10 Top Digital Strategy Tips for NZ arts organisations

Diverse People in a Seminar About Digital Marketing

Are you charged with developing a digital strategy for your arts organisation? Digital strategy is not nearly as ominous as it sounds. One definition I stumbled across from TechTarget explains it well:

“A digital strategy, sometimes called a digital media strategy, is a plan for maximizing the business benefits of data assets and technology-focused initiatives. A successful digital strategy requires a cross-functional team with executive leadership, marketing and information technology (IT) members. It involves breaking down the silo between information technology leaders and those of other customer-facing departments to deliver a consistent digital customer experience.”

In other words, digital strategy is about making the most of digital tools, technology and media to contribute to achieving your organisation’s goals and should involve people from the different disciplines across your organisation.

Several years of coaching New Zealand arts organisations of all types and sizes through the process of developing their digital strategies has helped us to hone this list of tips to help you as you approach this seemingly daunting task.

  1. Don’t be frightened by the words “DIGITAL STRATEGY”. They merely mean the process of defining your use of digital tools and technology to help achieve your organisation’s goals. Remember, you are an arts professional and you understand “strategy”, “audiences” and “stakeholders”. This is just a strategy to reach and connect with audiences and stakeholders, maximising what “digital” has to offer.
  2. Think “ORGANISATION WIDE”. Don’t just pass this to the ‘marketing person’ to handle. Digital strategy is about all the ways digital technology can help you achieve your goals across operational, artistic, marketing, sponsorship, fundraising and education areas – and more.
  3. Get your team together for a “VISIONING EXERCISE”. Include representatives from each department and/or Board members, partners and even suppliers. Put yourself two to five years into the future and visualise how things will be different for your audiences, staff and sponsors as a result of your improved use of digital technology. This will get everyone on the same page and can be an energising organisation ‘game-changer’ if everyone is open to new approaches.
  4. Undertake a “DIGITAL AUDIT” Again, this isn’t as scary as it sounds. A digital audit is merely an honest assessment of where you are now when it comes to use of digital technology and tools. The more honest you are prepared to be; the more value you will get from the exercise. At The Audience Connection, we’ve defined five key questions to ask yourself during your audit:
    • Is our current digital activity serving our organisational goals – or not?
    • What is our current digital ecosystem (tools, channels, audiences)?
    • What are our peers doing on their digital channels and how do we compare?
    • What are our digital Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats?
    • Where are we now in relation to the digital vision we defined as a team?
  5. Don’t get bogged down in paralysis because you don’t have all the data to flesh out your digital audit. It is okay to “START WITH WHAT YOU KNOW” and then build data collection, research and analysis into your strategy as one of your priority activities.
  6. Remember your digital strategy is a “ROAD MAP”. It needn’t be over-detailed nor contain every online marketing or email campaign you deploy. It is a guiding document for the big ticket digital technology adoption or changes you will focus on over the period of the strategy.
  7. When defining the activity in your digital strategy, “KEEP IT ACHIEVABLE”. Don’t attempt to tackle too much. Your organisation has finite resource and you can only make so many big changes at one time. If you are re-developing a website and creating a suite of digital content, that may be enough for the first two years. And this doesn’t stop you commencing work on other strands of activity during that period. This might be planning to undertake a scoping exercise on your new CRM system, but not committing to implementing it yet.
  8. At the same timeDON’T LIMIT YOUR THINKING”. An idea that can seem unachievable might still be possible with partnerships, collaboration and/or creativity. Google “World Ballet Day” to learn how five ballet companies working in collaboration managed to create a global digital phenomenon. A truly smart idea can spark the imagination of funders and corporate sponsors.
  9. Don’t just pass the responsibility of digital to interns or staff members with tactical digital experience, because you feel you lack knowledge. Truly effective use of “DIGITAL NEEDS A STRATEGIC APPROACH”. Most certainly harness their enthusiasm and skills – you need these. But ensure daily decisions around digital are being made with strategy front of mind.
  10. Use your documented digital strategy consistently “AS A FILTER”. Every week new opportunities will arise that will tempt your organisation to spend time and resource on digital tools or initiatives. With each possibility, return to your Digital Strategy and ask: “Does this align with our goals and support our priorities and – if not – is it important enough to override them?”.

Download a PDF copy of these Top 10 Tips for developing a digital strategy at Creative New Zealand’s website.


Free Google Analytics webinar clinic for NZ arts organisations

Graph and keyboard

Have you registered for tomorrow’s free Creative New Zealand webinar “Making Sense of Google Analytics”? Vicki’s hunkered down today getting ready to share with you five of the most accessible and important reports for New Zealand arts organisations and to give you advice on how to access Google Analytics and use some of its key functionality to get more meaning and use out of the reports.

This will give you a really great overview if you’re new to Google Analytics and is the perfect refresher if you’ve stopped using the tool. It will also give you a few additional insights if you are accessing Google Analytics, but perhaps unsure if you are using it to its best potential. After 18 months of delivering “Audiences and Analytics” workshops to New Zealand arts organisations around the country, Vicki’s gathered up some great insights on what’s needed out there and what’s proving useful.

