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Museum: how to make the most of your data?

MUSEUMS: how to make the most of your DATA

The Dallas Museum of Art Loyalty Program: a revolution

In 2013, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) launched an innovative data museum initiative. This initiative is being developed as part of a loyalty programme called DMA Friends.

This is an English translation of the original article of the German Kultur Management Network Mahazin of March 2015. [1] 

Presentation of an innovative data museum initiative:

This initiative aims to improve the understanding of the individual behaviours of their visitors. Its innovative feature?The program is completely free of charge. It is the first free museum membership program in the United States. The Dallas Museum of Art is committed to getting to know its visitors better and to deepening the public's connection with its works presented in permanent and temporary galleries. For more than a decade, the museum has conducted research using a variety of assessment tools to better understand the preferences and behaviors of its audiences. Thanks to this increased knowledge, museums acquire valuable know-how in maintaining relationships between visitors, works and places of visit. You can find on our blog several examples of data evaluation for museums.

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Visitors to the Dallas Museum of Art subscribing to the DMA Friends program
How does the program work?

DMA Friends is a tool that values and encourages the relationship of visitors with Art. It is also a tool for studying audiences. It provides the museum staff with a large amount of individualized quantitative data. This data improves their understanding of visitors and their main visiting itineraries; whether they are rare, frequent, scattered or concentrated. Staff can be aware of individual visitor behaviour, but can also group visitors into communities of interest, such as families, creative profiles, etc., which can be used as a basis for developing a more comprehensive understanding of visitor behaviour. Museum staff use DMA Friends data to customise communications and monitor the relative success of educational programmes and other experiences offered by the museum. Statistics from the data are used to make decisions about audience engagement.

DMA Friends interface
The DMA Friends homepage: gaming visits with a badge system
What is the point of setting up a free program like the one at the Dallas Museum of Art?

The DMA is based on the premise that increased participation leads to deeper engagement and transformative impact. For a long time, the criterion for judging an action was simply a measure of overall attendance. Conversely, focusing on loyalty is a step towards a more meaningful measure of impact. This measure attempts to capture the nuances of engagement based on various factors. Two years after the launch of the Friends programme, it is observed that around 12% of visitors went to the museum several times during this period, with a recurrence of between 2 and over 100 separate visits. As DMA continues to study visitor attendance and engagement, staff recognise the need to combine effective and ongoing qualitative data collection methods with the quantitative information collected by the DMA Friends programme. The museum is currently exploring ways to reconcile the two sources.

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What are the prospects for development?

Socio-demographic data are monitored through the Friends program and put into perspective with the demographics of the Dallas area. Friends can enter their zip code upon registration. This data is extracted into a mapping tool that can represent the number of Friends for each location, as well as population statistics cross-referenced with information from the 2010 U.S. Census. It highlights opportunities in places where few Friends live. Staff began a survey of two underserved postal codes in the vicinity of the Museum. The goal is both to explore and strengthen existing relationships between the Museum and the community in these urban areas, while creating new connections. For more information, see this article, linking data and emotion.

1/ This is an English translation from the original article of the German Kultur Management Network Mahazin of March 2015.

2/ To go further on behavioural studies of DMA audiences: Museum and the Web study.

3/ You represent a museum? Learn how to add value to your data with the Arenametrix CRM dedicated to museums.

Do you want to carry out a data & CRM diagnosis of your organisation? Take advantage of 30 minutes of free advice by reserving your niche.

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