Adding heatmapping to your website

If you know me even just a little, you know that I love data.  Especially in the field of arts marketing because we tend to have our own preconceived notions as arts marketers on what “our people” like, what they want, and how they behave.  Good data can either back that up or contradict it and put you on the right path.

This is so true with websites.  In my travels, I find that most arts organizations are very concerned with how their website looks which is understandable because we are so visual.  However, what if that visually stunning website actually hurts your conversion rate or is hard for people to navigate?

I hope that everyone reading this has Google Analytics installed on their site and that you regularly look at the data.  If you don’t, install it IMMEDIATELY.  If you do, go and look at the data right now.  RIGHT NOW.  If you aren’t sure how to read the data, Google has lots of free resources to help you.

Another way to see how people are interacting with your site is through heatmapping.  I’ve had heatmapping installed on the Palm Beach Opera website for the past few years and, I’ve got to say, that I love it.  It gives you a different take on the data because you can see not just what content people are viewing, but where they are looking on each page of your site.

Here’s a sample heatmap:

CrazyEgg Landing Page


You don’t have to be some sort of tech genius to see that the Buy Tickets button is performing pretty well here.

You can set up any number of what they call “snapshots” which are really just pages for them to track.  Let them fun for a few weeks to see what people are looking at most, or what might be more useful, what people aren’t looking at.

They offer a nonprofit rate and I end up paying about $100 for the entire year which is affordable for even a small nonprofit.

Canva Sample 1

How to make great email and social media graphics without Photoshop

As arts marketers, our time is limited and we often don’t have professional graphic designers on staff.  Although I’m skilled in Photoshop, it can be time consuming to create even a simple graphic for a Facebook post or a quick email blast.

That was until I found Canva.  This FREE handy little website allows you to create social media graphics, blog graphics, Twitter photos, and more quickly and easily.

The interface is super easy to work with and comes pre-loaded with tons of layouts:

Canva Sample 1


You can upload your own photos or use stock that you can purchase directly from them for $1 per image.

They also have tons of fun graphic elements, stickers, and banners:

Canva Sample 2

Never let lack of PhotoShop or money for a graphic designer get in the way of producing the imagery necessary for your emails, Instagram posts, and Facebook ads again.

The New Arts Model (Repost)

Michael Kaiser recently wrote about the new arts model in the Huffington Post.  What are your thoughts on his thoughts?

If I hear one more pundit or read one more blog suggesting that ‘old models’ of arts organizations are dying and that ‘new models’ are needed I am going to scream. Expert after expert are calling for ‘new models’ without explaining what these new models are or what specifically they are meant to address, except for a vague unhappiness with how things are working (or not working) now.

We in the arts face major challenges, including, but certainly not limited to, the short-term economic situation in which we all work. But simply suggesting that ‘things must change’ without giving us concrete proposals is not helpful.

What exactly do these people mean by ‘old models’ anyway? Do they mean that arts organizations are all going to die and that there will be no more arts institutions in the future? I doubt that will be the case. I predict that in fifty years there will still be large and mid-sized and small organizations producing theater and music and dance. There may be more or less of them than there are today and there may be several venerable organizations that do not survive. But that does not mean that big arts organizations are going to be extinct. Many large corporations die as well. Remember Arthur Andersen? American Motors? Texaco? Wang? No one is selling off the stock market today suggesting that the corporate model is dead simply because some corporations go bankrupt or merge with others.

Do these experts mean that in the future all art will be created by groups of artists who work on specific, individual projects and then disband? I hope not. That means that every time artists conceive of a project they must start from scratch to find the resources they need. They will not benefit from the family of donors and ticket buyers that current arts organizations count on for support year after year. They will have to reinvent their support bases anew every time they wish to produce art. And they will not benefit from the huge marketing networks that established arts organizations have created. It will be far more difficult and expensive to attract audience members if this scenario obtains. There will be no subscriptions because there will be no organization that can guarantee a series of performances. And the name recognition enjoyed by major arts organizations will be a thing of the past.

Do they mean that large-scale arts projects will be replaced by smaller ones? That would be a shame. As much as I truly enjoy a chamber-sized program, I also enjoy large scale works. Are we never to experience Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand again? Or Der Rosenkavalier? Or Swan Lake? Must we toss out an entire canon of great works in an effort to make way for the new? Of course we must invest in new operas and dances and works of theater. But we can also cherish the great works that have formed the foundation of our culture. There is no question that our view of what is art is growing and diversifying. This is all to the good. My experiences with Arab and Indian and Chinese art have been life-changing and have broadened by view of the world. But that does not diminish at all my love of Beethoven and Shakespeare.

