7 steps to improve your theatre company’s online presence in 2023

“If you build it, they will come.”

Did you ever think that about your digital presence? Do something, anything. It’ll probably attract somebody.

Well how did that work out?

There’s so much to focus on when it comes to your online presence. So much you could do. So much advice to take. It just feels like to succeed you have to do it all.

But there’s often no strategy to it. It’s just one distraction after another and none of it seems to work.

This post is designed to give you a priority: the order in which you should be focusing on things, one at a time, step by step.

You can do this. You don’t have to be spinning your wheels wondering how you’ll ever gain traction.


Branding covers a lot so let’s break it up. You can also check out my post on branding tips for theatre companies.


If your logo looks like it was sketched on a napkin or made using clipart in 1992, you need a new logo.

Your logo sets the tone for the kind of company you are. Don’t let it make you look amateur.

Other brand elements

Then is the rest of your brand elements:

  • colours
  • typography
  • iconography
  • photographic style
  • tone of voice

You want to design your brand the way you would design your show. Intentionally. Strategically. Meaningfully.

Use a colour palette designed to evoke emotion, to communicate more deeply why you exist. Not just ⚫️🟡🔴 because “theatre.”

Same for fonts you choose.

Branding starts with a strategy

From logo to colours to fonts: put your creative hat on and create a brand strategy.

A brand strategy identifies why you exist as a company, what sets you apart and how you bring those two ideas to life.

Everything else you’ll do comes out of this.


Say it with me: “A Facebook Page is not a website.”

If you don’t have a website, it’s time to get a website.

But even if you decide to get one, then what? A friend once told me: “I know my website’s important, I just don’t know how to use it.”

And it’s a common theme when you look around at a lot of theatre companies’ websites. (Don’t worry, it’s not only theatre companies, a lot of organizations and businesses are in the same boat).

So let’s take a look at how to better use your website. (For more information, check out my post on how to improve your website).

Audience needs

When you think about your site, put yourself in your audience’s shoes: what are they looking to do? (Or better yet, ask them.)

Then identify what kind of content you need to create to best help them do what they’re trying to do.

Once you’ve got a list, sort them, putting similar types of content together. This, you can do on a napkin 🙃 (I like brainstorming with a team using post-its).

Review your analytics

Use data to inform your decisions of how to improve the experience for your audience.

  • How many users do you get a month?
  • How many significant actions (purchase, donation…) do you get in the same period of time?
  • What landing pages get the highest goal completion rates?
  • What channels get the highest goal completion rates?
  • What about engagement? What pages seem to most engage your users?
  • Which pages and channels attract users but don’t generate engagement or purchases?
  • Is there a longer-term value to that content? What’s the next best action for someone to take?
  • What are pages that get lots of traffic but with a high bounce rate or exit rate?

If you can remove a click, do it! If you need to add one, do it! Understanding your audience’s journey is an ongoing and exciting activity.


Building your email list is the most important marketing activity you can be doing.

Every channel has its advantages. But if you were to ask me to pick one to focus and you didn’t let me say like “it depends”—I’d go with email.

Here’s why.

  1. Email requires someone to voluntarily give you their email address. They’re leaning in, activating from a passive consumer to someone saying “I want to be a part of whatever it is you’re doing”
  2. You have the ability to segment and send relevant emails to your list
  3. It’s a great channel for generating revenue, with an average return on investment (ROI) of $36 for every $1 spent. And that makes sense for the reasons we’ve already talked about.

Email is effective because subscribers are already interested in you. The channel also lets you give audience relevant info based on where they’re at (e.g. never purchased before versus season subscribers)

How do you get them interested? Through the power of…

Social Media

Not every industry benefits from prioritizing an active presence on social media quite like theatre.

Here’s why:

  1. Unless your show runs for years and you can devote a long-term content strategy (more on this below) to it, things move quickly in theatre. Up one day, down the next, gone forever.

    That literally describes social media.
  2. Theatre audiences take a long time to persuade to come to that first show. We’re talking potentially years. But once they’ve been persuaded, they tend to act quick.

Through your content, you can raise awareness about the show, spark interest, generate engagement and ultimately sell tickets (and more). Social’s a great channel to do that.

And because of the ephemeral nature of theatre, that great content helps build FOMO as your followers think:

  • I wish I could see this show
  • I want to see this show
  • I have to see the show
  • (Shoot I missed this show, there’s no way I’m missing the next one)

Long-Form Content

When I talk about long-form content, there are three main options:

  1. Blog
  2. Podcast
  3. YouTube channel

Long-form content is a struggle for theatre companies. Unlike social that’s so immediate, this is a long-term strategy.

The content you publish today is your traffic in two years.

