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Top Tips for Digital Strategy

Need to put together a digital strategy for your cultural organisation? These top tips will outline some of the key areas to think about before you put pen to paper.

Focus on what’s most important

Many organisations at times feel under-resourced, and it’s rare that a not-for-profit will have the staff or budget to change everything all at once. Even if you know that you’d like to redevelop your website to make it mobile-friendly, procure a new CRM system and start using Google Ads, if you’re a very small team or have limited funds, it’s likely you’ll need to focus on one or two of these things to begin with.

Get up to speed with your business plan or organisational objectives and focus your efforts on actions which are business-critical or suggest a phased approach in your action plan which accounts for available resources over time.

Take an audience-first approach

Audiences can differ according to demographic, interests, online or digital behaviour and intent. Using a variety of data to consider who your current and target audiences (or users) might be is a key consideration for any strategic work.

For example, you might use your own analytics data to find out where your existing audiences come from (e.g. news sites, blogs), or to see how many people buy tickets using a mobile device rather than a desktop computer. You may combine this with other datasets, like customer surveys or tools such as Audience Finder, to learn more about your audiences: how far they travel, or whether they come in couples, alone or as part of a friendship or family group.

All this information helps paint a picture of existing audiences that can inform your focus. It can influence the digital platforms you use, the kind of content you create, the ads you deliver or how you deliver a satisfying experience.

Make sure your manager is on board

Involving senior leadership in digital strategy work makes it easier to ensure staff have the necessary time, budget and enthusiasm to try new ways of working and invest time in delivering an activity plan. Wherever possible, work directly with your manager or director to establish how digital work will support your organisation’s mission and objectives. Invite them to strategy meetings, send them your draft plans and ensure they have final sign-off.

If those at the top feel under-confident when it comes to digital, keep an eye on national sector support organisations like Culture 24, The Audience Agency or Museum Development Network, who regularly offer free or subsidised digital training for leaders.

Try, try again

The great thing about digital work is that, on the whole, it’s editable. Web content isn’t written in indelible ink, online ads are made to be tweaked and refined and content can be re-formatted or changed depending on audience feedback.

Adopting an iterative approach essentially means evaluating campaigns or business as usual at regular intervals and making small adaptations to see whether you can get a better result next time.

For example, if you’re keen to increase overall engagement of your social media posts you can regularly look at your engagement metrics to see which posts perform best. Learning from posts that do well, seeing what tone or approach chimes best with your followers and tweaking future content will likely lead to stronger engagement overall.

The learning doesn’t stop

Whatever the sector, continuing professional development is crucial to keep your skills relevant, and this is especially true of the fast-moving digital landscape. The internet is a vastly different place than it was 10 years ago, and for many cultural organisations it simply isn’t possible to outsource specialist digital tasks such as editing, social media management, running online shops or search engine marketing, which means that teams need to be continually investing in their own skills.

This doesn’t have to mean expensive external training – e-learning platforms like FutureLearn, Google’s own online training courses or peer-to-peer forums such as the Museums Computer Group and even Twitter can support skills development.

What next?

These tips will hopefully have given you lots to think about and some new processes to trial so your digital strategy can keep on improving. To learn more, you can read one of the articles linked 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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