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6th May 2019 Jacqueline Haxton

The dreaded roadblocks #DigiLab

Digital Lab Fellow, Danielle McLoughlin of Hull Truck Theatre gives an update on the ‘roadblocks’ she faced in her first #DigiLab blog.

Since my last blog, I’ve completed one experiment and I’m currently evaluating the outcome. It’s simple, and not something I had initially set out to do, but after hitting so many roadblocks I wanted to try and put some of the things I’d learned during my mentoring sessions, into practise.

The dreaded roadblocks
The aforementioned roadblocks were noted in my last post and most related to our website and Google Analytics.

Our online checkout process showed that the last five pages of our website had the same URL ending /checkout. This meant I couldn’t accurately track who had actually completed a purchase and not dropped off one or two pages before making payment. Update: we’re currently looking in to this, with our new web hosts, and hope to be able to pin point a specific page, or ‘action’, which can then be fed back to Google Analytics to show us when a customer has made a purchase and thus a conversion has occurred. Within the Communications Team we are now also discussing what we would like to get out of Google Analytics and looking to set up specific goals and targets.

We didn’t have admin rights to our own Google Analytics account our previous, previous (!) web host did. Update: we now have FULL admin rights and each of the Communications Team have set up their own logins — sounds like a simple ask but trust me, it was not!

These may only small wins but they’re huge learning curves.

The experiment
Due to tight timescales and the issues I encountered with Google Analytics and web URL’s etc., I could no longer carry out the experiment I’d hoped to, so I decided to look at an alternative that wasn’t too time sensitive.

I was interested in creating pre-show emails to send to customers that contained show information (including warnings, age guidance, running times, etc.), parking info and links to our online access and dining pages. The Box Office strive to offer great customer service at all times and this would be another addition to the service that we thought would be really useful. I also wanted to encourage our catering team (external company) to be involved and come up with something that we could test that would benefit them too. I decided to create a pre-show email which I would send out on ONE week of a two week show run with the aim to finding out whether:

  • Sending the pre-show email, which includes info about parking and the show start time (not doors open), means less latecomers?
  • Is the email useful? Do people even open it? Is it worth staff time creating and setting up these emails, plus cost of sending them out, if only a small number of people look at them? Would this information be better put elsewhere?
  • Including an offer would encourage customers to pre-purchase interval drinks and thus change customer behaviour, reducing queue time at the bar during the interval which has previously been a problem and led to lost sales.

I am currently evaluating the outcome through Dotmailer and, with the help of my mentor, Google Analytics.

One of the main positives that has come out of the experiment so far is that working across departments or even companies, in the case of our catering team, does work.

18% of people who received our pre-show email, and opened it, used the discount code at the bar, pre-show. Okay, this isn’t a life changing number, and some of the customers may have pre-ordered drinks anyway, but it shows that you can influence customer behaviour in the way you want, and this behaviour in particular meant shorter queue times at the interval we’ve previously had issues with this and less (if any) lost sales at the interval.

On the flip side, I know for certain that the idea around evaluating latecomers was tenuous at best and will not provide me with a definitive answer. I can’t honestly tell whether everyone who was late did, or did not, receive the pre-show email but this has just stressed to me how important it is to make sure I have really clear, measurable variables in place and to plan, plan and plan some more don’t rush into an experiment under pressure.

Read Danielle’s first Digital Lab blog Personalised vs basic #DigiLab

Image courtesy of Hull Truck Theatre — Bouncers. Photograph by Ant Robling.

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