At CI we are having ongoing conversations about how arts organizations can best be responding to COVID-19, and what digital marketing actions we recommend taking. First and foremost, we recommend caring for your staff, artists, and community. For us, that means our staff is working from home for a while.
As people are going to be spending more time at home, arts organizations should continue to play an important role in audiences’ lives. We recommend thinking long-term and maintaining a marketing presence so that, on the other side of this crisis, it will be easier to resume business as usual.
Here is a list of more specific digital marketing suggestions:
Even if you’ve canceled programming, maintain a presence on social media by posting regular updates to your social accounts. Here are some great examples:
Consider promoting these social posts to your ticket buyers to ensure they receive this information.
Think about promoting video content from a canceled performance to people who bought tickets to that performance. It will help keep them entertained at home and will help your organization maintain a connection with audiences. You can also consider livestreaming future performances (more information on that below).
Running brand campaigns keeps people engaged so you don’t have as large of a ramp-up when events and programming start up again.
You can even ask your audiences what kinds of posts they are interested in seeing right now, like the Seattle Opera did.
Landing Page and SEO
The search volume for branding terms combined with virus terms has increased in many areas and cities.
Create a dedicated landing page to address shows/concerts/exhibits being postponed or cancelled, steps being taken by your organization and venue(s), and potential ticket exchange information.
Formatting the landing page as a Q&A will improve how it appears in search results and make it as informative as possible for patrons. Including “last updated” copy on the landing pages enhances clarity for users around how new the information is.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Maintain an active presence on search by keeping your Google Grant account active.
Search is user-centric. Even though the volume of searches may decrease, you still want to give searchers what they’re looking for, when they’re looking for it. We recommend that evergreen and non-canceled event search ads remain live and discoverable.
Pause your paid campaigns for canceled or postponed shows. If there is a desire to keep these campaigns active in the Google Grant for patrons to find information, update ad copy calls-to-action from “Buy Tickets” language to “Get More Info/Learn More” language.
If you’re receiving a lot of questions from patrons about COVID-19 or if your season is experiencing postponements and cancellations, consider adding a sitelink for COVID-19 in your Grant's brand campaign, but only if there is a dedicated landing page. This is not recommended for paid accounts unless strongly desired.
Keep in mind the sitelink will appear below an ad likely selling tickets, and for searchers who many not have searched for branded terms appended with “virus” or “covid-19,” which is why this may be strategic for some organizations with many postponed shows but may not be necessary for all organizations.
Below are some examples of sitelinks.
Review all active and upcoming email campaigns. Look out for triggered or scheduled emails that might be contradictory or tone-deaf to the situation.
But, don’t be afraid of emailing too frequently right now. It’s important to share the most up-to-date information with your patrons. Be sure to include a link to a dedicated landing page about your organization’s response to COVID-19 if you have one.
Be sure to send emails to current ticket holders for affected performances. Highlight any ticket exchange/refund policies, how ticket buyers will hear about performances being rescheduled, and any updates to your cleaning procedures if performances continue.
We have seen a number of organizations offer livestreams in the wake of cancellations or social distancing measures in their community. This is a great way to stay connected and top-of-mind with your audiences while they are at home. This can also plant the seed of goodwill for when people are in a better place to financially support your organization.
There are a number of livestreaming platforms available to you. Here are some that our clients are using:
Remember to check with your programming team regarding any rules or restrictions surrounding artists or licensing. And when they give you approval, you can show them some extra love in the post comments!
Here are some examples of arts organizations announcing and promoting livestream broadcasts:
As you create your own livestreams, social posts, emails, search ads etc., or see other great examples, we would love for you to share them in the comments below.
We hope these suggestions are helpful to you during this complex time.