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The Mighty Eight: How to Drive Internet Traffic to Your Venue

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It can seem like marketing is an act of voodoo at times. A little bit of this, a bit of that, some magic words, and maybe you get a sale or two. It’s frustrating! If you feel like internet marketing is all over the place and not resulting in the packed performances you had in mind – we get it.

Your website needs traffic. Patrons of your venue are already online searching for local entertainment. The idea is to grab their attention and get them to convert into more business for you.

Internet traffic typically comes from very predictable places. In our experience, eight of these places have the most potential for quick wins for venue marketers. Familiarize yourself with ‘The Mighty Eight,” learn each one’s secret, and enjoy your journey on the road to ticket sales.

Be Mighty Tip #1: Understand where your traffic comes from

Clear analytics is the foundation of marketing decision-making. Let’s face it, marketing is a lot of work! By capturing your web traffic you can identify your best current traffic sources and optimize there. It’s easiest to improve the channels where you are already thrivingl. Do you see a spike every time you send an email? Does Facebook send a lot of traffic your way?

To-Do: Set up Google Analytics or similar on your website. If you sell tickets online, be sure your ticket system integrates with your website analytics.

Be Mighty Tip #2: Setup business local listings (Google Places, Bing Local, Yelp, CitySearch)

Local listings make your business visible on the internet. Each listing you create improves the likelihood that your venue will be found by customers. It’s important to make sure to pay at least some attention to engines other than Google as important demographics may be using Yelp, Bing, etc. Keeping your listing up to date in multiple locations helps result in higher search traffic for your venue.

To-Do: Get on Google Local, Bing Local, Yelp & City Search. List your business with each. It’s typically just a form you fill out with some sort of address verification step. For example, Google will mail you a postcard to confirm that your business is at the address you claim.

Be Mighty Tip #3: Improve search-engine rankings from online searches

Your ranking on search engines like Google or Bing is super important.  Showing up on the first page of search results for key terms — for example, “theater performances” — can also make a huge difference in your site traffic. It also affects potential donors, volunteers, and your patrons’ ability to find and connect with you. Your pages should follow baseline technical SEO best practices, and your content should be genuine, useful, and to the point.

To-Do: Go onto your website and do a thorough review to ensure your site has high-quality information, and you are following basic technical SEO practices. You might also want to spend some time encouraging other sites to link to your site. The more links that direct traffic to your site, the more search engines rank your site as a central, important resource.

Be Mighty Tip #4: Use email marketing through an in-house list (newsletters, announcements)

Email has a historically high rate of converting marketing effort into paying customers. Even with a long history of success, it’s often left out of marketing discussions. Even though it’s not the fanciest kid on the block, it one of the higher converting – so it deserves a spot on our list.

To-Do: If you don’t already have an in-house list of patrons’ emails it’s time to start building one. Offer interesting content for subscribers to avoid looking like a spammer, and use a 3rd party email provider such as Mailchimp, Constant contact, etc… Using a 3rd party allows you to track if emails are being opened, when they’re being opened, manage lists, test content, and it protects your internal email system from the possibility of blacklisting.

Be Mighty Tip #5: Get on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp)

Social media continues to play a larger role in driving traffic to business websites. But you have to do more than just setup your shiny profile and walk away. Your potential patrons want to interact with you! Hence the term “social.”

To-Do: Create social media accounts where you think your patrons hang out the most. If you’re not sure, start with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which are historically good bets for venues. Once your accounts are setup, be sure to keep the momentum rolling. Post regularly, link your blog posts (we’ll get that in tip #8), and experiment with ads on each social platform.

Be Mighty Tip #6: Utilize web maps and searches (Google Maps, Bing Maps, Mapquest)

Google maps does a lot more than show the address of a business with driving directions. You can choose to have your venue’s name, reviews, website, phone number, business hours, and more displayed. Google maps is in a lot of ways a true one stop shop for promoting your venue – all the information one would need is right there.

To-Do: Your job is to get all that information to display once a patron searches your venue in Google maps. Make sure to have as much information as possible populated to be displayed from the maps software – website, phone and name being a minimum.

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Be Mighty Tip #7: Don’t forget about text messaging

Yep, text messaging. It works. More than 95% of text messages are read within five minutes of receipt. More messages received means more engagement, more leads, more business. And at only pennies per text, text messaging is usually one of the more affordable options.

To-Do: Contact a text messaging company to setup your first campaign. It typically only takes a few minutes to setup and it’s easy to manage contacts and campaigns. Then sit back and enjoy the 10x open rate over email marketing.

Be Mighty Tip #8: Start a blog

Google’s ranking system favors websites that add new content frequently. Many venue marketers satisfy this by maintaining and updating a blog. This is your opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in the performance venue industry.

To-Do: Start a blog on your website.  Talk about interesting pertinent topics in your industry and start a conversation in your community. Enjoy the resulting ticket sales.

As you get into the implementation phase of these tips you’ll quickly see what works best for your venue, and what has only minimal effect. The key though, is that you will see an effect over time. Make sure the Mighty Eight always tie back to your website so your site is at the center of all of the efforts. The more internet traffic that goes to your website, the better your search engine rankings, the more seats you”ll sell, and well… that’s just good news for all of us.

Daniel Bonomo
Daniel Bonomo dons a cape as our resident Data Man. He is Marketing Director for Red Cape Group and has been in the industry of digital marketing and data analytics since 2006. He has always maintained the necessity of owning your own data, and better yet, making sense of it!

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