Museums are essential places for learning and exploring different cultures, art forms and historical events. People can go and experience the world in new ways and learn new perspectives. The exhibits often improve and change, offering a variety of engaging experiences to visitors. But museums tend to miss out on effectively attracting new and repeat guests. To stay competitive, you’ll need to know how to increase museum visitors.
There are many reasons why attendance at your museum could be declining. Potential visitors may simply not know what the museum can offer them. Previous visitors may not know if there’s anything new to see, and people unaware of your brand may not be able to find you. Or you also may not have a strong relationship with the community or with influencers. These 10 tips to increase museum visitors will help you address some of these areas and boost attendance.
Read the full article or skip to a specific section:
- 1. Take Advantage of Social Media
- 2. Invest in Digital Marketing
- 3. Improve the Website
- 4. Implement Something New
- 5. Have a Membership Program
- 6. Offer Discounts
- 7. Host Unique Events
- 8. Reach out to Influencers
- 9. Attract Multiple Audiences
- 10. Add Play Areas
- How Soft Play® Can Help Increase Visitors to Your Museum
1. Take Advantage of Social Media
Social media is a great way to reach younger audiences and connect with your potential visitors. Talking about new exhibits and events on social media and encouraging people to share the posts can help spread awareness.
Your museum can post updates, respond to visitor comments and foster a positive relationship with the community on social media. This is what people expect from businesses in today’s world. You can also monitor social media to find what people are saying about your museum. Learn what people like, what people don’t like and what people want more of by keeping track of likes, comments and shares.
User-generated content is any type of content, such as text, video or photos, that someone posts online. When it comes to marketing strategy, it’s content about your museum that’s created by someone other than your brand manager. Promoting user-generated content is an incredibly effective and efficient way to market your museum.
Years ago, museums would discourage or even prohibit the use of cell phones while viewing exhibits. But when visitors take selfies and share what they love about your museum on social media, they are promoting it and generating buzz. This is word-of-mouth marketing and it helps increase museum attendance. The more people talk about your museum, the more people will be aware of your museum and what it can offer them.
To encourage user-generated content, you might create an aesthetically pleasing area outside or in your lobby that includes your museum’s name. Encourage visitors to take pictures there, post them online and tag your museum in their posts.
2. Invest in Digital Marketing
Today, people are constantly on their phones, streaming content and staying connected on the web. Your marketing strategy should be set up to reach your audience where they are already looking. That’s why your message needs to be digital.
Digital marketing uses the internet and mobile technology to promote your brand. Social media and user-generated content are just a part of digital marketing. In today’s digital age, these types of digital marketing are paramount to business success:
Email marketing is when you use an email list to send out mass branded messages to interested parties. You can collect email addresses on your website or at your museum and send out updates, discounts or press releases.
With email marketing software, you can create more targeted lists that can help you reach specific consumers. For example, you could send a discount email to people who haven’t visited in six months.
Content marketing is when you create and distribute valuable and relevant content to attract audiences. One major form of content is blog posts. Blog posts can help increase traffic to your website as people search for relevant keywords. People who are searching for relevant information are likely to be interested in what your museum offers. For example, someone interested in ancient Egypt could find your blog post about Cleopatra and decide to visit your museum for the Egyptian exhibit.
Search Engine Optimization
When someone in your area searches for a museum, does your website show up? If people are searching for a particular exhibit, will it lead them to your museum? SEO helps your information is accessible to people who may not already know about your museum. This can help you reach locals as well as tourists. Make sure your website is accessible and has the information people are looking for, like your location.
3. Improve the Website
The museum’s website is where many potential visitors will go to learn more. People will find your website by searching online, through social media or from other links. It needs to be attractive, functional and easy to navigate. Link to and promote your social media channels on the website. If possible, you can allow people to purchase tickets and memberships online. You should also include information about:
- Hours of operation
- Parking and directions
Some people may hesitate to visit when they don’t know what to expect. Providing photos, quick videos and exhibit introductions will give people an idea of what they will get when they visit the museum. Having an engaging website that highlights your museum’s attractions will help encourage people to visit and boost attendance.
4. Implement Something New
One of the best ways to boost attendance to your museum is to open a new exhibit or add new features. If the museum has not seen anything new in a while, people may just be waiting for something different. When you make a change, remember to send out emails, update the website and post on social media so people know that your museum has something new to offer.
To update your museum, you’ll need to rearrange your exhibits, add exhibits or improve your existing ones. Adding technological enhancements like an immersive interactive play experience is a great space-saving way to spread some excitement about your museum. Add virtual reality exhibits, smartphone-guided tours or interactive games to add value to your visitors’ experiences.
5. Have a Membership Program
Membership programs are put in place to encourage repeat visitors and provide benefits to your museum’s loyal customers. There are many different options and ways to implement these programs. Membership programs usually include free or discounted admission, early access to exhibitions and other physical perks. Some museums have membership programs that not only offer discounts and perks at their museum but also at other partnered businesses like local theaters or other museums.
