a few suggestions that we have for creating a pleasant event day experience.

Use pre-show emails to increase event attendance. By using a tool that sends automated pre-show emails, you increase the likelihood that your patrons will actually show up. You can also reduce the amount of phone calls your box office gets by including information on things such as directions and parking.

It's also a good idea to prepare your house manager with a 'Who's Coming' list containing detailed information on which patrons to pay attention to. For instance, you'll want to know if there are any special members or donors who are coming in so you can interact with them at the show and provide them with 'white-glove' service to be a cut above the rest. 

Additionally, your organization should use a system that allows you to process tickets quickly on event day. Adding on to this, it's important that this box office tool is connected to your patron database so that you can easily assign ticket purchases to repeat customers so you can get more data insights on them. OvationTix clients, for instance, use our QuickSell+ functionality, which allows them to do this.

3. Provide a delightful post-event experience to retain and develop patrons

So, you put on a fantastic event and filled a lot of seats. That's great! However, your job isn't over yet. After your event is over, it's important to do appropriate follow up and continue to develop these patrons and keep them coming back to your venue. Here are a few ideas for you to do just that.

Use post-show emails to increase retention. These emails are a great way to thank people for coming. You can also give them a special offer like a promo code to come back or use these emails to solicit feedback from your patrons. Additionally, we suggest tailoring your communications based on whether they showed up and personalizing your messages with dynamic fields.

You'll then want to add any new patrons to your database so you can send them targeted offers. For instance, you may want to offer new patrons a flexible package option to help turn these first-time buyers into loyal customers.

We also suggest using CRM tools to develop patrons and turn them into long-term donors. Your database is an excellent place to identify key donor opportunities. You can then use CRM tools to assign fundraising tasks to certain patrons and move them through the development funnel.

So, there you have it, our top three elements for engaging arts patrons in 2019 and beyond. Putting on a great event is just one part of the patron experience. There is so much more that your organization can do to nurture these relationships your customers and keep them coming back. If you'd like more insight on this topic, check out this on-demand webinar, where we go into more detail on how to create an excellent patron experience in 2019.

As we've alluded to here, the OvationTix platform contains a suite of tools that can help you streamline your box office and increase patron engagement and revenue. If you'd like to learn more about how we can help you implement these strategies, schedule a demo of the OvationTix platform.

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