Customer data for audience development

Arts Professional: Essential Audiences 20 November 2006

Are You Stalking Your Audience?
Heather Maitland sees too many arts organisations squandering opportunities to use their customer databases for effective audience development
I come across too many organisations who are not making effective use of the information they hold about their ticket buyers. It’s not just that they are wasting a valuable resource, they are probably actively putting off their potential customers too.
Their strategy for using their customer database is to send direct mail about an event to people who have recently been to something similar at the venue. Sounds harmless, doesn’t it? But the trouble is that no-one is taking a strategic overview of who gets what. And the more often a customer buys tickets, the more often they get direct mail. Some venues are mailing their core customers at least once a fortnight. That’s stalking!
Not only does it mean that response rates to direct mail will be low because it’s predominantly the same people getting it, but also that the organisation’s most loyal customers will feel that their loyalty is not recognised and valued. They will probably view these letters as irritating junk mail…
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