Read Part II of his article here…

Have you thought about an arts virtual assistant?

Launching today: arts virtual assistants, a new firm trying a different approach to solving “brain drain” caused by high turnover in arts and cultural organizations. gives arts groups access to skilled part-time workers who know the arts and can do tasks such as creating email newsletters, engaging audiences on Facebook, or writing grants. This creates savings on overhead, while allowing nonprofit workers to gain work from a wide audience of clients. To see a video and learn more, check out the homepage of and follow on Twitter @artsarmyVA

Do you infographic?

Palm Beach Opera’s infographic is featured in a post on the awesome NonProfit Communications Blog!

Infographics & Data Visualization: Not Your Grandmother’s Pie Chart – Part 1

Guest Post by Julia Reich of Julia Reich Design

Charts. Graphs. Spreadsheets. Most organizations have important data to present to their clients, members, boards of directors, and other audiences. Yet we live in a world where we are bombarded with information, where our attention spans get shorter and shorter. Who has time to read, or understand, the charts and diagrams created by your overworked staff?

Infographics are a communication trend that illustrate data in an attractive, easily digestible format.  Read the full post…


Project Management in the Cloud

Are you tired of maintaining multiple Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and Outlook calendars to run your events?  I’ve got some cloud-based project management solutions for you that can greatly help staff communication and collaboration on events,

Full-Featured Solutions

Basecamp is probably the best of the full-featured cloud-based solutions out there.  It has super great functionality including a high-powered calendar, staff/contractor management, and task management.  The cost is VERY reasonable for what you get.  It starts at just $20/month for 10 projects and goes up to $150/month for unlimited projects.  That range is quite doable for most nonprofits when weighed against the benefits.

I’ve recently discovered Teambox and started playing around with it.  So far, I like the interface very much and it is very easy to use.  It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as Basecamp,  but it is much less expensive; offering a free plan where you can manage up to 5 projects.

File Sharing

My favorite file sharing app of all time is Dropbox.  It will revolutionize how you are able to access your documents.  Start out with a free account and it can be set up to sync documents on your office PC, your personal Macbook, your iPhone, and your iPad automatically.  Their enterprise level does come with a cost, but it is quite reasonable when you think about the fact that you won’t have to maintain a server in your office anymore. You can add as many staff members as you’d like which is great for seasonal employees who may work mainly offsite.  You can also assign a unique URL to files and folders to share them with people who aren’t employees of your organization.

Box is another way to easily share files.  It is totally cloud-based and must be accessed via the internet.  It is a great way to keep important files in one place an be able to send them to others either directly via email or via a unique URL.  Does your organization’s Exchange server not like to send large files like photos and you find yourself sending multiple emails with one photo each?  With Box, you can simply create a folder, put all those photos in the folder, and then email a unique URL so that the recipient can download the photo quickly and easily.

Personal Project Management

For personal document and schedule management, I like Smartsheet which is like a high-powered Excel that has the ability to easily create Gantt charts and calendars.  This is great for keeping track of budgets and ad schedules.

I also love Springpad and Evernote.  At this point, it is a personal preference which one you use, but  both are great for keeping notes, webpage links and content, and files.  You can group things into notebooks to easily stay organized.  Also, both have extensions for Chrome and Firefox so you can easily put interesting web links directly into a notebook on the go.  I have to say that I’m liking Springpad best between the two at the moment as it is more clean, chic, and has more functionality than Evernote.  I’ve been an Evernote user for years, but Springpad is definitely giving them a run for their money.

UPDATE – 5.31.12

Since writing this post, I’ve found a couple additional sites that look very compelling:

Flow is a task-based collaboration tool that is gaining traction.  Pricing starts at just $9.95 per month per user, but the more users you have, the bigger discount you get.  For example, 10 users is only $49.95 per month which is quite affordable for any nonprofit.


Podio looks like it will give some real competition to solutions like Basecamp with robust functionality and CRM and event management tools built right in.  I’m so impressed with what it says it will do that I’ve signed up for the trial to check it out. (Thanks to the folks at for featuring Podio as a sponsor.)

Technology Integration at Palm Beach Opera

This post was originally written for the Culture Builds Florida Blog.

