Begin at the middle
In part three of this series on joined-up marketing, we're going to begin at the centre of all the activity - the website. It's here that interest needs to be converted into a sale so it's important that the landing page (or pages) is designed with conversion in mind.
Perhaps the exhibition page is light on copy and heavier on images - a carousel of artwork, maybe. Or a short video clip - a guided tour of what to expect. Professional and peer comment and review can be compelling at this stage - and dates, times and prices are key, too.
The most essential element is a clear and enticing Book Now button which should lead to a smooth ticketing experience, with the opportunity for upselling additional events as appropriate (an exhibition brochure, a drinks reception, a guided tour, relevant items from the shop).
The process of landing and ticketing should be examined on mobile devices as well as on desktop computers, with the call to action retaining its pull regardless of the screen size. The future of the web is on mobile. Having mobile-optimised web marketing is no longer a nice-to-have. It's where you should start from.
Social sharing is a must, with options available to Like, Tweet and to +1.
Say thank you with email
Once a sale is made, a branded thank you email should be sent. This can be seen as the first part of the experience, and an opportunity for the museum to deliver some effective after-sales communication.
If the buyer is from out of town, why not suggest places where they might like to stay, making the most of the museum's affiliate hotels and guest houses. Offer links to travel websites or to websites containing information for tourists and London culture.
Two weeks before the event, say, there's the opportunity to email the customer again with a note from the exhibition's curator to thank them again and to talk in a little more detail about what the exhibition hopes to achieve - and which pieces of work are worth particular consideration.
Encourage recipients to share this communication to their social networks by including "Like" and "Tweet" buttons. Mention that the museum is on Foursquare and that there will be a weekly prize awarded at random to anyone who checks in.
Include calls to action for specific items of exhibition merchandise or for membership of the Friends.
One day after the ticketed event, the museum should arrange for another automatic email, perhaps from the Chief Executive, to express thanks and to encourage feedback via a button linking back to the website.
This email is a great chance to publicise forthcoming exhibitions or to say, for example, "Did you know that if you join the Friends today, you can come and see the exhibition again for free?"
Driving traffic to the website
Once the website (and mobile site) are set up with conversion in mind, the main task is to deliver traffic to the site. In our fictional example, the museum begins by sending targeted email campaigns to its database of patrons.
As a frequent user of email marketing, the museum knows which tactics work best for its patrons: which time of the week (and day) to send a campaign, which type of subject line lead to most opens, how the layout of the email itself affects the number of click-throughs. Any email marketing system work considering will give the ability to run A/B split testing for campaigns so that you can dry-run on a random selection of your database different subject lines, from address and entire content to see which generates the best response - and then send the most effective to the remainder of the database.
Segmentation of customer data gives opportunities for very tight campaigning. Perhaps the museum wants to focus on patrons living within London and target these with a particular campaign - and attack prospects living outside the capital for another campaign, one which , perhaps, blends in a trip to the exhibition as part of a weekend trip to the city.
If information is held about the customer's visiting patterns then there's the chance to deliver flexible email marketing which includes special offers or other effective calls to action. A member of the Friends, for instance, should expect quite different communication from a prospect who may have attended one exhibition 18 months previously or to another who books for every event.
Facebook and Twitter are key touchpoints. For some organisations, in fact, this is the main way in which customers experience their brand. For many, their Facebook page is the de facto front door for their website - the homepage of the homepage.
As mobile begins to dominate how we access information and marketing, the role of social networks is going to grow ever more important, as a way for organisations to communicate about what they do, and for customers to feed back, to ask questions and to contribute to the marketing effort by sharing tweets and posts with their communities.
Our museum has a branded Facebook Page - and a Twitter account.
Their Facebook Page is, in effect, a microsite which sits within the Facebook interface and which they can use to disseminate information about what's coming up. The look and feel of the page can match that of their website and can contain image galleries, video, mailing list sign ups, competitions - really, pretty much anything. For the forthcoming exhibition they've rolled out a new design of the page which focuses heavily on the event and includes video, photography and a book now link.
The key to having a Facebook presence is to encourage "Like"s. Once I like you, your Facebook updates will enter my stream. One way to incentivise likes is to restrict access to a part of the Facebook Page (or even the entire page) until the visitor has clicked the Like button. Some brands will publish a voucher or offer once a visitor has liked, for example.
Updates to Facebook and Twitter are made regularly from within the marketing office. When promoting an event, each update should contain a link back to the website to encourage click-through - and the destination page should always have a clear call-to-action whenever appropriate.
Though the objective of communicating across either platform is the same (to encourage followers to respond to your message and to share it), the content can and should be different.
