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#TBF20 Takeaway: British Museum’s digital journey

The British Museum has been forced to fast-track its digital strategy after closing its doors to its more than 6.5 million yearly visitors in March due to COVID-19.

More than 80 per cent of the London attraction’s yearly visitors are international tourists, while it also has 73,000 members, which represent its core audience and repeat visitors.

Speaking at TheTicketingBusiness Forum 2020, Claire Byfield, membership engagement manager for the British Museum, detailed how her team continued to provide value through digital means to those members, who are a huge funding resource, as well as to the general public at home and internationally. Watch the full session here:


Byfield explains that lockdown and the closure of the museum’s doors saw her team accelerate the delivery of their long-term digital plan, which involved offering virtual tours for the public. However, she said it was important that they went above and beyond for their membership and began offering exclusive content that highlighted more than just the artifacts within its walls, but also the curators and their efforts.

The British Museum has been offering content via Zoom, as well as filming archeological and other curator work to provide members with value while its doors were closed. It also began sending a content-rich mailer to its members, who are demographically older, which has been well received.

Byfield said: “We’re hearing that some members feel they are now getting better value for their membership than they usually would because they can access all this content that they would usually need to visit the museum to see.”

During normal times, the museum sees a click rate of eight per cent, which has gone up to 18-20 per cent following the development and delivery of its digital strategy.

In terms of membership retention rates, the museum usually keeps it around 90 per cent, which Byfield thought would go down quite significantly. In fact, it has maintained retention rates of between 86-87 per cent, which she says shows this new digital content is working.

“Basically what lockdown has done for us is that it has fast-forwarded the plans we were going to do, expanded our audiences and showed us that they are really engaged in that content-driven email aspect of our membership,” Byfield said.

She added: “They are feeling that they are getting much better value for money, which is ironic because we’re trying to move to that experience-based system.”

Save the date: TheTicketingBusiness Forum 2021 takes place between 21-23 June, 2021…

Image: Eric Pouhier / Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported / Edited for size