Beyond loyalty: How to market to moviegoers throughout the entire buyer’s journey

Theaters love loyalty programs. They offer you the information you need to promote the right movies to the right customers—to keep them coming back for more flicks.

But what about all of the people that aren’t part of your loyalty program (yet)? How can you find new people, or likely returning customers that just aren’t in your program, that will enjoy a show at your theater? How do you get these individuals to return for another viewing? To eventually join your loyalty program?

There’s an entire buyer’s journey that exists outside of your theater’s loyalty program. Here’s how to communicate to film fans at every stage.

Awareness stage—inspire consumers

Studios are traditionally responsible for driving awareness of a film, and they do a stellar job at it. Trailers, TV, radio, print, out-of-home, PR, social buzz, the works. But their promotional messaging is for the film itself—not your venue.

Your goal at the awareness stage of the journey is to inspire potential moviegoers to see the latest releases at your theater.

How can you drive awareness before a consumer shows intent to buy?

You need the right data to reach known moviegoers across their devices, before they start searching for a movie.

Instead of waiting for people to show intent through some sort of search, identify individuals near your theaters who go to the movies, and show them relevant titles before they decide to go. Put the idea in their heads.

You can find and reach nearly anyone—prospects that haven’t yet visited your theater, current customers outside of your loyalty list and even competitors’ customers. Reaching them in the awareness stage gives you an early mover advantage.

Intent-to-buy stage—reach in-market shoppers

Consumers enter the “shopper” stage after they exhibit a search signal that indicates they are planning to see a movie. Most theaters begin their marketing efforts at this stage and typically identify intent signals through paid search or social and on endemic industry platforms like Fandango, Atom Tickets or IMDB.

Your goal at this stage of the journey is to convince people that are already planning on going to the movies to choose your theater over other options. But every other theater in the area is also waiting for consumers to raise their hands and become shoppers, so it becomes more expensive to reach these people through digital marketing like paid search and display ads.

Plus, there are limitations to measuring your campaign’s performance. Most of these channels aren’t going to share purchase details with you, which means unless those shoppers are buying on your website or at the box office, you don’t know who they are.

Your loyalty platform can successfully engage loyalty members at this stage if they’re logged in and browsing your website or app. You can use those signals to send them messaging and offers on their owned, personally-identifiable (PII) channels, like email, text and app push.

But what if they aren’t logged in or not part of your program at all?

You can still use your first-party data to identify loyalty members during anonymous movie browsing, as well. Then you can reach these in-market consumers across their devices with messages encouraging them to choose your theater. Maybe one person abandoned a page about a movie, so a next action is to deliver display ads for that movie to that person across their browsing behavior. If they abandoned your home page, serve ads for the most popular movie at your location nearest them.

This approach also allows you to measure when your anonymous browsers buy tickets, both online and at the box office.

Purchase stage—encourage loyalty with your guests

Your shopper made a purchase? Great. They’ve become your guest. Your goals now are to:

  • Maximize margins and total visit revenue
  • After they leave, encourage them to return and drive to loyalty (post-purchase)

There are a lot of places these guests could have bought tickets: at the box office, on your website or app or with an online ticketer. Your loyalty platform can help you talk to guests that purchased through your owned channels—website and app—because you collected contact information during checkout.  

But one of the biggest challenges at this stage is finding channels on which to reach the rest of your non-loyalty guests post purchase. It’s hard to convert them to loyal customers if you can’t communicate with them.

The best approach to solve for this problem is to work with a marketing partner that can match your point of sale data to digital profiles of real people so that you can reach them online. All personally identifiable information is removed in these profiles, but you know that “Person ABC” bought tickets to your show at your box office. This allows you to reach these guests in non-PII channels with display ads to encourage additional visits and loyalty signups.

There is also a segment of guests that buy their tickets through an online ticketer, but then they also indulge in some snacks from your concession stand—transaction! This is crucial because they’re creating a transaction trail at your location even though they didn’t purchase tickets through your owned channels. Now you can reach these guests online, too, with relevant messages across devices.

Loyalty stage—engage your members

Your goal at the loyalty stage of the buyer’s journey is to increase revenue by getting your members to show up more often and spend more per visit (Snow Caps, anyone?).

There are several loyalty platforms that shine at this stage of the game by helping you to keep in touch with your members on their personally-identifiable (PII) channels like email, SMS and direct mail. But did you know that you can reach your members’ in non-PII channels, too?

You can improve the performance of your existing loyalty program by complementing your emails and text messages with related display and video ads, for example, on the sites and apps they frequent.

Reach all the right small screens to sell tickets for your big screens

You may be thinking, This sounds great, but how do I actually DO it?

Engaging moviegoers across the buyer’s journey comes down to understanding your customer outside of just your loyalty program.

Start with what you know about each person, then add privacy-protected insights—like the devices they use, the smartest ways to reach them, and details on what they buy, places they go and websites they visit. Use this information to build the perfect messages that will drive incremental ticket sales, and deliver them in all the channels each person engages in. Then find lots more people that look like your best customers in all of your geographies and repeat.

You’ll be able to improve your metrics at all stages of the journey to acquire new customers, increase visit frequency, drive loyalty signups and more.

That’s a story worth a sequel.

Learn more about how we help movie theaters sell more tickets to loyal and new customers.