Charlotte and I have come away from the DMA with a genuinely new outlook. After a few frank conversations and an eye-opening workshop on Agile Working in the first weeks, our DMA experience changed from one pre-determined project with an end goal to a series of discussions, experiments and learnings which, put together, have changed our work culture for the long-term – in a way that a single open and shut project might not have done.
With the support of our Mentor Tom Beardshaw, we have grown our digital knowledge and output in many ways, but particularly in our use of digital tools to test theories and make informed decisions, and to analyse ROI. We now use digital tools to plan non-digital strategy, using a small budget to test what images and language work ahead of big spending. As a ballet company, our visual is hugely important and audience research has told us that brochures and posters are a key factor in their decision to book. We chose the visual for our most recent contemporary tour based on the CTR results of an A/B test of two Facebook promoted posts each with the same copy but a different image. It went on to be our most successful contemporary tour in a number of years.
As a touring company, we are concerned that a weakness in our customer relationship is a lack of contact. Their loyalty lies with our venues and not with us. We have been able to consider how we improve relationships with our audiences – part of our initial challenge – in ways that we might not have on our initial path. From simple things like A/B testing email content to using the “see think do care” model to develop our social media strategy, these are small changes in our behaviour which are becoming embedded in our daily working lives. We have conducted a number of online surveys in the course of our DMA Fellowship and are now looking in more detail and over a longer time frame at what we should ask and who we should ask to draw the best feedback to tackle our biggest problem – low repeat attendance.
During our time at the DMA, we took the first steps in selling tickets for our tours directly through our website. While the technical set up of selling our own tickets was a huge digital task in itself, we hoped that having the full buyer journey on our website would allow us to track their behaviour and determine their loyalty to us through repeat visits to the website, a longer time spent on our website, more engagement on social media or other measures. In reality, this project made clear to us limitations based on our Google Analytics set up and also our knowledge of how to draw data from it. In the few months since selling the tickets, we have set ourselves goals and events, created and revised dashboards and improved our e-commence tracking. I am also starting the Google Academy in January. We have also become less reliant on the agency which manages all of our paid digital advertising. We can now tell them when something isn’t working rather than waiting for a fortnightly report.
The DMA has both changed our outlook on how we use social media and digital advertising but has also led us to re-evaluate how we incorporate digital into larger strategies. With clear and easily acquired results, digital advertising offers a confidence and security that spend on traditional marketing cannot. I always compare reading a Google Analytics report from the comfort of your desk to chasing a bus with your advert on the side down the street, asking everyone who glances at it what their age, interests, family make up and social grade are… I know what I’d rather do…
Header Image courtesy of National Football Museum © Chris Payne