Register with Creative New Zealand now


Engaging content – what works?

Today, from 10.30 to 11.30 we’re presenting the last of the Creative NZ Optimise webinars for 2016. We’ll be looking at ways to ensure that our online content is doing what we want it to – engage our audiences.

Man using his Mobile Phone outdoor

Vicki and Katharine will present this webinar, covering:

  • The true meaning of “content engagement” on digital channels
  • Types of digital content most likely to engage your audiences
  • Social media algorithms and tips for working with them
  •  Their favourite tools for content curation and creation

If you haven’t already registered, and you’d like to be involved in today’s session, contact  Grace.Sinclair@creativenz.govt.nz  for details.

If you can’t make it to the webinar, it will be posted on Creative New Zealand’s Youtube channel a few days after the live session.


Are you considering Instagram for your arts organisation?

Are you an arts organisation starting to use Instagram or wondering if you should?

Join Vicki Allpress Hill of The Audience Connection as she facilitates a live discussion with two local arts practitioners who have recently been experimenting with Instagram channels. She will ask how we, as New Zealand arts organisations, can make the best use of this increasingly important social media platform.  This is our fifth panel discussion in the Conversation Starter series and will be held live on Google Hangouts.

Vicki will be joined by:
Louise Bartle, Marketing Manager, Auckland Arts Festival
Maggie Worthington & Hannah Wilson, Brown Bread, managers of the Christchurch Art Gallery Instagram account


How do I join the conversation?

It’s simple, all you need to do is go to Creative New Zealand’s YouTube channel tomorrow, Tuesday 10 May 2016, from 10.30 to 10.50 a.m NZ Time to view this 20-minute discussion live.

Re-thinking email in a mobile environment

Did you know… that more email is now opened on mobile devices than on desktop computers?

Email marketing design.

And according to email marketing solution provider Campaign Monitor, you are six times more likely to get click-through to your website from email than from social media.*

Email is a great conversion tool, and with the huge growth in mobile use, it’s really important to consider how your emails appear on all those smartphone screens.

The major players such as MailChimp and Gmail are adapting. As clickthrough rates can be up to 23% higher on mobile responsive email templates, it’s definitely worth taking these design points into consideration:

  • Use a single column design for easy scrolling
  • Use a reasonable font size – at least 10pt, or  13 – 14 pixels
  • Avoid navigation bars
  • Stick to one Call to Action
  • Use images sparingly
  • Keep content short and sweet

These tips are included in the Optimise webinar: ‘Going mobile; what does that really mean?’ , broadcast online in February 2016 as part of the Creative New Zealand Optimise online marketing video series curated by The Audience Connection. Through the webinar you can find out more about:

  • impending trends in mobile that we need to understand
  • Multi-channel mobile journeys – thinking beyond our websites
  • Case Study: “The Continuing Mobile Journey” with Lauren Whitney, Associate Director of New Zealand International Comedy Festival
  • Understanding the “why”, not just the “what”, of your mobile analytics

Download the complete slide deck here.

*Data from Why email marketing? resource published by Campaign Monitor.



Digital strategy an organisation-wide thing

“A successful digital strategy requires a cross-functional team with executive leadership, marketing and information technology (IT) members.” – TechTarget, September 2015


Meeting in person with the participants of our Creative New Zealand ‘Developing a Digital Strategy’ programme is always inspiring. We had a stimulating day last Thursday in Wellington with the five organisations in our latest stream – Red Leap Theatre, Festival of Colour, Makers 101 (Handshake project), Christchurch Arts Festival, and New Zealand Book Council. The full-day workshop included an opportunity for the organisations to each present to the others the progress they have made over the last few months of developing their Digital Strategy and new organisational approach to digital.

At the workshop we revisited the growing and extensive list of alumni for the programme…

Alumni-2.pngIt’s clear that the organisations who have had the most tangible success embedding and implementing their strategies are those who quickly ‘got’ that digital strategy is not about marketing only – it is organisation-wide.

More from TechTarget: “A digital strategy, sometimes called a digital media strategy, is a plan for maximizing the business benefits of data assets and technology-focused initiatives.” 

For local arts organisations “data assets and technology-focused initiatives” can support and advance all aspects of their operation from in-house communication and business practices, education programmes, sponsorship and fundraising to artistic delivery, audience development, community engagement and streamlining of production processes. As well as marketing 🙂

Engaging the wider organisation holistically in the core decisions that form the foundation of your digital strategy (and involving stakeholders, partners, volunteers and close digital providers at the right points in the process) is a key factor for determining your priority activity will be supported and delivered.

What are some of the specific ways organisations in our Developing a Digital Strategy programme have facilitated this cross-organisation approach?

  • Inviting team members to complete a personalised survey (or conducting one-to-one interviews with them) as part of the “digital audit” – the initial phase in which you review where you are now when it comes to use of digital technology
  • Utilising existing team meetings to present on, and discuss, aspects of digital strategy
  • Running an internal working session to make key decisions on Vision, Goals, Audiences and Priorities
  • Inviting senior team members to attend Developing a Digital Strategy workshops.

