Testing, 1, 2, 3: Measuring and Improving Your ROI

Posted by Katryn Geane On November - 15 - 2012

Katryn Geane

While sitting in the second row of seats looking at heat and confetti maps of sample websites, I was reminded of the number one reason I love attending the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (NAMPC): all these smart people are sharing information that I get to go home and use, and everyone else will think I’m a genius.

OK, maybe not that last part, but how lucky can we get with colleagues who are willing to help us out like this? I’m as much of an internet nerd as the next new media manager, but it seems that there’s a new resource or tool every week that promises to track, update, monitor, and help you do something with your website, and I can’t be the only one who doesn’t have oodles of extra time to be cruising the internet testing new tools.

In the measuring and improving your ROI session, Caleb Custer and Dan Leatherman presented a metrics-driven and scientific method-inspired “try, learn, think” cycle for testing and implementing changes to an organization’s website.

By using tools they introduced as well as now old standards like Google Analytics, they urged us to “prove the user’s expectations right and they will feel more in control” (paraphrased from Jakob Nielson) and therefore happier with their experience with your site.

Plunk, Clue, Crazy Egg, and others were offered as options for testing user interface, and there were resources for tracking links, segmenting visitors, optimizing landing pages, and then even more about email layout and design, A/B testing…and so on, and so on…and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Adlers

It is no surprise to anyone working in the arts and culture sector that arts organizations all around the world are consistently challenged with the task of securing new and diverse sources of funding in order to keep their lights on while fulfilling their artistic mandates. Businesses receive hundreds of requests every week from the arts sector.

Although many decision-makers in the corporate world recognize the value of the arts in the community, they are inundated with cookie-cutter, standard template proposals which are primarily focused on the needs of the arts organization, and not on how they can partner in a creative way with the businesses they are approaching.

My own conversations with executives from the corporate sector across Canada reveal that businesses which are considering supporting the arts expect to receive innovative sponsorship proposals. They are looking for creative synergies which stand apart from the pile of requests they receive every day. They expect a well-researched, professional business approach demonstrating a solid return on investment for their company, whether this means engaging their clients and employees at an event, reaching new audiences, or raising the profile of their company by being aligned with an innovative arts organization or project.

Logo recognition and tickets to events are a given, but in terms of sponsorship benefits, they are standard practice and old news. Businesses are looking for the imaginative, clever new idea which will bring them recognition as a supporter of the arts.

In Canada, our answer to these challenges is artsVest™, a unique program of Business for the Arts which combines in-depth training in sponsorship development with a matching incentive grant and a toolkit for securing and sustaining successful new partnerships, and brings local arts and businesses together at special events. Read the rest of this entry »

Are Subscriptions Dead? Maybe Not (Part 3)

Posted by Chad Bauman On October - 6 - 2011

Chad Bauman

In Part 1, Chad discussed how Arena Stage conducted research to determine if subscriptions still worked for their organization. In Part 2 and below, he discusses some of the tactical changes Arena Stage has made as a result of that work:

Eliminated Advertising, but Increased Direct Mail and Telemarketing.
Prior to 2008, 25% of our subscription budget was allocated to advertising. After exhaustive efforts, we could not trace a single subscription purchase back to our advertising campaigns. Therefore, we cut all subscription advertising, and refocused those resources on direct mail and telemarketing. In doing so, we completely revamped our direct mail and telemarketing campaigns.

In terms of direct mail, we would previously print hundreds of thousands of season brochures, and then mail them out in a few rounds of massive mailings. Our brochures were 28-32 pages in length, and functioned more as a branding tool than a sales piece.

Today, we send out 30+ direct mail pieces during each subscription campaign that specifically tailor the offer to the target. We have eliminated our subscription brochure, cut our design costs by 60%, and have directed all of our resources to testing message and offer. For more information on our new approach to direct mail, please read “The Future of the Season Brochure.” Read the rest of this entry »

Guess Who’s Coming to Your Arts Events?

Posted by Will Lester On October - 4 - 2011
Will Lester

Will Lester

How well do you know your audiences…really?

Before the curtain goes up you can undoubtedly pick out that valued donor or long-time subscriber in your audience. Or, at every exhibition opening, you probably know the faces and names of the most important and dedicated members attending. But who are all the rest of the people coming through your doors? Are the majority of people who have been to your organization before, or are they new? And are they new to the arts or just new to you?

The team at TRG Arts was curious about this too. What we found is that, in a given season, about 50% of the people coming to your arts events are people you have seen before. The other 50% are new to the organization, although maybe not to the arts.

Subscribers, members, and other regular attendees actually only comprise about 37% of the typical database. Another 14% are “reactivated” patrons—patrons who have some sort of buying history, but haven’t bought in the last two years. Read the rest of this entry »

Three Ways to Put Social Media in Its Place

Posted by Amelia Northrup-Simpson On October - 4 - 2011

Graphic: Mike Licht via Flickr

Having written about social media and its application in arts marketing for the last few years, I’ve become aware of a disconnect. I’ve written about specific social media tools and tactics, but I realize that I haven’t addressed how it fits in with overall marketing strategy, and within the media mix.

Think about the campaigns that have delivered the most revenue. For many organizations, subscription or membership campaigns are the lifeblood of their revenue each year (a good example of this came from TRG Arts client Arena Stage recently).

Direct-response renewal campaigns usually produce the highest sales volume as well as the highest marketing return-on-investment (ROI). On the other hand, social media has eluded our efforts to assign value to it since its inception. Social media is hard to track ROI on and even harder to monetize. On top of that, it’s nearly impossible to track social media users because doing so falls outside of the proprietary systems designed to protect their privacy.

You will not, repeat, NOT hear my colleagues and me advocating for abandoning your social media efforts. However, we do ask you to consider the question: Looking at your marketing strategy holistically, how does social media complement your most effective marketing campaigns? Read the rest of this entry »

Every Dollar Counts – It’s all in the Math

Posted by Amy Kweskin On November - 1 - 2009

Here’s a simple equation that Philippe Ravanas of Columbia College in Chicago shared with us at the Every Dolar Counts: Using ROI to Prove Marketing Effectiveness at the NAMP Conference:

ROI % = Return/Investment = Sales Income – Marketing Investment/Marketing Investment x 100

Lara Goetsch of TimeLine Theatre Company in Chicago brought the equation to life in her examples of how she is now coding her marketing and able to track ROI – allowing her to make informed decisions and marketing investments.

Overwhelmed? The best advice both had to offer was to take it in steps. Measure one marketing investment at a time.

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