We've had the pleasure of working with quite a few Tessitura users over the years, including the Birmingham Hippodrome, Kimbell Art Museum, the Roundhouse, the Royal Academy of Arts, and Shakespeare’s Globe. We’ve got to know the system pretty well.

In our experience, organisations that use Tessitura tend to be the most sophisticated in their use of data for marketing. That also means that data from the website and from Tessitura need to be correct. Errors can have serious knock-on effects on the ability of various departments to work effectively. 

In this guide we'll detail all the things you should be thinking about when integrating Google Analytics and Tessitura. We'll cover everything from campaign tracking, to on-site behaviour, through to those all-important transactions.

At the end, there's some information about a free Google Analytics dashboard you can use to see if your setup has any common errors.

Of course, if you want to talk to use about any of this directly, then you're very welcome to get in touch.

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Tessitura provide software that handles ticketing, fundraising, CRM, and marketing. A huge number of leading performing arts and cultural organisations use their software.

Google Analytics is the most-widely used tool for analysing how people find and make use of your website. Chances are you have it on your website.

If you do the absolute bare minimum to put Google Analytics on your Tessitura-integrated website then you'll find that it's… ok. But, you'll probably have a nagging feeling that it's not actually telling you anything useful and you'll stop looking at it.

The real value comes from customising Google Analytics to your particular website. After all, if you're a leading arts organisation then your website is going to quite different from most others out there.

That's what this guide is all about.

Tracking your main website

For starters, we always recommend using Google Tag Manager to deploy any tags to your website. Always.

Of course, you'll be using Google Analytics to track page views in the standard way, but you can (and should) do more than that.

1. Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce

With this, you can move from a page-centric view of your website (which is a bit simplistic) to a production-centric view. You do this by telling Google Analytics which pages contain:

  • Product details - that'll be any pages that focus on a single production, exhibition, event, or other product; and

  • Product listings - any place on your site where people can choose from a list of ‘products’. Common examples include your homepage, what's on listings (including any filtered category pages), and any season/festival landing pages

With this information you'll get richer information about the % of people on your site who actually view a particular production, rather than just browsing listings.

You'll also get information about the visibility of each production across your site - if a show's not selling, is that because it's hidden?

To implement this you’ll usually need to talk to your developer about adding some extra data to these pages (although not always - sometimes we can provide a workaround).

2. Custom dimensions

Context is key, and the more information you can send to Google Analytics, can make a huge difference to your reporting. This is where custom dimensions come in.

These allow you to send extra information along with a page view. For instance, if your productions sometimes:

  • are part of a season, festival, or other strand,

  • are produced or presented by particular organisations,

  • are held across a range of venues, and/or

  • feature key members of the cast and creative team (a soprano, writer, director, or actor); and/or

Then that would likely provide useful context for your reporting. If you've ever had to manually piece together stats for multiple productions then you'll appreciate the ability simply to query Google Analytics for 'all page views of dance productions in the 2017 season'.

You may also want to capture whether the production is forthcoming, on sale, sold out, or past. Traffic to pages can be expected to differ depending on where a production is in the sales cycle.  

3. Other things to track

It would also make great sense to set up the following:

  • Event tracking should be used to capture when someone downloads a PDF (or any other filetypes), clicks a link away from your site, encounters an error, clicks an email address, watches a video, signs up to a mailing list, or submits a form.

  • On-site search, if you have this functionality on your site.

Tracking your Tessitura purchase pathway

When it comes to the purchase pathway, there are two critical things you should be tracking.

  1. Page views - so that you can see where people tend to drop off along the way through to payment.

  2. Transactions - having revenue in Google Analytics makes all the difference when reporting on traffic sources. You just need to take care to make sure it's being collected properly.

How you go about setting this will depend to a large extent on whether you're using Tessitura's own TNEW (or Tessitura Network Express Web) or a custom-built purchase pathway. Although the outcome should be broadly the same.

1. Google Analytics and TNEW

Beyond the page views and ecommerce tracking mentioned above, you may want to look at extending the tracking you're doing.

Event tracking can be used to record the user clicking on certain elements that don't trigger a new page view. Select your own seat pages are prime examples - how often are people making use of 'view from seat' buttons, or clicking to zoom in or out? And what about interactions with any subscription, multibuy, or membership upsells?

You may also want to use Google Analytics' Enhanced Ecommerce. TNEW doesn’t offer this by default, but it’s possible to use Google Tag Manager to work with the data that’s available. We have used it to:

  • record ‘add to basket’ events

  • identify and label the steps of the purchase path

  • turn the standard ecommerce data into the ‘enhanced ecommerce’ format

The latter has been particularly useful when our clients have been collecting transaction data from other sources in the same Google Analytics property, where they don’t want to mix and match standard and enhanced ecommerce data.

Finally, with TNEW v7, the product name that is sent to Google Analytics has the performance ID before it. Some of our clients would rather remove this, which we have done with Google Tag Manager.

2. Google Analytics and a custom purchase pathway

The same goes here, although you might find that you slightly more control over the types of data that can be made available.

For instance, you’ll want to use Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce to get a better idea of checkout behaviour. 

The most frequent errors

Sadly, when we start work with new clients, we often find that their website tracking data is either incomplete or incorrect. Although this usually explains why those organisations have been unable to make sense of the data they've been collecting.

These are just some examples of frequent (but fixable) errors…

No cross-domain tracking. It's common for the main website and purchase pathway to sit on different domains, eg www.exampletheatre.com and tickets.exampletheatre.com. However, if Google Analytics hasn't been told that these websites should be treated as one, then when a user passes between them it will treat them as a brand new user and start a new session. This causes all sorts of problems for tracking user journeys and the ROI of marketing activity. 

Revenue being attributed to payment gateways. A user will often be sent off to the website of a third party payment gateway (for example, SagePay or TNS) before returning to the website for their order confirmation details. Again, this will play havoc with understanding the effect of your marketing activity.

Badly configured campaign tracking. In an ideal world, you'd be able to see all traffic from your marketing campaigns (email, PPC, social media, affiliates, and so on) in your analytics reports. However, we often find this undermined by:

  • a hit and miss approach to adding campaign tracking

  • not enough thought given to how campaign names are created

  • inconsistent use of values for source and/or medium

Duplicate transactions. Google Analytics collects transaction data when the confirmation page loads. If that page loads twice (for example, if the user reloads this page) then it's possible for the data to be sent twice, inflating your revenue figures and potentially making some traffic sources look more valuable than they really are. If this is an issue for you, then it should be fixed. 

Collecting data for the main site and purchase pathway in different Google Analytics properties. This was mentioned above, but is worth repeating. We've sometimes seen this when different agencies have been responsible for each part of the website (and neither has quite known what they're doing). Splitting up data in this way will prevent you from seeing the user's journey from end to end.

How to troubleshoot your analytics setup

We've developed a free Google Analytics dashboard to help you spot the most common issues. It's one of the first tools we use when we're getting to grips with a new account, and it'll help you to check for:

  • errors with campaign tracking

  • self-referrals

  • 404 errors

  • errors with ecommerce tracking, including duplicate transactions

To get your dashboard: A small bit of customisation is needed, so get in touch and we'll send you a version that's tailored to your website.

How to make everything perfect

If you suspect you might not have things set up right and would like to chat about any of this then please don't hang around - get in touch. We work internationally and, more importantly, we're friendly and always happy to help. 

We'll also be updating this guide over time. If you want to hear about updates then sign up to the One Further mailing list.