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2015 Arts Industry Digital Marketing Benchmark Study

May 31, 201731 May 2017

Arts and digital technologies

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Based on a survey of digital marketing in 130 American arts organizations, this report indicates that “organizations invested more in digital [in 2015], but challenges around funding and expertise limited digital effectiveness”. Theatres were the largest group of respondents (34%), followed by presenting organizations (22%) and museums (12%). Previous iterations of the survey covered performing arts organizations only.

The report argues that, while a sample size of 130 not-for-profit organizations “does not make the data statistically significant, it does provide a strong indication of where our industry stands regarding digital marketing practices”. However, it seems likely that organizations that are more active in digital marketing would be more apt to respond to the survey.

On average, digital media budgets accounted for 29% of respondents’ total media budgets in 2015. All respondents had purchased Facebook advertising during the year, but only 12% had purchased Twitter ads. A large proportion of the organizations surveyed had received a Google Grant for free AdWords advertising (70%). The vast majority (84%) “used an analytics platform, such as Google Analytics, to track their paid digital media efforts”.

The survey results highlight the arts organizations’ social media efforts. The market penetration of Facebook (100%), Twitter (96%), and Instagram (96%) is very strong, but there is significant variation in the proportion of respondents posting regularly on these social media platforms: 73% posted at least once a day on Facebook, 63% posted daily on Twitter, but only 20% posted daily on Instagram.

The survey found that 80% of responding organizations had redesigned their website within the past three years and that 51% of respondents’ tickets were sold online. Two-thirds (67%) had mobile-enabled websites in 2015, and a similar percentage (62%) purchased mobile advertising. Only 28% of respondents had a mobile app.

Limited budgets are the most commonly-cited digital marketing challenge: 63% of respondents indicated that their digital marketing budget was insufficient, and only 53% believe that they have an “adequate budget to cover their website maintenance needs”. Other challenges include an inability to determine the return on their digital marketing investment and insufficient internal knowledge to develop a digital strategy. For example, 94% of respondents believe that they are not using web analytics to its full potential.


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