I have just arrived in Denver for the National Performing Arts Convention and the TCG Conference. I will be blogging from both conventions, and I can't wait for the official kick off later today.
On my way from DC to Denver, I reread the results from a survey that Arena Stage participated in a couple of months ago, and found a couple of surprising things that I figured I would share with you.
Bil Schroeder, Director of Marketing & Communications, at South Coast Repertory commissioned Klear Sky to study marketing and advertising practices at some of the larger regional theaters in the nation. Participating organizations included South Coast Rep, Center Theatre Group, Huntington Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, Steppenwolf Theatre, Seattle Rep, Goodman Theatre, Actors Theater of Louisville, Yale Rep, and several others.
Below are some results that I found to be interesting:
1. The average numbers of e-mail sent per month by survey participants was 6.3, but on the high end, one organization on average sends 13 emails per month. We can only assume with so many e-mail campaigns sent per month that this organization uses highly segmented and targeted campaigns.
2. There was one question on the survey that was misinterpreted by most of the respondents. The question was: "What is the average number of online impressions you have per month." I answered for Arena Stage, and I went back into our online impression reports from the past three months from every place online that we advertise. On average, we had 3,145,182 online impressions every month. Arena Stage had by far the most, with the average being 1.6 million of impressions. However, one organization reported only having 13,000 online impressions. Online advertising is relatively new, and this misinterpretation shows me that we aren't all on the same page on how to measure the impact of online advertising.
3. "Single ticket direct mail advertising has stayed the same or increase for 80% of the respondents. This remains a strong channel for advertising even with the rise of online and email advertising." I found this surprising because our direct mail campaigns at Arena Stage have decreased mostly because we are finding much higher ROIs on other types of campaigns, especially with the cost of the stamp constantly going higher and printing/delivery costs skyrocketing because of the fuel crisis.
4. Only 40% of respondents reported spending less on newspaper advertising over the past three years, which I found shocking. The state of the newspaper nationally is abysmal. Most newspapers are bleeding subscribers, and raising rates on advertising, so in essence we are paying more for less. However, it seems that less than half of the companies have reduced their expenditures which suggests that some folks like to stick with the tried-and-true techniques even as they become less and less effective.
5. Out of all the respondents, the organization that had the oldest website had their last redesign in February 2003. Most of the organizations have had a major redesign since December 2006. A note from Klear Sky says "websites that are older than three years run the risk of feeling dated and old." I always thought that the life span of a website was around four years, but now it looks like it is three years or less.
6. In 2004, I started speaking at conferences about using social networking platforms to promote arts organizations. At that time, most people didn't know what MySpace was. In this survey, 87% of the respondents reported to using MySpace and Facebook to promote their organizations.
Thank you to Klear Sky and South Coast Rep for publishing the information from this incredibly helpful survey.