Gate Theatre usage of Google Analytics and AdWords has resulted in a 16% increase in visits
Beginning earlier this year, four arts organisations received mentoring from Google Ireland over a number of months. Here, Derek Kelly, Box Office Manager of The Gate Theatre outlines lessons learnt during his mentoring, which he received from Tom Morrison-Bell, Marie Davis and Michelle Byrne in Google.
To view reports from seven other arts organisations who have received mentoring from Google, asquared and RTE Publishing, click here.
To discuss lessons learnt from mentoring from Google, there is an open discussion on the Arts Ireland group on LinkedIn – if you’re not already a member, it’s free to join (what’s this? find out more here).
Report of Derek Kelly
Our ultimate aim for the Gate Theatre was to build a coherent online strategy. In February 2009, the Gate re-launched its website with a new design. The previous year we had moved box office systems from a software based system, to the browser based SABO system. The new booking system was integrated with the website which now had added functionality from a customer as well as from a CRM point of view, and we wanted to utilize the greater functionality of the website to drive sales, as well as measure and analyze the booking data resulting from our email and Facebook campaigns. We also needed a professional evaluation of the website from a customer point of view to identify any problem areas. The final element was to optimize the content of the website to maximize our Search Engine profile.
Google Ireland were chosen as our mentors, and as there were two strands working in tandem (Analytics and Adwords), they divided into two teams. The overall process was divided into 3 distinct stages:
- Google Analytics
- Google Grants
- Google Adwords
1. Google Analytics – tutorial and overview
Analytics had been enabled on our site since the re-launch, but was only used in a limited way. Using the existing data, Google were able to advise us on how our website was performing in general, and what keywords were triggered to reach our site.
With over 40% of searches from abroad and over 90% from Ireland using keywords such as Gate, Gate Theatre, Dublin Gate etc. we realized that our venue (rather than the productions) had the greatest awareness among the potential customers.
With this evidence, we tailored the website more towards the Gate as an experience and used less pages for the programme. Our Adwords campaigns are similarly weighted, with the majority of our ads aimed at general theatergoers and the balance targeted at those looking for particular productions.
Google also advised us to tweak the site in order to improve the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Many changes were (in retrospect) common sense: we moved the calendar as it was very seldom used by patrons and made the booking process much more streamlined in terms of cutting back on instructions and descriptive text. These measures although very simple, resulted in an immediate jump in online browsers who continued through to the booking page.
We continue to monitor Analytics daily, in particular the Visitors Overview, Content Overview and Traffic Sources Overview reports. We get direct feedback on every e -marketing campaign and can calculate the revenue return of each type of campaign. One immediate application of the data is that we now always send our e-mail campaigns to hit our target ’s inbox early on Monday mornings. Using Google Analytics, we found that our busiest period of online activity is consistently Monday lunchtime to late afternoon. We also saw by comparing other arts venues via Analytics using the in-built comparison option that this holds through for theatres in general.
With this in mind, the stats show that our e-shot is more likely to be read, and our click through rate and resulting revenue is increased as we are deliberately giving a gentle nudge to the potential customers who may already be thinking of buying, although not always necessarily for our venue! By catching them at that particular time, we are suggesting our production and giving them a direct link through the e-shot to book now.
Death of a Salesman – currently at The Gate
2. Google Grants Program
This allows us a monthly spend on Adwords Google ’s Pay-Per-Click advertising product. The Grants process is quite involved and can take up to 6 weeks normally, but as part of the mentoring program, Google were able to fast-track the process, and we were up and running in less than a week. Bluntly put, we could now have access to Adwords with Google footing the bill! This was a real boon as along with every arts venue in the country, the marketing budget is very tight and without the Grants process, we would be unable to commit the funds necessary to explore the huge potential of Adwords.
Although the spend is limited under the Google Grants scheme, the allowance is very generous for a venue of our size. This allowed us to set up several campaigns, with each campaign targeted at a different demographic; Dublin Bookers, Outside Dublin Bookers, and International Bookers.
These campaigns were a result of applying Analytics to find the top keywords used by browsers to reach our site and the locations of those browsers. We discovered that for example;
- Dublin bookers were usually looking for particular shows, e.g. Krapp’s Last Tape or Arcadia
- Outside Dublin bookers were less interested in individual shows, and would search instead for Gate Theatre or Dublin Theatre.
- International Bookers tended to look for Theatre in Ireland, Irish Theatres and other more general related searches.
Each campaign was further divided into individual ads, which targeted the particular area of interest to the potential customer. Although the initial set up was quite time consuming and involved, by the third mentoring session I was confidently writing new ads, deleting or amending those which were under-performing and setting up new campaigns in response to the keyword data from Analytics.
The Google mentors provided invaluable feedback at each meeting which meant that I could very quickly respond to anything that was not working. The Google team had given me several links to online tutorials and Blogs for Analytics and Adwords. Most useful were ConversionRoom.BlogSpot.com and www.kaushik.net – many of these tutorials were very accessible and easy to put into practice.
The net result of our Adwords campaigns has been to drive more people to explore our website, we have seen a 16% increase in visits since implementing the changes to the website and beginning our Adwords campaigns. All of this activity is tracked using Analytics, so the data is measurable and patterns can be interpreted. We can now track what our potential customers are looking for, how they arrived at our website (using keywords, search engines, direct traffic etc), what they looked at while they were there and if they proceeded to book. This information then allows us to apply what we know to our Adwords campaigns. We can therefore target more precisely and tailor our ads to different types of potential customer.
The impact of the mentoring scheme on the Gate’s online strategy has been enormous. Much of the guesswork has been taken out of the attempts to reach more customers and to retaining our existing audience. We have changed the way in which we communicate with potential audiences and can measure the results of our efforts.