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Data-driven decisions for website redevelopment #digilab

Ray Clenshaw and Emma Rowan at Belgrade Theatre, Coventry discuss their Digital Lab experience so far

We were both incredibly excited to be accepted onto the AMA’s Digital Lab. For a long time we’d discussed the increasing importance of making more data-driven decisions and whilst we use Google Analytics and other digital platforms regularly, we felt we were not unlocking their full potential.

In our first meeting with Devon we focused on gaining a better understanding of analytics which would inform our future experiments. Devon was great at helping to demystify some of the terms used and to identify key reports which would provide invaluable data moving forward.

With a greater understanding of what we could learn via analytics we started to think about what we really wanted to know. With a rebrand of our website on the horizon, we were keen to learn more about the user journey on our current site. We were also keen to explore Facebook advertising in more detail, to examine elements of the platform which we weren’t currently using.


Using data to inform website redevelopment

Our website is getting on a little bit now and we’re just starting to formulate our plan to redevelop the site. It’s been incredibly useful to discuss that with Devon and to identify some of the information we can gain from analytics to inform decisions we make going into that process.

The plan is to explore conversions and the user journey behaviour to see how people currently use our site and to gauge what people want most from what we offer. We’ll also be listing assumptions we have as an organisation about the content on the site and how people engage with it, and then finding ways to test those assumptions to see if the data backs them up or not.

Making ‘data driven decisions’ is something we talk about a lot, and we obviously use data from our CRM and ticketing systems all the time, but we’ve always felt there’s so much more we could be taking from google analytics to inform all kinds of activity, and that’s exactly what the Digital Lab experience is allowing us to do now. It’s really exciting and will no doubt prove incredibly valuable as we increase our knowledge and understanding.


Remarketing versus boosted Posts

Facebook advertising is a key component of all of our marketing campaigns but we felt there were elements of Facebook’s advertising platform that we were yet to explore, particularly the remarketing function. Whilst we’d both been exposed to remarketing ads personally we’d never used them as part of our social media advertising strategy. We were keen to examine whether they were more successful than the boosted posts and newsfeed ads we’ve traditionally used.

Devon was really helpful in talking through the logistics of setting up a remarketing campaign and helping us to ascertain what our goals were and how to track them via analytics. Once we’d established our goals we decided to set up an experiment to compare the success rate of a remarketing campaign versus a boosted post. Focusing on one of our upcoming Christmas shows we set up a 2 week remarketing campaign with, ‘number of transactions’ as the trackable goal. Once the advert has run its course we’ll run a boosted post with the same budget and compare the results.

Making changes to tried and tested marketing tactics can be scary, particularly when budgets are tight and the results are unknown. Being part of the Digital Lab has helped to increase my confidence in taking ‘risks’ by improving my knowledge of analytics and how to set goals, track and evaluate the success rate of campaigns. It’s been great to have the opportunity to test some of our ‘what ifs’ and I can’t wait to see what the results show us.

Header image courtesy of People United © Janetka Platun — BELONGING

Changing tact — using film to create rich experiences for existing audiences #DigiLab

Tom White, Assistant Digital Manager at City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra talks about his early involvement with the Digital Lab

New audiences are pretty much the arts marketer’s holy grail – it’s no secret that getting people’s attention and persuading them to come and experience our art for the first time can be a challenge. But something we’ve been thinking about lately at the CBSO is the importance of keeping that attention, and how we can stop those hard-won attenders from ‘lapsing’ after they’ve taken their first steps. So my first discussions with my AMA Digital Lab mentor focused around the ‘visitor experience’ – not necessarily a concept we deal with too regularly as a performance-based producing organisation – and ways we could enrich our concertgoers’ experience digitally.

Digital video is a format that we are already quite comfortable with as an organisation, so we have started doing some experiments around how we can use it more as a re-engagement tool than a mass-marketing medium.

On any given week, the CBSO will perform between one and three entirely different musical programmes, usually at our Birmingham home venue Symphony Hall but also on UK and international tours. As a result, our production cycle is very tight, with no more than five days between the first rehearsal and the end of the concert – and then maybe only two or three days until rehearsals start for the next one.

As far as generating video content to support concerts online, within that week-long window we can film rehearsals, interview conductors and musicians, and quickly turn around social media videos in time – just about – to publish them on the day, or day before, a concert. We’ve done that quite a few times, using video as a last-minute sales push. Admittedly the content has been very useful in terms of social media engagement and reach – but it’s not necessarily helping us sell seats in the hall. We already know that our core audiences will book several weeks out from the concert, so it’s impossible to get this content in front of would-be attenders quickly enough to make a difference.

