Te Papa venues: increasing enquiries with better content

Do we need a new website?

Te Papa Venues came to me in mid-2017 wondering if they needed to create a new website to achieve their performance goals. Their content lives on the main museum website which is designed to help people visit the museum and explore online collections, not promote commercial venue spaces. The Venues team weren’t happy with the lack of design flexibility on the main site for elements such as images and contact details. 

Don’t shut it down, improve it

Moving content to a new website wasn’t a good option, because the main Te Papa website gets high volumes of Google traffic. The domain has good authority due to high traffic volumes, and the trusted ‘govt.nz’ domain which helps Venues content reach a wider audience. Instead of jeopardising this performance and spending a sizeable sum on a new website, we improved their existing content using audience insights, resulting in a 39% increase in traffic to weddings content, and a 130% increase in online enquiries from this audience.

Goals – data as paracetamol

The Venues team wanted to increase website traffic and online enquiry volumes, with the ultimate goal of increasing venue bookings. We reviewed the performance of different content sections in relation to these goals, and found what content was generating the most online enquiries out of conferences, weddings, lunchtime meetings or private functions. Data is paracetamol – once we knew their goals we could scan their content performance to identify pain points.

Pain points

The enquiry form

First we made sure the enquiry form was working effectively, as this is the main contact channel. It was really long, with 22 fields to complete, and you could see at a glance that it was likely to be putting people off. The team initially wanted to keep these fields to capture important details up front. But we proved this was a pain point with Crazy Egg video recordings, which record people using your website anonymously (you can just see the cursor moving around, it’s quite odd). People were spending almost ten minutes on the page and getting frustrating error messages which got us the support to change the form. 

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Image of Crazy Egg video recording, showing users struggling with the enquiry form

Four of us spent a total of two hours simplifying the form, which resulted in a 32% increase in online enquiries year-on-year over an eight-week period.

Weddings content

To find out what content was performing badly we reviewed which sections were generating the least enquiries. Data showed us that Weddings content was seriously underperforming, the enquiry rate was three times lower than for Venues content as a whole. The content received good traffic, but didn’t inspire people to book a wedding at Te Papa.

Part of the problem was that there was just one page devoted to weddings which contained small thumbnail images, with links to images of the spaces that were set up for conferences, not weddings. This didn’t provide the necessary inspiration for this audience.

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Image of the old Te Papa weddings page which has small images

Weddings content improvements

Using SEO and analytics data to understand their audience needs, the team got beautiful images (many from Red Pebble event design) and transformed the weddings content in a couple of weeks. Search data gave insights such as people want inspiration from images of spaces for their ceremony and reception, and that menus were important. The team created new pages with larger images that people can scroll through, optimised content for popular searches in Google, and reviewed the top competitor sites to understand the landscape. You can see their efforts on the Te Papa website.

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New image gallery which allows people to scroll through large, beautiful images


After three months we can see a huge lift in performance year-to-year:

  • 39% increase in traffic to weddings content
  • 130% increase in online enquiries from the weddings audience

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Google Analytics report showing a 39% increase in traffic to weddings content

Data also shows that people are engaging more with the new content, and more people are returning for a second visit.

We’ve been on a digital marketing blitz with Te Papa, working with them to improve their online presence. Their improved performance performance shows that you don’t always need a shiny new website to meet your online goals. You need to use data to understand your audience, and engage with them in the way they want to engage with you.

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