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Recent 18 Sep 2019

Movie Theater Marketing Ideas

Movie Theaters are Feeling the Pressure. Here’s How to Step It Up.

by Becca Stebbin, Lead Content Strategist

While most of us love streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, there’s one industry that’s not as big of a fan. With the increase in popularity of these streaming services, and movies readily available on-demand, movie theaters are beginning to feel the pressure to continue selling tickets and filling seats. 

In order to operate a successful movie theater, it’s clear that you need to stand out from the crowd. Luckily, that’s one of our strong suits.

Lifted Logic is first and foremost a group of nerds who love a challenge. What started 12 years ago as a web design company has evolved into a full-service marketing agency in Kansas City that serves a variety of sizes of businesses to help them grow their revenue and improve their overall business and efficiency on the web. 

Recently, we worked with Movie & Dinner, a restaurant and movie theater near Spokane, WA, to understand more about this industry, the changes it’s going through, and how we can help them succeed. And after launching their website, we’ve learned even more about what works in movie theater marketing—and what doesn’t. 

Read the Movie & Dinner case study→

Keep reading for movie theater marketing ideas we learned through the web design and development process with our client. 

Lifted Logic’s top movie theater marketing ideas

movie theater marketing ideas - woman in theater

A new search-friendly website

Often, the difference between attracting a customer to your theater over a competitor’s is showing up first in search results. If someone searches “movie theater near me,” and your website is the first result to satisfy that query, who could argue with your authority and superior service? 

But it’s not just showing up first (SEO); it’s also about making sure your website is compelling enough for a user to feel convinced to make a purchase (CRO). They need to experience a fast, user-friendly interface that gets them where they need to go.

If your website is slow to load, lacks mobile responsiveness, or is generally not user friendly, these potential customers have no problem leaving and purchasing tickets at a theater with better online service instead.

Lifted Logic offers SEO services in Kansas City to help small, medium, and large businesses get found on the web. Our expert copywriters and marketing professionals go through a stringent content strategy process with every client to get to the root of who we’re talking to on your website, how that audience behaves on the web, what they search for, and even when they’re searching for it.

From there, we craft a content outline and marketing strategy that brings together a brainstorm of movie theater marketing ideas and feedback from the client. 

Overall, seeing your website as a tool to grow revenue and attract new customers, versus simply an obligation, is the first step in taking your movie theater marketing to the next level.

Online ticket sales

Yes, selling tickets online. It’s nearly 2020; at this point, customers expect to be able to pick their seats and complete their ticket purchases online. If your theater doesn’t have an online ticketing system (or it doesn’t work well), you’re already losing out on a lot of business.

There are a variety of off-the-shelf options a theater can purchase to help facilitate online ticket sales. However, for a more intuitive, long-term solution, commissioning the build of a custom ticket sales system that’s fully integrated with your internal POS is ideal for the sake of your efficiency and ease of use. 

Having a custom online ticket sales system for your movie theater will allow credit card transactions to be handled securely. Beyond that, though, it will also ensure that seating information is consistently up to date; that your user will have a good checkout experience; and that your online ticketing process will be inherently superior to your competitor’s.

Learn more about how to sell tickets online → 

Paid advertising

learn about how paid advertising is one of the best movie theater marketing ideas

There are countless ways to spend your marketing dollars advertising on Google, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more. Paid advertising efforts help ensure that even when a customer isn’t actively looking to go to a movie, they will have your theater at the top of the mind the next time they go.

You can promote virtually anything on these platforms, whether it’s a series of classic horror movies before Halloween, a concession stand promotion, or highlighting the perks of your customer loyalty program (more on this below). 

But how do you know if you’re spending your money wisely? One of the biggest challenges we face as a digital PPC agency in Kansas City is strategizing the best ways clients can spend their marketing budget efficiently and effectively.

If you aren’t sure if your PPC campaign or other paid advertising efforts are working, it might be time to contact an agency.

Customer loyalty programs

Customer loyalty programs draw people back for repeat visits to your theater. Luckily, there are virtually limitless options available to you to help you design and create a customer rewards program that works best for your business and your customers.

Examples of good customer loyalty programs could include:

  • giving points for concession and ticket purchases, then allowing those points  to be redeemed for perks later
  • offering discounted tickets on certain days for loyalty program members
  • providing free drink and popcorn refills to members
  • hosting exclusive sneak previews, events, and giveaways for members only 
  • sending out early bird ticket purchasing opportunities to your members via email or text
  • and any other programs you think your customers might like (after all, you know them best!)

Newsletter marketing

movie theater marketing ideas from lifted logic

Another movie theater marketing idea you may not have considered is sending out email blasts to your customers. These newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your customers so they know about upcoming films, new features or updates you’ve made, current promotions, and any other special offers or events at the theater.

Ask your website provider to include a newsletter sign-up area in your site’s footer, as well as a call to action throughout the content of your website. Also, enroll all loyalty program members (unless they opt-out) and encourage cashiers to promote the newsletter during ticket and concession purchases. You can even incentivize an email sign-up by offering a coupon or discount!

Once you have your email list built, it’s time to create the newsletter. Find a designer who understands your brand that can create a beautiful layout for you to use. All it takes is one email template to get started!

Eventually, you’ll also want to set up a “welcome” email. A welcome email is the first touch point a customer will see after they enroll. (You should be familiar with the concept from signing up for other companies’ newsletters. If you’re not, go sign up for some! (You can start with ours.) This can contain the coupon, if applicable, and a short summary of what a customer should expect from the newsletters you send out. 

For those just starting out with sending newsletters, we recommend sending one email a month to acclimate users to receiving your news without overwhelming them. Once you see your open rate consistently rising, it may be time to increase that frequency to twice a month. As your customers become “trained” to open your emails, you can continue to increase email sends until your open rate or unsubscribe rate starts to suffer. 

Event Marketing

If you’ve never hosted an event for your movie theater aside from midnight premieres, you’re seriously missing out on a HUGE opportunity to reach your customers!

You can’t rely on your services or rewards to build and maintain long-term customer loyalty. You need to go above and beyond.

Events can help provide your customers with a sense of community and exclusivity that keeps them coming back to your movie theater for years to come. From movie-themed events which encourage costumes and cosplay to inviting outside vendors in for a “market” style event, event marketing is where you can get really creative. 

You should keep in mind that for a customer, your movie theater is just one of many businesses vying for their attention. So if your event ideas feel lackluster to you, how could they possibly feel exciting to someone that has no vested interest?

Think about what kind of event you would want to attend in your free time. You probably have some additional incentive to help drive you to the event, such as the opportunity to win something or score a major discount.

Oh, and don’t forget to use all the stuff we just talked about (that’s your newsletter, loyalty program, paid advertising, online ticket sales system, and your new website) to help promote your events.

Want to discuss marketing ideas for your movie theater? Contact Lifted Logic!

At Lifted Logic, we make our clients’ challenges our challenges. If you need more movie theater marketing ideas, or are ready to create a new website for your theater, contact us today! 


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About the Author

Becca Stebbin, Lead Content Strategist

Becca was a Content Strategist before it was cool, building SEO best practices into digital marketing strategies for our clients well before it was an industry standard. Her experience at the forefront of digital marketing and SEO serves her well as the intrepid leader of Lifted Logic's Content Department.