You may think that opera and technology don’t go together, but the arts are quite perfect for integration with all things digital.  Here are 5 things that we use regularly that enable Palm Beach Opera to get the word out about what we do and further engage our audience.

1. Website – Everyone knows that having a website is imperative to any arts organization.  However, a website is only as good as how well it is managed and the quality of information contained within. A few years ago, Palm Beach Opera switched from a traditional CMS (content management system) to WordPress, an open-source CMS.  This small change has revolutionized how we are able to manage our website.  You may have heard of which is a free web-based blogging platform but WordPress can also be used to create and manage a website on your own server.   Any website is a kinetic entity that should be updated often to reflect upcoming events and using a web-based open-source CMS like WordPress allows us to do that quickly and easily from any computer or device with an internet connection.


2. Website Analytics – Website analytics are nothing new, with most people utilizing the powerful platform of Google Analytics to monitor website activity.  (If you don’t look at your website stats at least a couple times per week, I highly recommend that you do.  What you see will most likely be quite eye-opening.)  In addition to the standard analytics, we use two other sites that give incredibly useful information: Chartbeat and Crazy Egg.  Chartbeat shows real-time analytics so that we can see how many people are on our site at any given time and their activity as it happens.  This ability can be especially useful to track traffic after an enewsletter or other email communication has gone out to ensure visitors are visiting the intended pages.  It also is great for monitoring traffic during any kind of web promotion or contest.  You will be able to immediately see if conversions aren’t occurring as intended and make the necessary changes.


CrazyEgg is a fantastic site that gives you heatmap data for any page on your website.  In the past, heatmaps were available to only large for-profit companies because of the high cost.  With Crazy Egg, heatmaps are now available to all and the cost is very minimal.  Studies have shown that there is a very high correlation between eye movement and mouse movement and that is how Crazy Egg is able to give this sort of data.  Heatmaps will show you where people are looking (and clicking) on any page of your website.  This is especially useful in optimizing your homepage and landing pages throughout the site.  When used in conjunction with an easily-updatable website, necessary updates can be made quickly and easily to improve performance.


3. Social Media Management – At Palm Beach Opera, we use Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube as our main social media platforms.  (It is important to remember to only be on the social media platforms that work for your organization.  Don’t feel pressured to be on too many if they don’t make sense or you don’t have time to manage them all.) It can be tough to keep up with multiple platforms especially if your organization has a small staff or the responsibility falls to one person only.  To help with this, we use Sprout Social to manage social media activity.  Sprout Social aggregates the activity on our social media profiles so that it can be seen in one place making it much easier to manage.  It also gives stats and data so that you can have useful demographic information about your friends and followers as well as statistics about activity and engagement levels.  Sprout Social is very nonprofit friendly as they offer a $9/month plan that will fit most organizations’ needs plus a 50% nonprofit discount.


4. Mobile – When we debuted our iPhone app a few years ago, Palm Beach Opera was one of the first arts organizations to have an app but now being mobile-friendly is becoming more and more important.  We were able to build our app using InstantEncore’s platform and it is very cost-effective.  It may not make sense for every organization to have an app but you do need to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.  More and more people are surfing the web using a mobile device and, whether it is on a phone or with a tablet, arts organizations need to be ready and keep up with the trend. If you happen to be using open-source CMS to run your website, there are a variety of plugins that will create a mobile version of your site quickly and easily.


Also, sites utilizing responsive design capabilities will do this automatically for you.  The first step is to view your site using a smartphone or tablet to see what it looks like.  Is all of your content visible?  Does the navigation function?  Is it easy to move around the site?  If the answer to any of these is “no,” you will want to put a plan in place to improve the mobile viewing experience as soon as possible. You never know, your next ticket purchase may come from someone viewing your site on an iPad or Kindle Fire!


5. Tweet Seats  – There has been a lot of attention on tweeting during performances recently giving cases both for and against it.  There is no one way to do tweet seats, and they might not be appropriate for your organization depending on your venue or programming.  We decided to try it out this past season not for our regular performances, but rather for our final dress rehearsals.  We offered a small amount of seats to the dress rehearsal to people who signed up on our website who are active on Twitter with the understanding that they would tweet about what they were experiencing during the show.  They were encouraged to be honest and use their own voice in their tweets and to give any thoughts or feelings that they had.  The first event went very well and word started to spread and soon we had a great number of ticket requests for subsequent dress rehearsals.  We were lucky to attract people who wouldn’t be considered “opera-goers” and many of those who came to tweet had never been to an opera before.  Coincidentally, we also attracted some members of the media at local TV stations, which resulted in additional media coverage for the opera.  Based on the success of the events this season, we plan on continuing to offer tweet seats in future seasons to bring opera to members of the community at large.

