Arts organizations today face a host of challenges, ranging from traditional issues like budgetary constraints and limited staff to more recent concerns, such as shifting patron demographics and increased market disruption caused by the social media frenzy. Working through these issues while still meeting daily operational demands and planning for future seasons puts heavy pressure on arts managers to ensure that they are using their resources as efficiently as possible.
Arts organizations are no stranger to certain technologies, as statistics from the Pew Research Center show. According to this study, 99% of arts organizations have their own website and 97% have a presence on at least one social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr in order to keep up with the competitors in this changed landscape. Even though these findings by the Pew Research Center seem to indicate an industry-wide embrace of technology, only 63% of these same respondents stated that they believed digital technology is “very important” for helping them use their organization’s resources more efficiently, signaling a gap between having basic technological frameworks in place and the value arts organizations feel they actually derive from them (Kristin Thomson 2013).
Furthermore, many of these respondents say that cost and capacity issues are the biggest constraints they face when attempting to adopt new digital technologies. Many arts organizations feel they simply don’t have the time or money to spend on the implementation and training processes that come along with new platforms, especially when the world of technology changes so quickly. However, what many organizations fail to realize is that many digital options, such as Google Analytics, are available to them at minimal expense. Although Google Analytics is usually viewed as a marketing tool to help increase page traffic and boost sales revenue, when used strategically, it can provide deep operational insights.
Before you can access Google Analytics’ powerful insights, you need to first set up an account. This can be an intimidating first step for some users, but it is easier than you might imagine:
- Follow the simple steps to create a Google account specific for your organization, if you don’t have one already
Using your organization specific email address, simply sign up for Google Analytics.
- Once registered, you will be provided with a unique tracking code that can be copy and pasted into the code of your organization’s webpages, which is the driver of all the analytics Google will provide. For those who are less tech savvy, Google offers plug-in options that are compatible with various website builder platforms, such as Wordpress, simplifying this step.
- Once the code has been inserted, Google Analytics will be up and running, and will allow you to start gathering insights about your website. Google offers a wealth of free training, learning, and support resources for all levels of understanding (from beginner to advanced) about the tools, which will help you understand not only how to use the platform, but also the most efficient ways to gain insights from your data.
No matter what your organization’s specific goals are, using Google Analytics to your advantage will add value and better inform decision making processes along the way. Arts managers should strive to think out of the box and utilize these tools available to them beyond traditional website tracking and marketing techniques in order to help tackle broader operational issues or concerns. Now that your analytics frameworks are up and running, you will be able to start deriving powerful insights from the wealth of dashboards and insightful charts Google Analytics provides.
Kristin Thomson, Kristin Purcell, Lee Rainie. 2013. Arts Organizations and Digital Technologies. Washington D.C.: Pew Research Center.