Arts Analytics: suggestions from the mailing list

I’m about to put together the first of the Arts Analytics email newsletters, looking forward to sending that out to everyone very soon.

In the meantime though, when you sign up to that list there’s an optional question asking:

What would you like me to cover?

I figured that, since the people who sign up are showing such an interest in this series (and seeing as how they’re clearly among the brightest and most charming the human race has to offer), I should take the chance to find out what sort of things they want to hear about. I might get some good ideas.

So far, roughly a third of the people who’ve signed up have left a suggestion. That’s quite a few, so I thought I’d dive in and talk about some of them.

The requests

How many organisations are effectively tracking the entire user journey through to purchase confirmation & what ticketing system/set-up they have to do this

The first part of that is impossible for me to tell using publicly available information. I’d need access to each organisation’s analytics package to get any further (now that would be fun). The second part might be easier to find out – I was thinking of looking at the technologies each organisation uses and ticketing systems could certainly be part of that.

How streaming of performances is doing

Arts orgs who produce interactive content only for online consumption, digital native work.

These are difficult ones. I doubt that all of the organisations in my group are streaming performances or producing digital native work and it could be anywhere on the internet, making it tricky to track down. Even if I could find it all, I probably wouldn’t be able to lay my hands on any useful stats. Sorry about that.

Maybe ask The Space to release some detailed stats? Or don’t the Arts Council collect figures on how many organisations are producing artistic content online? I’m sure I saw something like that somewhere. I think it’s worth having a wider conversation about approaches to streaming, especially as the higher ups seem to be pushing people towards it.

How to have a successful blog site. Will all newspapers be online?

I’m not too keen on doing ‘how to’ posts, but the first question does hit on something crucial that I’m hoping to get across in this series. That’s the fact that I have only a very limited idea of what constitutes ‘success’ for the organisations I’m looking at. I have even less idea of what’s working for them or even what priorities they may have set.

That’s why I can’t make too many firm judgements about how well an organisation is performing online. I can show certain metrics and explain what they might indicate, but that’s about it.

On the specific question of blogs, there are 101 reasons for sticking one on a website – they’re good for giving people in the organisation a voice, they can be a dumping ground for press announcements (or smaller bits of news), they can help with SEO and all sorts of other things. In a nutshell – define success, look for others achieving that success, work out what they’re doing and then do something similar.

As for the second question, that’s outside my remit but my uneducated answer would be ‘yes’. It’d be interesting to trace referral traffic from newspaper websites to arts organisations over time (it’s always a lot less than you’d think but is it going up or down?).

ROI, using social media to measure intrinsic impact

See above for why this is tricky. I’ve not got access to the ‘return’ part of the equation. In some cases I can’t even guess at what kind of return these organisations are looking for.

I am interested in what really is the most ‘useful’ online data and what stats indicate real success.

Tools that arts organisations can use for measuring their digital work. Also on benchmarking / measuring digital success.

This I can do, although you might find that I chip away at it post by post. I’ve actually been working on a model for identifying the most useful digital metrics for an arts organisation based on a set of organisational aims and objectives. I’ve got quite a long way, so it might see the light of day at some point.

In each post I’ll always say which tools I’m using and I might keep a list of them somewhere too.

I’m interested in hearing about examples of organisations doing interesting work.

Certainly, I’ll flag up examples where I can. For instance, the last post I wrote showed some unglamorous but shrewd PPC work by The Roundhouse.

The Dollars.

I like this request a lot. Unfortunately it’s not something I’ve got access to across the board. Oh, the fun I could have if I did.

Anything that helps me better understand and utilise Google Analytics would be a bonus. Also insights into what type of digital / social media content seems to engage arts audiences the most would be interesting.

Interaction and conversation / marketing balance

Hopefully I’ll flag up a few useful things with Google Analytics, although again, it’s something I’ll chip away at post by post.

On the interaction/marketing front, I might look at something along these lines with Twitter, although it’s so much easier to do if you’ve got admin access to the accounts in question. If anyone can recommend a good tool/approach that doesn’t require you to be an admin (and doesn’t cost the earth) then please do let me know, otherwise I’ll have a look around myself.

Small fish competing in a big sea of their friends. :)

Well, the organisations in my sample group are what you’d call medium to large, but the overall lessons from each post will most likely apply to organisations of any size. In truth, they’d apply to any other sector, I just happen to be most interested in helping and contributing (in my own way) to the arts and culture sector.

The other thing to note is that plenty of the big organisations are either still trying to work out what to do or are tripping over their own feet trying to achieve anything of any worth. There are a lot of benefits to being the smaller fish in this area and the playing field’s never been more level.

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