What is Your Cultural Organization Doing on its Summer Vacation?

By Katie Walsh-Edwards

For many South Florida cultural organizations, summer means an end of the programming season as snowbirds head north. This easy, breezy slowdown might seem like a welcome break; but arts marketers be warned, you could be heading for a HUGE mistake:


Think about it. You have worked hard adding interesting content to your Tumblr, and discovering what kind of media your Facebook audience responds to. Reporters and critics know your Twitter handle as well as they know your name. You have cultivated an audience who has gladly accepted you into their daily social stream. Do. Not. Mess. This. Up.

So what do you talk about when you don’t have very many events to promote?  Well if you are following the 80/20 formula (80% engagement/20% broadcasting) then a slowdown in programming shouldn’t be a dramatic change. Nevertheless you still want to keep your organization‘s name out there. So let’s look at three ideas that will help you answer the question:  “What is my organization doing on its summer vacation?”

1. Advocate.
Politics and religion are almost always no-no’s, but arts advocacy is unquestionably important. Highlight people or groups who support the arts in your community, such as organizations collecting instruments for school kids, or a congressional representative speaking on the importance of arts funding.  Show your patrons that you aren’t just there to sell tickets, you truly believe in the product.

2. Treat your audience to a private tour.
Behind-the-scenes tours and artist meet-and-greets don’t have to be limited to VIP donors anymore. If you have in-house musicians or performers, capture a jam session or a rehearsal. Take pictures of the stage crew working on scenery or art handlers de-installing an exhibit. We take for granted all of the interesting things we get to see when we work for a cultural organization. Giving your audience a peak of what goes on behind the curtain will help people feel engaged and supportive of your organization.

3. But remember, it doesn’t always have to be about you.
Art touches all areas of our lives, and that includes holidays and milestones. For the Fourth of July, if you don’t have  relevant footage from your own organization, it’s OK to share someone else’s great performance. (My personal favorite is the Boston Pops “1812 Overture” set to fireworks.) August 18 is National Bad Poetry day, which sounds like a great opportunity for a Facebook contest.  You could even take a moment to spotlight another arts organization’s program. Playing well with others is a skill that has helped many arts marketers develop successful and innovative partnerships. Who knows, maybe the favor will be returned when you have an event in the future.

With a little creativity and planning, nonprofit arts marketers can maintain or even strengthen relationships with their social media audiences during the off-season. Rather than looking at this as downtime, use the quiet as a chance to stand out, and showcase your organization as the dynamic, nonstop cultural force it really is.

In addition to being a super cool gal, Katie Walsh-Edwards is the Marketing & Development Director at The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida.  She is also on the board of the Palm Beach Chapter of the PRSA.

Using Sprout Social To Monitor Social Media

I recently began using Sprout Social to monitor and manage the social media account at Palm Beach Opera and I’ve got one thing to say about it: I LOVE IT!

There are many social media monitoring sites out there but many of them are just too darn expensive for the average nonprofit organization.  Anyone who knows me or has heard me speak knows that I prefer to do things that are free and only spend money on social media and web projects when it is really worth it.  Well, this is worth it indeed.  The Professional account is only $9.00 per month and they give a 50% discount for nonprofits.  In my mind, $4.50 per month is totally worth it for this product!

1. You can monitor Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.
It is super easy to get set up and connect your Twitter and Facebook pages to be monitored.  If you have more than one Facebook page (and perhaps even a Facebook place page) it will handle that as well.

2. The Reports Tab helps you to stay on track.
Anyone who has heard me speak about social media knows about my 80/20 rule for nonprofits. 80% engagement and 20% broadcasting leads to successful use of social media.  Well, the Reports Tab tells you exactly how well you are doing with that.

(OOPS!  Looks like I’m at 72/28 at the moment…I better work on engaging more!)

3. It alerts you when there is new activity.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the Inbox Tab.  It tells you when someone has followed you, posts on a Facebook wall, mentions you on Facebook, or @replies you on Twitter.  Taking this one step further, you can reply to that person directly from there without having to log into Twitter or Facebook separately.

Those of you who still have an email alert set up on Twitter that will email you when you have a new follower won’t have to worry about the email deluge anymore!  This one feature has simplified my workflow more than I can say.

