Subscription campaign terms for performing arts organizations: a list of definitions
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Subscription campaign terms for performing arts organizations: a list of definitions

Britney Hines | August 23, 2017 6:00 AM

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with a super-smart arts marketer and come away not sure that you were talking about the same thing?

There’s a lot of jargon in our industry, particularly when it comes to subscriptions. A “Choose Your Own” subscription at one organization is a “flex pass” at another, and a “Build Your Own” at another. The term covers a number of different loyalty schemes, from a pack of vouchers to hard tickets that you choose in advance.

There’s no Google Translate for subscription jargon yet, but below is a basic glossary we originally published for our recent case study with Long Wharf Theatre. We recently revised the list to add even more terms. If you'd like to impress your marketing colleagues, make your industry friends jealous with your vocabulary, or simply confuse your significant other when you talk about work, read on.

Acquisition campaign: a campaign with the new goal of attracting new subscribers

Cost-of-sale: the percentage of expense compared to revenue earned.
$100 expense/$1000 revenue = 10% COS

Fixed seat subscription: a subscription where the patron sits in the same seat for every production

Flex pass/Choose-your-own subscription: a subscription where the patron chooses which productions in the series they would like to attend

Full series subscription: a subscription which includes all of productions that the organization produces, or all of the productions in a given series

Lapsed subscriber: a patron who has subscribed in previous seasons or years, but not in the current one

Multi-buyers: A patron who has bought tickets to two or more productions in the past few seasons or years

Per capita revenue: Average price found by dividing the number of tickets or packages sold by total revenue. For example, 10 tickets sold for a total of $100 =$10 per cap

Reactivation campaign: a campaign that targets lapsed subscribers, asking them to subscribe again

Renewal campaign: a campaign that aims to get existing subscribers to subscribe again next season/year

Renewal rate: the percentage of subscribers from one season/year who renew the next season/year

Response rate: the percentage of people who respond to a campaign

Return on Investment (ROI): The net return or profit from a campaign.
Revenue – Expense / Revenue
$100 expense/$1000 revenue = 90% ROI

Same season multi-buyer: A patron who has bought tickets to two or more productions in the same season or year

Same-seat deadline: A due date for current fixed-seat subscribers to renew their subscriptions and secure the seats in the venue that they had for their current subscription

Single ticket buyer: A patron who buys one or more tickets but does not subscribe. Can be used as a blanket term for a group of patrons that has bought any number of tickets.

Single ticket on-sale: The date when non-subscribers have access to tickets for individual performances in the season.

Super subscriber: A subscriber who adds on a donation for additional experiential opportunities. ie. "Enhance your subscription with a $100 tax-deductible gift and receive a backstage tour." 

Upgrade: when a current subscriber buys a subscription which is more expensive. Could include a larger package, better seats, a different night of the week, or even adding on a donation

Unit: generic term to represent the number of tickets or packages sold.


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Case Study: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma

Annual operating budget up 32% in 5 seasons

Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma 
 Photo: Joseph Mills

After a poor year for earned revenue in 2012, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma (LTO) had rebounded and was experiencing a growth spurt. In 2013, Director of Marketing Danyel Siler had turned her attention to single tickets.

Her hard work had paid off, but season tickets were still a challenge. “Season tickets were steadily declining,” she said. “The season ticket campaign had been done the same way for years, maybe even decades. And we blamed the fall on the trend that subs were declining everywhere. Our executive director, artistic director, and I all knew something needed to change, but we didn’t know what.”

Read More>>


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Adam Scurto
Amelia Northrup-
J.L.Nave Vincent VanVleet Keri Mesropov

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