The official theme at the Arts Marketing Association’s Digital Marketing Day this week was “Less is more.” Hosted at the beautiful British Museum, it was a day of thoughtful panels exploring how to effectively reach audiences in a time where arts funding is being cut, audiences are being squeezed financially, and there are more tools and platforms out there than ever.
But the unofficial theme was: content. Almost every session I attended — even the technical GA4 ones! — were circling around the same key idea. If you don’t have strong content and a clear content strategy to begin with, then all the efficiencies in the world can only do so much.
This was true even in the opening keynote by Auriel Majumdar, which covered the principles of minimalism and how you can apply them in your professional life. Auriel’s central point was that 80% of your output comes from 20% of your effort, so you can still accomplish a great deal even if you feel like your time is being stretched. Even one day a week, well spent, is enough to make a huge dent in your to-do pile.
So it goes with a good, well-planned content strategy. Spend one day outlining what good content means for you and your organisation, and writing guidelines for how to produce it consistently. In the remaining four days, you’ll find that the content itself comes quickly and easily.
We saw this in action when we were working with Durham Cathedral on their new website this year. With our help, they created a detailed content model for every kind of page on the new site, with guidelines for appropriate content, media, even word count per element. As a result, their marketing team were able to seed out those guidelines across the whole cathedral, and produce a huge amount of new content for the website without much further direct input of their own. 20% of the time carried 80% of the burden.
Website Content Strategy, Marketing Funnels and Digital Expert Q&A
Next up at the AMA Digital Marketing Day was “Website Content Strategy — doing more with less”. That one is kind of self-explanatory! But a great insight here was that, if you have limited time, you should use Google Analytics to find your ten most popular pages, and focus your efforts on those pages, whether that’s small regular updates or major overhauls.
After that, the content kept on coming. In “Marketing Funnels Made Easy,” we saw a neat example of how the New York Times boosted conversions while reducing their ad spend, by adjusting what they showed to users at different stages of engagement. Those users who already visited nytimes.com regularly got served ads offering subscriptions. But occasional readers were shepherded towards deeper engagement with ads that served them… content. By showing these users high-quality stories, the Times cultivated a habit that eventually turned those users into people who would click an ad for subscriptions.
The same principle was at work in “Ask the digital expert” after lunch. Two different panelists here — Adam Koszary from the Audience Agency, and Hansel McKoy from the Digital Culture Network — both emphasised that, on an increasingly noisy internet, the key to cutting through is strong content. (Though Adam was talking about TikTok and Hansel was talking about developing a unique voice, the basic lesson was the same.)
There were others too, but you get the idea. Without good content, your website is a place where user journeys will fizzle out and potential customers will give up. So if you can only devote one day to your website this week, spend it on your content. Then you can spend the other four days basking in compliments about how much better the website is.