London Symphony Orchestra approached Audiences London (now The Audience Agency) to support a consortium of London orchestras and orchestral venues to help them understand the overall market for orchestral music in London and individual organisations within it; and develop collaborative approaches to growing the size of the market and increasing engagement.
The project started with audience research which identified the London Consortium's target audiences for a marketing campaign. These were attenders who had attended once and two times to any orchestral event across the organisations. These audiences were found to have less confidence and knowledge about orchestral music, many went to a couple of events in quick succession, but then ‘lapsed’ and did not re-attend.
The campaign, which ran from March – July 2011, aimed to encourage these audiences to return and to develop their confidence and knowledge through an online experience-led collaborative offer. The micro-site, hosted by Time Out was the focus of the campaign. The site presented a ‘menu’ of concert options described in thematic terms, based on the nature of the experience on offer, e.g. be blown away, go on a journey, chill out, be adventurous, feel romantic or be uplifted. Attenders were mailed or emailed with information and directed towards the site, from which they could choose a concert, explore more about the orchestras and orchestral venues in London and what was involved in going to a concert.
The response to the postal and email campaign was good, compared to benchmarks, with those who engaged valuing the opportunity to visit a ‘one-stop’ site for orchestral music in London. The information on the site was considered clear and easy to engage with. The initial box office analysis (at July 2011), showed that 10% of respondents to an e-survey booked as a result and 40% said they intended to.
Twelve organisations were involved in the ‘Music to Remember’ campaign:
Four of these were venues: Barbican Centre, Cadogan Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Southbank Centre.
The other eight were orchestras: BBC Symphony Orchestras, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment, Philharmonia Orchestra, and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The project was managed and co-ordinated by Audiences London in partnership with the London Orchestras Consortium. Time Out was a delivery partner for the campaign.
- To apply research findings from the London orchestral benchmarking project to a public facing audience development campaign
- To test the effectiveness of an offer which responds to the needs of the target market
- To monitor the ROI and impacts of a campaign for the agreed target market
- To test the effectiveness of a collaborative orchestral music offer with the target audience
- To develop the partnership working of the participating organisations
- To develop a campaign that would be scalable on a national level and cross-art form sector
- To share the results and learning from the campaign with the wider cultural sector
The project was evaluated by using Google Analytics for the micro-site, email statistics from the participating organisations’ systems and an e-survey posted on the site and emailed out to the target audience.
Website statistics compare well to available benchmarks for arts organisations websites, given that the site was a ‘pop-up’, rather than an established site for a single organisation:
- 25% of users made a return visit
- On average there were 3.28 page views per visit
- On average users spent 2.32 minutes per visit
- Of those emailed, and directed to the site 25% were opened
- Of those emailed 23% clicked through to site
A total of 40,000 target bookers were either emailed or posted details of the micro-site. These were all existing customers of the organisations, so could easily be reached.
E-survey posted on the Music to Remember Microsite – summary
- The invitation to the site was sufficiently enticing to respondents with 47% wanting to ‘learn’ more about classical music in London and orchestras in general and over half looking for ‘new ideas’.
- 73% said the relevance of information was good or very good and 83% said the ease of use was very good or good.
- The concert diary proved the most useful with 69% of respondents using it, followed by 45% using the information about orchestras and venues.
- 24% of users would definitely recommend the website to a friend, colleague or family member, and 34% would probably recommend it.
- 76% would use a website like this again.
- For those who engaged with the themes, 63% said they were useful or very useful in helping them make a choice about the type of concert they could attend.
- 10% of respondents said they made a booking, with 40% saying they intended to.
- There were a number of favourable comments, when asked what their favourite thing was about the site:
I have been finding it difficult to access information about concerts. I have been checking the web sites for all the different venues I can think of up to now. This is much easier.
the ease of being able to see what concerts were being held in the different venues
The concept of grouping music into themes
Learning related to public engagement:
The initial research was essential for identifying the target audience, their needs, motivations and behaviours, in order to be able to make the right offer to them with the right benefits.
Partnering with a trusted provider such as Time Out for the ‘Music to Remember’ micro-site was considered a key part of the campaign. While the target audience might not have been engaged with particular orchestras or venues, they were existing cultural attenders, so would be familiar with Time Out. Recommendations through this media were therefore considered key to boosting their confidence and knowledge.
Although the site involved a competition to win an iPad, tickets and CDs, this aspect was not that popular with visitors to the site. It appears that those who went to the site were really just looking for information, and required no further incentive.
Many of the attenders’ profiles of the target group, fit the Dinner and a Show’segment – but analysis showed that the infrequent attenders targeted were drawn from across a number of Arts Audiences Insight ‘somewhat engaged’ segments, including Fun Fashion & Friends.
How evidence might be applied in the future
From Audiences London’s experience and the initial findings from the campaign, the approach is replicable at different scales and in different contexts. The essentials in achieving this would be:
- Research and analysis to identify target audiences
- Collaboration across a number of organisations with shared objectives
- Delivery of a joint campaign to meet the needs of the target audience
- Monitoring of results and analysis of impact
As well as the research providing a clear direction for the campaign, it also provided the participating organisations with the confidence to collaborate, as it was clear that they were not in direct competition for their audiences. The research showed that only 36% of audiences across all the organisations were repeat attenders, and these audiences were confident and knowledgeable and created their own ‘menus’ of concert-going. The remaining one-off attenders had little sense of loyalty to any orchestra or venue, so by encouraging them to attend again, they would be on the path to creating their own menu of concert going (which might in the end focus on one orchestra and/or venue).
As the campaign relied on organisations directing ‘their attenders’ to concerts by other orchestras or at other venues, it was essential that organisations were comfortable with this. It was therefore particularly important to ensure CEO buy-in for the collaborative approach, which was done through a joint meeting between all CEOs and marketing staff.
Following this well-supported campaign, the orchestras have gone on to continue to work together in various ways, including developing the Student App – Student Pulse
Thanks to London Orchestras Consortium and Karen Cardy
While anxiety about attending events remains high amongst disabled people, the Covid online content boom has given rise to revolutionary opportunities that could improve access for good.
While audiences are most comfortable returning to outdoor events, organising a festival that can flex around ever-changing restrictions is still no mean feat. Penny Mills and Jonathan Goodacre have been looking at what’s working.