3 Minutes a Day on Google Analytics

Here’s an article from the web site, Business 2 Community on spending a few minutes each day on Google Analytics.

 

Why you should read it: Another perspective on analytics, but the same premise… spending just a little bit of time to track the health of your online business is critical!  Enjoy the article.

Web Site Analytics for Every Marketer

With the litany of things you have to do every day, mastering Google Analytics is probably less than realistic. That said, understanding the health of your web site and determining whether it’s contributing to your overall marketing strategy is critical.

So, if you can’t be a Google Analytics expert, there are a few metrics that will help you better understand if your web site is performing the way you want it to.

If the goal of your site is awareness, getting more people to know about your organization, these three metrics will go a long way:

  • Sessions (formerly known as Visits): This simply tells you how many people visited your web site in a given time frame. There is no magic number of sessions, but it’s definitely important to aim for regular, consistent growth,
  • New Sessions: Measured as a percentage of your total, this identifies the percentage of visitors that are new to your site. This is critical to attracting new audiences. Anything higher than 65% should be consider a healthy number.
  • Sources: Located under the “Acquisition” section, this data set tells you where visitors to your site came from. In this case, the analysis is more qualitative than quantitative. Are the sources of traffic a surprise to you or what you expected? Are there sources you can partner with (local web sites and organizations) to help drive more traffic?

If your goal is more along the lines of “quality traffic”, or traffic that is more engaged with your content, the following engagement metrics are worth your time to review:

  • Bounce Rate: This measures the percentage of visitors that never went beyond the page they landed on. Typically, anything below 50% is ideal below 40% is a sign of high engagement.
  • Average Session Duration: Commonly referred to as “Time on Site”, this indicates the length of the typical session. You should be shooting for 2.5 minutes or higher.
  • Pages/Session: Similar to Average Session Duration, this statistic measures the number of pages visited in a typical session. 2.5 pages or greater is a good goal to start with. It’s uncommon to see anything above 3.5 pages.

Granted, you won’t become a web analyst just by knowing these numbers.  You will be able to determine the high-level health of your site though and get a better idea of your marketing strategy is creating audience for your web site.

Say Cheese!

Fast Company magazine tells us that Facebook posts that contain images get dramatically more engagement than those that don’t.  What’s exciting is that this engagement increase comes not only in the form of likes, but also clicks and comments.

This is great news for arts organizations.  First, in the time-constrained world we live in, images are fairly easy to come by.  Second, we have some pretty cool things to photograph!  Now, here’s the challenge… it’s easy enough to throw an image up on Facebook, and sure you’ll probably see a bump in engagement.  As arts marketers though, we should strive to make our marketing content rise to the level of the work we’re marketing.  After all, why should the artists have all the fun?!?!  So, how do we make our images rise to that level?  Here are three tips:

1.      Align your image to your organization: I recently came across an arts fundraising organization whose Facebook page consisted of “inspirational” quotes embedded on images of cute animals.  What this had to do with the arts, nobody knows.  Sure they got a few likes because – who doesn’t like cute animals, but they missed a great opportunity to bring people closer to their mission.

2.      Try not to settle for boring: Could you show a scene from a theatrical production and get some fan engagement?  Of course.  Could you get even more engagement and even a few shares if you managed to capture an image of that performer working his way through a scene at rehearsal – taking your fans “behind the curtain”?  You bet you could!  Capturing the right images requires a little planning and a lot of work, but it will pay dividends in the long run.

3.      Go beyond the image: Posting images on their own is certainly enough, but adding content is even better.  For example, how cool would it be for an orchestra to post an image of a percussionist and write “___ is playing percussion in ____.  Where was this piece first performed?”  Or, for a theatre to show an image of an actor performing a scene with a caption of the line she is saying in the photo as a fill in the blank.  Going beyond the image will bring people even closer to what you’re trying to convey than with just the image itself.

For most marketers, engagement is the holy grail of Facebook. So, if photos boost engagement as much as the statistics indicate, snap away.  Try to go beyond the simple act of posting a photo though and watch your engagement soar!

It’s like they made Facebook just for you!

Arts marketers. Rejoice!  Facebook has finally given you an edge over the competition for your fans’ attention.  The only question is, are you going to do anything about it?

According to an article in ClickZ by Gary Stein of iCrossing, Facebook has recently changed Facebook’s algorithm, and that change should benefit the arts in a big way.  Simply put, the change accomplishes two things.  First, it puts greater weight on posts from your actual friends – you know, the people that you really do want to hear from.  Secondly, and more importantly for you, in the case of business pages, it favors posts that have unique and compelling content.

Who has more unique and compelling content than an arts organization?  You do it all day!!  Facebook’s new algorithm is tailor-made for you – that is, assuming you don’t get lazy.  Look, I know content creation for the express purpose of marketing is no easy task, especially in a small theatre or museum where we’ve all been stretched beyond any sane balance of amount of work and hours in a day.  But this is the golden egg.  Don’t make the goose mad!

