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Experiments in access #DMA

Freya Jewitt from South London Gallery shares her experience on the Digital Marketing Academy.

My initial goal for the DMA was to improve the accessibility of the SLG’s website and digital marketing ahead of an inclusive arts festival for disabled and non disabled families. It was really helpful that my project was embedded into my work on the festival so that I had preset deadlines, audience targets and content to work with, and having the festival to work towards was also a great way to motivate my colleagues to collaborate on new projects.

In the run up to the festival I worked with the Learning and Operations teams to create an autism friendly visual story, an ‘Access’ page for the website, and other resources. Having time to do research and testing changed my perspective on all aspects of the festival marketing so that I put it into practice in lots of different areas, from the information in the e-flyers to A/B testing the targeting and imagery on Facebook ads for the event. I’m still working on evaluating and developing these further and thinking about ways that we can raise awareness of the new resources, so just because my project is coming to an end it doesn’t mean the experimenting is over.

Over the course of my project some of my ideas were reshaped by the time and contacts available to me so I had to take a flexible approach. It was great to look broadly at accessibility and explore a range of ideas but if I was going to do the project again I’d probably set out a much more defined test or question I wanted to answer.


Header Image courtesy of Pavillion Dance South West © Farrows Creative — Safe  

Improving Online Access Information #DMA

Freya Jewitt from South London Gallery shares her experience on the Digital Marketing Academy.

On the 28th of October the South London Gallery is hosting the first ever Making Routes Festival, a free and accessible weekend of arts and play taking place across south London. I’ve been using the festival as a deadline for improving the access information we share online and it’s also been an opportunity to put my accessible marketing research into practice on our website, e-marketing and Facebook advertising.

I wanted to highlight a few of the things I’ve learnt along the way that I’ve used to improve our digital content, and fed into things like the South London Gallery’s webpage style guide. A lot of it might sound really obvious but hopefully will highlight some helpful tools and resources.


  • You can use the WAVE chrome plugin to check how accessible your website is
  • It’s great to keep website text short, clear and to the point, you can use online tools to check the reading age of your website copy
  • When uploading videos try to add in subtitles and audio describe where possible
  • Flag up the resources you have and provide content in alternative formats for example large text versions of gallery guides or word docs as well as pdfs (as pdfs can’t be read by all screen readers.


  • Include photos of disabled visitors and use photos that show off your access provisions on site
  • Always alt-text images you post online so that screen readers can scan them
  • Don’t put text over images

Access information

  • Build a dedicated access page on your website and be up front about your facilities and flag up any potential obstacles by giving thorough information about accessible travel options and your building.
  • For some visitors it can be helpful to describe the experience on site so consider creating a Visual Story or Sensory Map.
  • Providing a named access person at your venue will encourage more people to get in touch if they need to
  • Ask disabled people and people with lived experience to be involved in the process of deciding what is included.


Helpful resources:

Wave Chrome plug-in

Readability Test

Reaching Disabled Audiences guide

Accessible Marketing Guide

5 ways to Connect online with disabled audiences

Access Information recommendations



Header Image courtesy of Puppet Theatre Scotland © Andy Caitlin – The Table – Blind Summit

5 learnings from the #DMA

Hannah Mason – fellow on DMA 4.0 – discusses five key learnings from her Digital Marketing Academy experience so far. 


Finding the time to concentrate on the experiments and the DMA experience is fundamental to achieving meaningful results. A couple of months in and I was thinking “Well I am very bad at separating time for this”. I thought my peers were all dedicating hours to their experiments which would all be going like clockwork and yielding amazing results. Conclusion being I was ‘a bit rubbish’ at this. Which leads me to points 2 and 3 in my discovery…


Of course I was totally wrong about my peers and comparing myself to imaginary versions of them was (and is!) the real waste of time. Our next Action Learning Set taught me this. We were all busy with the day job which was getting in the way of our experiment schedules. Our organisations were changing in ways we could not have envisioned and this was impacting in our ability to do what we set out to. Equally we were being harsh on ourselves. Things do slide but how we bring them back on track makes the difference. The clue is in the title ‘experiment’ not ‘absolute outcome’ so I realised sharing with my peers that it is okay to feel snowed under but if I found time to dedicate solely to the project each week the joy would come back.



