Online museum goals

How to ask the right questions?

Measuring your online performance can be done best based on an online strategy with clearly defined goals. This article explains where to start in defining your goals and developing an online strategy.

You become the things you measure

In order to measure your online performance it is important to define clear goals and to find the right metrics to measure and tools to do it with. Statistics are most meaningful if they measure the metrics that are most important for your strategy. So, how can museums use web analytics to measure relevant metrics in order to answer the right questions? Together with 16 Dutch museums and Seb Chan from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, we explored this question. 

We collected online institutional goals from all participating museums, that can be measured. In general, the most common goals are:

  • Increase visits and engagement to online content;
  • Increase visits to the museum;
  • Increase e-mail newsletter subscriptions;
  • Increase e-ticket sales.

Key questions to help you define goals

Goals defined based on the S.M.A.R.T. criteria (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) lead to actionable strategies focused on results. Some key questions to help you defining such goals are:

  • What are you trying to do?
  • Who are you trying to reach? Be precise (who exactly likes to know more about your collection, who will actually use your app?)
  • How will you know you have been successful? (set goals for success)
  • What methods measure your success best?
  • Can you find comparative data to put your outcomes in perspective?
  • What insights are you gaining from your data? (If you can’t do anything with or learn from your data, you are possibly collecting the wrong data).

Some great examples

Rather than starting from scratch, we would like to recommend to start by looking at existing digital/online- or social media strategies that are available online. Here are some great examples:

An online- or social media strategy can be very elaborate, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be so in order to be effective. An easy way to start would be to create an A4 document with at least 3 SMART goals based on the museum mission. Read our article how to improve your online analytics.

Theory into practice

These examples offer a guide on how to put theory into practice. However, developing a digital/online- or social media strategy is not an easy task. Sharing goals and strategies among one-another has helped ARP participants to improve their own. I’d like to invite you to contribute to this learning process by sharing your top 3 goals that can be measured with the website. If you have not yet defined these goals or an online strategy, what are the general struggles in developing this? Let’s help each other: share your experiences! 


Filed under: