10 February 2009
From Cindy Lauper to classic concertos, Chicago the musical to Carmen the opera, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) shows it all. It is the premier multi-venue performance space in Queensland, attracting renowned international performers as well as providing a home away from home for Queensland’s leading performing arts companies.
With new shows on each month, QPAC relies on a slick and efficient marketing system that promotes the program to a database of more than 150,000 people. Of course, details about each show are not sent to all people on the database – and therein lies the key to what has become an incredibly efficient and successful email marketing program.
Bienalto has designed and developed a template for QPAC’s event promotion emails, enabling them to send out targeted emails to segments of the database – at the click of a button. Following on the success of this template, Bienalto is now working on a range of other projects with QPAC to iteratively improve its online communications channel.
With such a diverse repertoire on its bill, the biggest challenge facing the marketing team has been finding a customer segmentation model that works. In other words, calculating what a customer is likely to buy tickets for, based on their previous purchases.
“The problem is, just because someone came to the ballet last month, it doesn’t mean they will buy a ticket to the next ballet performance,” said Rae Bassett, Audience Development Manager, QPAC.
“Particularly for first-time bookers and those that only come to the occasional performance, it becomes incredibly difficult to predict what their next purchase will be.”
QPAC sought a new way of promoting events that would rely on segmentation in the first instance, but would also include other promotions that could potentially generate increased sales.
Bassett and her team also sought a more streamlined and efficient process, to reduce the time spent on each campaign.
Bienalto devised an email template featuring a ‘QPAC recommends’ section. So, along with the main promotion, two to three alternative events can grab a customer’s interest, to squeeze more value from the single piece of communication to customers.
Information architecture principles have been applied to the design of the email template, to ensure that key elements (for example, ‘Buy Tickets’) are easily accessible. The design is also flexible enough to accommodate the distinctive branding requirements of different productions.
“We also wanted more ‘engagement information’ in our emails – which research from the United States has shown to be crucial for those first-time bookers who have the potential to become valued customers,” said Bassett.
With this in mind, the email templates enable the easy insertion of video content to better engage with customers. Bienalto has also helped to develop a ‘first-time booker’ program, which identifies the unique needs of new customers and sends timely welcome emails, information about the venue, reviews and a post-event email with a ‘first impressions survey’.
“We have almost doubled our click-through rate on event promotion emails since we started using the new template,” said Bassett.
Prior to using the new templates in November 2008, the average open rate for campaigns was 27.5%. By February, the open rate was up to 45%, with an average list size of 10,000 recipients.
“Unique click-throughs have increased by 2% too. In itself, that doesn’t sound like a staggering increase, but the difference it makes to our bottom line is massive,” Bassett said.
The templates have made it much easier and faster for the promotion team to set up emails for each campaign – what once took up to four hours now takes 80 minutes. Considering that they often do more than 14 email campaigns per month, this is a huge saving.
“We simply could not live without email marketing anymore. It is so powerful and cost effective, and this new templated approach ensures that we extract maximum value from every piece of communication we send out,” said Bassett.