Yesterday’s blog brought so many emails to my inbox that it opened the door for deep conversation about the web’s importance for prospective ticket purchasers. The importance of the web as a part of totally integrated multi-channel marketing is huge! So let’s dig in a little more today by turning to a resource I couldn’t live without, the incredible research reports from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. They should be a bookmarked read for every arts marketer. (I’ve included links to a couple of key recent reports in my blogroll.)
I’ve recently been fascinated by the implications of John B. Horrigan’s May 18, 2008 report for Pew on “The Internet and Consumer Choice: Online Americans use Different Purchase Strategies for Different Goods.” Horrigan studied music purchasers to see how they buy music, which has immediate implications for those in our field who are selling tickets to live performing arts – as well as to the packaging of digital music.
Herrigan proves the point of multi-channel marketing, noting that 51% of music buyers report offline sources as “more influential than the internet in shaping their choice of music purchase.” He goes on to say that, “in general, 62% of music buyers who used the internet to learn about music say an offline source mattered most as compared to 32% who said something on the internet made most difference.”
So, okay, the brochure and direct mail targeting still matter. So does the non-web advertising strategy, as Horrigan points out that ads and WOM are still primary influencers for music purchase.
But the web is a huge factor, particularly for web-savvy consumers. Note, the web, not just email. Here’s what Horrigan reports:
56% of music buyers say they watch a music video of the song or artist, some of which may be online videos, before the purchase.
44% have done at least one online activity relating to their music purchase, such as going to an artist’s web site or reading blogs about the artist or band.
The web is particularly important in reinforcing what Horrigan refers to as the “experience good” of music. (Actually, Horrigan rightly quotes Carl Shapiro and Val Varian’s “Information Rules” (Harvard Business School Press) in that term. An experience good such as music – or one might argue, a ticket to a play or a trip to a museum – “has a quality that is difficult to determine before the purchase, which makes sampling very important to the purcahse.”
So Horrigan notes that among music buyers, 39% go to the artist web site to “connect directly with artists.”
28% look online for live performances by the artist.
13% post their own reviews to places like Facebook.
And, 26% say that on-line resources led them to buy more music.
Seems pretty straight forward to us. Good use of the web in marketing arts events and tickets is more than sending email reminders for upcoming concerts. Add links to artist web sites. Add links (not just program notes) to your web site to satisfy web users’ insatiable need for research resources. Add you blog about the upcoming event, and/or your guest artists’ own blogs. Find better and better ways to let that need for “sampling the experience good” be satisfied. Sure, that sound bite of the Symphony or the new production of Lucia is a great start. But more is better. And, make sure to add opportunities for what Horrigan calls “post purchase” interaction. He notes that “Alexander Grahanm Bell was the first to see that communication technology might change the communal nature of listening to music, as he thought the telephone would be used to let people gather to listen to concerts happening on other places. The internet turns Bell’s vision on its head… (in part because) they can virtually gather in cyberspace to talk about it.”
What are you doing to foster that post event chatter?