The brevity of Twitter's 140 characters lends itself to more frequent and snappier updates - quick posts about interesting aspects of forthcoming events; sharing of thoughts and opinions; linking to third-party resources (aka curating); and responding to specific and direct questions.
Twitter timelines tend to get bogged down so it's important to post often to keep visibility high. Perhaps a couple of times a day - or more regularly if there's genuinely more to say.
With the more easy sharing of images, video and links, Facebook is more flexible and more transparent. Users can also easily see which of your posts have generated the most interest in terms of comments and likes. You can exercise more editorial control over Facebook - it's closer to traditional "publishing" than Twitter's "in-the-moment" feel.
It's fine to cross-promote. If an offer is running on Facebook, tweet about it. If you're running a competition on Twitter, post about it to your Facebook wall.
Twitter and Facebook give great options for timely and reactive marketing. If a particular day is looking low on sales, there's the opportunity to generate some last-minute activity by targeting the social channels in a way which even email can't quite deliver.
Let YouTube take the strain
Our museum publishes video clips (tours of the building, a guide to exhibitions and so on) to its YouTube channel, which is branded to match the look and feel of its main website. The videos are carefully tagged to attract search traffic from within YouTube and there are plenty of links back to the site to encourage through traffic.
The museum site uses a YouTube embed of the uploaded clip on its own pages and the HTML 5 version of the embed for its mobile site.
And don't forget print!
Print is still is pretty rude health. And with joined-up digital on its side, the humble poster, leaflet or brochure is a touchpoint in its own right, and yet another set of front doors.
…particularly how it plays with mobile
We're big fans of QR codes. The technology itself isn't particularly interesting (it's just a barcode) - but what it offers is potentially very significant indeed. With the rise, rise and (soon) domination of smartphones, the majority of us are going to have internet at our fingertips wherever we are. A recent survey by the Office of National Statistics found that already almost 50% of all UK internet users visit the web on their mobile device. Another found that in 2012 more than half of all mobile phones in the UK will be smartphones. When we reach that tipping point we will have crossed the Rubicon into a future where the web is consumed in the hand and not on the desktop.
There has always been a disconnect between print and online marketing collateral. Sure, web addresses have appeared for years at the foot of posters, on ads and in longer publications, but only as a gentle nudge or as a reference. We are expecting a great deal if we think that people are going to see a URL and remember it for long enough to type it into their computer (or their smartphone, if they have nimble fingers).
With a QR code you are able to give one-click access to instant upsell information. I see a poster, I'm interested, I scan the QR code, I engage - and I fulfil. This fulfilment can be to buy something or to book a ticket there and then; it can mean signing up to a mailing list; it can mean tweeting a marketing message to my followers; or it can mean watching a video, reading additional information, interacting with enhanced, added-value content which the poster could never provide - but which the poster has introduced me to.
The key with QR strategies is to have in place well-designed web pages which are optimised for mobile devices and which are built with conversion in mind. Don't just send a QR scanner to your standard website - and certainly never to your standard homepage. Send them to a page which has been designed with their iPhone, Android or Blackberry in mind - which behaves like an app in other words. And send them to a page which continues a conversation with them. They'll have scanned the QR from a particular poster, for instance, intrigued by a special offer, say, so make sure that your landing page follows this up. And make sure that it's easy for the visitor to do what you want them to do once they're there.
Visitors who tread the QR path are highly engaged with you. Make sure you engage with them.
Our museum, for example, use a QR code on their generic exhibition posters which takes visitors to the mobile version of the exhibition page. In the season brochure, there's another QR code which works alongside the more detailed content available on the page and offer a video interview with the curator - this is delivered together with a "Book tickets" button which enables a quick passage to the mobile-optimised ticketing process.
Personalise print with variable data printing
In much the same way that email marketing can be harnessed to give targeted and segmented communication, variable data printing allows for highly personalised traditional print collateral. Working from their customer database, the museum launched a postcard campaign at the beginning of its current season. It identified different niches within its data - Friends, regular attenders, school parties, infrequent attenders, those who have bought from the shop, perhaps. Each different niche group receives its own specially designed postcard with a marketing message to match ("Why not become a Friend" or "Thanks for being a Friend" or "Why not come back to the museum this Spring") and with personalised marketing copy and a relevant special offer or promotion.
There's even the chance to blend in a personalised URL (or QR code) for each recipient which leads to a web page where each recipient can tell the venue more about themselves to help the data collection process.
Once the artwork is created and the logic processed, a single print-ready pdf file is produced which can be supplied direct to the printer for output on a digital press.
Measure, measure, measure
And, of course, our museum knows exactly which collateral features which URL - and can measure how effective each strand is in bringing traffic to the website.
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