The PatronBase community, in common with the industry as a whole, has seen online ticket sales to be vital to success, and it’s hard to imagine even the smallest venue or event organiser not being keen to take advantage of online sales.
But getting tickets online is the easy part – customers will only take advantage of online sales if the way you sell tickets and fit ticket buying into your website makes it fast, efficient and painless to buy tickets. Getting the user experience right can drive revenue, reduce the load on your box office, and allow you to cross-pollinate audiences and upsell products, gaining new audiences and selling more to the loyal patrons you already have.
We’ve put together six simple rules of thumb to help you make the most of online sales.
Think Mobile First
If your booking process doesn’t work on mobile, it doesn’t work online – increasingly, we expect to buy tickets (and everything else) on the go, and if a booking site doesn’t work on our phone we’ll likely pick up the phone to the box office or just give up. So, regard purchases on mobile as essential to success, and test your website-through-to-purchase on a range of devices. A particular challenge is seating plans, and it’s somewhere we at PatronBase have invested a lot of time making sure that you can book on mobile with ease.
Embed or Link?
Several years ago, it was fashionable to embed your booking widget in your website, so that the whole booking process takes place on your own site. That looks attractive, but is increasingly difficult to maintain, particularly on mobile because new versions of mobile browsers (particularly on iOS) don’t play well with embedded widgets. If your customers are complaining they can’t book on iPhones, you’re probably using an embedded booking widget that’s struggling to keep pace with mobile.
At PatronBase, we offer both approaches – a stand-alone booking site, or an embedded widget (called an iFrame) if you prefer. Either way, we style your booking pages to match your website and your booking pages work seamlessly with Google Analytics so that you can track how well the whole process is working, not just your own website. If you’re using an iFrame and the good people at Apple or Google release an update which breaks embedding, we just allow your customers to use the stand-alone pages ensuring you don’t lose any sales.
Cross- and Up-Sell
Your booking process MUST allow you to put more than one event, product, voucher, membership or donation into a basket – if it doesn’t, you’re missing out on valuable sales. If it does, it should almost certainly allow you to cross- and up-sell, so make sure you’re taking advantage of this.
You’ll want to link events to other events (“you’ve booked for The Tempest, you might also like to book for Twelfth Night”), link events to promotional products (“why not add the program”) and if you’re a charity, prompt your customers to consider making a donation to support your work. PatronBase venues take advantage of these features and more to increase event sales, drive interval drink pre-orders online, sell more promotional programmes and merchandise, and increase donations.
You’ll want to keep a close eye on how your sales online are doing – what’s working and what’s not, what you can improve, where your customers are struggling.
The reports within PatronBase can help you understand your audience better, including sales profile (“when, where, how and why did people buy?”), cross-over analysis (“what did the audience for The Tempest also see?”) and advance booking (“how did sales build over time?”).
But to truly understand how effective your online sales are, you’ll want to use Google Analytics across your website and booking process to look at how people arrived at your site, how they moved through your site, and especially when they left your site. Google Analytics is seamless from your website into PatronBase, so you can follow the whole journey from first contact to final exit. If you’re not totally confident with Google Analytics, that’s fine – we can point you to some great resources online, or training is available within your PatronBase team.
Don’t Forget Social Media
At the very least, you should be making it easy for your customers to share what events they’re coming along to on Facebook and Twitter, and you can facilitate this with ease within PatronBase.
Some of our most advanced users of social media use our embedded Facebook app, allowing the whole purchase process to take place without ever leaving Facebook – great for driving sales on community events or those with a strong social or fan following!
Keep One Eye On The Future
Your website is an investment, but like almost any capital investment needs maintenance and eventually replacement to keep it in tip top condition. When you build a new site, think about how long you expect it to last and invest in the design, build and maintenance accordingly. Like most things, a little regular investment each year will keep your site and booking pages fresh and working to its full potential. At PatronBase, we can help with advice or even provide web development for you if you’d prefer your website and booking pages under one roof.
Don’t forget that what looks swish and modern today will change in the future, so expect to redesign your site in 3-5 years. And, new trends will undoubtedly come along which you’ll want to capitalise on – we expect mobile apps, voice apps (such as Amazon Alexa) and anti-touting tech to continue to grow over the next 3-5 years. Partnering with PatronBase, you’re in safe hands – our innovation focus will help you take advantage of new trends as they emerge.
If you’re already using PatronBase, and would like some help with any of these tips, do reach out to your Partnership Manager or raise a support ticket. If you’re not using PatronBase, why not get in touch for a demo to find out how to do all this and more?