We’ve worked with Warwick Arts Centre since 2009 when we were asked to relaunch their main website. In the time since, we’ve worked with their marketing team to provide the digital means to make their work more effective.
Around the office, we often say that they should be used as a case study for how to do this kind digital/marketing integration properly. However, the small team at Warwick Arts Centre spend more time promoting their venue and shows than talking at conferences, so we thought we’d take matters in our own hands and write something about them ourselves.
This post will briefly cover:
• Main website and content management system
• Mobile-friendly website
• Email marketing
• Venue screens
• Facebook integration
• Overall strategy
Introducing Warwick Arts Centre
First of all, for those that don’t know, Warwick Arts Centre is situated at the heart of the University of Warwick in Coventry and is one of the largest arts centres in the UK outside of London, with audiences that number 200,000+ a year. There are five performance venues – a concert hall, theatre, two studio spaces, cinema and gallery with other creative spaces around the building.
With a programme that spans everything from a classical concert series, independent cinema, theatre, pop music and exhibitions, the Arts Centre’s digital content has to appeal to a diverse audience, 30% of whom are young people under the age of 26.
This is the foundation for everything that has followed, and a piece of work that we’re very proud of. The site is powered by Backstage, the CMS that we developed specifically to handle the demands of arts centres, especially ones that present a high volume of shows across a variety of venues. Clients always tell us how easy it is to use, but under the hood the programming architecture is correct, the code is clean and it’s SEO friendly too.
Backstage also powers all of the other features that we’ve built – either by serving the required information or by bringing additional functionality into the marketing team’s existing workflow.
We’d seen an increase in mobile traffic across many of our clients’ website and were aware that, good as the main website is, the mobile user was not being catered for adequately. The solution was to create a mobile-friendly version of the website that works across operating systems, with most traffic coming from iPhones, followed by Android and Blackberry devices.
The effect on mobile traffic was immediate and has been sustained. This graph shows visits in the months before and after the mobile site’s launch:
Impressive, right? We think it’s still one of the better mobile website implementations we’ve seen for an arts organisation, so we were really pleased with how well it went down at the recent Arts Marketing Association conference, where it was used as an example in at least two sessions.
We’ve integrated listings information from Backstage into a set of flexible email templates that make marketing emails visually rich and easier to pull together. A simple system pulls in images, associated information and links to tickets with campaign URLs so they can be properly tracked with Google Analytics.
Large screens all over Warwick Arts Centre’s foyers display information about current exhibitions, upcoming shows and special offers. In fact, the screens are very flexible – they’re also used to direct people to social media profiles (for instance, reminding people to follow Warwick Arts Centre on Twitter) and will eventually incorporate comments on social media accounts.
As with the emails, this information is pulled from Backstage. For instance, when a show is identified as ‘promoted’, a slide is pulled together from available information, images and video. That slide then goes into rotation on the venue’s screens – including in the cinema, where information is shown before screenings.
Having got their own house in order with all of the above, attention has moved to social platforms, and Facebook in particular. On the Warwick Arts Centre Facebook Page itself:
• We recently launched a new What’s On tab which links through to the main site for ticket buying. It’s actually a modified version of the mobile site, allowing us to give even greater value for that earlier work
• We’re about to give the page an optional ‘Likegate’ or splash page for the site to coax visitors to Like the Page
We’ve done a lot more with Facebook on the main site recently too. When a member of the marketing team uploads information about a new event, they can choose to have a Facebook Event published automatically (saving the effort of doing this separately). We’ve not seen that done anywhere else.
We’ve integrated Facebook Connect, giving people information about their friends’ interactions with the site when they log in. They can also RSVP to Facebook events via the show information pages and see which of their friends are attending.
We don’t just react to briefs that we’re given – we’ve developed a good, two-way dialogue with Warwick Arts Centre, scheduling regular strategy review meetings to keep up with what’s happening at the venues. That way, we can check that everything’s working as well as it should do, suggest solutions to any problems the marketing team might have and present any new ideas that we’ve come up with.
This has allowed us (meaning ourselves and the client) to build up all of the above functionality in a measured and strategic manner. And we’ve not stopped yet – this is a work in progress, with more features on the way as we start to look at functionality offered by location-based services and more.
Get in touch
We hope you found this case study interesting. If you’‘d like to talk about how we can work with you in a similar way then please just get in touch.