Global museums are defined as well-endowed cultural institutions located in major cities such as NYC, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Shanghai, and London have the power to use data analytics to grow their revenue and respond to audience trends. Many have annual budgets starting at $100M and use their resources to take full advantage of data analytics to generate insights for their visitors, change their admission pricing, or to predict visitor attendance based on factors ranging from weather, public school schedules, and tourism events. While these global museums might have more resources at their disposal, smaller museums can benefit from big data by learning more about the power of data analytics and using simple best practices to make data-driven marketing decisions.
Kwasi Hope Agyeman is the CEO & Founder of TravelSee, a company that uses data analytics to help museums grow and keep audiences. He is a trained public historian and experienced data analyst, who wants to help smaller museums understand how to interpret their data so that they too can grow their audiences and increase relevancy. Kwasi believes that historical sites, regional art museums, and local zoos do not need a $100M budget to hire data scientists. “I believe data analytics should be accessible to all museums that want to grow and keep audiences. This drive to democratize big data is the reason I launched TravelSee, a museum data analytics company, while I was in museum school at the Cooperstown Graduate Program.”
Kwasi and his team recently presented at a round-table discussion on “Data-Driven Museums: Using Data Analytics to Make Smart Marketing Decisions” at MANY’s Access and Identity annual conference. “The fact that the discussion was packed and extra chairs were needed, demonstrated a growing awareness on the value of museum data analytics. As the presenter, I worked to address the many discussion points related to data analytics, ranging from the historic site that did not collect visitor zip codes to the science museum that rarely analyzes its visitor data. The best part of the presentation was the sales vendor that happened to enter the discussion and was surprised that most of the attendants were not actively collecting and analyzing audience information to support data-driven decisions - a very necessary practice in any other workplace.”
Just as retail and e-commerce businesses analyze data to support product development and improve customer experiences, so can museums. By looking at audience demographics, spending habits, location, and more, museums can make better marketing or programming decisions to increase attendance and revenue as well as diversify visitors. Understanding current or future target audiences can affect admission, exhibit development, membership structure, museum shop items, and more.
By using Google Analytics, MANY has seen an increase in website visits through our LinkedIn page. This accounts for nearly 20% of all social media referrals to our website in the past three months. We were able to correlate this data to the increase in pageviews to the MANY Job Board webpage as one of the top reporting pages. We analyzed LinkedIn’s insights and discovered that the impressions for job board related posts yielded an average higher impression rate than other posts. This data has helped MANY understand that by using LinkedIn to promote the Job Board we increased LinkedIn’s social media referrals to our MANY Job Board webpage. After the MANY homepage, the MANY Job Board page is now the second most visited landing page because of social media acquisition, specifically LinkedIn.
Social media platforms have their own built-in analytics and insights that can measure post and event engagement rates, reach, impressions, and click-throughs. Museums can see audience demographics, popular posting times, and user locations. Data captured by social media insights can also be used to clearly share the results of a marketing campaign. By creating a data report, museums can highlight the connection between an event ticket sale and online click ads. Facebook and Instagram ads let museums dictate target audiences, either based on current demographics, or by expanding and diversifying by location and interests. Platforms like Facebook can help museums make better marketing decisions and plan targeted audience campaigns.
Many smaller museums struggle with audience engagement and community relevancy, using data to evaluate audiences, programming, events, and exhibitions is an important resource to increase audience growth and engagement. Kwasi believes that smaller museums can advance by building a data-driven culture to develop new audiences and remain publicly relevant.
Further Reading / Resources
Top 20 Visited Museum Exhibitions of 2018
British Museum Data Analytics Partnership with Microsoft
Smithsonian Data Science Team
Top 10 Museum Trends of 2019
How 7 Museums Used Data Analytics To Fix Real Problems
Five Basic Things All Museum Marketing Professionals Needs to Know
How the Art Institute of Chicago Uses Data to Predict Attendance
Met New Ticketing Policy
How to Setup a Data-Driven Museum Marketing Budget