Writing about your shows is great. There’s value there, especially if you’re diving deep into the ways you brought them to life on stage. But if you’re publishing long-form content about your show today and seeing that content really take off in two years, that’s not really helpful, is it?

Note: I’m not suggesting you don’t publish about your shows. On the contrary. What I’m saying is that’s not going to be the engine for your traffic. Instead it’s going to benefit from your broader strategy of evergreen content.

Where long-form content really has value is tying it back to your brand strategy.

Remember your brand strategy is about what you do, why you do it and what makes you different. You’re not just putting on shows. You’re looking for a transformation in the world and your shows are the primary way you do that.

But they’re just one expression of that desire.

Maybe why you exist is connected to social justice, or to telling new stories or to the value of laughing together.

Your ideal audience that will fill your seats night after night and bring their friends and tell their parents, the ones who’ll think about your show months after you’ve closed, they share that vision of the world.

They want that transformation. They feel the pain points of how the world is today and they’re looking for solutions to that brighter future.

So maybe…

  • You write blog posts about social justice, where you share research, interview activists and tie in how a specific show you produced explores that theme.
  • Or you have a podcast dedicated to exploring why humans laugh, where you interview experts and use moments in shows you produce as examples.
  • Or you have a YouTube channel where you bring on local artists to share about creativity and approaching the work in a new way and, again, you share an example from a show.

Your audience might not know about you, but they’re interested in social justice issues, in comedy, in creativity. And you’re giving them content that satiates their interest. You’re also tying in your work. Over time, they start to trust you, to like you and to want to be more involved.

That’s what your long-form content strategy can be.


SEO stands for search engine optimization and refers to the stuff you do so your website shows up when people are searching for relevant things on Google.

Long-form content married with SEO will help you reach a relevant audience that’s not looking for your shows.

But you can optimize for your shows as well. Here’s a quick look at how to optimize your site:

  1. Page structure: use heading tags to communicate hierarchy of information, not design. H1 is a bigger font: it’s used for the title of your page (likely the name of your show), not to make a sentence stand out in the middle of the page.
  2. URLs: keep ‘em short and readable. Change them as little as possible. Your current season should be in an evergreen URL. Then as that season is replaced by the next one, you can move it to a dated URL. That way your current season is always benefiting from past equity built.
  3. Page speed: Make sure your site loads quickly. Those beautiful images you took? Size them appropriately for web (you don’t need 5,000 pixels), save them as JPEG and compress them as much as possible without losing quality.
  4. Structured data: If you’re on WordPress, install the Yoast plugin and add event structured data to your show. This will help search engines better understand the context of your content and pull relevant information into search results.
  5. Local SEO: Claim your Google Business, Apple Maps and Bing Places listings. Update the info and post your shows. Submit your site to local theatre directories.
  6. Links! Make sure you link internally to your event pages. Link externally when it’s relevant (actors’ websites, reviews, etc) and get linked to whenever you get mentioned by another site (news release, review, actors’ websites…)

SEO is not about translating your content into computer code words: it’s about putting your audience first. They’re on a treasure hunt, don’t bury your treasure. Give them clear sign posts so they know they’re not going to waste their time by clicking on your page.

Digital Ads

Last on the list are digital ads.

Whether you’re running Google Search Ads through Google’s nonprofit grant or sponsoring posts on social or using Facebook’s powerful ad platform, ads are great to complement your digital marketing strategy.

Here’s my top advice with digital ads: learn to measure their profitability.

Not every campaign will be designed to sell tickets (we call this the bottom of the funnel, or BoFu): there’s a good use case for running campaigns to generate awareness (top of the funnel, or ToFu). You may also run ads to increase email subscribers.

Here are my strategies for running ads:

Prospecting ads. Do you feel like you’ve tapped out the people who know about you? Are you seeing a decline in your conversion rates? It might be worth running a prospecting campaign to reach people who’ve never heard of you.

Nurturing ads. Most of the time, this should be your priority. The people who are most likely to convert are the ones who already know you.

  • They used to be season subscribers
  • They’ve seen one show
  • They’ve visited your website
  • They looked at your show page
  • They’ve made it to the purchase tickets page but didn’t follow through
  • They’re email subscribers
  • They follow you on social media
  • They walk by your theatre every day because of where they live or work

These are people are way more likely to buy tickets than someone who’s never heard of you.

One thing in common

There you go: seven ways to grow your presence online as a theatre company.

But there was a central theme to all of these, an overlap in the Venn diagram. Doing it doesn’t add a step: it simplifies everything that you do, and we’re not just talking about online.

Every key decision you make as a theatre company should consider this one thing.

Because at the heart of it all is knowing you audience.

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