Top Tips | Reaching families online

Ideas and top tips for engaging with families online...

Reaching and engaging family audiences is an important objective for many arts organisations but if it’s an audience that you’re new to or if you only need to reach them sporadically, it can be a challenge to do it successfully.

Understand different motivations

A useful way to think about families and their spending on leisure activities is ‘trips versus treats’. Trips are low cost, everyday or weekend activity or holiday fillers. Treats are for special occasions, e.g. birthdays and tend to be more expensive. Parents will make their decisions for each type using different criteria. For trips the decision will be made faster and factors such as convenience will play a part. Treats will be more carefully researched and there may be a longer period of consideration before purchase.

Search and local search is important

Good search rankings are critical to reach this target audience, many parents will look for activities using phrases such as ‘kids shows Manchester’ or ‘things to do with children in Nottingham’ or ‘days out in London’, ensure that all the content on your site is properly optimised and where possible add additional information about the surrounding area, what is good for families and whether it is free. For venue based organisations ensuring your site is optimised for local search is also important. Further tips on how to do this can be found in this blog post.

Think mobile

60% of the UK population now has a smartphone and parents, like other audiences are using their phones in a variety of ways aside from calling; to check and update their social networks and to search and find activities. If you haven’t done so already, check your Google Analytics to see how much of your web traffic comes via a mobile device. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile and provides a frustrating experience for the user, they’ll simply go elsewhere. When people use their mobiles to search, Google takes the physical location of the user into account when returning results, this may be an advantage to you but make sure people coming to the site have a good experience when they get there.

Mums are social

Mums in particular are one of the heaviest users of social media. According to a study by BabyCentre, carried out in 2013, mothers are 15% more likely than the general population to use social media with 60% saying that Facebook is the first thing they check in the morning. In addition the research found that 68% of mums use parenting sites and social media platforms for brand and product recommendations. Are your own social media profiles engaging and interesting for parents and mums in particular? Is the content you’re posting relevant? You may need to think about segmenting some of your content for these groups. Facebook for example, provides excellent targeting options for both posts and paid adverts and these can help you to get the most relevant updates in front of parents.

Listings and offers sites

Think of these as the bread and butter of your strategy and don’t underestimate the importance of being in the ‘What’s on’ sections of sites like Mumsnet Local and Netmums. In addition sites like Little Bird can be great for specific offers. Children’s festival organisers Just So Festival found that they had much better conversion from Little Bird (for ticket purchases) than from The Guardian. This was in part because of the highly relevant audience for a site like Little Bird.

Top Three Tips

  • Make it easy for them: If a parent is considering coming to your event or show, make it really easy for them to find out the information they might need, such as nearby parking, places to eat, feeding and/or baby changing facilities. Even if it’s not your venue, providing this kind of information will help to make their interaction with your organisation a positive one.
  • Work with bloggers: There are hundreds of parental bloggers, some of whom are highly connected and influential. Carry out some research to find bloggers that you think might be interested in your event and contact them to offer them free tickets or other benefits in exchange for a review. In the same way you relate to journalists, you can’t and shouldn’t try to influence what they write, but a positive review can be fantastic for raising awareness and/or generating ticket sales.
  • Provide an excellent service for families: More than any other audience segment, parents rely very strongly on recommendations when making a decision about where to go and what to do. If you work hard to make your communications friendly and useful and your content interesting, you will find that some of the job of promotion is done for you.