The Royal Armouries

Developing a digital engagement strategy through audience insights

The Royal Armouries is home to one of the oldest and largest collections of arms and armour in the world.

Its historic base in the Tower of London has amassed an arsenal over centuries, but today the collection is split across its principal site in Leeds, as well as the Tower of London and Fort Nelson in Plymouth.

One of Yorkshire’s main attractions, the Royal Armouries drew around 2.1 million visitors in 2017/18. However in order to achieve its ambitions for growth, there were a number of under-represented groups that the museum wanted to engage with.


The challenge

The Royal Armouries had limited data on its demographics and wanted to better understand how and what under-represented groups engage with online. It needed to expand and understand this data in order to develop targeted digital marketing strategies designed to appeal to under-represented groups.

Through persona research, the Royal Armouries had already identified that it was successfully attracting younger and older audiences as well as families too. However it struggled to appeal to broader demographics including women; black, Asian, and minority ethnicities (BAME); people with disabilities; as well as people from lower socio-economic groups. 

We were tasked with three responsibilities:

  1. To develop a geodemographic picture of the Leeds City Region;
  2. Help the Royal Armouries understand its potential audience numbers based on its target groups;
  3. Contribute to a new and improved digital strategy which aimed to attract under-represented groups.

Our approach

Working closely with the Royal Armouries, we created an action plan of and analysis. This enabled us to glean as much useful and practicable insight for the museum’s digital strategy as possible.

As a local attraction, we already had a good understanding of what the Royal Armouries has to offer. But in order to better understand its specific challenges, approach to digital marketing, and objectives, we set about immersing ourselves in its business.

By understanding more about the Royal Armouries, we developed a strategy that enabled the museum to:

  • Identify potential visitors in the Leeds City region
  • Understand what these visitors are looking for online and how they look for it
  • Define recommendations for the next stage of digital engagement 

The solution

Our strategy and research methodology involved three clear activities.

1. Leeds City Region geodemographic survey

We conducted two quantitative online surveys. The first was designed to gather insight on the demographic makeup of the Leeds City Region. This was based on a nationally representative sample of 500 people in the region based on age, gender, and other key demographics such as ethnicity.

The second survey appeared on the Royal Armouries website and aimed to gather opinions from users who were already somewhat engaged with the museum.

Both surveys aimed to answer:

  • What do the Leeds City Region demographics look like?
  • How can the groups be categorised by age, race, social class, and other key demographics?
  • How does the Royal Armouries’ audience reflect the Leeds City Region and where are the opportunities for targeted marketing?
  • Where do target groups live?
  • Where are they online?
  • What arts, culture, and heritage attractions do they engage with and how?

2. Defining the Royal Armouries’ audiences for digital engagement

Using the geodemographic data from the surveys, we targeted under-represented audiences in order to conduct focus groups.

Building on the information from the online survey, we delved deeper into these audiences’ digital behaviour; their views on arts, heritage, and culture; and the Royal Armouries itself.

3. Identifying user groups and personas to shape ongoing digital engagement

All the data and insights was gathered together and we developed persona cards for each audience group that outlined their needs, wants, and typical digital activity.

The persona groups gave the Royal Armouries clear guidance and direction on who it needs to target, how, and the kind of messaging that would resonate with the audience.

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Understanding audiences

The surveys and focus groups enabled us to create a research report for the Royal Armouries that provided insight into its audiences and how they use the internet.


Clear messaging

The report provides the Royal Armouries with an idea of how it should frame its digital marketing messaging towards under-represented groups.

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Future foundations

But most importantly, the report forms the foundation of the Royal Armouries’ digital engagement strategy.

Building foundations for the future

The Royal Armouries can now make the most of digital channels and create digital resources that support its three sites and widens the museum’s appeal to a diverse range of visitors. Ultimately, the digital strategy and visitor research will help take the museum’s development to the next level.


Image attributions

Main Stairwell, Royal Armouries Museum by Lofty. CC BY-SA 3.0 license. No edits were made.
Royal Armouries Leeds by Tim green. CC BY 2.0 license. Image has been cropped.
The Horned Helmet by Geni. CC BY-SA 4.0 license. Image has been cut out and combined with a logomark.