We’ll be continuing to share some of the key insights gained from this programme on this blog, so stay tuned over the next few weeks.

Read more about Creative New Zealand’s Audience and Market Development opportunities for New Zealand arts organisations.

Festival launch gets attention on Twitter

In How to Get Your Hashtag Trending on Forbes.com,  Entrepreneur John Rampton writes: “Getting a hashtag to trend can be difficult to do. Most attempts to get a hashtag trending fail miserably”.

Blog-AWRF-230316-2So for Auckland Writers Festival’s hashtag #awf16 to leap to the number one spot on the New Zealand trending topics list during the launch of their 2016 Festival Programme to invited guests last week was no small achievement.

Auckland Writers Festival focused on building a sense of anticipation for the event on social media, and aimed to create a window to the live event unfolding. Event and writer ‘reveals’ were live-tweeted as they rolled out during the speeches. This activity created momentum – further fed by the Festival team’s consistent use of the hashtag and fast responses to others’ tweets.


“What’s most exciting is that a New Zealand arts festival can get such traction,” says Auckland Writers Festival Marketing & Development Manager, Tessa Yeoman.

Hear more from Tessa about Auckland Writers Festival’s use of Twitter in next week’s Conversation Starter, Maximising Twittera live discussion on Google hangout with two New Zealand arts managers – Cathy Aronsen, Editor of New Zealand online hub for creatives The Big Idea will also be sharing her experiences with the platform.

Visit Creative New Zealand’s YouTube channel on Tuesday 29 March, 2016 from 10.30 to 10.50 a.m. NZDT to view this 20-minute discussion live.

Maximising Twitter – Conversation Starter with New Zealand arts practitioners

Would you like to better understand the ways you can maximise Twitter and how this sometime puzzling social media platform can fit into your organisation’s strategy?

Join us for a live discussion with three local arts practitioners on the challenges and opportunities of using Twitter and what seems to be working well on this platform for New Zealand arts organisations. It’s our fourth panel discussion in the Conversation Starter series and will be facilitated by Vicki Allpress Hill of The Audience Connection live on Google Hangouts.

CHIANGMAI,THAILAND - APRIL 4, 2015: Twitter is an online social

Visit Creative New Zealand’s YouTube channel on Tuesday 29 March, 2016 from 10.30 to 10.50 a.m. NZDT to view this 20-minute discussion live.

Vicki will be joined by:
Tessa Yeoman, Marketing & Development Manager, Auckland Writers Festival
Cathy Aronson, Editor, The Big Idea
Wendy Riley, Communications Manager, The Court Theatre

Register your interest in the series to receive information and invitations.

We need to talk about mobile

In his book The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile, digital interactive marketplace pioneer Chuck Martin nailed in one sentence what it is about mobile that has made such a difference to us as marketers and arts organisations.

“Your customers are free from the confines of their homes, offices, and traditional media and retail environments.”

Chuck published these words almost five years ago back in 2011. We knew about mobile then, but now this new reality is really hitting home.

Our Optimiser Online Marketing Benchmarking study 2013-2015 has unearthed that 33% of visits to the 38 arts organisation participants’ websites are now made on mobile or tablet.

Optimiser Online Marketing Benchmarking Study – Creative New Zealand and The Audience Connection – 2013-2015

This compares with 15% two years ago.

These statistics mirror the continually increasing smartphone and iPad/tablet penetration in New Zealand – now 70% and 58% respectively according to the Research New Zealand’s Report on a Survey of New Zealanders’ Use of Smartphones and other Mobile Communication Devices 2015.

These numbers were 48% and 29% respectively two years ago.

In April 2015 Google responded to the global shift to mobile by publicly announcing they would prioritise mobile friendly sites in mobile search results and push others further down the list. Their new Mobile Friendly Test tool enables site owners to view Google’s assessment of their site for mobile friendliness.

We are now in a situation where becoming responsive is no longer an option if we want to remain connected to our audiences and have any sort of competitive advantage.

Learn how you can adapt to mobile in this recording of our February Optimiser webinar, featuring a case study from the NZ International Comedy Festival presented by Associate Director Lauren Whitney.

Are you proud of your audience engagement work?

Do you have a project, piece of research or case study on audience or community engagement that you are eager to share?

TBI-EOI-220216The Audience Connection is proud to be a co-curator of The Big Conversation to be held on Thursday, 16 June 2016, Hagley Oval, Christchurch.

Creative New Zealand is currently calling for Expressions of Interest (EOI)  from New Zealand practitioners, arts organisations and agencies, including arts managers, directors, producers, curators, to present or contribute to a Breakout Session as part of The Big Conversation Nui te Kōrero event in Christchurch on Thursday 16 June 2016.

Expressions of Interest must be received by 5pm on Friday, 26 February 2016. Download the EOI form for further details and how to apply.