Future-gazing, thinking big, and putting the audience at the heart of your digital strategy were key themes at 2018 AMA Digital Marketing Days in London and Glasgow, Here are the three sessions that I found most inspiring for arts organisations looking to implement digital change in 2019 and beyond.
Digital Routes to Improving Accessibility — case studies from the National Theatre of Scotland
As a theatre without walls, this session from Charlotte Gross, Director of Audience and Media at National Theatre of Scotland, had lots of learnings about how putting audiences with access requirements at the heart of what you do, goes far beyond the bricks and mortar on-site visit. As Charlotte so excellently put it “We need to sell tickets and put bums on seats but it’s also our responsibility to serve all audiences” so, through programming, marketing collateral and organisational change, the NTS are using digital tools to widen access to the arts across Scotland.
So, what have they been implementing? I found it inspiring to hear how National Theatre of Scotland recently launched their 2019 season and have ensured that they are offering integrated BSL interpretation for all their 2019 productions, as well as aiming for each production to have an audio described performance, a touch tour, and a captioned performance. They’re using digital channels such as their website to clearly show which performances are signed, captioned or relaxed, so customers can clearly see what is available, and they are using Youtube to host their BSL show trailers and flyers, which can be shared across social and in emails.
As Charlotte pointed out, 0.1% of the Scottish population have Autism Spectrum Disorder, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but in reality that is over 47000 people! They’re helping meet the needs of these neurodiverse audiences by providing breakout spaces at shows, and working with venues across Scotland, they’ve collaborated on creating visual guides of each venue they tour. Written from a first-person perspective, these guides help familiarise neurodiverse audiencegoers with the venue and artistic experience before they arrive. Hosted online, these guides ae a really inexpensive way to utilise your website to support access!
Charlotte shared how NTS have made this commitment to improving their experience for access audiences organisation-wide, with access advocates working in every department across the NTS. This means that from programming and producing, to marketing and ticketing, the NTS teams are considering the needs of audiences with access requirements at every stage of the customer journey and at every part of the decision-making process.
Becoming Data-Led — audience engagement at the Royal Opera House
At Spektrix, we know placing data at the heart of your organisation can transform audience engagement, so I was very excited for this breakout. This session from Lucy Sinclair, Director of Audiences and Media at Royal Opera House, gave those at AMA Digital Marketing Day an in-depth look at what the team at the ROH did to shake up the way they engaged with audiences.
With ambitions to take the focus of their marketing from reactive to more big-picture thinking, Lucy explained how the ROH went on a journey of digital change which set to tackle siloed ways of working and make customer touchpoints more meaningful. ROH are putting audience outreach and engagement at the forefront of their organisation by embedding a digital focus into all roles at the Royal Opera House, reallocating resources and some spending from production-led marketing towards brand marketing, and they also redesigned their core digital channel - the Royal Opera House website - to be mobile first in response to the browsing behaviour of their audiences - 70% of visits to their site are on mobile.
Their results have been impressive, with footfall doubled, record-breaking ticket sales for 2017/18 while halving marketing costs on selling tickets, and 100% ticket sales for day events up from 83%. Lucy showed that when it comes to audience engagement, arts organisations should be brave and embrace radical change to foster digital innovation and resilience.
Data — the basics and how to use it
From sharing the best online resources to develop your digital skills, to reducing friction in the online journey, Chris Unitt, Founder of One Further, shared lots of practical advice for marketing teams looking to whip their website and digital channels into shape. Using examples and case studies from across the sector (including this great blog on the Royal Academy of Arts’s Content Strategy) Chris highlighted the importance of getting your digital ducks in a row to remove the guessing game of analysing and acting on data. By getting your team to ask themselves what can be fixed, what can be made easier, what should be the focus and what your audiences are looking for, you can start identifying key areas to improve the performance of your digital channels. No matter how advanced you are with analysing your online data, there’s always room for improvement and new ways to refine your success. I loved this session for sparking new ideas on using digital tools to survey users and analyse user data.
Chris has shared his presentation and notes online, and if you’re a Spektrix user, make sure to have a look at Chris’s blog on integrating Spektrix and Google Analytics.