Are you an AMA member? please login

How to win at YouTube #DigiLab

Danny Evans of the Royal Shakespeare Company keeps us up to date with her Youtube experiments on the Digital Lab


We have 500+ videos on our YouTube channel. Although we create a lot of really great content, some of which does really well, I wondered if we were getting the most out of our channel.

I set out to explore this and to do something we’d never done before – create a piece of content specifically for YouTube that targeted the audiences on the platform that we wanted to attract, and to work out ways to make our channel work harder for us.

Before I could create the content, I needed to work out what it would be – who I was targeting and what would work well with them. I talked it through with my mentor, Seb Chan. He asked me a big question.

“What does success look like?”

Seb asked me to look at our YouTube channel and find out which video was the most successful. This sounds easy – so I’ll just go and do that now…

YouTube doesn’t have a ‘which one is best’ section in its Analytics. We look at stats for individual videos, but don’t often make comparisons. I rummaged around and learned all sorts of interesting and useful things about our videos. But which one or which format was best?

  • Is the most popular video the one that gets most views?
  • Is the most popular video the one that people stay watching for the most time?
  • Or is it some kind of combination of these?

We’ve long known that our ‘most popular’ video on RSC YouTube is the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. It’s no surprise – arguably the most iconic scene by the world’s most famous playwright, loved by people and taught to children all over the world. It was posted way back in 2011, but still consistently comes out as our most watched video – depending on how you define ‘most watched’…

The 2011 Balcony Scene video is 12 minutes long, and although hundreds of people have watched it from all over the world, most of them don’t stay to the end. On the other hand, our trailers for upcoming shows, which are often about 30 seconds long, receive fewer visits, but are generally watched through to the end. How do you compare a video that is 12 minutes long but people drop off after three minutes, with one that is 30 seconds long and they stay to the end?

I decided that the most popular video was probably some kind of a mash-up of these two figures. And in doing this I gave myself a world of pain (maths). We (I got help) looked at these stats:

  • Length of video
  • Average % of video viewed
  • Number of views

We put it all on a spreadsheet, combined the figures, and it spits out a relative ‘popularity’ value (z) that by itself is totally meaningless and bewildering (The Balcony Scene gets 70.47). But when we compare all the videos together the value starts to mean something. Ordering the spreadsheet by this column, gives us a list of our videos in popularity order.

What does success look like?

Looking at the videos at the top and bottom of the table to see what works well and what doesn’t work so well, this is what I saw:

  • Our top 6 videos are all trailers
  • Video #7 is a skit on the To Be Or Not To Be speech, featuring a number of celebrities
  • A recent behind the scenes timelapse comes in high at #11
  • All the other high-ranking videos are trailers or scenes from shows (The Balcony Scene comes at #17 out of 500)
  • With the exception of The Balcony Scene, all the top 20 videos are under 2 mins
  • All our lowest performing videos are over 3 mins
  • The majority of low performing videos are talking heads

With 500+ videos on our channel, anything that comes in the top 100 is doing OK. That’s what success looks like. And if we want to make it work, we should probably make sure it’s under 2 minutes long and not a talking head.

So now I just have to decide what I’m going to do (and win at YouTube)…

Image Courtesy of Stellar Quines ©


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!





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 

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

Where music meets #DMA

Angharad Cooper from Sound and Music shares her experience on the Digital Marketing Academy

With the British Music Collection fast approaching the big 50, I think it’s fair to say that we are feeling particularly kindly towards it, proud of how far it has come over a life with as many up and downs as anybody else (including a few years ensconced in a storage facility somewhere near Southend…).

The British Music Collection consists ‘IRL’of over 60,000 scores and recordings, based in state-of-the-art archive centre Heritage Quay at the University of Huddersfield – Huddersfield having a rich history of new and experimental music, thanks in part to its annual festival. In 2014 the archive opened its doors once more to the public and for the first time in its history finds itself completely cleaned and catalogued thanks to a generous HLF grant and brilliant, dedicated archivists. No mean feat!

Online, it exists as a discovery platform for UK art-music (that is to say, music without a commercial focus – many composers will quite rightly make a living from the works within, but you probably won’t find Ed Sheeran…) with a focus on drawing out the contents of the collection to as wide a global audience of composers and curious listeners as possible. We are doing lots more work on how to better articulate, or even illustrate, the relationship between the digital and physical – something the forthcoming Digital Marketing Academy experiments have been designed to help with.

It is a fascinating time for the collection. The online content grows and grows, becoming more and more varied in subject and form, which in turn spurs us on to become more adventurous curatorially. Our focus for the future is firmly on diversity (if the collection was a person, it would no doubt be a 50 year old white male). This is an opportunity to expose the lack of diversity, to prise apart and shine a light into the cracks, using them as a space for play, provocation and experimentation. In doing so we can communicate what needs to change, at the same time as taking the first few decisive steps along that path.

For International Women’s Day 2017, we created an online campaign asking women composers to add their work to the British Music Collection, actively redressing the gender balance. A key part of the campaign was an online intervention whereby we ‘hacked’ (okay, with full permission and a professional web developer) the site so to turn the names of male composers white on a white background – rendering them temporarily invisible. This is exactly the kind of thing we can do at this point in time (in advance of a planned, large scale redevelopment). Perhaps it is in some ways akin to an online form of direct action – a slicker, more commercialised platform may be less able to pull this off.

I am incredibly lucky to have the inspiring Owen Valentine Pringle as my mentor. Our two sessions so far have really helped to further my thinking (as well as imparting heaps of knowledge!) in terms of strategic planning for the project – supporting me to think at a more zoomed out level, which feels like a perfect and timely approach in terms of suitably celebrating this big, brilliant whole.


Image courtesy of Sadler’s Wells © Hugo Glendinning Gravity Fatigue by Hussein Chalayan

Change of details?

If you would like to change your contact details or organisation please get in contact with us.