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Seven Strategies for Getting New Audience Members to Love You

A study by the American League of Orchestras shows that up to 90% of new audience members never return to your venue*

Imagine if you could decrease that 90% churn rate to 80-85% and start building an audience that loves what you do and can't wait to come back for more. We've come up with seven ways to make this happen, and the best part is that some of them take as little as 20 minutes.

First, let's talk about Taylor Swift...

If someone really wants to experience something, they will sit in line for hours and even make questionable financial decisions to get tickets.

Taylor Swift built a multi-billion dollar brand based on "authenticity, personal connection, and reliability (Forbes)." She makes her fans feel valued by showing an interest and building a community. Here are a few ways she did this:

  • Stays relevant by changing as people's tastes and cultures do

  • Invites people backstage at the end of concerts instead of charging thousands to meet her

  • Is an expert storyteller

  • Likes and reshares her fans' social media posts

Creating a memorable spectacle with sets and costumes doesn't hurt, either. Investing in compelling photos, videos, and copy that make people want to experience what you have to offer is key to getting people to love you.

Ask if They Are Really New to File

Although there are ways to get close to identifying first-time ticket buyers with criteria within your ticket system, it's possible someone could appear as a first-time audience member even though they attended in the past (even recently) as someone's guest or have a duplicate account.

Ask them if this really is their first time at your venue at some point during their experience with you, ideally as they check out, so you can deliver the appropriate experience to them. You can also implement ticket sharing software to capture your "ghost attendees better" to get more accurate numbers.

Step Up Your First Impression 

We always feel like we’re Captain Obvious when we mention this, but first impressions matter. Someone's first interaction with your organization sets the stage for their expectations moving forward.

Any time someone is inconvenienced by outdated or wrong information, you risk ending your relationship with them.

You haven't built any goodwill or trust with new audience members. If they are inconvenienced, they will move on to another entertainment option.

If you haven’t recently, take 20 minutes to audit your phone, automated emails, and website for outdated information now. You can even download our handy audit checklist to help with this process.

Send a Welcome Email

After someone purchases a ticket or joins your e-mail list, a well-designed welcome email (not a confirmation or receipt) is an excellent way to shine. We recommend including bonus content that showcases your organization's extraordinary artists and community involvement.

Unless you've promised a special discount for signing up for their list, try to avoid upselling shows or asking for donations. Be sure to include links to other digital platforms, like social media profiles, so customers can connect further. 

Need some inspiration? Click here, here, and here.

Provide "Unreasonable Hospitality"

“It’s become apparent that you (Pete) are excellent at making the clients feel their needs are being met. But Mr. Cosgrove has the rare gift of making them feel as if they haven’t any needs.” - Lane Price (Madmen)

This is the platinum standard of customer experience, and the important ingredients are ensuring your frontline staff feels empowered to make decisions and that your ticket policies are aligned with modern-day consumer behavior.

For more, read Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect by Will Guidara, the former co-owner of the restaurant Eleven Madison Park. It's part memoir, part business book that's entertaining and quick. You'll get excellent insight on how to pull this off on a budget.

Get Feedback and Use It

Your audience members will provide the most valuable insights about your organization.

You most likely already send post-show surveys. Have you sent a special survey to first-timers that asks why they bought a ticket and what would make them come back?

We also recommend scheduling a call to have an in-depth discussion about their experience. You'd be surprised by what you'll learn and how you can turn that intel into happier audiences and new revenue streams.

If you don't have enough time for in-depth conversations, you can also troll your online reviews for patterns. (Bonus tip: online reviews and your conversations are great sources for copywriting.)

If this sounds daunting, we can help. 

Asking Them to Come Back 

As tempting as it is, refrain from offering a big discount. This message can include: 

  • Define your one goal for what you want your first-time audience members to do.

  • Remind them of their last visit. 

  • Offer subscriber benefits or special value add-ons specific to them as a special gift for coming back. 

Bottom Line...

Customer retention is always a challenge, but with these tips, you can start to see your churn rate decrease over time.

This process involves a lot of strategy, execution, design, and set-up. NEW Marketing Solutions is here to help you get everything up and running painlessly.

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