Case Study | Northern Stage

Northern Stage has a better understanding of the differences between their online visitors and bookers...


  • Explore what differences, if any, exist between Mosaic profiles of Northern Stage’s theatre audiences and online visitors
  • Explore how to attract people who visit the website but don’t attend
  • Identify practical steps that can be undertaken to improve communications and targeting.

The research covered a three month period for comparison (December 2014 to February 2015); a timeframe

that Hitwise: AudienceView can accommodate, (Hitwise: AudienceView is an online analytics tool provided by Experian for Audience Finder).


The data showed marked differences between Northern Stage’s bookers and those people visiting their website. The table below displays the % share for each Mosaic segment: The data in the table for bookers shows the sort of picture expected for an organisation like Northern Stage, particularly with two Christmas shows taking place during the defined time period. There was significant market share across two Mosaic 6 segments -Prestige Positions and Domestic Success 18% and 19% respectively, (37% share in total). Three segments: Rental Hubs, Suburban Stability and Aspiring Homemakers had a medium presence (10-12% each) whilst the remaining segments (excluding Country Living) had low engagement of under 5%. Online visitors in comparison showed a more balanced spread across all the segments, with no one segment having more than 12% of the share. When bookers and online visitors were compared, there were four segments where the bookers’ share made up at least 4% more than online visitors’ share (Prestige Positions 18% v 8%, Suburban Stability 11% v 7%, Domestic Success 19% v 12% and Rental Hubs 12% v 8%). So whilst it would be good to have a balance between the two - as these are still translating into bookers despite their relatively low web presence - it is not a cause for concern. However, there were three segments that provided real interest in terms of the interaction between bookers and online visitors. These were Senior Security, Vintage Values and Modest Traditions, which made up 25% of visitors to the website but only 7% of bookers. This is interesting when we consider that these are Mosaic segments that demonstrate generally lower levels of technology use and adoption.

Understanding the figures

We considered there were a number of reasons why this higher percentage of online visitors could be appearing but not translating into bookers:

Tickets at Northern Stage range in price from £14 to £24.50. Within the context of other organisations in the area tickets are competitively priced. However, Senior Security, Vintage Values and Modest Traditions are seen as having lower incomes and more reliant on state pension and/or benefits, so the cost of tickets may be felt more keenly within these groups compared to other segments.


During the research period, the main programme revolved around two family Christmas shows in December and an adaptation of the WW1 novel Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks in February. There was no major programme activity in January. For the Christmas shows, it is possible that grandparents were searching for activities they could do with the whole family, before suggesting productions to parents who would then book tickets. Birdsong was a sell-out success. Northern Stage ran a major outdoor campaign around Newcastle, as well as promoting it to interested groups in the city in a bid to engage new and different audiences. Also the WW1 subject matter was felt to be relevant to the three lower engaged segments in particular. This in itself would have been a driver for traffic to the website, with potential attenders then not booking due to lack of availability or other aspects as mentioned. Alternatively, for those that found Birdsong of interest but did not book, the next major show was a very different programme offer, a contemporary reinterpretation of Macbeth described by Northern Stage as “radical”, which may not have appealed to those segments.


Northern Stage’s mailing lists are based on those who have signed up and visited within the previous three years. It is possible that online visitors who received an email, clicked through to the website but then decided that they were not interested in attending. It is also possible that online visitors interested in attending then asked a family member or friend to book for them due to either distrust, lack of confidence or inability to book online. Other family members booking on their behalf would then be attributed as the booker and so this could have had an impact on the final data analysis. Visitors may also have experienced difficulty in navigating the website to the extent that they left before purchasing a ticket or then asked someone else to purchase tickets on their behalf.

Next steps

As a result of this analysis, Northern Stage has a better understanding of the differences between their online visitors and bookers and will be doing further work to explore whether there are continued differences. Actions include:
  1. User testing the website - This is of particular interest if the assumptions around issues for people navigating the website prove to be correct.
  2. Focus groups - Talking to groups drawn from the three lower engaged segments to understand barriers to programme and price.
  3. Longer comparison period - Examining online visitors vs bookers for a longer booking period, March to May 2015, to see whether similar trends are repeated

Written in July 2015.