Each year millions of Americans go to the theater, explore theme parks with their families and frequent their local movie theater. Trends indicate an increasing percentage of media and entertainment purchases are in the form of online tickets in advance of the event or experience. This provides an opportunity for media and entertainment companies to earn additional revenue and customize their sales offerings.

Fusion and Forrester Research conducted a recent study of the adaptation of ancillary sales strategies, 85% of the media and entertainment companies that participated indicated that their ancillary revenue was above or at target. For these consumers, buying online and avoiding the long lines at the venue is the key to enjoying their live entertainment experiences.

For example, the advanced online ticket sales for this year’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” Valentines’ Day release joined the ranks of Fandango’s top four best selling pre-sale tickets with box office hits like “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” “Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows: Part 2” and “The Hunger Games.”

The release of “Fifty Shades of Grey” continues to break records worldwide. Further, its pre-sale ticket performance can provide insight into online sales strategy for future releases. Reports illustrated that advanced ticket sales in the state of Mississippi were four times higher than the average pre-show movie ticket sales in the history of movie releases. Advanced sales in Arkansas and Kentucky were three times the average recorded in those states. North Dakota and Iowa were among the top 10 states nationwide for total presale figures. What’s more impressive is that this release proves that the market for pre-sale movie tickets exists and appeals to groups other than teens.

Testing and customizing offerings in geographic areas where similar movies have performed well or offering incentives for theme park visitors and theater fans could prove profitable. Media and entertainment companies have multiple opportunities to optimize their websites and leverage the social sharing habits of consumers to grow ancillary sales and cross-selling strategies.

Of the Fusion and Forrester survey respondents, 68% said the customer ratings and reviews areas are effective for drawing additional sales. Other sections of their websites that were found effective are the “what’s new” section, which 59% indicated is effective and the social sharing sections, which 46% reported as effective. Reviewing the design, usability and content of these sections is essential for companies interested in increasing the profitability of their ancillary revenue programs.

Beyond the purchase of advanced online tickets, moviegoers, theme park enthusiasts and theater lovers alike are purchasing with their entire experience in mind. Companies in the media and entertainment sector should employ ancillary sales strategies that help the customer achieve a cohesive and personalized shopping experience. Family-friendly offers that include meals and perks like skipping the line make life and trip planning easier for this group of consumers. Just as those consumers who prefer to reserve seating at their local luxury movie theater for the next big film premier would like to purchase their popcorn, candy and beverages in advance to be picked up on arrival.

Sound ancillary sales strategies have an impact on far more than revenue. The Fusion/Forrester survey participants reported seeing improvements in other key metrics, such as improved customer experience, competitor differentiation and building lasting relationships with key customers. Making the difference in the purchasing experience of the live entertainment customer goes a long way, from earning repeat business to catching the attention of their friends via social media, media and entertainment companies must aim to sell smarter.