E-Mail Ignites 'Movin' Out' Ticket Sales

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An e-mail campaign last month to generate ticket sales for a Broadway musical hit its target, bringing in $125,000 to $150,000.


About 150,000 people in the New York metropolitan area were targeted in the effort for "Movin' Out," which is based on the songs of Billy Joel.


Ben Chodor, CEO of Exciting New Technologies, a New York-based Internet communications company hired by agency Serino Coyne to create the e-mail, said the campaign cost $5,000. This included design, which was the most expensive aspect, as well as name acquisition and tracking elements.


The e-mail was sent Dec. 5 with the offer good through Dec. 7. Ticket prices were not lowered for the Internet exclusive. The seats that were made available were sold to the public after Dec. 7.


About 125,000 of the names came from a Ticketmaster list of consumers who bought tickets to concerts in the New York area featuring Joel and other classic rock acts. Also, New York radio station WPLJ-FM sent the e-mail to everyone on its e-mail blast list, and a few were sent by Sony to its Billy Joel fan club.


"You can't just use a list of ticket buyers to all Broadway shows," Chodor said. "Since 'Movin' Out' is not only for the Broadway audience, but also for the rock 'n' roll audience, it was unique in that regard. The target audience included people who bought tickets, so we know they spend money to see concerts."


The e-mail opens with: "130,000 new tickets go on sale this weekend -- but you can get them today when you use your Visa card! Don't wait! Be the first to get the best seats! This exclusive internet presale period ends Saturday, December 7th, so act today."


Visa is a sponsor of the show.


The e-mail included a letter from Joel, which Chodor's firm developed with a copywriter.


A link to movinoutonbroadway.com was provided where music from the show plays as reviews flash across the screen. The e-mail has links to a "send this e-mail to a friend" option; movinoutcastmusic.com, where songs can be accessed and played; WPLJ's Web site and Ticketmaster's Web site to buy tickets.


Chodor said he did not have details on response rates or other numbers from the campaign.


"We had tremendous success with a previous e-mail campaign that we did when the show first opened, and Ticketmaster knows how powerful that last effort was," he said. "They make a fee off each ticket they sell."


Chodor credited the e-mail effort's immediacy for its success.


"The show has been ongoing for quite awhile with good reviews," he said. "For this campaign they opened up a whole new batch of tickets and struck gold."


"Movin' Out" tickets are priced at $100, $70 and $40.


"Not only is the show a blockbuster, but what we're starting to find is that other Broadway shows are looking to do this," he said. "Broadway usually has done little marketing with just local ads and postcards. Now they are finding that the return on investment for something like this is huge."


Chodor noted that Broadway shows typically operate on lean margins.


"They opened up more seats, and to market that, the cost to do radio or TV is out of the realm," he said. "Also, 60 percent of all Broadway seats are purchased by tourists. This was a push for New Yorkers to buy theater tickets. An immediate blast like this can't be done for a national audience since you couldn't get a spike in sales."


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