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Introduction to Data Analytics and Insight

Data is everywhere. Depending on the size and type of your organisation, you may already have analytics installed on your website, a database of email addresses, systems for ticketing and eCommerce, or a spreadsheet which you use to record visits to your event.

With this wealth of data across all your different systems, it can seem like an impossible task to bring it all together, to get an understanding of what is happening and where your opportunities lie. That is where Data Analytics can help.

What is Data Analytics?

Data Analytics is a set of techniques and processes used to measure and enhance user activity, engagement and conversion. This insight can inform your marketing approach, highlight user experience issues and find opportunities for growth.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) identified the following in the Culture is Digital report in 2018: A lack of skills in data analysis is preventing cultural organisations from collecting data and using it to develop their business models.

It highlights a common barrier for organisations: the skill to understand and interpret data to inform future activity.

How can organisations use it?

You and your team can use Data Analytics in lots of different ways. For example:

Proving the effectiveness of campaigns and return on investment

  • What activity on Facebook contributed to an increase in newsletter sign ups?
  • Which email campaign caused a spike in ticket sales at a particular time?
  • What age demographic are we not engaging with?

Testing new designs and identifying problems with user experience

  • Why are users struggling to find events in the navigation?
  • What is stopping users from making a donation?
  • What wording will encourage newsletter sign-ups?

There are different tools available (free and paid) which can help you do this, such as Google Analytics for tracking marketing campaign performance, HotJar for identifying user experience issues, and Optimizely for experimenting and testing changes to your website.

Data becomes powerful when you bring it together from different data sources and use it to surface new insights, but this is only possible when we put the right systems and processes in place.

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Where should you start?

Defining your digital objectives is the first and most important step. There are so many metrics you could report on, so it’s always worth asking yourself if those metrics actually tell you anything useful.

By defining your objectives first, you can identify the most useful metrics and the systems and processes required to track them – and it’s a good idea to start with the data you already have. For example: data from your ticketing system, your marketing database, your own website (via free tools such as Google Analytics), or the built-in analytics tools on social media platforms (YouTube, Facebook). These can give you insights from social media activity and a wide range of websites for a relatively low cost.

To avoid information overload, focus on a small number of metrics that best measure success against your objectives and that generate actionable insights. As a starting point, ask yourself what is the simplest metric linked to the relevant issue (e.g. ticket sales, social media engagement, audience reach) that will help you see whether you have been successful, or where there could be scope for improvement.

What next?

This article has explained some of the basic objectives and methods for measuring your projects with data analytics. If you’re keen to learn more, check out the links below.

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up to our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

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