Engaging Audiences in the Mobile Moment

Posted by David Dombrosky, Oct 07, 2014 2 comments

David Dombrosky David Dombrosky

Mobile device adoption and usage is a global phenomenon with over 4.5 billion mobile users worldwide. In the United States, smartphone adoption has exceeded standard cell phone ownership by nearly 2-to-1. We no longer use our phones to simply make calls and send text messages.  We use them to explore our world. Anything we experience can be recorded, researched, and shared from the palms of our hands – anytime, anywhere.

As our adoption and usage of mobile technology has grown, so have our expectations for engaging with the world around us at a moment’s notice. Researchers at Forrester define this as the mobile mind shift “the expectation that [we] can get what we want in our immediate context and moments of need.”

Often when something grabs our interest, we take out our smartphones to learn more and/or engage with it.  Forrester refers to this as a mobile moment, a point in time and space where we use our mobile devices in response to a desire for information or service.  To succeed in this increasingly mobile culture, arts organizations need to identify the mobile moments in their relationship with their patrons and provide them with the information and services they desire – at that time, in that context.

Identifying Mobile Moments in the Performing Arts

So how can we identify our patrons’ mobile moments?  Let’s consider the phenomenon of a live performance.

A live performance takes place in a specific venue at a specific time, so the audience’s mobile moments vary based on their geographic and chronological proximity to the performance.  Geographically, the moment takes place either on-site or off-site.  Chronologically, the moment happens before, during, or after the performance.

Geographic and Chronological Proximity to a Performance Geographic and Chronological Proximity to a Performance

When it comes to mobile, performing arts organizations have been overwhelmingly focused on off-site moments.  We have created mobile apps and responsive websites so that patrons can learn about upcoming performances, buy tickets, plan their visits, and even view performances remotely or access recordings of them afterwards.

And we were right to focus our efforts there in the early years of mobile adoption. By beginning with a focus on off-site mobile moments, performing arts organizations have been able to provide access to advance information about performances, facilitate ticket sales, and extend the reach of our work both geographically and chronologically.

Common Off-Site Mobile Moments for a Live Performance Common Off-Site Mobile Moments for a Live Performance

But what about on-site mobile moments?  Now that patrons have experienced the mobile mind shift, their expectations for access to contextually-relevant information and services accompany them into the arts venue.

Since 2010, InstantEncore has provided performing arts organizations with a suite of tools for meeting their audience’s expectations in off-site mobile moments.  Earlier this year, we embarked on a journey to add new features to the mobile suite which would enable performing arts organizations to leverage their mobile apps as complements to the live performance experience.

We started by charting the moments in a patron’s on-site experience when they are likely to desire access to information or a service on their mobile devices.

Common On-Site Mobile Moments for a Live Performance Common On-Site Mobile Moments for a Live Performance

The timing for many of these mobile moments is fluid.  Some patrons experience them before the performance, while others experience them during intermission or after the performance ends.  But all of these moments have a significant relevance on-site.

Moving Forward with Mobile

Now that we have worked through the example of a theoretical live performance, let’s focus on you.  Here are five steps you can take to map out the mobile moments in your work and develop an engagement strategy around them.

  1. Begin by charting your audience’s relationship with your work on a timeline.  Mark common events taking place before, during, and after the arts experience.
  2. Identify the points in their journey when a patron is likely to have a “mobile moment.”  Be sure to consider both on-site and off-site moments.
  3. Take stock of your mobile offerings.  Which of those moments do you currently address with a mobile optimized solution like a responsively designed website or a mobile app?
  4. Which moments are you not currently addressing with a mobile optimized solution?
  5. Talk with your mobile developer or service provider.  If you do not have one, research and approach at least three potential providers. What cost-effective solutions do they have for expanding your offerings to address those missing mobile moments?

The mobile mind shift is not going to reverse itself. As audiences evolve in their use of mobile technology, our methods for engaging them must also evolve. This is a tremendous opportunity to connect with our audiences wherever they are. Let’s make the most of it.

David Dombrosky will be speaking at the 2014 National Arts Marketing Project Conference in the Roundtable: Audience Expectations in the Mobile Age”.


The Arts Marketing Blog Salon is generously sponsored by Patron Technology.

2 responses for Engaging Audiences in the Mobile Moment


October 07, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Great information. I would love to see a larger version of the third graphic. Will you have that at the conference?

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October 07, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Al - All of the graphics may be found in our recent white paper, "Engaging At the Event: Audience Expectations for Live Performance in the Mobile Age."

Free PDF download here - http://instantencore.com/Learn/Mobile/EngagingAtTheEvent

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