Case Study
Sep 13, 2023

Mastering the Cinema Experience: How Loyalty Campaigns Enhance Visitation

Producing long-term sustainable visitation frequency increases with data-driven marketing campaigns


A recent study partnered with one of the UK & Ireland’s leading cinemas discovered a measurable impact from email marketing campaigns on moviegoer behaviour, with results showing a 5.4% increase in visitation from those who received communications and as much as a £690,000 increase in spend per million moviegoers contacted.

How targeted email marketing campaigns make the greatest impact

At Movio, we believe in the effectiveness of the right marketing campaigns delivered to the right people. When looking at measuring just how impactful good email marketing campaigns can be, we hypothesised that they could be proven to have a significant effect on not only moviegoer visitation frequency, but on their engagement with the exhibitor through spend and transaction conversion rate.

But to accurately measure broad behavioural changes over time and test these hypotheses, we needed a large, long-term dataset.

Ensuring robust results

Our goal in this study was to measure the effects of data-driven email marketing communications on moviegoer behaviour under normal circumstances.

While the timing of this study coincided with many moviegoers’ return to cinemas after COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, we structured testing to minimise the effects of the ‘newly returning moviegoer’ factor on our results, by drawing from those moviegoers who had already returned post-pandemic for our test and control audiences, and by measuring behaviour over both a very large pool (100,000 moviegoers) over an extended time (one entire year).

The study ran for one full year, with a mid-term analysis halfway through and final analysis after its conclusion.

Measuring marketing campaigns’ influence on moviegoer behaviour

To conduct the study, the 100,000 moviegoers were separated evenly into a control group and test group of 50,000 moviegoers each. Control group members would receive only operational communications such as booking and payment confirmation emails, while those in the test group would receive targeted marketing email campaigns the cinema sent via Movio over the course of the year.

The cinema sent consistent data-driven communications to their test audience, showcasing upcoming and current film releases, as well as alternative programming with event cinema, such as live theatre, opera, and screenings of classic older films. These targeted email campaigns included highlights of new and in-cinema titles prompting moviegoers to book their seats, promotions with exclusive merchandise, and further reading about blockbuster titles being showcased.

Using Movio’s Dynamic Content capability, the cinema sent email campaigns that automatically populated with film title recommendations for each moviegoer, based on their propensity to see the film, bringing a greater chance of converting moviegoers to visit and connecting each moviegoer with their ideal movie.

Marketing communications drive visitation increases and boosts spend-per-head

Our primary hypothesis was that data-driven email marketing campaigns could significantly increase moviegoer visitation. Over the course of the year, we saw the moviegoers in the test group had a higher tendency to visit following marketing communications, with a 6.5% higher conversion rate than moviegoers in the control group.

Moviegoers not only had a higher rate of conversion, but also visited more frequently. We saw the visitation frequency in the test group of moviegoers who received marketing communications rise by 5.4% compared to the control group.

But visitation and conversion weren’t the only significant increase. In fact, moviegoer spend increased even more significantly, rising by £0.69 per moviegoer compared to the control group, an increase of 6.9%.

We can directly tie this increase in spending to marketing activity through Propensity Score Matching*.

Propensity Score Matching is a statistical technique used by Movio to estimate revenue uplift. The uplift can be directly linked to email marketing communications by determining the difference in spend between contacted moviegoers (test group) and un-contacted (control group) moviegoers.

While a £0.69 increase in spend per contacted moviegoer may not seem significant at first, to put that number in context, we were looking at 100,000 moviegoers in total for this study, which is only a subset of the cinema’s moviegoing audience. That £0.69 increase extrapolates out to an increase in spend of £690,000 per million moviegoers contacted.

Propensity Score Matching

This live trial was conducted with similar treatment and control groups — while not intended to be identical to the environment simulated by Propensity Score Matching, the similarity makes for a compelling comparison.

In the trial, the uplift found was £0.69, or £690,000 per million contacted moviegoers. Our Propensity Score Matching algorithm for the same period calculated an uplift of £0.45 per member, or £450,000 per million contacted moviegoers. Similarly to the study, this excluded VIP club members. (With VIP members included, the Propensity Score Matching uplift-per-member increased to £0.81.)

In this case, the Propensity Score Matching methodology actually underestimated the real-world effect of targeted marketing communications.

Significant increases despite challenging environments

From the results of this study, we can clearly see the effects of marketing email campaigns. We saw these campaigns:

  • Increase moviegoer visitation
  • Increase spend across moviegoers
  • Increase the rate at which moviegoers converted to purchasing
  • Increase these statistics more than predicted

The fact that these results exceeded predictions from our Propensity Score Matching is only further highlighted when we examine some of the factors of the environment in the industry during the study period.

The study began just after the reopening of cinemas in the UK, and we also saw a reduced content offering over that period compared to pre-pandemic movie slates, which has reduced average attendance.

Compared to 2019, we have seen an overall increase in the time between moviegoer visits on average. In 2019, for example, Very Frequent moviegoers had an average interval of 2.7 weeks, versus 2021’s interval for the same audience, which was 3.8 weeks.

The fact that we saw visitation increase so significantly despite these factors, which had moviegoers taking more time between visits, and offered fewer big titles to draw them into the cinema, is extremely encouraging. Taking these results with those constraints in mind, they form a clear demonstration of just how effective marketing email campaigns can be, and it gives an optimistic view for how they might improve even more in a time with a wider theatrical content offerings and reduced hesitance.

Make the most of your marketing

These results paint a clear picture of the value added by targeted email marketing campaigns in increasing visitation, boosting spend-per-head, and improving your conversion rates.

To make the most of your communications, try implementing your own targeted email marketing campaigns.

  • Communicate consistently, and cleverly by targeting audiences to receive communications tailored to their interests.
  • Put processes in place to capture high-quality data for marketable loyalty members to empower your ability to precisely market to moviegoers.
  • With Movio’s Dynamic Content, craft email campaigns that determine the best content for each moviegoer based on their Propensity to see each film.
  • Measure the performance of your campaigns to learn from each one you create.

By following these recommendations, you can enhance the cinema experience and improve the overall effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

Ensuring your loyalty members are marketable is critical in making the most impact with your marketing. Every contactable member brings the potential for greater spend than those who aren’t contactable, and high-quality data is the key. Better data results in better coverage and allows for more targeted messaging to each moviegoer.

At Movio, we work with data every day to provide rich insights that you can use to better understand your moviegoers. We know that the right marketing campaign, made strategically, can make an incredible difference. With our intelligent data analytics and campaign management solutions, you can drive measurable marketing success with your moviegoers.

If you are hungry for more insights about moviegoing audiences and the latest box office titles, see Movio's Weekend Insights, updated with audience insights every week from the latest movies.

If you want to know more about how Movio can help you achieve results like these with your marketing campaigns and audience insights, contact us today!

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