Thanks to blockbusters from the likes of Marvel, James Bond, and Disney, cinemas have been doing quite well lately. But still, some years are better than others. Is it possible for cinemas to improve their attendance and sales during those not-so-good years? Yes, and it involves SMS messaging. But before I get to that, let’s take a look at some recent industry numbers.
The UK Cinema Association publishes data on monthly, annual and weekly sales and admissions. Here’s what I found for the industry since 2007. 2014 saw the lowest annual attendance compared to the previous seven years and 2015. It was 8.4% lower than 2015, and nearly 10% lower than 2009 which saw the largest number of monthly admissions.
Of course, these types of fluctuations are expected in the industry. Even month to month admissions fluctuate. Below is a chart showing the monthly admissions in 2015 and 2016 through November (December numbers weren’t available at the time of this writing).
Obviously, there is more attendance when a highly-anticipated film comes out, and down when people aren’t so interested in the current releases. There are also economic, social and seasonal issues too. Which brings us back around to the initial question: Can cinemas use SMS messaging to help bring up admissions when they are down?
Yes, they can. And they probably should.
Enticing Special Offers
While cinemas use other forms of advertising to draw people in, SMS marketing is potentially more effective. This is because people who opt in to receive messages are extremely interested in the company, products, or services provided. These types of people are more likely to act on the offers they see when compared to a channel like print or radio advertising, or even email.
Here are some example offers that would work well for SMS marketing to a cinema’s list:
Reduced ticket prices. Sometimes, when admissions are way down, it might make sense to discount ticket prices just to get more people in the door. Once there, the usual 4000% mark-up on popcorn can help offset that decrease and keep profits high.
Discounts on sweets, drinks or popcorn. These types of offers might be enticing to those who want to go see a film, but are worried about the total cost including all the goodies they’ll buy there. Everyone loves a good deal, so they’ll jump at an offer to see a film and get a bargain on the drinks and sweets.
Free item or buy one, get one offers. What’s better than a good deal? Getting something for free of course. This isn’t one you might not want to use too often, but could be just what you need when the weather is good and the latest film is a total flop.
Reward - and Remind - Loyal Customers
Many cinema brands are offering loyalty programs and exclusive clubs to benefit their customers. But did you know you can use them to drive customers into the cinema?
Members of a reward program should also be asked to opt into the reward SMS list. Messages can be sent as conveniences to them (updates on points totals for example) which they will love. But SMS can also be used at the convenience of the cinema. Here are a couple of ideas:
When admissions are low, send out a message to rewards members offering extra points for ticket or food purchases. Again, people love free stuff (even if it’s virtual points!)
Alert members who are close to a reward level (like a free ticket) to encourage them to see a film sooner than later. Most people belong to multiple reward programs (not just cinemas) so they can’t be expected to know their point balances offhand. So, a short reminder SMS message might be the gentle nudge they need to get back in for another film – just when you need them to.
The above are just a few ideas on how to use SMS marketing to increase admissions at cinemas. It’s important to know, too, that besides being effective, it provides great ROI. That’s because you can send messages for just a few pence each, and response rates are often double digits.
If you’re interested in how SMS messaging could work for your business take a look at our industry guides, SMS Buyers Guide, or Mobile Marketing Guide. We’re also happy to answer your questions directly via live chat, phone or email.