How to make ticketing CRMs not suck so much

Ceci Dadisman
Dec 30, 2019 · 4 min read

That’s a bold headline, I know. It’s a little bit clickbait but rooted in truth.

I’m going to be brutally honest in this post because someone has to be. Arts organizations are at a disadvantage when it comes to online purchase experience.

We live in a time when you decide you want an Instant Pot, go online and find the one you want in about 2 minutes, and 2 clicks later it is on the way to your door. We are used to an easy checkout process when we purchase something online.

Our industry’s ticketing CRMs do not offer the same experience. Just because we are nonprofits doesn’t mean that consumers won’t have the same expectations.

As a marketer, I could run the best communications campaign for an upcoming show in the history of the internet but, if the buying experience is cumbersome once people have gotten to the website, there’s a good chance I’ll lose that sale. (At the very least, I’ll have to work harder and spend more money to get those people back and keep them interested enough to make a purchase.)

We all have had an experience where we started to purchase something online and then something in the checkout process made it less than seamless. If you’re like me, you probably abandoned the whole thing.

To combat this, here is my wish list of basic upgrades that will make immediate impact:

  1. Abandoned Cart
    Every organization should have access to abandoned cart functionality. Full stop. The ability to automatically send an email when someone starts but doesn’t complete the purchase process should be standard. We know from using retargeting in our marketing campaigns that many patrons need a little reminder about an event they were interested in. Abandoned cart communications are an easy way to do this.
  2. Mobile First
    If you look at the average organization’s Google Analytics, you’re probably going to see at least half of the traffic comes from mobile devices. The seat selection and checkout process should be easy and quick on any mobile device. (And don’t tell me that your organization doesn’t have to worry about this because your patrons are older. Beyond that, what better way to make a good first impression with new patrons than to have a great experience?)
  3. PayPal/Apple Pay
    You know one of the reasons why J.Crew gets so much of my money? Because PayPal is a payment option. The ease of being able to complete a purchase without digging for a credit card is something that we have become accustomed to. Also, if we are taking the next step from #2 on this list, someone on their mobile phone is much more likely to complete that transaction if it can be done without having to get out their credit card. (I can’t tell you the number of times PayPal has enabled me to make purchases on my phone whilst trapped under a sleeping baby.)
  4. Eliminate Mandatory Account Creation
    Making people set up an account creates an unnecessary barrier to the completion of the purchase. The most egregious example of this is prompting for an account set up or sign in as the first step in the process. For most retailers, creating an account is optional but there is that clever little prompt to do so after the transaction is complete where your information is pre-filled so you only have to choose a password. (Read: super easy!)
  5. Seamless Website Integration
    We need to be able to integrate the purchase process into our landing pages to create the best user experience. Buying a ticket shouldn’t mean endless clicks down the CRM rabbit hole. Let’s have as much of the buying experience as possible embedded in the landing page so there are minimal clicks which means a faster and easier path to purchase.
  6. Optional Shopping Carts
    I would be willing to bet that most people purchase one thing per session on our websites. (If anyone has data on this, send it my way.) They’ve come to buy tickets to a particular show and that’s all they’re going to accomplish at that time. Let’s allow tickets to be purchased in one smooth path without having a shopping cart stop in the middle. You can still add on a suggested donation or other things like parking as a part of this process, but eliminate the separate cart step. Now, if an organization does have a situation where people would use that shopping cart, have the option for them to enable it.

Yes, CRM providers, this is a radical change and will mean substantial and fundamental changes to the software. We can’t keep going down a path simply because its the way we’ve always done things. Let’s take a cue from the larger e-commerce community and focus on what the consumer wants, needs, and expects.

If you work at one of these providers, let’s start a conversation about how we can make things better. Let’s open a dialogue where the goal is to make progress that will effect meaningful change.

I’m always game for some creative problem solving. Who’s with me?

Ceci Dadisman

Arts Marketer. Public Speaker. NonProfit Communicator.

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