Canadian Opera Company bows new website

With new interactive features including video, podcasts, blogs and exclusive interviews, the COC hopes to engage the online audience and double traffic by the end of the year.

The Canadian Opera Company (COC) this month launched new features on its website in the latest tune-up that aims to engage opera-goers and turn them into online opera advocates. With new sections like podcasts, quizzes, blogs and a deployment of an online panel to give feedback to the organization, the site also gives COC’s corporate sponsors the opportunity for further reach and exposure.

Through research, Delvinia Interactive, the Toronto-based agency that developed the site, determined that the average opera-goer is much more digitally inclined (more likely to do research and make purchases) than the average person, explains Adam Froman, president and CEO of Delvinia. The insight engine showed that while only 20% of those interacting with the COC transacted through the website, 40% of the base fit into segments called ‘Loaded and Overloaded’ (wealthy families that don’t have much time but they own every technology) and the younger-skewing ‘City Clickers.’

‘The website is an incredible way to profile the corporate sponsors as it’s a very high-end audience. It creates an opportunity for some of their sponsors to actually integrate,’ says Froman, for example, by sponsoring pages on the site.

The COC strategy was to make the online experience as rich as visiting the opera house of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, which was inaugurated in 2006. Changes include a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the COC’s production of Madama Butterfly, a historical photo, audio and video timeline of the company’s milestones, as well as COC podcasts featuring musical excerpts and video highlights of select operas and exclusive artist interviews. Froman says traffic to the site should double within a year.

Since ticket sales only account for about 40% of the COC’s operating budget, the strategy is to first migrate opera-goers to their website and then get them more engaged and more committed so that they will become advocates of the opera online, Froman tells MiC. ‘So that they go from being a single ticket buyer, to a subscriber, to a donor, to a promoter.’

The website will be promoted in all of the COC’s print, online and radio advertising, with an extra push to promote the Madama Butterfly journey in conjunction with all of the advertising it will be doing for that production, including an increased online and radio presence, says Jeremy Elbourne, director of marketing of the COC. ‘We have also been pushing the redesign and rich media enhancements through our eOpera newsletter, Facebook and Twitter pages as well as to our subscription base through our newsletter, Prelude, pre-performance chat intros and through the closed circuit monitors at the Four Seasons Centre,’ he tells MiC.