I had lined up a series of visits to local galleries and exhibitions where I was going to talk to visitors about the interpretation available and the information they found before their visit. I wanted to ascertain the need for the information I feel is lacking. The first gallery would be at The Art House, where I have curated an exhibition with an artist called gobscure. He has lived experience of mental ill health and his work explores the language of lunacy. Alongside the exhibition I designed a magazine and website as he wanted to share the work not just in a ‘white cube’ but in other accessible ways. The change I wasn’t expecting was that in the gallery there was no interpretation! For various organisational reasons the interpretation was not created. Knocked off kilter a bit, I found this halted my momentum.


For a number of reasons time has played such an important role in how the project is progressing. I need to be flexible in how I gather the information to carry out the experiment. I have audience data from the galleries in a standard format due to the Audience Finder system all ACE-funded arts organisations use. The next step is setting up new visits to the three galleries in the plan and use the lack of interpretation as a tool rather than seeing it as a problem. Use agility to break down these tasks into smaller easy steps.


Or at least a simple version of the tool. The plan for the next phase of the project is to create a simple version of the online tool and share it with a focus group at The Art House. And of course enjoy some experimentation with it.

All images courtesy of Hannah Mason 

How do we define culture? #DMA

Giant Picnic 2010

Sara Devine, Director of Digital Engagement at the Brooklyn Museum and one of our DMA Mentors, discusses new findings from the Culture Track survey on cultural audiences

Last week I attended the New York reveal of LaPlaca Cohen’s triennial Culture Track survey. Beginning in 2001, Culture Track has been surveying cultural audiences to determine attitudes and behaviors and makes for some really interesting reading. Since its inception, Culture Track has grown in scope and scale, but always has at its core the initial survey in order to track changing attitudes over time. I have to say, the 2017 results were pretty fantastic.

First, the data set is stellar. With over 4,000 respondents, it has a very narrow margin of error and represents a cross-section of U.S. demographics. A pretty rare beast. Second, I love that the study focuses on the cultural sector overall. As a “museum person,” I find it hard to look outside the immediate field and there is much to learn from our friends in the cultural sector. Third, the results are about what you expect if you haven’t been living under a rock, BUT there are a few little surprises AND it’s great to have data to back up impressions.

There is a boatload of information in this report and I urge you to check it out yourself. Here I’m just going to share my two biggest takeaways:

  1. The way we define culture is changing.
  2. The reasons people participate in culture might surprise you.

Let’s start with the definition of culture. According to Merriam-Webster online, culture is defined as “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.” For most of us, I imagine, this brings to mind art, theatre, ballet, a historic site, maybe even science or history. Does it bring to mind a street fair? What about street art? Or food and drink? Because according to the latest Culture Track data, it does for quite a few cultural consumers. The top three activities defined as culture were: historic attraction/museum (69%), art/design museum (63%), and community festival/street fair (62%). Public/street art came in at 54% and  “Food and drink experience” at 52%. And here I just thought we competed with each other and with Netflix for visitor time and attention!

Many of the reasons people participate in culture are what you might expect: interest in the content (78%), learning something new (71%), and gives life a deeper meaning (61%). The top reason—which will surprise some in the museum field I’m sure—to have fun! Imagine that! For 81% of respondents, having fun is a reason they participate in culture. Not always a top priority, I’m sorry to say. A few of the more surprising results included feeling less stressed (76%), feeling welcome (64%), and bettering health/well-being (55%). An interesting theme emerging that might say something about our world today and the role culture can play.

So what does this mean for the Digital Marketing Academy? To me it brings up a lot of interesting questions. What happens if we combine culture definitions and partner with surprising organisations or groups? Encourage fun? Offer programs or activities that alleviate stress? Are we already doing these things and just not letting people know about them? Or do we need to re-examine our offerings and see if/how they fit into the cultural public’s priorities? There’s a lot of room for experimentation here, we just have to take this data and do something with it.


Header image courtesy of People United © Zoe Maxwell

Painting by Numbers #DMA

Olivia Parker from Waddesdon Manor shares her experience on the Digital Marketing Academy.