4. You can monitor keywords and search terms across different social media platforms and the web.
You may ask me, “But I use HootSuite or TweetDeck to do these things.  Why do I need something else?”  Well, I am an avid TweetDeck user and I continue to use it even now to stay on top of the conversation that is happening on Twitter.  However, it never worked quite how I wanted it regarding search terms for Palm Beach Opera.

Well, that is my quick tour of Sprout Social.  I suggest anyone managing social media at a nonprofit organization check it out to see if it works for you.


Butts In Seats: 5 Tips for Event Marketing Using Social Media

Social media is an important piece of the event marketing puzzle.  Unlike most nonprofits that are marketing one product all year long (a charitable cause), a performing arts organization markets multiple different products (performances and events) throughout each season.  It can be challenging to market diverse offerings whilst still under the umbrella of one organization.   Let me share my top 5 tips to marketing events that will generate buzz and improve conversions.

1.Don’t forget about the 80/20 rule. This is a rule that I live by regarding social media marketing, whether it is when I’m marketing an event or not.  I find that the best ratio to keep people engaged but not tick them off is to have 80% engagement and 20% broadcasting.  Even when you have an event to market, talking 100% about that event is just going to turn people off and they aren’t going to listen to one word that you are saying.

2. Engage creatively. This one goes together with tip #1 about the 80/20 rule.   You may ask, why should I waste time tweeting or posting about stuff that has nothing to do with my event when I’m trying to sell tickets?  Well, that is pretty simple to answer.

If you are engaging with people, you will be top of mind so that when they do hear something about you or your event, they will remember the interaction and be much more likely to check it out.  A creative ways to sneak a bit of broadcasting into your engagement posts is to set up a search column in TweetDeck or HootSuite (or whatever program you are using to monitor your social media) with keywords related to your event.

For example, when Palm Beach Opera presents Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, I set up columns for not only the opera title, but also for related terms such as Puccini and Miss Saigon (which is based on the opera).  This way, I can converse with people who are talking about related things without directly “selling” my event to them.  This way, when you do send out those 20% of posts that are directly about the event, you have already engaged a potentially new group of people in addition to your existing fans.

3. Make sure your website is up to par. This may seem obvious but it is surprising how many times I see this not being done.  The best way to get the word out about your event is to have it prominently featured on the homepage of your website.  Also, the event should have its own dedicated page with a unique URL.  This URL is imperative to any promotion of the event online whether it is using social media or email.

When promoting an event using social media, add the URL to each broadcasting post.  Do you think the URL is too long?  Use a link shortener like or to make the link more manageable.  An added bonus to these shorteners is that you will be able to see how many people clicked on the link with their built in stats.

4. Make it easy to buy. A good user experience is very important in closing the deal with an attendee. The buying process should be as simple as possible.  You should always allow tickets to be purchased for your event online.

If you don’t have your own ticketing system or if this is an occasional event, try an online service like or BrownPaperTickets.comthat creates an easy environment for ticket buying.  The biggest no-no is to promote an event online and then have the only way to buy tickets be over the phone.  You want to make sure that it only takes a couple of clicks between your tweet and buying a ticket.

5. Follow up after the event. Don’t forget to follow up with your attendees after the event in a timely manner.  Encourage people to share their thoughts about the event on your profiles.  If you offered social media discount and you are able to track ticket buyers with a code of some sort, send an email or a direct tweet to them just after the event with an easy way for them to provide feedback.

If you didn’t use a code, it is still a good idea to make contact with your ticket buyers right after the event to thank them for coming and ask for feedback.  Also, don’t forget to keep a separate list of the email addresses of your ticket buyers.  This will come in handy when the next event comes as you know they will be a captive audience.

Ceci Dadisman is the arts marketing go-to gal! She is the Director of Marketing & PR at Palm Beach Opera where, in addition to all of the usual marketing duties, she manages all aspects of the company’s technology and new media projects, including social media, website, iPhone app, and live web streaming.  During her time at Palm Beach Opera, she has brought Palm Beach Opera to the forefront of the social media and new technology realm proving that companies of all sizes and budgets can do great things in the world of digital marketing.  Ceci was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA – home to the Pittsburgh Steelers, sandwiches and salads with french fries on top, and some of the top arts organizations in the nation. She graduated from West Virginia University (let’s go Mountaineers!) with a music degree in vocal performance and is a professional singer.