In previous articles, I’ve thrown out some content creation ideas, but they bear repeating.  By the way, there are organizations out there (large and small) that are doing this really well, so it can be done!  Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  • Interviews with artists
  • Opening night reactions from patrons
  • Behind the scenes tours
  • Rehearsal photos
  • Backstage photos
  • Onstage photos
  • Okay, any kind of photos!

The point is, you have a dedicated following and great content.  Now, the social network with a population bigger than most countries is offering to reward you by displaying it.  So, do what you do best… be creative, and fun, and unique, and interesting!

 

Boosting engagement on Twitter may be easier than it looks

Here’s a snippet from a great infographic from Quicksprout on boosting engagement on Twitter…   Some clear takeaways for arts organizations:

Twitter Engagement

  1. Take advantage of your ability to capture images – rehearsals, performances, exhibit setups, openings – chances are, you’re capturing these anyway.  Why not tweet them?
  2. Look for opportunities for dynamic content on your web sites.  If engagement is so tied to link clicks, people need somewhere to click to.  Landing pages, for example, will not only satisfy Twitter engagement, they’ll help your search efforts.
  3. Write for your audience.  Often, in the arts world, we’re used to writing press releases, brochures and similar longer form copy.  This won’t fly on Twitter.  Work on making your message short and sweet.

Twitter us an underused tool for arts and cultural organizations, especially smaller orgs.  It can be really effective though when done properly and it won’t take a major shift to have a big impact.

Who says you can’t Buy Friends?

So, you thought this Facebook thing was supposed to be pretty cheap and easy.  You followed the “rules” – you posted good content, posted regularly, even varied the type of media you used and you still didn’t get the fan growth you were expecting.  Okay, so much for the easy part, but the cheap part is where you draw the line.  I’m guessing you sold your board on the idea of Facebook, in part at least, on the basis that it was free.  Now, they want you to buy ads???  And they aren’t even great ads.  For some time now, report after report has claimed that Facebook advertising was completely ineffective.  Heck, GM actually pulled their ads off of the site right before Facebook went public!  And then came this…

As reported by Mashable a few weeks ago, “the first annual Social Media Intelligence report released by Adobe found that Facebook’s ad clicks, ad impressions and advertisers’ return on investment were all higher in 2013 than in 2012. According to the study, which took into account more than 131 billion Facebook ad impressions and 4.3 billion social engagements, Facebook ads were clicked 29% more often in 2013, and the return to investors was 58% higher than last year.”  The study also showed that cost-per-click was lower by 40%,

So, does it now make sense to buy ads on Facebook?  Ready for this…. Maybe.  Look, if your Facebook page is growing the “old fashioned” way, or if you just plain don’t have the budget, then maybe not.  If your page needs a shot in the arm though and/or you have some money to put towards it for a few months to test, then all signs point to the fact the Facebook advertising effectiveness might have turned a corner.  Even with that though, there are some guidelines to follow:

  • Give your buy some time to breathe and measure the results: Any solid test needs time.  Give it at least three months and measure based on cost per acquisition or a similar number that tells you if you’re meeting your expectations.
  • Target: Facebook has solid targeting tools and it’s critical that you use them.  You want the right people coming to your page, whether that means people reflective of your current audience or people you haven’t otherwise been able to reach.
  • Compelling creative: You still need to get their attention.  Make sure the ad is no less compelling than anything else you do and make certain that the call to action is clearly to like your page.  Remember, the goal here is growing your audience and people will like the lower commitment level that comes with a like versus a purchase.
  • Think about timing: The time to build this new audience is before you have big news.  If you’re going to announce your season in April, think about running your campaign from January through March.  Then, when you make your big announcement, your new fans are there waiting.

At the end of the day, Facebook ads still might not be for you.  However, the numbers are moving powerfully in the right direction and, with a little consideration ahead of time, it might be a great way to grow your page.

 

Stop dancing and start blogging (okay, keep dancing, but start blogging!)

What if you were a choreographer in a dance company?  What would your audience know about you?  Most likely, there’s a bio on your web site.  Occasionally, there might be a write up in the local paper.  And, of course, audiences would get to know your approach and your mastery of the art through the work itself.  Is that enough to get someone to buy a ticket?  It might be, but the more powerful question is what would make someone so engaged with you and your work that they practically had to buy a ticket?  One answer is to get to know you, to see sides of you that don’t necessarily come through in the performance and one way to do this is through a blog.

Of course, the effectiveness of a blog isn’t limited to choreographers.  Any time you can give your most engaged fans an inside look, the better your chances are of engaging them even more.  For the sake of example though, let’s stick with our choreographer and think about some of the kinds of posts that might generate interest.

  • A rehearsal diary: How excited would someone be to see a performance if they could follow rehearsals through the eyes of our choreographer?  The best thing is you could mix your media, writing some posts and adding video to others.
  • Share inspiration: What made our choreographer start down their journey?  What keeps them going?  Who influenced them to be the artist they are today?
  • Video lessons: How cool would it be to show all of those aspiring dancers some basic steps in a weekly video series?!  Content marketing is at its best when its helping people.