I finished my previous blog with the intention to learn the art of making GIFs, so that’s exactly what I did. I invited Adam Koszary from Reading Museum to Waddesdon for a day of discussing digital marketing. In the morning we led an open discussion between the curators and the marketing team looking at the peaks and pitfalls of using animations to highlight the art in the collections as well as their importance in spreading knowledge, understanding and awareness. Then in the afternoon Adam imparted his digital wisdom by teaching the marketing team how to make GIFs. It was an incredibly valuable day, on a practical level but also in terms of creativity, inter-departmental communication and strategy. We’ve shared some of our thoughts in a recent blog ‘Getting giffy with it’.

As the DMA continues so does my understanding of website analytics and our audiences. Following my second session with my mentor, Tom, we decided it would be a valuable exercise to identify some of the main types of visitors to Waddesdon’s website and give them personas to start to paint a picture of who they are. From assessing Google Analytics I highlighted four main groups of people and created web persons based on who they are, what they were looking at, where they had come from and what interests them. On the most basic level this process has helped me to visualise them as people not statistics and has shifted the way I approach putting content together. This has fortunately tied in with broader audience analysis so as a team we’re much more aware of the types of people we need to deliver to. By far our biggest audience is women in their mid-thirties to forties with children.

A key goal of my project is to discover a bit more about our younger audiences, specifically those between 18-24. They make up a meagre 4% of our visiting audience and just over 6% of our website visitors. With another of my aims to prompt more user-generated content, I thought I could achieve both things by inviting young social media influencers and bloggers to Waddesdon for the day. Both organising and executing this day proved to be huge learning experiences. From recruiting attendees to finding a day that worked for the majority was very hard, particularly with such a niche audience. Then getting those interested to commit was also another challenge. We had a list of 20 people interested, 6 acceptances and then 3 people come on the day. I was initially incredibly disappointed about the small turnout, however the day proved to be a huge success and I learnt a lot from it. Logistically, as we took the attendees on a curator-led tour of the house it would have been very hard with any more than 3 people so this needs to be brought into consideration for future events. I spent a lot of time reflecting on this day in my most recent mentor meeting but ultimately the real take away is that, although the sample was small, it was successful. So much so that these types of events will be integrated into our marketing strategy and will be adapted and iterated for audiences needs as well as our own (hello agile working!).





Header Image : Picture of the Dining Room at Waddesdon Manor © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor.  Photo Chris Lacey

How We Increased Donations By 17.5% With This One Small Change #DMA

Devon Smith, co-founder of Measure Creative and Digital Marketing Academy Mentor offers tips for A/B testing

A/B testing is the practice of showing two slightly different versions of the same thing (an A and a B) to two small groups of people, figuring out which version works the best, and then showing that version to everyone else. You can use A/B testing in many different marketing channels – from social media to email newsletters to your website; you could even A/B test conversations that you have all the time (like fundraising pitches to donors)!

There are 7 key steps to any A/B test:

  • Goal: A/B testing depends on having a singular optimization goal that defines which version wins. It could be a click, the open rate, time on page, downloads, or nearly any other singular metric.
  • Hypothesis: Google famously A/B tested 40 different shades of blue to figure out which one got the most clicks, and then changed all links to that colour blue. As arts organisations, we just don’t have that kind of time. So a good hypothesis helps us focus on the things that matter most: the high value goals (ticket sales, fundraising, attendance, etc), and the aspects of the marketing channel that are likely to matter most (images, headlines, big noticeable changes).
  • Segment: A/B tests usually apply to a small segment of your audience – they’re the “test group” that helps you make a decision about which version (A or B) is most effective; it might be 10% of your email subscribers or a “week’s worth” of your website visitors.
  • Split: one half of your segment sees the “A” version, the other half sees your “B” version. It’s important these two groups are very similar to each other (and so we often randomly assign members to A or B)
  • Show: Don’t forget there should be only one small change between your A version and your B version. If you change multiple things at the same time, they’re likely to cancel each other out and you won’t know which test is the winner, or why. Once you’ve got your two A and B versions, you need to show them to the A and B  groups for a period of time. This calculator from Optimizely helps you figure out for how long the test needs to be running before you know the winner.
  • Measure: each of your A and B versions will have their own conversion rate, which equals “success metric” divided by “number of people exposed to the test.” In other words: 14 successful downloads divided by 100 people who saw the version B is a conversion rate of 14%. If version A’s conversion rate is 20%, then version A clearly wins.
  • Change: once you know the winning version, you need to roll it out to the rest of your audience as a permanent change.


