In any arts organization, every interaction plays a pivotal role in building valuable patron relationships. Every step in the customer journey, beginning with a website browse, to purchasing a single show ticket, to buying second or third tickets, gives you opportunities to convert your patrons into valuable subscribers. However, with so many different interactions and opportunities, it is often difficult to know where to begin and launching the initiatives that engage patrons can be a daunting task. Taking a phased approach will help. From market segmentation to campaign execution, to programs and events, here are the tactics you should launch to engage, intrigue, and convert single ticket buyers to subscribers.

Phase one – Launch segmentation, flexible price incentives, and calls to action

During the first phase of your subscription upsell initiative, you should not only focus on launching and testing new campaigns but also lay the foundation for the campaigns and offers you want to run in the future. It’s important to gather data and feedback that helps you gain a better understanding of your single ticket buyers, test new approaches, and plan for new processes and tools that will enable you to develop more complex upsell programs in the future. Here are some of the tactics you should consider if you are in the early stages of converting single ticket buyers into subscribers.

  • Segment ticket buyers by zip code/geography
    • Tailor your communications with patrons based on their location and distance from your venue.
  • Offer price flexibility
    • Enable single ticket purchasers to offset the price of subscription with the amount they paid for the ticket.
  • Create flex packs as stepping stones to full season subscriptions.
    • Offer pricing tiers or package offers that encourage patrons to move toward subscriptions.
  • Add subscription call to action on the actual ticket
    • Use the ticket as a marketing channel by including information about how ticket buyers can upgrade to a subscription.
  • Include a subscription-upsell call to action in your email marketing campaigns
    • If you are already running abandoned cart emails for single-ticket purchases, you can add subscription messaging.
    • Encourage subscription purchase in other triggered emails and campaigns
  • Implement web-tracking or other tools to gather patron data
    • Consider the data you will need to launch more advanced campaigns in the future and launch or implement new systems to begin collecting this information.

Phase 2 – Launch personalized outreach and refine segmentation and pricing offers

At this stage, you will be able to layer more advanced tactics on top of your phase one initiatives. Phase two initiatives rely heavily on understanding your single-ticket patron behavior, so you must have the necessary tools and processes in place to drive results. Once you have the patron data you need, you can launch these marketing tactics to convert single ticket buyers to subscribers:

  • Segment ticket-buyers by interest
    • Use your web-tracking, email engagement, and purchase data to create interest-based profiles of your patrons. For instance, some patrons may be interested in contemporary art and performance, others may only like music, and some might be interested in the family-oriented content.
  • Segment by wealth/buying power
    • You can use a combination of patron purchase data and third-party wealth data to understand which patrons have higher affluence and will be open to subscription offers.
  • Offer time-limited discounts
    • Setting a time limit on your price incentives creates a sense of urgency. You could offer discounts that are valid for 12-24 hours after a performance.
  • Offer upgrades to subscriptions in pre-show emails
    • The feeling of excitement around a pre-show announcement or communication generates goodwill that you can leverage to convert ticket-buyers to subscribers
  • Promote subscription purchases at the show
    • Place subscription salespeople and reps at the venue, while the show is top of mind for ticket-buyers, and have them encourage patrons to buy subscriptions.

Phase 3 – Launch personalization, special events, and new marketing channels

The most sophisticated phase of converting your ticket-buyers involves highly targeted content, experiences, and tactics. It is essential that you have a 360-degree view of your ticket-buyers and a deep understanding of their interests and needs to ensure ROI on the new initiatives you will launch in this phase. Once you have this information, here are some of the most advanced tactics you can begin to convert single ticket-buyers to subscribers.

  • Use call-centers to reach out to satisfied customers
    • Use customer satisfaction metrics to understand which customers are likely to purchase additional tickets and upsell them through a phone call.
  • Offer special-event experiences as an incentive to upgrade
    • Use your behavioral data to understand which shows and content ticket-buyers are interested in and suggest exclusive experiences related to these interests to single ticket buyers who opt into subscriptions before the performance.
      o For example, you could offer a meet-and-greet with performers if the ticket-buyer upgrades to a subscription.
  • Use personalization in your pitch
    • Track the patron’s preferences and include this information in your communications. You can mention seat numbers, dates, or timeframes, which will help to build rapport increase the likelihood that they will buy.
  • Have a marquis performance
    • Running a significant performance with popular appeal usually requires organizations to offer large quantities of pre-sale tickets to subscribers, ultimately driving more subscription purchases.
  • Personalize show recommendations in package deals
    • Drive interest in a package of shows with recommendations that are aligned with the patron’s interests.

Whether you are just beginning your upsell initiatives or you already have advanced upsell programs in place, it’s important to consider the knowledge, processes, and tools you will need to carry out your campaigns now and into the future. Use these tactics to upsell your single ticket buyers and convert them into subscribers.


Find out more! Read our post on Why Performing Arts Organizations Need Customer Journey Mapping.