BuyPlayTix - 5.06
A lot of bugfix releases have come and gone. But with 5.06 I’ve added two new features.
We had crazy combos, and discount codes, but what about the relatively simple group rate? Now they’re hanging out on your production screen. Get to those discounts!
I’ll admit it. For a while I was afraid of logos. I think I’ve managed to get over my fear. Now you can go to your settings and add a logo for your theater company to be displayed on every sales page. You can also add a logo to specific productions from the productions page.
In combination with theming this is ridiculously powerful and something that I don’t see other ticketing sites allowing.
What would you like to see next?
What happened to 5.1? It was an emergency bug-fix. 5.2 is where the action is!
Look and Feel
One thing you may notice right off is that I’ve changed the look and feel of BuyPlayTix. My goal is to make it simpler and easier to find things. But if anything is hard for you to read please let me know.
‘Add to mailing list’ checkbox
The ‘add to mailing list’ checkbox used to be listed after every single show. This made buying a ticket somewhat confusing. It’s now in the first step of checking out, and patrons only have to check it once for the entire transaction.
When you go to one of your pages logged in you’ll notice that the producer dashboard no longer shows up by default. There’s now a button to click to make it show up. Once you do you’ll notice the new ‘Edit Style’ button. This allows you to work on styles going from page to page in your website. You can also save your style as a named theme that you can re-use between productions and the global site.
This also makes it easier for me to update the default templates, so hopefully they’ll be seeing some love in the coming weeks.
Pick Your Price limits
Pick your Price the way it was initially implemented left a lot to be desired. You could use it, but could put caps on how high or low people could go. That’s changed with this release. You can now choose a Minimum, Maximum, and the default value.
I feel ashamed this one took as long as it did. But we finally have the ability to make requests for accessible accommodation on the checkout page.
When a user makes this request you’ll see this icon next to the reservation - . Please let me know if it would useful to have this communicated in more detail. Would you like an email when the reservation is made? A nightly email of all requests two hours before show time?
If you have an Android tablet (and if you have an iPad I’d love to talk to you), there’s now the ability to scan tickets from the box office using the camera in your tablet.
And lots of bug fixes. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to some of the new dashboard graphs and reports that were proposed. Hopefully those will be in the next release!
BuyPlayTix 5.0 - Action Required
BuyPlayTix 5.0 has only two new features. But they’re huge!
All accounts now require a Stripe account. When you next login to BuyPlayTix you’ll get a message at the top of your dashboard that will start you through the process. In my testing it takes less than 5 minutes to setup.
Stripe provides merchant accounts for websites (like PayPal, or authorize.net). Signup is a one page form and you’ll need a check to provide your bank routing and account number.
Once setup you’ll no longer have to deal with checks. Stripe deposits your money into your bank account 7 days after it clears. Which means you could be getting paid up to a week earlier than you were before.
Stripe has a fantastic accounting interface, and BuyPlayTix has direct linking from the Credit Card report to the actual transactions in the Stripe web interface.
The other big feature are refunds! Now you can go to a reservation or pass and refund tickets. It’s a big red button. You can’t miss it.
If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.
This is an update that you may have already noticed. I’ve added a dashboard to provide a starting point for most of BuyPlayTix’s most common task. There’s also an activity log that tracks what’s done to your account.
Notifications can be setup in ‘Global Settings’. They let you get emails when your box office gets close to full (you decide what that means). And you can send to multiple email addresses so you can copy your Box Office manager.
Graphic Mail Integration
Graphic Mail is the latest mailing list software we’ve integrated with. If you enter your credentials you’ll automatically have your customers added to your email list when they buy a ticket (if they opt-in of course). And you can create custom mailing lists (people who bought a ticket to your last show, people tagged as actors, etc) and export them using the ‘Export Contacts’ functionality.
These changes were all based on customer requests and feedback, so please let me know if I can help you.
Next up - the switch over to Stripe.
System Upgrade - Sun 08/19
The operating system that BuyPlayTix is running on is approaching its end of life which means no new security patches. To make sure that I keep your data secure I’m going to be migrating to a new server running the latest operating system code. I’m planning on doing the switch over Sunday night. It should take about 5 minutes. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Man, where did those 6 versions of BuyPlayTix go? Mostly to bug-fixes unfortunately.
But 4.16 adds a cool new report. If reports can be cool. Which they probably can’t.
