As an art gallery, museum or heritage centre, creating a website and online experience that attracts visitors – and keeps them coming back – is the ultimate goal.
Though getting to that point doesn’t come without its challenges.
All of your cultural centre’s objects, stories and resources might be racing through your mind right now – that’s good, hold onto that for later – but there are a few things that should happen first before visitors can find your website much less engage with your fantastic content.
Let’s look at each step in more detail so you can begin attracting visitors to your website and immersing them in your gallery’s unique story, heritage and cultural contributions to people around the world.
At the end is an illustrated ‘Day Out in London’ to help you on your content journey.
Get to know your audience
In order to catch your visitors’ attention and share something that resonates with them, it’s important to know who they are, where they hang out and how they behave online.
Some detective work will help here:
- If your website is set up on Google Analytics, you can get a clear picture of your visitor’s age, gender and interests.
- Look into your social media analytics dashboards on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. for audience insights and behaviour.
- If you’re just building your audience, join relevant Facebook groups and follow hashtags that relate to your museum. Chime in on conversations and listen to how community members express themselves.
- Do some keyword research to find out what your visitors are searching for and interested in learning more about.
- Ask your current visitors and followers for their opinion and feedback on your website and digital offerings.
Check out this article for more tips on getting to know your audience: 4 Illuminating Steps to Listening to Your Audience (and Learning to Speak Their Language)
Invite them on your journey
This step – inviting people to visit your website to read an article, listen to a podcast, etc. – might sound obvious but it’s a crucial part of raising awareness around your museum and encouraging people to engage with your content.
Depending on where your audience hangs out, there are many ways to invite them on your journey:
- Get the word out on social media.
- Send them an e-invite or newsletter.
- Advertise your event, webinar or digital resource.
- Go the traditional route and reach them by post or phone.
Luckily the internet makes it easy to reach people no matter where they are. To stand out from the noise, think about your visitor and speak directly to them. Use your gallery’s mission, unique story and cultural experiences to differentiate yourself and connect on a personal level.
Understand their interests, wants and needs
As community members begin to learn about your cultural centre and follow your journey, it becomes easier to understand what they are interested in, looking for and excited about.
The detective work from the first step will help you to a degree but also communicating with your visitors on a consistent basis and delivering value over time will create more meaningful relationships.
Remember that people lie at the heart of your museum or gallery – their creativity, their experience, traditions, values and attitudes. To connect with them and share something worth their time and money, it pays off to understand as much as you can about them. (Return to step one if you’re stuck.)
Immerse them in a state of wonder
Don’t let the larger-than-life title put you off. Everything you’ve done until now has set you up for success.
By getting to know your visitors better, inviting them on your journey and understanding how they think and feel, you are ready to give them an experience or valuable resource that they enjoy, learn from and want to share with others.
This is where your museum’s expert knowledge, enchanting collection and unique position within history and culture come into play.
Reimagine the past, pay tribute to a pioneer, teach painting or recite poetry. How can you capture your visitors’ imagination and create an experience they love?
Keep them coming back for more
You’ve rolled out the red carpet and thrown a night to remember! What next?
While it might sound daunting, encouraging your visitors to return to your website and become an engaged member of your community doesn’t require starting from scratch. In fact, once you know a virtual event went well or an article was shared widely, you have the ingredients for creating content that resonates with your community.
Having a foundation of content that informs and excites your audience is what will keep them coming back for more. It takes time to create a worthwhile experience but stick with it and experiment using content to build meaningful relationships. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about – building meaningful relationships.
Follow Zoe, Milo and Jack on a day out in London: an illustrated guide to immersing readers in your story. The road to your visitors awaits!
A special thank you to Leon Nikoo for illustrating this London adventure and to Virginia Fonderico of Good Vibes Studio for designing and bringing it to life.