1. Technology

What is an Audience Engagement Platform?

Technology to understand what makes people tick, increase engagement and unlock diversified revenue streams for the visitor attraction sector.

To answer the question, we should first start by defining audience engagement itself.

In short, it is the reaction or response elicited by a user or visitor (the audience) from interacting (engaging) with content or an experience. Of course, it’s a lot more nuanced than that but in the visitor attraction and experience sector, understanding audience engagement is key to not only the success of the business but its ‘thrivability’.

Audience engagement is not passive. It is, by its very nature, active. It can be emotional, cognitive or an action. The aim of the game for any marketer or business owner, is to engage with the user to motivate them to prolong the experience (dwell time), and/or keep them coming back for more.

Engagement infers behaviour, that means to say, the decision-making process of the individual (audience/visitor/fan) concerned at that time.

Understanding what makes people tick is what businesses have been trying to do for aeons, even those of us involved in the visitor attraction and visitor experience space.

Imagine getting an inside track on what visitors to your museum, aquarium, wildlife park, or zoo are doing and thinking…if you knew that, you could serve them up more engaging content and a more tailored experience and keep them coming back for more…increasing engagement, gaining valuable insights and diversifying revenue streams.

Engagement is connecting with people and creating value.

Where audience, data, and technology meet – the platform. 

We’ve said it before, but COVID-19 has forever changed the way we think about our physical world. For our sector, as the visitor attraction and experience market, we’ve largely depended on people coming to our establishments. Measuring how they actually engage with us, or not, hasn’t always been a top priority - until 2020 that was.

2020, when no-one could go anywhere, presented challenges across the sector and reinforced how important it is to have the tools in place to continue to meet audience and visitor expectations in a meaningful way remotely, to maintain and enhance engagement. Having lagged behind in adopting digital transformation, some in the sector, therefore, truly battled to really engage with a remote audience.

The n-gage.io platform delivers powerful ways to increase and enhance the audience experience off-site by creating deeper and more meaningful engagement with your content and in a way, which adds value. Some would say that this is now a business critical consideration to help futureproof audience engagement beyond the physical experience.

Audience Engagement Platforms (AEPs) are software-based audience interaction tools that can be used both on and off site via a native or progressive web app that mirrors your brand, to facilitate interactivity and prolong engagement. AEPs can run over any device with internet connectivity making them versatile and valuable information drivers.

More than notifications of upcoming events, special offers and new exhibits, the n-gage.io AEP affords the opportunity for visitors to continue engaging or deepening the learning experience back at home. For students, this is an invaluable tool to delve deeper into the subject or simply to refresh their memories on what was covered during their school visit. For educators, the platform offers lesson planning and delivery capabilities both when on-site and back in the classroom to extend engagement.

And with every engagement there is a set of data. The more data, the more insights are gathered relating to what your audience wants, and the more they engage, the better the chances of creating a more stimulating and rewarding experience and more revenue.

How to get visitors to stay connected and create more engagement. 

Today, most visitor experience platforms focus on the operational side of the visitor journey on-site, improving things such as planning your day, wayfinding and mapping. Whilst these things are really important considerations, that’s where the differences between visitor experience and audience engagement platforms diverge.

The benefit of an audience engagement platform (an AEP) is that it can track a user or a visitor’s journey and engagement through their visit to your establishment – by mapping what they are looking at, what they stand in front of for longer, what they interact with and what provokes a response and so on.

Some visitor experience platforms already incorporate simple tools to develop quizzes, Q&As, surveys, polls etc to prompt responses. Sometimes there’s an incentive or reward, but not always.

As an Audience Engagement Platform, n-gage.io, however, takes this several steps forward. Through our powerful yet simple, and customisable toolkit, you can create all manner of ways in which to prompt people to ‘engage’ from which they, and the operator (that’s you), can derive a deeper and richer understanding of your audience's behaviour, engagement, and overall satisfaction.

When deploying our platform on site, we have a range of engagement tools that can bring your existing content to life to further engage your audience and enhance their experience. These include powerful proprietary tools such as 3D object recognition that allows visitors to use the camera on their mobile device via the audience app generated by the platform, to scan over anything you have uploaded to the system - think artefacts, buildings, animals, signage etc. Triggering enriched content and other media added to the platform.

This could be more images and text or a video to deepen the learning experience or entertainment value – anything your imagination can come up with. From an operator perspective, you upload a small number of images of what you want to trigger and leave the platform to do the rest, as it uses AI and machine learning to generate a recognisable 3D image that can be picked up by a smartphone camera.

Within this system, you can use the gamification and achievements module to create quizzes, trails and tours that when complete can unlock more operator generated content or redeem a reward - you decide what this is.

Surprise and delight.

Web Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons can be your best friend for triggering proximity-based targeted content. For the experience industry, beacon triggers are already delivering enormous benefits and it’s not surprising considering their versatility.

Not only, like the object recognition tool, can beacon triggering relay more information about a particular point of interest, but they can also point visitors to other facilities – say the food court, gift shop, bathroom facilities. It can even recommend similar artefacts a visitor might be interested in, which are served to them based on their ‘dwell time’ at an exhibit. With heat mapping and dwell time monitoring, the n-gage.io platform takes full advantage of beacon technology to give the operator a deep dive insight into the movements and activity of their visitors to help plan future operations, saving endless hours of manual surveys and observations.

All that’s needed is for visitors to have a connected mobile device that has the platform audience experience app downloaded.

The benefit of beacons for both operator and visitor can even start at the entrance, by personalising the visitor experience from the get go. With the audience/visitor app downloaded, e-tickets can be recognised, eliminating long queues and streamlining processes, and of course offering a more sustainable visitor experience.

Beacons, through location-based software, also enable self-guided tours of your establishment, and for the educator and the student, they provide a fun playing field for a deeper, more memorable, and richer learning experience.

With n-gage.io the audience's behaviour and engagement is being mapped whether on or off site.

This information then helps operators – curators and marketers alike – to build a profile on the individual, as well as the big picture. As we have mentioned in previous articles, all this information can assist the museum director, curator, educator in better understanding what their offer needs to be, by monitoring and measuring engagement.

Already of vital importance in the advertising and marketing industry, audience engagement platforms are set to make their mark in the wider experience economy.

To find out how an audience engagement platform can unlock your potential, get in touch.

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