The last few years have seen a necessary acceleration in the digitisation of the UK heritage sector. From the digital upskilling of employees and volunteers, to providing for digital audiences on an unprecedented scale, these changes have no doubt presented challenges to a fundamentally in-person industry. But there are huge advantages to this digital acceleration in terms of accessibility and reach, if we can learn how to work around low marketing budgets with a better understanding of the audiences we serve.
Of course, we want to retain our loyal patrons, but when it comes to keeping heritage organisations afloat, reaching out and touching new audiences will also play a huge part. Deeper understanding allows for a more targeted approach to marketing, refining how we utilise our precious resources.
So, who are you reaching when you share your images, videos and assets online? How do you measure what’s working well for you, what content are people enjoying, and how they are engaging with it? Even if you have the data in front of you, it’s in interpreting that data that organisations can optimise for their current audience and start to grow their reach. We’re going to introduce a suite of tools you can use to do just that.
Analytics tools use algorithms and automation to analyse raw data in order to draw conclusions and predict likely outcomes, which can help heritage organisations to focus their marketing campaigns, reach and retain customers, and devise more innovative ways to stay relevant and competitive in the UK heritage sector.
Understanding our customer’s wants and needs means understanding data, so a streamlined data analysis process is key. Organisations can use analytics tools to evaluate success, track customer feedback, and stay informed when it comes to trends. The insights you gather can help you:
- Target underperforming segments of your audience
- Identify the kind of content your audience engages with and adapt your content accordingly
- Get a clearer idea of which marketing channels are working best
- How to improve performance
- Where conversions are coming from
- What content is giving you the best return on your investment
Let’s start with Google Analytics, a web service that tracks data to give insights into acquisition, behaviour and conversion on your site.
Acquisition shows you how a user arrived on your site – whether they clicked through from social media, another website, or looked you up on a search engine. If you are using Google Ads, Google Analytics will also give you information on what keywords are getting the best response and whether your ads are working for you.
Behaviour reports show you how users interact once they’re on your site. By tracking their path from entry to exit, you’ll be able to identify whether they are following the path you intended, or getting stuck somewhere and leaving the site. You can then use this information to adjust your strategy and website journey.
Conversion is about whether a user reaches the goal you intended for them – whether that’s booking a tour, purchasing a product, or signing up to a newsletter. By showing you how long a user is staying on a page before moving on, these reports offer valuable insight into – for example – whether your sign up page is too complicated, or your checkout process too long.
On top of insights into your own website, there are also Google Analytics features that allow you to track competitors, use them as a benchmark, and get data on industry trends. Watch this short video by the Google Analytics Academy to get started: Google Analytics for Beginners Video.
Google Search Console
Next, let’s look at Google Search Console, a free service that allows you to monitor your success in Google Search and troubleshoot your site’s visibility. Using this tool will help you deepen your understanding of how Search works and assist with your SEO strategy, as you discover the search terms that work for you. You can access Google Search Console from your Google account under Google Webmaster tools.
Whilst we are discussing Google tools, it’s worth mentioning Business Profile. This is an easy-to-use tool for organisations to manage their online presence across Google, including in Google Search and Google Maps. This is all about how customers find you and understand who you are. Using Business Profile means you can manage your online presence, showcase reviews, edit and verify your information, and ensure you are sending a clear message to users. Business Profile will also provide analytics on profile views in Search and Maps.
Social Media Analytics
Moving on from Google, there is another treasure trove of data to be found on social media. Social Media Analytics delves deeper into the consumer psyche. Monitoring how people behave and interact on social media helps us to understand customers on a more humanistic level, offering organisations the opportunity to hone their storytelling and reach users old and new. As well as analysing the performance of posts, ads and campaigns, social media analytics can break down audiences by demographic and location too. Whilst business accounts on most social platforms will be able to report these insights to you, you might also consider a social media management tool like Hootsuite that can consolidate data across all the platforms you use.
Once we have gathered the information, how do we start building it into our marketing strategy?
First, define your target audience – who are they in terms of age, gender and location? You can then move on to painting a fuller picture – what are they into? What social media platforms do they use? What influences them? What time are they usually online? You might decide to use these insights to create customer personas to measure your ideas against. Once you have a clearer picture of your audience, you can then refine your content based on what they like – doing more of what’s working, and rethinking what isn’t.
For example, perhaps you’ve decided that in order to reach younger audiences, you are going to launch a community engagement campaign on Instagram. You’ve done your research into the target audience and have invested in some sponsored ads to heighten your visibility. After several weeks you are able to see, using your analytics tools, that the campaign isn’t making the impression you had hoped for. However, you have noticed that another heritage organisation in the area is taking a different approach, partnering with a small local business to do giveaways. So, you decide to launch a competition on your Instagram Story to drive engagement. With several hundred new followers, you then collaborate with an artist to conduct an interview on Instagram Live, adding value for your new followers and encouraging them to stay connected to your organisation.
The Beamish Museum in Northeast England used the popular method of Instagram giveaways to achieve something similar. By creating a ‘Random Act of Kindness Competition’ and getting the increasingly popular #MuseumShopSunday campaign to promote them online, they were able to engage with their communities in an interesting and heartfelt way which also worked to grow their audience and presence online. The giveaway method often drives more engagement to social pages, and the Beamish Museum’s Instagram account has steadily grown to receive hundreds or thousands of video views and post likes over the last few years.
Of course, creating impactful digital content takes work, but thankfully analytics are here to lighten the load so you and your team don’t have to sift through reams of raw data for insights. The crucial thing is to keep measuring the success of your content using these tools and letting the results inform your strategy. In understanding analytics we begin to understand audiences and move the UK heritage sector toward a prosperous future.
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Please attribute as: "Who’s looking at my content? Understanding your audience using analytics (2022) by UpSkill Digital supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0