Just last week we spoke about digital transformation in the arts sector and with all the noise around increased mobile usage, today we’re going to explore how arts and culture organisations can use (and have used) mobile technology to differentiate themselves from competitors and reach a wide, (often global audience) with their offering.

Keep the pace

One of the biggest challenges for the arts when it comes to mobile is keeping up with what consumers have in other parts of their life. For years, user experience has been one of the most popular buzzwords in digital and although it may sound very cliche, it really all is about ensuring the user can navigate your website with ease, find the information they were looking for in as little clicks as possible and convert whether that is in the form of sales, downloads, sign-ups or whatever else your ‘conversions’ may be. However, as user experience has been around for a good few years, other industries have made huge waves and the arts and culture sector is falling behind.

Arts Marketing

Back in 2013, Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta launched the Digital Culture Study - an annual survey tracking how arts and culture organisations in England use digital to reach their audience. In the first year this study took place, only 11% of arts and cultural organisations thought digital had an impact on their profitability however over the last three years digital technologies have changed the way we live our lives so this figure is expected to have increased since then.

During the research, in 2015 it was found that 45% of all arts and culture organisations surveyed didn’t have a mobile responsive website compared to 67% in 2013 so although organisations are understanding the need for a responsive website, there are still a great deal of organisations living in the technological ice age.

Royal Opera House

After receiving the digital R&D fund for the arts, the Royal Opera House went on to create a responsive site to increase online donations and help boost bookings through mobile. Since launching, dwell time on the site between desktop and mobile was reduced by 50% indicating the mobile site was starting to provide ROH visitors with a better experience through mobile. Although this wasn’t necessarily new, it was significant as ROH realised that their visitors were used to slick interfaces and easy to navigate sites across different industries and it was incredibly important to keep the pace.

Sing London

Although user experience can be enhanced with a responsive site, it is important for users to be able to connect with an organisation across multiple mobile touchpoints. Another example after receiving the digital R&D fund for the arts is Sing London with their ‘Talking Statues’ campaign. Utilising QR codes and near-field communication (NFC), the talking statues tapped into current interest and allowed people to interact with stories of statues across both London and Manchester.

Engage Your Audience Through Digital

Using NFC technology, the talking statues could then call the mobile phone of the person and speak monologues inspired by characters or voiced by famous actors. This campaign was a great success and in the first six months, more than 40,000 people had interacted with the statues and it performed so well, Chicago was set to the be the next city to have Sing London bring their statues to life.

Projects such as this and the ‘Clapping Music’ game by London Sinfonietta illustrates how arts organisations can use mobile technology to reach new audiences and this has been well received by their audiences.

In our last blog we discussed micro-moments and how arts organisations must be there, be useful and be quick when it comes to their users. If you needed some convincing here are some of the latest user behaviour stats from Google’s research in 2016…

90% of smartphone users have used their mobiles to make progress towards a purchase decision whilst 65% of smartphone users say they look for the most relevant information rather than the company providing the information. Additionally, 91% of users use their smartphones to perform local searches with the most popular requests being for directions and opening hours. Local searches on mobile have grown twofold in the last year, an indication of things to come and something arts organisations should be taking full advantage of.

If you haven’t already begun getting mobile ready, you must. The next challenge for arts organisations is to keep the pace with other industries and make sure everything they have to offer is mobile ready and easily accessible for users. Not only that, as a creative industry, arts organisations have to develop creative campaigns, such as ‘Talking Statues’ and “Clapping Hands’ to capture the attention of their always connected, often global audience.