How can arts organizations use survey data to cultivate new audiences and strengthen bonds with current attendees? This PowerPoint presentation uses data from three organizations in Wallace’s Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative, which ended in 2019—The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, The Lyric Opera in Chicago and The Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle—to explain whether and how key survey metrics can effectively predict ticket sales and offers takeaways and considerations for other arts organizations.
The data from all three organizations focuses on 2016 single-ticket buyers, including first-time and returning single-ticket buyers. Respondents were asked how likely it was that they would return in the future, among other questions, and then tracked to see whether they did return through 2018.
Key takeaways include:
- Single ticket buyers who say they will “definitely” return are more likely to actually return than those who say they’re less inclined. About half of those who said they would return actually did in the following two seasons.
- Single ticket buyers who say they’ll return come back in greater numbers the first year after they’re surveyed, lesser in the second year.
- Single ticket buyers who return are likely to be older, with the largest returning age group being audience members 65 and older.
- Surveys linked to ticketing databases can help organizations see if their return patterns are similar to those in this study and create potential marketing opportunities.
- Surveys can also give staff a window on what audiences are thinking after the performance, making quick messaging adjustments possible.
Across the three pilot organizations, 49% of single ticket buyers who said they would “definitely” return did return within the next two years. The consistency of this finding across the three organizations suggests other organizations might benefit from using this information to bolster their own marketing efforts.
Points of Interest
Arts organizations could use survey data to learn more about their audiences, predict ticket sales and create potential marketing opportunities.
A recent study of three arts organizations showed that the strength of a ticket buyer’s intent to return was closely correlated with actual return. Single ticket buyers are also more likely to be older and to have become aware of the performance from the organization's direct communications.
Arts organizations who wish to use post-performance survey data should ensure they have enough people in their database for a successful return on investment and think about what they might want to see in their own data.