The competitive world of live classical music performances makes the rivalry between Mozart and Salieri portrayed in “Amadeus” look like a kindergarten play.
With each major urban area having its “big symphony orchestra,” which enjoys substantial resources from both public and private arts organizations (major urban areas might have more than one), many small regional orchestras find it hard to compete for paid attendance.
Which is why it was a surprise for those with the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, based in southern Morris County, NJ to see a sudden major uptick in their ticket sales.
The BONJ has no lack of competition for classical music enthusiasts. The New Jersey Symphony, in not so far away Newark, NJ, is the 500 lb gorilla in the room when it comes to classical music performances in the area. It enjoys the benefit of those generous public and private grants and a paid staff dedicated to its marketing. There are also other smaller regional orchestras in the area which compete for attendees.
Yet their most recent concert, “Beethoven & Mozart,” saw ticket sales that represented paid attendance growth at a compounded growth rate of nearly 28 percent over the last three concerts in 2018.
Everyone was ecstatic about the results and the trend in paid attendance. It gives the performers and the conductor a lift. The audience in attendance feels the energy of more people in the house. Everyone is exhilarated.
It led the Orchestra’s supporters to wonder: Could it have been the SEO?
Optimizing the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey
In April, 2017, on behalf of the Orchestra, I started a very focused content marketing campaign for a planned concert in early June of that year. I also did a good deal of on-page SEO to its website [ ]. All the site’s pages displaying single concerts were optimized for certain keywords. Careful attention was given to internal and external linking to resources.
The Title and Description meta tags were carefully re-written for certain pages, like the single concert pages. There was careful attention to keyword usage, both when it came to the composers who were being performed for that concert, and the keyword phrases which we thought would show an intent to attend a classical music concert.
Where’s the Growth? Oh, There it Is
The effects were not immediate. Attendance did not pick up for the targeted June concert, or for the remainder of the year for that matter.
But then 2018 suddenly started to see the growth in paid attendance described earlier.
The Orchestra’s Google Analytics showed a definite correlation between a rise in ticket sales and growth in traffic from organic search in 2018. The stats show a significant (30 percent) increase in traffic from organic search overall in the first three and a half months of 2018 over the same period last year.
Their Upcoming Concerts page showed a whopping 98 percent increase in traffic from search engines over that same period.
In contrast Google Trends showed little change in the number of searches for classical music concerts in the first few months of 2018.
The proof is in the pudding. When one now searches in Google using the keyword phrase “classical music concerts in NJ”, the Baroque Orchestra is in the top half of the listing. It sometimes beats the New Jersey Symphony in ranking.
It’s Not Just the SEO
Of course good SEO does not supplant the traditional methods of personal networking, posters in well trafficked community spaces, and the like. Networking and personal appeals can also drive traffic to a website.
The Orchestra’s internationally acclaimed conductor, Maestro Robert Butts, spends a good part of his time (when he’s not conducting, composing, or teaching) networking in and around the New York metro area. Brochures and other more traditional marketing collateral are used to entice classical music enthusiasts. Recent steps on the website to lower the cart abandonment rate no doubt helped online ticket sales.
The world of classical music is finicky and things can change on a dime. The search traffic could drop off or increase for any one of a number of reasons. But in a world where the vast majority of people are looking for goods, services, concerts and other events in search engines as their first step, a good website that is optimized for search engines is a powerful and effective weapon in the marketing arsenal.
The Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey is betting its future on carefully planned and implemented SEO.
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