Let’s take a look at this 7-step process in action, using the example above.

  • Goal: complete the donation transaction
  • Hypothesis: website visitors pay more attention to the left side of a page and by the time they get to this donation page, they no longer need to be convinced (so the “a gift of hope” panel is distracting)
  • Segment: this test ran for 1-month, to 100% of website visitors to this page
  • Split: visitors to this donation page were randomly shown the A version or the B version, using the tool Google Optimize
  • Show: the single change between these two versions is the reversal of the left and right panels
  • Measure: After 1-month, version A had 7.4% of visitors complete a donation, and version B had 8.7% of visitors complete a donation. So over the course of a year, just by changing to version B we would see a 17.5% increase in online donations ((8.7-7.4)/7.4 = 17.5)
  • Change: after the test finished, we made a permanent change to the donation page (and started a new A/B test!)


For more tips on how to A/B test in social media, emails, and your website, check out this presentation from a recent workshop I facilitated.

Header Image courtesy of Puppet Theatre Scotland © Andy Caitlin – The Logic of Movement – Stephen Mottram

Communication Automation #DMA

All That Fall - Samuel Beckett - Out of Joint - 4 March 2016

Mrs Rooney - Brid Brennan
Christie - Frank Laverty
Mr Tyler - Gary Lilburn
Mr Slocumb - Ciaran McIntyre
Tommy - Killian Burke
Mr Barrell - Frank Laverty
Miss Fitt - Tara Flynn
Mr Rooney - Gary Lilburn
Jerry - Tara Flynn

Writer - Samuel Beckett
Director - Max Stafford-Clark
Sound Designer - Dyfan Jones
Production Manager - Andy Reader
Stage Manager - Sally McKenna
Producer - Martin Derbyshire

Devon Smith, co-founder of Measure Creative and Digital Marketing Academy mentor offers tips for automating your emails to better connect with your audience. 

Everyone likes a little personalized attention. But we’re too busy to give a personal touch to everyone in our audience, right? Email automation campaigns (also sometime called drip campaigns) help solve this problem. These campaigns consist of a series of emails that can be sent to an audience member after a common situation occurs. Like a “welcome series” of emails for each new person who buys a ticket for the first time. Or a “re-engagement series” for each person who hasn’t opened one of your other emails for the past few months. Or an “abandoned cart” series for each person who starts the ticket purchase process on your website, but doesn’t complete their transaction.

You might already be doing something like this on a manual basis, but many email service providers have this automation capability built into their system. You write the email, define your triggers (if X happens, then send Y email to Z person), and then let the magic happen…over and over again, with no further input from you.

There’s a lot of great resources to help you get started understanding what email automations are and how to implement them effectively:

Don’t forget to add drip campaign principles to your email marketing strategy, alongside A/B testing, personalization, and segmentation of course!


Interested in exploring more about personalisation?
Check out Digital Marketing Day 2017 — Getting to Know You on Friday 1 December.


Header Image courtesy of Out of Joint © Robert Workman All That Fall

Small Scale is your Super Power #DMA

Seb Chan, CXO of Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Mentor on the Digital Marketing Academy, talks about how smaller organisations can make small changes with big impacts.

Small arts organisations struggle with almost everything – except, it seems, direct connections to their supporters and communities. Often it is the small organisations that know every second face that comes to their performances and their shows. Yet they are also frequently the ones that feel most ‘challenged’ by digital marketing. Encouraged to ‘scale’, there is a tendency to forget that their small scale is also their super power – and that word-of-mouth is also the ‘original social media’.

For this year’s AMA Digital Marketing Academy, I’ve been mentoring Jenny Babenko at Adverse Camber. Adverse Camber’s work is interesting, accessible, and tours regional and rural towns – bringing their storytelling and music to many different communities. The challenge for them, given their tiny staffing, is to maximise their marketing reach and effectiveness at lowest possible cost, so that everything they have can go into their productions.

