Data in Marketing: 3 Key Metrics for Analyzing Subscription Package Success

Jennifer Sowinski Nemeth

Senior Consultant & Analyst

Jennifer enjoys working with arts and culture clients to help them increase revenue and grow audience through data-driven strategies including pricing studies, venue re-scaling, customer behavior analyses, and segmentation.
February 28, 2023

This blog is part of our new series “Data in Marketing.” Each month, we’ll bring you fresh tips on leveraging your data to enhance and optimize your marketing work.

You may have seen in our recent whitepaper that subscriptions are on the decline for most performing arts organizations. This is especially true for traditional, fixed-style subscriptions. With this decline, however, comes a great opportunity for organizations to re-think their loyalty programs and design offerings that are in alignment with what their audiences are seeking.

The best way to create the ideal loyalty program for your organization is to do research into what drives your audience, what would improve their experience with your organization, and what motivates them to attend or visit. We do this research for our clients to great results. But, if you’re just beginning to think about your loyalty program and aren’t ready to undergo a research project yet, there are a couple of key metrics you can start with to understand what types of subscription or membership packages resonate with your audience.

Attendance by Package Type

When I say attendance, I don’t mean ticket-buying behavior, I mean—are the people who are purchasing tickets to your performances actually attending? What is the attendance rate of a single ticket buyer? How does that compare to a subscriber, and if you offer multiple types of subscriptions, how do attendance rates compare across them?

An examination of attendance rates at your own organization is a great place to start for clues as to which products are most valuable to your buyers. Our research found that the average fixed-subscriber attendance rate in 2022 was only 68%, while the average choose-your-own-subscriber attendance rate was 81%. The higher attendance rate for choose-your-own subscriptions indicates that the product is resonating more with purchasers—these buyers are getting more value from their purchase than fixed-subscribers who don’t attend.

Renewal Rates by Package Type

Renewal rate measures the percentage of subscribers that return from one year to the next. One way to understand how the motivations of audiences may be changing is to look at how purchase behavior changes year over year. Look at how renewal rates vary for different subscription offerings, and how many new buyers each type of package attracts.

For many organizations, fixed subscriptions have been on the decline for several years, even pre-pandemic. New fixed-subscribers are not buying at a rate that is fast enough to make up for subscribers who lapse. From the 2021-22 season to the 2022-23 season, the average number of fixed subscription packages sold dropped by 9%. At the same time, the average number of choose-your-own, credit style packages, and ticket-based memberships grew significantly. These more flexible packages are gaining new subscribers faster than existing subscribers are lapsing, indicating that for many organizations, less-traditional subscriptions are more attractive. Monitoring renewal rates and new-subscriber rates for your audience provides a good indicator of which packages are more appealing to your current buyers.

Website Engagement

While purchase data is important, it’s not the only kind of data you can use to gauge interest in alternative offerings. After all, before people purchase, there are a whole slew of possible interactions they might have with your organization—and few things are going to be as trackable as what they do on your website. Using your website data, you can get a sense of what people are looking for on your website and what is leading them to your pages.

For example, you can look at what your most popular pageviews are and consider putting together a “Top Picks” package, for people who just want to see what people are buzzing about. If you have an advanced analytics setup, you can see what videos people are playing on your website—if costume videos are incredibly popular, consider a package around performances with dazzling visuals.

You can also look at your site searches and see if people have been searching for themes like “no intermission plays” or “end times, ” in which case you might consider a package along the lines of “shows that will get you out in time to catch the last train”. Site search is great for giving you a sense of people’s goals in trying to find a page, not just what pages they ended up on (or perhaps the single event they purchased).

Develop a Loyalty Strategy Based on Data, Not Guesswork

There are countless measures you could track subscription package success, but these three measures are a great place to start when you’re looking to understand what features your audience prefers in a loyalty program.

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