So many aspects of museum management require visitor understanding. This is often the basis for content planning, commercial decisions, marketing campaigns and more, yet traditionally much of this knowledge stops at the door. Footfall counters and surveys might indicate general visitation with demographics, but divulge little on behavior or experience, left to extrapolating anecdotal feedback.
Technology now provides for enhanced insight, beyond entry alone, revealing more about what visitors do and how they interact onsite. This is the secret life of visitors. With 75% of cultural venue visitors carrying a uniquely identifiable mobile device, technology enables anonymous tracking of movements throughout the venue in real time, without interrupting enjoyment (a technique popular in retail). This week, we take a look at how Dexibit is detecting physical presence in the gallery, by sensing penetration, dwell times and trails; then what insight this reveals.
Where do your visitors go?
To begin, Dexibit’s sensors in zones within the venue record individual attendance, which provides a measure of penetration. These analytics offer awareness of how far visitors explore into the site, what exhibition areas they activate and what content is accessed. This can be used to understand experience aspects such as exhibition readership, commercial outcomes (usually a café or shop) and wayfinding effectiveness. Collating this data can reveal patterns, such as treasure hunter tourists at a museum who exclusively visit top popular exhibit zones together; or separate out educational groups who attend set academic facilities. Importantly, Dexibit allows the measurement to associate zones with a unique visitor, so we can determine which combination of sites each visitor attended, rather than a generalization of the popularity that a door count is limited to.
How long do they spend there?
While attendance is recorded at these zones, dwell times are also measured. The amount of time a visitor spends in a particular zone is as relevant to their experience as their presence – the difference of skimming through a space rather than detailed review. This is particularly interesting when compared to other aspects of their visit, other visitors in the zone, or performance over time. For example, if visitors at an art gallery spend an unusually long period in a special exhibition compared to the time spent elsewhere, it may be reasonable to assume the exhibition is a significant draw card; especially if the average dwell time is pointedly more than previous exhibitions. If that visitor returns at a later date to spend more time in that exhibition, the depth of engagement is significant.
What route do they take?
Together with penetration and dwell times, zone sequencing reveals the trail visitors take. This is especially important in venues allowing free range visitor roaming instead of, or in addition to a linear route. Understanding how the visitors experience the venue exposes how their engagement story builds over time, at which point visitors turn back, when missed wayfinding or getting lost occurs, and more. Trails could also be used to reveal profiling indicators, such as families with young children at a zoo who visit only a few zones for longer periods, often back and forth, or experts who commute quickly to a single enclosure for an extended period.
For effective insight, all three angles of onsite analytics are to needed together to tell a comprehensive story of the visitor’s unique experience and how their journey correlates to others. Of course, the most important aspect of the data science is human interpretation to derive findings relative to visitor profiles and the venue’s context.
To enable these new insights, Dexibit places marker devices in select zones, which sense the passing mobile devices of visitors using indoor positioning technology. Preferably, these markers have power and WiFi access. Of note for privacy, visitors remain anonymous and are not identified by their data footprint. Data is then ingested into Dexibit’s analytics engine and presented to museum executives in real time dashboard graphics. Information can later be leveraged into digital experience developments to power innovations in loyalty, offers and recommendations.
Arguably, the most important time in the visitor lifecycle is onsite, so the opportunity to better understand audience experience is a game changing innovation to advance strategic decision making. Learnings can increase visitation, engagement, satisfaction, upsell and cross sell, repeat attendance and more. With innovation, the cultural sector can replace anecdotal evidence with quantitative data, transforming the secret life of visitors into a book of audience insight.