So, as part of the Digital Lab, and with our lapsing booker challenges in mind, we’re experimenting with a change of tack. It’s really simple – the plan is to also use video post-concert instead, with the hope of creating a richer experience for existing bookers. A no-brainer, right? Our team already sends post-concert emails after every performance (with press reviews, a social media roundup and recommended concerts), so we were aware of their usefulness. But the Digital Lab has given us the impetus to try video in this context too.

In practice, for a few trial concerts this has meant collecting very short (60 seconds or less) video interviews of musical soloists or conductors immediately after they come offstage – literally the musical equivalent of post-match footballer interview. The clips are then shared directly with the attenders of that particular content via email. Of course, these videos aren’t going to break any YouTube views records – in fact they’re not even visible on our channel – but that isn’t the point. Our hope is that doing this can enrich the audience experience in a way that might increase a first-timer’s engagement in the artform more widely, and make them more receptive to further marketing communications from us in particular.

We’re measuring the responses to the videos, and early results seem positive, with CTR substantially higher on these content-rich emails than on our standard post-concert messaging. The real litmus test, though, will be whether this has any bearing on how those same people respond to the next enewsletters or concert eflyers they get from us. Will the video engagement help to punch through the white noise of marketing in people’s inboxes, or will it make no difference at all? Either way, we’re looking forward to finding out.

Header Image courtesy of Sound and Music © Martin Weiss 

Get the most out of UTM Codes #Digilab

Devon Smith, mentor on our Digital Lab shares insights on UTM Codes    

One of the great benefits of online marketing is the ability to measure the direct impact of your marketing efforts. In order to measure the success of emails, social media, all manner of online ads, and other online marketing efforts, each of those needs to be tagged with a UTM code.

UTM codes are deceptively simple and complex. You can add a UTM code to any link that you control (links that you add to an email, social media post or ad, a digital ad in an online newspaper, an entry in an online community calendar, etc), and the information in that code is then automatically passed to Google Analytics. In short – by adding UTM code to links, you can get more and better data into your Google Analytics, so that you can evaluate whether, for example, visitors from email bought more tickets than visitors from social media, or exactly how many donations were made by visitors who arrived as your site from that end-of-year giving email campaign.

That’s the easy part:

Link + UTM Code = More data in Google Analytics

The hard part is making sure all of the UTM codes on all of your marketing links use the same structure and conventions, because Google Analytics is maddeningly precise in how it organizes those UTM codes in analytics reports.

Before we dive into figuring out how to solve that issue, first a little nerd history: before Google Analytics existed, there was a similar service called Urchin; it was Urchin that developed the “Urchin Tracking Module” code that we now shorthand as UTM. Google acquired Urchin and folded in the Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) code method into Google Analytics. This is why Google automatically attaches UTM codes to all Google AdWords ads by default (and so you shouldn’t be adding UTM codes to your AdWords links!).

UTM code must have the “Source” parameter (a parameter is the type of information being passed to Google Analytics) and can have up to 4 additional parameters (so if you don’t want to use any of the 4 parameters, just leave them out of the code entirely). Each parameter follows the same structure: utm_parameter=youdecidewhatgoeshere and those parameters are joined to each other with an ampersand (&).

Source: intended to identify the name of the website where the link is placed or the name of the email client (particularly if you are a large organization that, for example, uses Mailchimp for some emails and DotMailer for others). So, your Source parameter is often identified as facebook, twitter, mailchimp, theguardian, etc.) and looks like:


Medium: intended to identify the type of marketing channel where this link is being placed, for example: email, social, referral, display, etc. Google Analytics has very strict rules about how it will use the Medium parameter to identify traffic in the default “Channels” report. If you don’t following Google’s rules for the Medium parameter, lots of your traffic will end up identified in the “(Other)” category for this report. After tagging all of your links with UTM codes, you want a Channels report that looks something like this, where the “(Other)” category is quite small:

Default channel grouping chart example

All the rules that Google has for formatting and using the Medium parameter can be found here, but the basic idea is for traffic to end up in these channel groupings. For traffic to appear in the Channel of:

  • Social use Medium of exactly: social, social-network, social-media, sm, social network, or social media.
  • Email use Medium of exactly: email
  • Affiliates use Medium of exactly: affiliate
  • Referral use Medium of exactly: referral
  • Paid Search don’t add UTM codes to any of your Google AdWords! But if you use other paid search network, (Bing, Yahoo, etc) then use Medium of exactly: cpc, ppc, or paidsearch
  • Other Advertising use Medium of exactly: cpv, cpa, cpp, or content-text
  • Display use Medium of exactly: display, cpm, or banner


So your Medium parameter is often identified as social, email, referral, or display and looks like:


If your Medium parameter doesn’t exactly match one of the terms in that list (spelling, capitalization, spacing must all match), then your traffic will get grouped in the “(Other)” category in this Channels report. If that happens, or for some reason you can’t follow the default definitions of Medium that Google has created, you do have the option to update those definitions in Google Analytics!

