Museum Marketing Ideas to Boost Engagement by 10X
There are so many attractions and activities that museums must compete with nowadays. The list is virtually endless, from markets to music festivals to cooking classes to craft lessons.
As a result, footfall is down. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, one of the largest museums in the world, attracted only half the number of visitors in the past couple of years. Attendance dropped from 6.48 million in 2019 to 3.21 million in 2022.
Let’s face it: it’s only in Hollywood movies that museum exhibitions come to life. With some creative thinking, you can breathe new life into your marketing strategy and boost footfall. Here’s how.
What is Museum Marketing?
Museum marketing involves more than merely advertising your institution and exhibitions to tourists. It includes an in-depth look at your target audience (you’ll find it can appeal to more than just tourists) and their needs.
Based on this, you’ll develop a strategic approach that uses various platforms and strategies to engage with them and encourage them to visit and return.
Why Do You Need a Marketing Plan for Your Museum?
Unlike many other industries, most museums haven’t yet rebounded after the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a survey completed by the American Alliance of Museums (AMA), in partnership with Wilkening Consulting, 6 out of 10 museums still experience pandemic-related financial losses.
To change this number, museums must get more visitors through their doors. They need to amplify their marketing efforts, and a marketing plan will identify the most cost-effective strategies.
10 Creative Museum Marketing Ideas
When you’re marketing a tangible product, you can highlight its features. However, advertising an experience, such as a museum visit, requires ideas like the following that can connect with audiences emotionally.
1. Send UGC-Powered Emails
Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective marketing channels. A monthly email newsletter reflecting on past events and sharing details about upcoming events is easy to create.
When writing about past events, ensure that you add user-generated content (UGC). This way, readers can see exactly what they missed out on. Then, to give them another reason to visit the next event, discounts or other types of offers can sweeten the deal.
2. Display UGC in Different Areas
UGC doesn’t have to be restricted just to your emails. It can also be incorporated effectively into your website, virtual tour (more about that later), or hybrid event streaming.
For example, a social wall can neatly showcase the museum’s top posts from Facebook, Instagram, or X. Plus, as it will update in real-time, visitors won’t be staring at the same display, offering an engaging, interactive element that the museum exhibitions typically lack.
3. Host Unique Events Regularly
Unique events are useful for attracting more repeat visitors. It gives first-time visitors another reason to visit the museum, while it can incentivize regulars to join a membership.
Popular event ideas to try:
- Host a quarterly book club that discusses themes related to the exhibitions
- Invite DJs for an 80s-themed night to commemorate the anniversary of an event from that decade
- Organize AMA sessions with a historian
4. Get Direct Posts From Visitors
They only need to scan a QR code or click an embedded button on the museum’s website or email newsletter. The beauty of this approach is that it involves visitors and makes a museum visit more interactive.
5. Build Partnerships
Travel agencies, tour guides, and travel influencers can be great allies. They’re continuously searching for activities to add to their itineraries and feeds.
To make adding your museum to their list worthwhile, consider offering some type of incentive. Basically, you’re searching for a way to add more value.
Ideas to implement:
- Offer them a discounted entry fee
- Arrange a personal tour after-hours
- Let their tour groups skip the queue
- Use an agency like Vidovo to find influencers in your niche
6. Run a Membership and Loyalty Program
Memberships and loyalty programs aren’t exclusive to eCommerce brands. Museums can also use it effectively to grow their network of regulars and generate a steady income source.
Popular types of incentives:
- Discounted admission
- Free coffee
- Early access to unique events
- Free entry during your birthday month
7. Conduct Visitor Surveys and Research
As mentioned before, you need to know your target audience. Whether you’re focusing on email campaigns or organizing your next unique event, knowing your ideal reader or attendee is crucial. Whatever you’re creating should resonate with them.
To get to know your target audience, you’ll need data about their demographics, spending habits, causes close to their heart, etc. In addition to asking the Internet, why not ask visitors directly? A quick visitor survey can reveal a lot.
8. Offer Virtual Tours
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting mark on how we approach large gatherings and public spaces. With the advances in tech, museums can offer a full-scale virtual tour.
Just a sneak peek into what visitors can expect during their next in-person visit. Overall, it’s a great way to make your exhibitions more accessible.
9. Set Up a GMB Profile
A Google My Business (GMB) profile is useful for attracting more local visitors. Most people learn about local companies online, so you’ll want to use every possible resource at your disposal to create a solid online presence.
It’s super easy to set up. You simply claim it, complete your profile, and add your contact details, business hours, and a few photos.
10. Embed Google Reviews on Your Museum Website
When visitors leave a five-star review about their recent museum experience, it can be tempting to think your marketing efforts are concluded. There’s one more job – embedding Google reviews to your website.
Reviews are one of the best forms of social proof. So, display your reviews with the same pride as your artwork and artifacts.
Museums might be all about the past, but for them to continue to remain a popular attraction among generations to come, they need to stay up to speed with UGC marketing trends. Gone are the days when scripted ads grabbed attention. Nowadays, authentic content is what gets a positive response.