Monday, April 16, 2012

Measuring online activity

Much has been written over the last few years about how to measure online metrics, with Seb Chan’s Fresh and New blog and dynamic presentations helping to set the benchmark. But not a lot has been written about what those metrics tell us. So it was timely for the UK’s ‘Let’s Get Real’ report to be presented at Museums and the Web 2012 last Friday. Undertaken through 2011 the project sought to benchmark common online activity amongst 17 UK cultural venues, including Tate, the British Museum, and the National Museums of Scotland and Wales, to generate practical outcomes to inform the cultural sector as a whole and improve working practices.

The key ‘take aways’ I got from it were:

• Don’t let’s kid ourselves about how much online activity the cultural sector generates - the combined traffic to the partner organizations (which included most of the UK majors) was 0.04% of total UK web traffic in June 2011, equivalent to just one site that provided info for expectant parents

• Understand how to use Google Analytics and undertake a ‘health check’ to ensure consistency of results. This should include segmenting traffic between internal and external visits ( the British Library for instance generates 7% of its traffic internally – staff, and visitors to the public reading rooms), and understanding how Google Analytics calculates time on site.

• Be clear what you are trying to do online and who the content is for

• Recognise the limits as well as the value of social media

• Engage with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – a process that is fundamental to commercial web sites but under used by cultural organizations

• Ensure digital activities are not separate to physical ones and linked with your overall strategy

• Ensure your website is mobile friendly given mobile access to the web has now overtaken desktop/laptop access

Check out the whole report on line - it makes for interesting reading.

Julian Bickersteth
Managing Director

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