You can create your own rules for how to sort traffic based on UTM parameters in the Administrative section of Google Analytics, under “Custom Channel Grouping.”

Campaign: intended to identify the name of the thing you are promoting. Ideally, you will have lots of different Sources and Mediums that all share the exact same Campaign code. This is often the name of the performance, exhibit, course, or fundraising campaign. It’s a best practice to use dashes or underscores to separate words, use all lowercase, and minimize the number of words used so your Campaign parameter might look like:


Term: Google uses this parameter specifically for Google AdWords to identify what keyword was bid on, but YOU can use this parameter for anything you want! It’s a total free-for-all. If I’m tagging a social media ad, I’ll often use this parameter to identify the audience segment I was targeting. If I’m tagging an email, I’ll use this parameter to identify the date the email was sent or the list segment the email was sent to. So use the Term parameter for whatever you want that you think will help you better analyze your marketing efforts, and it might look like:


Content: google uses this parameter specifically for Google AdWords to identify which ad the link was placed in, but YOU can use this parameter for anything you want! Again, it’s a total free-for-all. If I’m tagging a social media ad or an email, I’ll often use this parameter to identify the type of content in the social post or email, such as a video, slideshow, or image, or I’ll use it to identify the specific text copy that we might be testing. So use the Content parameter for whatever you want that you think will help you better analyze your marketing efforts, and it might look like:


Put it all together: UTM codes are joined to the link that you’re posting by a question mark and by convention typically appear in the order listed above. So we put all of those things together, and your link might look like:

This is the full link that you would include in your email newsletter on 31 December using a 30 second video to promote Beauty and the Beast. If there are two different places in that same email where you’re promoting that show, just change the Content parameter. If you’re also promoting the show via a video Facebook ad, change the Source, Medium, and Term (but leave Campaign and Content as-is).


Google created the “Campaign URL Builder” website to help you create that long link:

‘Enter the website URL and campaign information example chart’

There’s also a plethora of free or cheap tools you can find online that help automate this process, including Excel add-ons, Chrome extensions, Google Sheets add-ons, etc. Do a little googling to find the one that fits your needs best.


If you decide to go the manual route, it’s still great to use a spreadsheet to keep track of all your parameters throughout a campaign, and that spreadsheet might look like:

Example spreadsheet

Capitalized letters can wreak havoc on your well structured and planned UTM codes. For example, if you accidently use “beauty_beast” and “Beauty_Beast” Google will think that those are two different campaigns, and not group the data together in your Campaigns reports. If you think you might get a little sloppy with capitalization (I know I’m guilty of that!), create a filter in Google Analytics that will force all URL data into lowercase automatically:

Creating a filter in google analytics example

Have you lost sight yet of why we started using UTM codes to begin with? Now that your UTM codes are on all of your digital marketing links, you can start using them to understand which source, medium, term, and content is performing the best for each of your campaigns. So if everything went as planned, you have a nice organized list of campaigns:

Campaign list showing acquisitions

And you can click on any of those campaigns, and see which marketing channel is generating the most ticket sales:

More campaign acquisitions information

Or which audience segment that you created for a Facebook ad campaign is generating the most ticket sales:

example sheet showing which audience segment is generating the most ticket sales:

Or which type of content is generating the most ticket sales:

Once you understand the rules and conventions of how to use UTM codes, there’s a world of analysis that’s possible in Google Analytics – hopefully making more efficient use of your limited marketing budget. But it’s not enough for a single person to follow all the rules and conventions – everyone at your organization has to share the same practices! I often find that’s one of the hardest parts of campaign code management – just keeping everyone on the same page and using the same naming conventions. It’s helpful to share a single spreadsheet that tracks all UTM code parameters at the organization, and to have regular meetings with all of your marketing staff who might need to use UTM codes in their work so that everyone can work out discrepancies.

Good luck with your campaign tagging and may the magic of UTM codes help all of your online marketing efforts succeed!


Header Image courtesy of Liverpool Biennial 2016 © Joel Chester Fildes — Rita McBride, Portal, 2016.  

Content Plan — Reloaded #DigiLab

Image courtesy of Eastern Angles © Mike Kwasniak

Nicky Hand from Shakespeare Birthplace Trust shares her experience so far on the Digital Lab

One of the things I love about my job is the endless potential it affords. There’s always something to learn; a new tool to play with; a process to improve upon. Experimentation is woven into the fabric of what digital is all about, so coming up with ideas for experiments to run as part of the Digital Lab was definitely not a problem. The only tricky part was going to be figuring out which one to pick first…

We were encouraged to identify an experiment that fits directly into our current to-do list. Instead of feeling like yet another thing to fit in, it should just be a version of your day job that happens to benefit from the expertise of a mentor. So with that in mind, I knew pretty quickly that I was going to focus on content.

