Booking online events is nothing new, and the prevalence of guests booking online in-advance has been increasing slowly for years, but the COVID 19 pandemic caused a dramatic shift in the importance of the online experience. Now, post-pandemic, customers demand for online booking has only continued to grow.
According to Spektrix In 2021, 69% of transactions for tickets, donations, memberships and more were generated online. Looking at income from ticket sales alone its even higher - 71%, almost three quarters of overall income, was generated by theatres, music venues and visitor attractions through their websites.
What are the key factors for success?
A successful Arts & Culture website will showcase individual events to their fullest potential, drive visitors to make a booking and leave a lasting impression of the venue on the whole.
Arts & Culture organisations come in all shapes and sizes but the elements which make them succeed online remain largely the same. Here, we’ve narrowed down the 11 key factors we feel are the most important.
1. What’s on search
An effective search facility is vital to any website in this sector. This will give the visitor the ability to quickly narrow down results by event type and using a multitude of date parameters such as specific day, predefined date range or user-defined date range.
2. Event Detail Pages
These pages play the most important role in forming the visitor’s decision to purchase. The design should be both captivating and informative, grabbing the visitor’s attention and encouraging them to keep learning. Compelling imagery can spark the visitor’s interest from the moment they arrive.
Vital information such as date, time and accessibility should also be kept prominent. A clear call to action will allow an event page to secure more conversions. Informing visitors when availability is limited can instil a “fear of missing out” and boost these final conversions further.
Key elements to include on an event page include:
- Event Name
- Date & Time
- Specific Event Details & Schedule
- Ticket Information
- Prominent CTA
- Social Integration
- Relevant Imagery
- Contact Information
- Event Schema
- Optimized URL
3. Booking Process
The booking process should be intuitive, informative and streamlined. Once the visitor has made the decision to purchase, the website must work had to maintain this momentum and walk them through the booking process in as few steps as possible.
Simple measures such as keeping the visitor’s booking information (number of tickets, dates chosen) in view throughout the booking process can go a long way, mitigating uncertainty, the risk of stalling and cart abandonment. This process is called Checkout Optimisation.
A happy, loyal customer is the most sought-after customer, they will write positive reviews about your event, engage with your brand online, refer you to their friends and even by supporting your organisation though donations. So it is obvious why maintaining your loyal customers is extremely important.
Focusing efforts on understanding and creating opportunities for customer loyalty and fundraising online is an essential part of any Arts & Culture website.
5. Customer Engagement
Regular engagement through social campaigns, email marketing is a good way to retain customers and strengthen brand loyalty. Campaigns can be used to remind customers of upcoming shows, or offer suggestions they may enjoy.
6. Promotions & Offers
80% of your business is likely to come from just 20% of your customers – a pattern known as a “Pareto Principle”. This is a good reason to focus the majority of your promotional efforts on this 20%.
Reach out to these high prospect consumers personally and offer them exclusive incentives. Address them by name when contacting them on social media, email, or text and use these channels to entice them to sign up to your mailing list.
Leveraging Paid Advertising on top of organic outreach will amplify your event exposure and help you to reach new audiences. Google Ad Grants are available for charities and nonprofits – offering them funding for digital advertising that they may be otherwise unable to afford. We manage Google Grant Accounts for several clients to help them make the most out of their $10,000 monthly ads allowance.
To encourage extra ticket sales and generate suspense in the build-up to your event, consider adding an event countdown clock to your website.
Providing an experience which is tailored to an attendee’s own interests and preferences can allow a venue to engage more successfully with an audience of individuals. Personalisation can be applied to all aspects of the event experience from ticket sale through to take-home gift.
Beyond the event experience it creates the opportunity to recapture the audience by suggesting events based on their previous ticket purchases and searches. You can collect user data from your own website by using cookies, but be sure to get your user’s consent.
8. Showcasing Location
Arts and Entertainment venues typically have a large catchment area, meaning their audience will often travel from far afield to attend an event. Showcasing the surrounding area can be highly influential in generating interest amongst an audience on the edge of this catchment.
Providing a tourist guide highlighting local restaurants and points of interest will be valuable to these customers. Using your site to showcase the city or town will not only provide useful information but also improve your visibility online. It also creates the opportunity for collaboration which other businesses in the nearby area, which in return can generate awareness of your venue in their own promotions.
The position of a website or event page on the most popular search engines can make or break an event. That’s why effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in the run-up to the event is such an important consideration for the organiser. Using keywords to show search engines that your event is relevant, however, is only half the SEO battle. The other half is to convince Google that your site is a more valuable resource for potential website traffic than other sites ranking for the same or similar keywords.
The best way to do this is with authentic, valuable content. Google can sniff out a page that suffers from “keyword stuffing,” – when page content is overloaded with keywords meant to manipulate Google’s ranking.
10. Event Schema
Schema.org is a structured data markup supported by search engines to add extra context to your content. Event schema can gain rich snippets in the search results.
You can get even more specific with event subtypes including BusinessEvent, FoodEvent, MusicEvent and more. Find a full list on the Schema.org Event page.
Schema can be implemented as either in-line microdata or JSON-LD. JSON is the preferred implementation for Google, but other search engines do not currently support the method.
Using Event Schema has many benefits as it can improve your websites search rankings and also appear as Rich Results in SERPs, increase CTR, boost traffic & more.
11. Continuous Improvement
If you wish to remain competitive, you must continue to evolve and adapt. Feedback is one of the most important parts of continuous website improvement.
Certain aspects of this list may have a bigger impact on your audience than others. But when you put them all together you'll have a more complete website - optimised to draw the most out of people at every stage of the customer journey.
We work alongside many organisations in the arts, culture, entertainment and leisure sectors and have a wealth of experience creating digital solutions for these sectors that generate bookings, get people in seats and increasing digital presence. Get in touch if you'd like to discuss your next project with us.