As with almost every performing arts company, their challenge is to get people to experience a performance – so that they become advocates. To that end, my sessions with Jenny have largely worked through issues around ‘representing the experience’ better to potential audiences, and then secondly, doing quick and dirty research with people who have just experienced a performance to understand what they felt was different, memorable, and how they might describe the experience to their friends. Adverse Camber’s work is highly experiential and is not easily captured by action photography, trailers, or even 360 video. But audience reactions are.

The idea has been to get beyond the (very real) tactical challenges of ‘why is Facebook rarely showing my updates to potential patrons?’ and ‘does my website need a redesign?’ (invariably, yes) and on to the sorts of actions that are achievable, manageable, and give broader insights with a skeleton staff and minimal budget.

Small changes – based on a better understanding of what existing patrons love about your small companies’ work – will give a much better platform on which to build new audiences from, and potentially also inform other ‘non-digital’ marketing and advertising outputs as well.


Are you leading a small-scale organisation with ten staff or less in England? Find out more about our Small-Scale Development Programme.


Image courtesy of Puppet Theatre Scotland © Andy Caitlin – How the Light Gets In – Laura Cameron-Lewis & Shona Reppe 

Three Little Words Which Spark Creativity #DMA

DK, digital marketing expert and a mentor for the Digital Marketing Academy offers some thoughts on creativity.

Every creative act starts with an act of vulnerability evidenced by three little words:

I. Don’t. Know. 

Many state the above as line in the sand, a closing down of conversation, a refusal to explore further.

Others get excited, and lean forwards, hungry for adventure, ready to fail forwards.

These are the creatives!

Whether it be composing an orchestral piece in 10minutes from nothing:


Collaborating on a dance piece when you can’t speak each others language:


Drawing blind to spark an abstract drawing piece:


…this is the imaginative mindset at work.


When mixed with curated ideas and experience plus audacity and mad curiousity, its forms the most delicious path to potential.

Whether you’re starting a business, leading a team, beginning at a new organisation, figuring out the next steps in life, or shaping a city-wide initiative to infuse a city with creative literacies

…saying “I don’t know” more often is a rallying cry to creative action.


Top image courtesy of Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History © CLoé J. F. Zarifian

Slicing your data #DMA

Tom Beardshaw, digital marketing expert and a mentor for the Digital Marketing Academy offers some thoughts on segmentation.

One of my common tasks as a Mentor on the DMA programme is to walk Fellows through some of the ways that they can use Google Analytics (GA) to achieve their goals, which often include phrases like “get to know our audience better”. If that’s you, and you aren’t aware of the ways that you can use Segments in Google Analytics, read on!

Put simply, Segmentation is a way of looking at a particular portion, section, or segment of your website traffic, and exploring all of the data contained within GA for that group of visitors. Once you’ve identified and created a Segment that represents a group of visitors that you want to learn more about, you can view any of the data analyses that GA provides, but for the segment of visitors that you’ve chosen. You can also chose to display multiple segments at the same time, so you can compare different groups of visitors.

By default, when you open GA, you are looking at a segment called “All Users”, which is shown at the top of your reports, next to a button which allows you to add another segment:

If you’ve never clicked on that “+ Add Segment” button, go on – I dare you to! If you do, you’ll find an array of segments that Google has already given you, based on user characteristics or behaviour displayed during their visit.

So that means you could compare the visit time and purchasing behaviour of segments based on the channels that they arrive at your website from… to understand which are the most effective channels in your digital marketing.

You can compare the content that users from different geographic areas are browsing using segments based on geography. You can look at the pathways taken through your website by visitors who have taken a specific action (such as making a purchase) compared with those who didn’t take that action.

Segmentation allows you to leave the comfortable, yet ultimately unenlightening plains of “All Users” data and deep dive into the worlds of groups of people you are particularly interested in.

A great way to start playing with Segments is to identify one or more groups of visitors that you would like to find more about, and to experiment with creating a data segment that represents that group. Click on the red “New Segment” button and play with Analytics to create a segment that represents that group, and then explore the data to learn more about them.


To learn more about Segments, check out some of these articles;

Excellent Analytics tip #2: Segment absolutely everything, by Avinash Kaushik

How to use (Advanced) Segments in Google Analytics by Dave Chaffey

About Segments by Google


Image courtesy of Puppet Theatre Scotland © Andy Caitlin – Stephen Moir – Phonotrope Workshop

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