The way we produce content at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has been changing. Rather than funnelling everything through a centralised team, we’ve been working with individuals across the organisation to skill up a team of ‘content champions’. They might post onto social media, write website content or create videos; the aim is to empower our people to tell the stories relevant to their area of work, direct to our audiences.

As our champions have gained confidence and got to grips with the mechanics of content creation, our attention has been turning to more strategic matters. Introducing a diversity of voices means our content increasingly reflects the living, breathing collective of passionate individuals that makes up the Trust. We see this as a hugely positive thing, but it comes with some practical problems to overcome, and a risk that the overall coherence of our output could be compromised.

To reduce this risk, we use a shared content schedule. By plotting everyone’s plans in a single place we hoped to increase transparency, encourage wider campaign thinking and enable opportunity-spotting for collaborations between teams. In practice, feedback tells us it’s mostly just used to find a gap in which to schedule up a post. It’s a useful reference point for avoiding timing clashes, but not much more. There certainly isn’t any evidence that champions are using the document to inform their analysis or broader planning.

So the focus of my first experiment is to see if there’s anything we can do to change that. After a helpful chat with my mentor I’ve gone back to the drawing board, thinking about what else a content plan could and should offer. Are we capturing all the information that we should be? How can this tool work harder to guide people’s thinking about what to create, not just when to send it out into the world? Is there a format that could offer reporting and insights to people at different levels of the organisation for a variety of purposes?

While I’m working through these questions I’m also on the lookout for alternative platforms that could provide a more flexible solution than our current Google doc. The one that intrigues me most so far is Airtable, which has the familiarity of excel but a lot scope for data interrogation in more visual, calendar-based formats. I’ve run a quick demo of the tool past our champions, and my next steps will be to set up a beta content plan that incorporates the findings of all my thinking so far.

There’s a lot of work still to be done, but I’m feeling really positive about the opportunity to take a fresh look at something that sort of works, but could be better. It’s not always easy to make time for that, but I’m excited to see what the impact of a relatively straightforward change could be on how we manage our content for the benefit of our teams, our stakeholders and – most importantly – our audiences.

Header image courtesy of Eastern Angles © Mike Kwasniak 

The First Time #DMA

Female hand holding a pen and writing a plan in a planner

Katie Walker and Hugh Gledhill from Theatre Royal Stratford East share their experience on the Digital Marketing Academy

We came to our first call with our mentor Ron Evans with lots of different ideas, and Ron was very calm and positive so we came off the call with lots to think about, but also with the assurance that we could reach out to him anytime during the process. We talked about all things digital, and one of my key takeaways was realising my reservations about employing marketing tactics that I don’t personally respond to as a customer (such as re-targeting campaigns). It was useful to recognise that, and I’ve made a mental note to try and work through it! It’s always better to test something and act on what the data, rather than what your gut, tells you.


As a theatre in London one of the challenges we face is lack of loyalty – there are hundreds of arts organisations competing for customers’ time and money, so it can be difficult to persuade people to return. The average London re-attendance rate is less than 20%, and at Theatre Royal Stratford East we feel it more than most because of our varied programming and a lack of disposable income in our local area. Hugh and I had been discussing this since joining the team in 2016, and it formed a large part of our discussion with Ron.

It’s cheaper and easier to retain existing customers than to find new ones, and as TRG Arts CEO Jill Robinson said at the 2016 Spektrix Conference, we should all be in pursuit of pushing customers up the loyalty pyramid (visitors to return, returners to donate, etc). It seems that two re-attendance project options are getting pantomime attendees to return the following year (the larger opportunity because each pantomime runs for two months and the attendance figures are very high), or getting non-pantomime attendees to see another non-pantomime show within a given time period (perhaps more challenging because of the breadth of our programme, but potentially very useful as re-attendance rates are low).


Ron asked about the journey we send customers on before and after they see their first show here, and it reminded me of Robinson’s dating analogy.  You wouldn’t email someone after a first date asking them to rate the experience, but embarrassingly, that’s what we’ve been doing here. If we followed up with interesting articles about the show they had seen then perhaps we could create a warmer, longer lasting memory that would make them more likely to return.


Ron shared a very interesting anecdote from his experience where background reading was included in a pre-show email which wasn’t getting read, but there was a high penetration rate of people going back to read the pre-show email after they had seen the performance. This is definitely food for thought, and time is finally on our side as the theatre is dark for a month over summer. We finished the call with a research assignment regarding how many first time visitors are re-attending within a year (separated into panto and non-panto attendees) over the last three years, and we will report back in our next blog!





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

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