It can be incredibly overwhelming to tackle digital marketing as an artist or arts organisation. I recently talked with the Australian Council for the Arts about some of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen humans make when they first start their digital marketing. At this online event, we discussed several tools and resources which I’ve listed below. As digital marketing is continually changing I’ll be trying to keep this page as up to date as possible so this is a great page to bookmark and check back on now and then. If you have questions about a specific platform or tool drop them in the comments, and we will either expand this article or create separate pieces soon.
Tools for Building Websites.
One of the most common questions I get asked by clients and those entering the industry seeking advice is, what platform should I use to build my website? While so much of this needs to revolve around what your goals are as an artist or arts organisation, it’s essential to understand what platforms will and won’t offer you in the long term to make sure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot.
There is a reason that WordPress powers over a quarter of the entire internet. It’s free, it’s open-source, it’s user friendly, and they name their software updates after Jazz Musicians. What’s not to love?
Let’s break that down a bit more:
- Approximately 1 in 4 websites on the entire internet are built using WordPress.
- Aside from website hosting which you may have to pay a separate company a small monthly fee for, the software behind this platform is entirely free.
- Open source means that developers from all over the world can work together to improve the software, unlike other platforms which are generally owned by one company and only maintain a small team of developers.
Where WordPress occasionally gets a bad wrap is not because of the software but instead how people misuse it. Common mistakes include overusing plugins, installing bad themes, and creating unnecessarily image-heavy pages. If you’re looking for a great WordPress theme to get started, I cannot recommend the Flatsome theme highly enough. I’ve personally used it to build 30+ websites for very different businesses and organisations.
It’s also easy to get confused between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. While WordPress.org represents the software (which we love), WordPress.com is a host for blogs (which is not appropriate for organisations or businesses to use).
It’s really hard to make a Squarespace website look bad – but it’s even harder to implement any form of advanced digital marketing on a Squarespace website.
Squarespace websites are incredibly popular amongst the graphic designer community. The backend is very user friendly, and within a relatively small amount of time, you can be up and running with a beautiful clean looking website. Unfortunately the costs of Squarespace add up very quickly with basic plans starting at $22 per month with minimal features and jumping up to $35 per month just to add a shopping cart. Furthermore, many of the cool features that are built in to make it easy for you to get started, make it very hard to optimise the website down the track making it hard to stand out when it comes to SEO, Site Speed, ecommerce software and more.
If you want to build a portfolio website that serves as a ‘Digital Business Card’ to hand out, but don’t want to have to learn much, then Squarespace is a great choice. However, if you want to compete in search engines and run an ecommerce store, then I would highly recommend WordPress.
Tools for Keyword Research.
Keyword Research is one of the foundations of all good Digital Marketing. In essence, it’s the process of discovering what people are actually typing into search engines like Google or Bing. When done correctly, Keyword Research enables you to identify and capture bigger audiences and deliver better answers to their questions. Here are some of the best tools for Keyword Research.
Keywords Everywhere is a freemium browser addon that has the following functionality
Free: You can see the two widgets on the right-hand side of google.com that show you Related keywords, and People also search for keywords
Paid: You can see monthly search volume, cost per click and competition data for keywords on multiple websites like Google Analytics, Google Search Console etc. You can also get volume data for your keywords by copying keywords directly from Excel into our Import Keywords tool and download them as an Excel, CSV or PDF file.
I highly recommend paying the $10 USD to access the paid features. As someone who carries out hundreds of searches each day using this tool, I have used less than $2 USD in credit over the past ten months.
Google Ads Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool included within the Google Ads Platform.
Part of the reason this is free is that its primary purpose is to encourage you to advertise for terms with more search volume, which in turn generates google more revenue. While you can create a Google Ads account and access this tool without spending any money, it’s important to note that Google made some major changes to their platform a few years ago which changed the way that it calculated search volume which indirectly made this tool far less accurate.
Tools for Measuring Traffic.
Measuring & tracking the traffic to your website is more about the campaign you might want to run in 12 months then what you’re doing today.
Hands down Google Analytics is the single most crucial measurement software to have installed across your website. While it can be overwhelming to go inside the platform and try to distil insights from hundreds of metrics, it’s also vital for any organisation carrying out any form of marketing now or in the future.
Google Tag Assistant
While Google Tag Assistant is not directly used to measure anything – it is a great tool to check whether your Google Analytics is set up correctly quickly.
Google Tag Assistant is a free Chrome extension that helps you make sure your Google tags such as Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Adwords Conversion Tracking, and more are working correctly. Using Tag Assistant, you can make changes to your tags and instantly verify that they are firing as intended.
Tag Assistant can also be used to check more advanced forms of conversion tracking are installed and triggering correctly.
Tools for Measuring Speed.
Every year we as digital users want more, faster. So while it’s great to have a beautiful looking website, I’m not going to wait 30 seconds for it to load. These tools can be used to get accurate measurements of how long specific web pages take to load and also provide several tips on how to improve these results.
GTmetrix neatly summarises your page performance based off key indicators of page load speed. It’s free to sign up and use and best of all – unlike other platforms it allows you to test your webpage speed from an Australian Server.
This is so important for Australian Artists & Arts Organisations as it means you can actually optimise your site to load for where your audience is, rather than other platforms that just assume that you and your audience are in the United States.
Google Page Speed Insights
PageSpeed Insights analyses the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster. PageSpeed is free to use and doesn’t require a sign-up.
The most significant benefit of this platform is the breakdown it gives between your Desktop load time and your Mobile load time which can often be very different. If you take action suggestions from PageSpeed, make sure that these same actions are not hurting your GTmetrix score as PageSpeed does not take into consideration where you and your audience are geographically.