To many, this might seem a bit daunting.  It definitely takes some people out of their comfort zones.  But blogging can show your audience so many different dimensions of your organization and make them feel more connected than they ever imagined.  You don’t have to post every day, but you do need to post regularly.  You don’t need to get personal, but you do need to be authentic.  Lastly, you don’t need your marketing to be consumed by your blog, but you do need to be committed to it.  If you are, it will reward you many times over!

Museums, don’t miss out on Twitter

How tempting is it for a museum to reduce Twitter to a social media calendar of events?  With its character limit and tolerance for frequent postings, it’s tailor-made to remind followers of those important happenings at your museum.  I know because I fell into the same trap.  When we first embarked on our Twitter journey at Orlando Science Center, we did just that, only to realize we were essentially boring people and encouraging them to tune you out.

Do people look to Twitter to be kept up to date?  Sure.  Do they follow a brand expecting to be “sold” once in a while? Absolutely.  More importantly though, they follow you on Twitter for the same reason they follow anyone else, they demand that you be interesting.  And if you’re a museum, they might even demand it more.  The good news is that this is just the opportunity you’ve been looking for!

Michael Kaiser, President of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, talks often about the importance of institutional marketing – the notion of communicating the value of the entire organization and its mission as opposed to a single program or exhibit.  He contends that this type of marketing builds long-term audiences and cultivates donations.  Twitter is actually an ideal vehicle to carry that institutional marketing message.  Here are three ways to go about it:

  • Facts and Figures: Without a doubt, you have a file full of interesting statistics on how museums specifically, and cultural organizations in general are good for the community.  Twitter is a perfect place to dust them off and share them with the world.  These bite-sized chunks of knowledge are very “retweetable” and a great way to spread the word.
  • Photos and Videos: Nothing will bring your mission to life like photos and videos.  Keep your Smartphone with you at all times and be ready to capture those ideal moments.  Word to the wise though… either post a blanket release at your admissions desk or have plenty on hand for patrons to sign.
  • 5:1 Rule: All this is means is that you should only post one “sales” tweet for every five content tweets.  That seems to be a good rule of thumb that people can tolerate.

You can fill in the blanks with plenty of other ideas for your Twitter calendar and they don’t need to all be institutional in nature.  In fact, they probably shouldn’t be.  That said, there is no better channel out there for you to get your entire museum’s message out there 140 characters at a time!

 

Chicago Children’s Museum Deserves a “Like”

This week’s social spotlight is on Chicago Children’s Museum’s Facebook page.  When you visit an arts organization’s Facebook page, you should feel like you get what they’re all about and feel the passion the organization has for it’s mission without even walking in the building.  Their page does just that.  Here’s a snippet from their page.

There’s a lot to like about this page, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Their page seems to be a reflection of their organization’s DNA
  • They give you reasons to come back to their page like a weekly “Friday Funnies” post and a regular “Recipe for Play” post
  • They engage their fans beyond just promotion.  For example, on their page, you’ll find links to a New York Times article on evolution of playgrounds and a Huffington Post blog on parenting around the world.
  • There are plenty of links to their own blog which offers its own interesting content.
  • You’ll find tons of “in the moment” images that give you a real flavor for what the museum is all about.

Engagement isn’t really high on this page, but this is sometimes the case when your audience is on-the-go parents and you’re offering somewhat authoritative content.  That aside, the museum is doing a fantastic job of showing its best side to its Facebook fans!

If Your Theatre Doesn’t Have a Blog, Your Missing Half the Story

What if someone walked up to you today and asked you about your theatre?  Would your reply consist of a list of your season’s productions, bios of your key staff and a request for a contribution?  More to the point, would that person even stick around for the complete answer?  There’s little doubt your answer would be much more colorful and interesting than that, yet this is exactly what is found on most theatre web sites.  But what if you could have a more vibrant conversation, one with context and color.  You can if you have a blog.

You probably have a million reasons why you haven’t started a blog for your theatre.  I’m going to give you two that you can share with your Board that really boil down to one:

  • 57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog
  • 61% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog

What does that mean – blogging equals ticket sales!

Social Media Today recently published an article, 21 Benefits of Business Blogging and 22 Tips.  While each was relevant in its own way, there were a few that particularly lent themselves to the theatre and might help you get started:

  • Use images: Between head shots, PR shots, even rehearsal stills, theatres have more than enough images to catch a reader’s eye and make a blog interesting.  In fact, before you read on, I bet you can think of a handful of things you can write about with a single image.
  • Write passionately: Most of us who work with the arts do so out of passion.  Luckily for us, our customers are often just as passionate.  Share your passion and it will come shining through.
  • Tell stories: The theatre is nothing without stories!  Each show, each theatre has dozens of them.  Find the stories that are unique and interesting and share them!

Regularly devoting your time and energy to a blog is no easy task (says the guy writing a blog!).  For theatres, the payoffs can be dramatic though.  You’ll bring your visitors to your site closer to your performances, turn audiences into ambassadors and, just as importantly, see ticket sales climb!