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Analytics for museum marketers

Museum marketers need to optimize channel spend not just for visitation, but demographics and behavior, including commercial conversion and social effectiveness.

Measuring marketing return on investment and managing marketing strategy execution through metrics drives at the heart of the museum’s growth engine. How many visitors will result from every dollar? Or, for every visitor, how many dollars need to be invested? How can we drive increased revenue from the current spend, reinvested to fuel further development? Or, what step change can be achieved from an additional investment into marketing initiatives?

Analytics helps marketers increase visitation and revenue (through admission or upsell), optimize channels and campaigns, manage demographic targeting and share the inputs and outcomes of marketing with other departments, such as digital, exhibitions or finance.

At the Art Institute of Chicago, analytics for marketing channel spend and content resulted in annual net revenue of $2 million from admissions alone.  At the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the team have made data a priority starting with audience segmentation. At Te Papa, the team are advocates for taking a leaf out of the start up book with ‘pirate’ metrics on the visitor lifecycle: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue. AARRR!

Questions marketers can address with analytics include identifying patterns and impacts influencing visitation, such as seasonality, days and times, weather and regional events. This enables forecasting (and resulting budgeting); metrics monitoring means the marketer can quickly maximize upside and mitigate down turns against goals. Marketers might want to discover more on migrating further from offline to digital advertising, or maximizing organic versus sponsored campaign performance. Even something as small as understanding device use and region access on web, app and social properties can be useful for optimizing campaign copy and online advertising placement.

In the marketing domain, the biggest challenges come in pinpointing the role of each dollar spent. Common points that a marketer will need to determine in their management approach include:

  • Designing how marketing credit will be assigned via an attribution model – will the last call to action advertisement receive all the credit, or will this be balanced against several touch points in a buying cycle?
  • What does the visitor conversion funnel look like – is the activation into a physical commercial space considered before calculating transaction rate or average visitor spend?
  • How is the Visitor Acquisition Cost (VAC) to be calculated – does it need to account differently for any social outcomes?
  • Does the visitor exit survey data validate insights from Marketing Mix Modelling (MMM) evaluating business outcome effectiveness by channel and predicting tactical achievements? How does it differ for traditional media versus online advertising?
  • What additional insights can be gleaned through basket analysis to look at buying behaviors?

These complex challenges require a wide variety of data from throughout the museum – visitation, admissions, exhibitions, events, point of sale, online data from web, app and social properties, visitor evaluation, online advertising, media mentions and more. By combining this data, museum marketers can see, for example, a campaign wrap report looking at the wider reaching impacts around an exhibition based campaign right through to merchandising. Or, the correlation between online visitation and onsite admission, to know how many days in advance to schedule tactical media selections in order to see results. Or, when forecasting predicts a down turn, perhaps caused by weather, how to tweak campaign messaging or special offers to refit.

A comprehensive view of what how to influence visitor behavior is central for any modern marketing strategy, providing important foundations for personalized outreach.