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E-Mail Used to Spur Ticket Sales

TicketMaster Online-CitySearch Inc., TicketMaster.com’s parent firm, has struck a deal with Popmail.com, a sports- and entertainment-oriented e-mail marketer, to develop an e-mail newsletter and notification program that would give TicketMaster.com users advanced notice of upcoming events in their local markets.

Aside from a few test runs, the campaign, which is set to launch in the next 30 to 60 days, will be TicketMaster's first consistent, large-scale effort to develop an e-mail marketing relationship with its ticket-buying customers and Web site visitors. The partnership with Popmail also will enable TicketMaster.com to collect more targeted information about its e-mail subscribers and organize the information according to their interests.

Though it won't disclose the full size of its e-mail database, TicketMaster said it has registered 1.5 million subscribers since January. In its current setup, however, the database only identifies the events customer’s have purchased tickets for. The company could notify customers who purchased tickets to a jazz performance when a new concert was coming to town, but that was the extent of the relationship. The registration process did not allow for the integration of other interests into the customers' profiles.

“As we introduce this offering, we're going to begin capturing more information about our customers,” said Steve Rudman, vice president of relationship marketing at TicketMaster Online-CitySearch. “The byproduct of that effort is a better understanding of our consumers and an ability to profile their interests.”

The new program, Rudman said, will marry purchases with interests and deliver targeted e-mail according to different musical, event and sport genres. “Now we'll know that you like Santana and soccer, not just Santana,” he said.

TicketMaster has had an Internet presence for more than five years and has slowly built an e-mail database over that time. The company has used online ticket purchases and various promotional activities on its site to accumulate names, Rudman said. Even with the new campaign, TicketMaster.com's chief objective is to develop stronger relationships with current subscribers, not to prospect for new ones.

John Palms, president of Popmail Networks, Dallas, said its e-mail program, called ENewsNotifier, would primarily help TicketMaster.com reach out to existing customers.

“I don't think TicketMaster has yet even begun to optimize their current base, so that's goal No. 1,” Palms said. “[The e-mails] will predominantly go out to TicketMaster's existing customer base and optimize their ticket marketing and ticket sales opportunities as well as grow their nontraditional revenue sources like advertising, sponsorship and e-commerce.”

Specifically, TicketMaster.com is looking to develop three e-mail vehicles: daily news updates, which would provide industry news; newsletters, which would list upcoming events by geographic location; and event alerts, which would give subscribers an instant e-mail when tickets for events in their interest categories go on sale. TicketMaster.com sees the event notification service, in particular, as an important benefit to its users.

“We know that it's always a challenge for consumers to know when, exactly, everything is going on sale,” Rudman said. “Here, customers would receive advanced notice on events and acts coming to their town on a consistent, weekly basis.”

TicketMaster.com first tested e-mail marketing in 1999 in conjunction with a nationwide Bruce Springsteen tour. That inhouse initiative, which consisted of three separate e-mails — one to establish contact and permission, a second to hype the concert and sell Springsteen-related merchandise and a third to recap the concert and sell compact discs — convinced the ticket broker that the time was right for a more structured program.

“We focused on the value and impact of being able to do that around an event and how valuable it was to the experience,” Rudman said. “We found out it was [valuable], and we're continuing to look at how to make that a more integral part of what we do.”

While the companies have not set an official date to begin the e-mails, Palms said a brainstorming session took place last week in Dallas. He said the ticket broker should be able to roll out components of its new registration and e-mail vehicles within a month or two.

The process should be aided by the fact that Popmail, which provides e-mail marketing services for many professional sport organizations, has already worked with some of TicketMaster's 4,000-plus venues across the country.

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