Implementing a new membership program for your museum can be challenging, but there are many benefits. A museum’s members are its most valuable asset. They create connections with the community, serve as brand ambassadors and provide a steady revenue stream. Balance the need to make your members feel valued with your organization’s need for long-term growth.
6. Offer Discounts
You should also offer discounts to more than just your members. Potential visitors may be waiting for a better time, and offering an admission discount will help get them in the door. You can send out discounts through an email list people sign up for, post them on social media, have a “deals” section on your website or advertise them locally.
Discounts can also be targeted at people who have already visited the museum. Let them know when something new is on exhibit and offer them a discount to return. You may even be able to encourage museum memberships through discounts. Other discounts you can offer at your museum include ones for:
- Military personnel and first responders
One way to drive demand for your institution is to evaluate the pricing strategy. If tickets are too expensive, you may be losing out on visitors. Variable pricing is when you alter the price based on projected supply and demand. The most basic form of this is when tickets are cheaper on weekdays or during the off-season. This helps to spread out the crowds while also offering a more economical option for lower-income individuals.
7. Host Unique Events
Events are powerful marketing tools when implemented well. They engage new visitors, encourage returning visitors and spread awareness to groups your museum may not normally reach. Your museum can host all sorts of events, from cocktail hours and festivals to science lectures and book talks.
Events help your museum connect with the whole community. Each event your museum hosts can appeal to a different part of your community, which broadens your reach and can bring more people to your doors.
You can partner with local businesses to host shared events or host events like these on your own:
- A cocktail night that includes the history of each drink
- An educational storytime for kids
- An art history lecture by a local professor
- A party just to bring the community together
- A drawing class for teens
- A performance night
- A pop-up museum at the park
- A volunteer day at a local cemetery
- A meet-the-author event
Your event could be a fundraiser for your museum or a local cause. Whatever the reason, be sure to advertise the event online, in your museum and throughout the community.
8. Reach out to Influencers
Influencers can also help the museum increase its visitor count. There are social media influencers with large global followings and a multitude of fans, and there are local writers with a small group of loyal readers. Reaching out to individuals who can then reach even more people is an effective marketing tactic that can help increase visitors to your museum. Press releases can be sent to local newspapers or online blog writers to help reach more potential visitors.
It’s up to your marketing team to determine which influencers could help. Are you targeting tourists? A travel blogger could be helpful. Do you need to appeal more to families and kids? Reach out to parent bloggers and influencers. Thinking about the audience you want to reach will help you determine where to focus your marketing and which influencers to partner with. You can also invite influencers to visit your museum for free or at a discounted price.
9. Attract Multiple Audiences
Ultimately, the museum needs to attract multiple audiences. Utilizing social media helps attract young adults and teens. Digital advertising and a well-designed website reach a broad audience. Membership programs and discounts appeal to budget-conscious adults and families. Events can be designed to attract any audience, even kids, and influencers can spread your message to audiences you can’t normally reach.
Museums can benefit visitors of all ages, so use that to your advantage to attract different demographics. If your museum is already popular with one audience, focus your marketing on another. One group that museums often don’t appeal to is young children who can get bored when they don’t have kid-focused areas. To solve this, think about how to appeal to kids and parents who visit the museum.
10. Add Play Areas
Museums can be fun, family-friendly spaces with the addition of educational play areas for kids. By including areas or activities meant for kids, you will be able to captivate their interest longer and create meaningful educational experiences. Families will be more likely to return when there are areas for people of any age. Adults and kids alike will be able to learn and have a good time at your museum.
If your museum is already family-oriented, adding more interactive elements will only make your museum better. Kids should be able to participate in some activities and learn through play. If your museum is more focused on adult visitors, adding a small area for kids helps make your museum more accessible to parents. They’ll be able to bring their child along and both of them will have a good experience at your museum.
Benefits of Play Areas
Play areas inside businesses have many benefits that translate to your bottom line, like:
- Longer stays: The play equipment will captivate attention and increase the length of the visit.
- A place to get out energy: A museum playground can provide kids an area to move their bodies and get rid of all that extra energy while parents can relax, making the stay more enjoyable for everyone.
- Themed additions: Play equipment can be themed to match the topics of your museum or exhibit and will make learning more hands-on for the kids.
- Word-of-mouth marketing and repeat visitors: The interesting and educational experiences gained will spark word-of-mouth referrals and keep families returning.
How Soft Play® Can Help Increase Visitors to Your Museum
Set your museum apart from others with engaging sculpted play areas that capture the interest of young kids. Soft Play provides creative and durable indoor play equipment for museums meant to capture the imagination and create an outlet for active play. Adding indoor play equipment can help you:
- Engage kids of all abilities
- Increase traffic flow and memberships
- Attract and retain families
- Stand out from your competitors
Soft Play specializes in play equipment for attractions that keep families coming back time and time again. For over 30 years, our team of designers has assisted owners and managers in designing commercial indoor playgrounds customized for limited spaces and varying budgets. Our indoor equipment can help you cast kids in their own adventure while they have fun experiences that keep them coming back for more.
Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can help your museum increase its number of visitors!