An audience-led approach to museum planning begins with creating pathways to better understand and respond to the interests, motivations and experiences of audiences.
By the IAE Network
This means listening to, and therefore learning from, audiences through their direct experience and feedback in addition to the many informal insights we gain through everyday work as museum professionals.
What are audience insights and why are they important?
The information that a museum gathers directly from or about audiences is what we refer to as audience insights. Audience insights are important as they enable greater understanding of the experiences, motivations, values or other circumstances of people engaging with the museum and its programs and content.
They can also provide insight into some of the hidden barriers that may be preventing some audiences from engaging with the museum.
Audience insights can support museums when applying for grants, developing proposals or planning for new team structures or hiring practices. Critically, audience insights are invaluable for highlighting achievements and success.
Types of insights
You may already collect audience insights, for example:
However, organising and using these insights in a way that informs strategic planning and supports your museum to undertake an audience-led approach across its different functions can be a challenge.
Four way to assess and improve your own feedback channels
Audit and assess current methods for collecting audience insights or feedback. What information or
insights do you collect and why? Where might you be already collecting insights but not using them? Consider feedback systems, surveys, anecdotal feedback.
Update the information across all your methods for gathering feedback and insights to ensure consistency and accuracy in information collection. For example, using standard questions across surveys for difference audience groups.
Trial any new or updated processes to capture feedback or insights to ensure they provide you the desired information. This also allows for changes to be made that will provide greater continuity.
Share learnings gathered through insights – look for opportunities to share positive feedback or achievements, workshop challenges or opportunities discovered and enable teams to plan accordingly. For example, this might be a monthly cross-department meeting focused especially on visitor feedback.