On your report page you should see the new Check Report. This will break out the checks you should expect to see in the mail. Clicking on the date or amount will let you drill down into the individual transactions that make up the check.
I really want to make this helpful for you, so if you need this data in CSV format or some other format, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Which brings up some bad news. My payment provider is shutting down on August 15th. So no more E-Checks. I’m working on finding a replacement, but having little luck. So I may have to go back to mailing paper checks by hand (Booo!). I’ll try to keep you updated.
Last night saw the release of BuyPlayTix 4.10 which contains many bug fixes and performance improvements. As always the full release notes can be found here.
But there are two big new features.
BuyPlayTix has had Season Passes and Festival Passes. But both of those are tied to one person getting a ticket to a list of shows.
A Punchcard Pass on the other hand is a block of discounted tickets. The patron buys the pass which has a set number of punches (say 6). They can then use that pass to buy 2 tickets for each show of the season, or use it to buy 6 tickets to one show.
Passes are a feature that has to be enabled in BuyPlayTix. To do so choose Settings. Then click on Global Settings. Choose the Sales tab. Check the Passes checkbox, and click Save Changes.
Combos are my second attempt to solve the problem of selling double-bills (and it may not be the last). With a combo you can set a group of shows to be grouped together under one price. Combos can be grouped across productions. The price will show up in the cart with the tickets grouped.
To setup a combo look for the new combo icon on the Production page.
Is Facebook marketing a waste of time?
This post could also be titled “Why I may start ignoring Facebook marketing”.
Like many people I’ve put a fair amount of time and effort into Facebook marketing. Facebook determines what shows up in your feed by using a formula called EdgeRank. Click and read. You may not understand all of it, but it’s still worth taking a minute. Then come back.
After reading about EdgeRank I started actually looking at the “Insights” that Facebook provides about each post. This information is fantastic. You can see how many people liked each post. How many shared it. And how many saw it.
That’s right. How many saw it.
As in. I have 325 people who have liked my Facebook page. In the case above 70 people saw the post in question. A post that contained a custom comic book promoting the show. A post that was really cool and fun and not full of marketing flack. Only 22% of the people who have gone out of their way to say they want marketing information from Loaded Gun Theory in their news feeds were actually provided that information.
Now look at my MailChimp stats.
At first glance, this looks pretty similar. 27.8% is a little better, and I have more people I’m sending to. But opens are only tracked if the user has viewing images enabled. So if they read the message without enabling images they don’t get counted. And it also doesn’t count the advertising potential of just presenting my email subject in a patron’s inbox.
With email marketing, every single one of my patrons gets the opportunity to read my email. With Facebook. Facebook determines which ones get to see it.
Now you want to get really depressed about Facebook marketing? When I look at the list of people who opened my email in MailChimp it’s a list of people who are not associated with the production. When I look at the list of people who’ve shared my post on Facebook, it’s members of the production staff, cast, and crew. Sharing in a little closed loop. Our conversation basically only exists for each other.
Sure I could follow all the Facebook marketing guidelines. I could drive engagement with contests, surveys, and questions. But why? Engagement with my patrons happens at the theater. They have already engaged and built a relationship with me in the real world.
So while I’m not giving up on Facebook. I’m going to focus on making my marketing emails as effective as possible.
Announcing a new layout. Simple + Calendar. When you first add a production you can choose this to add a nifty calendar of show dates to the right side of your ticket page. You can also edit any existing production and add it. It’s on Step 1. Don’t forget to go to Step 7 and click ‘Save’.
When you click on a highlighted date it will scroll you down to that date on the ticket page and highlight it.
The photo is for Capital T’s production of ‘boom’. You can click on the link and buy your tickets. I’ll be seeing this one. I really enjoyed ‘HUNTER GATHERERS’.
The Landing Page
And finally we get to the landing page. One of the first questions that usually comes up is “how do I link this to my website”. There are lots of complex answers to that. But the simplest is now the landing page. You can get the link to your specific landing page by going to ‘Productions’ and clicking on the Links icon. It’s the first link listed. Here’s what it looks like:
It will show all the shows you’re currently selling tickets for. It will list any passes you have up for sale, and if you have the ‘Donation Link’ checkbox checked on the ‘Donation’ tab under ‘Global Settings’ you’ll see a place to accept donations as well.
It’s always up to date with your latest information. Hope you find it useful!