Guest post by Ryan King, Blackbaud’s Sr. Channel Marketing Manager. Get ready for some great insights from a marketer that has a passion for engaging the nonprofit community and Blackbaud customers.

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I was doing some online shopping on a Swedish company’s website the other day that sells assemble-yourself furniture.

Okay, so it was IKEA.

Well, I found an item that was EXACTLY what I was looking for. I went to purchase and saw this message:

 

Talk about a let down.

I could see the product I wanted but couldn’t get to it! And, since we don’t have an IKEA within 3 hours of my house, I ended up having to purchase an item I didn’t like nearly as much at another store.

Are you providing a similar experience for your constituents? Do they want to make a donation online but can’t? Or do you allow online transactions but it’s just not done well? Just like IKEA, you could be losing money if you’re not  handling your online processes strategically.

Most organizations I work with know the importance of online giving and how impactful it can be to their organization. Where I’m starting to notice some confusion is around online ticketing. The process is often “clunky” (yes, that’s a technical term) or sometimes the option isn’t there at all.

Let’s take a look at 3 ways you can create a positive online experience for your potential ticket buyers and 1 common mistake I see organizations make.

  1. Make shopping online available

Just like our example above, it’s surprising to me that there are still organizations not taking advantage of online ticketing. Whether you’re a general admission museum or a symphony that has dynamic pricing strategies and reserved seating, you should be allowing your constituents to make their ticket purchases from the comfort of their living room.

  1. Make shopping online easy

I didn’t think we needed to spend much time on making tickets available online, because hopefully that was a given (I mean, this is an online blog, so readers can expect that the author will encourage you to go online). However, once you start selling tickets online, remember to MAKE IT EASY TO BUY (and donate!).

The other day my wife asked me to go to the store to buy pimento cheese (for those of you not from the south, pimento cheese is a spread you put on crackers and sandwiches, made famous by sandwiches at Augusta National Golf Club). When I arrived at the grocery, I made my way to the cheese section under the logic that this is a cheese- no pimento cheese. I went to the section with the sandwich meat, because it goes on sandwiches -still, no pimento cheese.

As I was about to give up, I decided to ask an associate if they had pimento cheese, since it seemed odd for a grocery store not to carry it. Their response: “Oh yeah, of course we do. It’s in a special case by the bakery.” HUH? I would have never looked in the bakery for something that goes on crackers and sandwiches!

Are you doing the same thing with your ticket option online? Is it on a hidden page that requires you to take 5 clicks to find? As a nonprofit arts and cultural organization that sells tickets, you have three big goals with your website: communicate your mission, get people to donate, and get people to buy tickets. Those should be the easiest, largest calls to action on your webpage.

As an additional note, don’t make ticket buyers turn over inordinate amounts of information to buy a ticket.

  • If they’ve purchased before, you should have their profile information so they only have to enter their credit card information.

  • If this is their first purchase, keep the required fields to a minimum. You don’t need to know the name of their third grade teacher or their social security number for them to purchase a ticket.

  1. Make it affordable

Part of making online ticketing easy is making online ticketing affordable for both you and your ticket buyer. This process is often hampered by online ticketing fees that either your organization pays or that you pass on to the purchaser. In this day in age, with this much technology available, you shouldn’t be paying ticketing fees.

I worked with one organization that was paying ticketing fees for every online ticket sold. They switched to a system that didn’t charge ticketing fees and the switch was worth around $250,000 a year!

  1. Mistake: Not thinking mobile

How often do you think “Oh, I need to do that when I get home” and then forget? A lot?

Yeah, me too.

Don’t let forgetfulness happen to your constituents. Make sure your ticket site is mobile friendly so people can purchase tickets on the go.

Online ticketing is no longer an exception, it’s the standard. Make sure your organization is providing this option, and doing it well, so that your organization is accessible as possible.

Any other tips you’ve seen work for your organization when it comes to online ticketing? I’d love to have a discussion. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Madeline Turner is the Online and Social Marketing Manager at Blackbaud. Prior to running Blackbaud’s social media and thought leadership blog npENGAGE, Madeline worked as a Managing Editor for Blackbaud’s Content Marketing program. It is her goal to create content and share ideas that challenge the status quo of the nonprofit industry. When Madeline isn’t tweeting or writing blog posts, you can find her drinking coffee out of her ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ mug, wearing giant headphones and singing off-key.

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