Digital Strategy & Audience Growth

National Marine Aquarium

50.3667° N, 4.1310° W

Key takeaways

The Challenge

The UK’s National Marine Aquarium (NMA) has experienced many of the trends that impact most visitor attractions across the world. The challenge was to address declining visitor numbers since the opening high.

The Work

Digital advertising using an evolution of designed creative assets from our in-house experts.  

The Results

Finishing 2022 with visitor numbers over 30% higher than prior to working with Navigate began and delivering record-breaking visitors for many of the months of the year.  

The Brief

Opened in 1998, the UK’s National Marine Aquarium (NMA) has experienced many of the trends that impact most visitor attractions across the world. 

Following the initial period of strong interest over the first few years, the industry norm of a reduction to a steady year-on-year visitor number happened once the newness of the aquarium faded.

Decades later, the NMA is not only a key visitor attraction in its own right but also stands as the public face and experience hub of the ,Ocean Conservation Trust (OCT) , a marine charity dedicated to protecting and restoring the Ocean. The Trust has huge ambitions to positively impact our seas through its mission of connecting as many people with the Ocean as possible. Its core focus is habitat restoration and ocean experiences. One of its key projects sees the OCT being the driving force of seagrass restoration in the UK, to protect over five hundred football pitches of seagrass within the next five years.

The OCT, combined with the NMA, has huge ambitions to expand its work and reach; therefore needed to think about how it could increase revenue to help support and implement its exciting plans. As most revenue is generated through visitors to the aquarium, the obvious answer, but perhaps not easiest, was to increase visitor numbers.

In 2019, the NMA appointed Navigate to create and deliver a digital marketing strategy to help increase revenue by driving more visitors.

Our approach

Working with the NMA, Navigate implemented a digital strategy transforming the marketing direction of the NMA and made an almost immediate impact by implementing a few quick wins. A Google Ads Grant was set up optimised, creating an additional $10,000 per month media spend, plus the introduction of an exciting creative suite of assets and a paid media plan saw ticket sales grow rapidly throughout.

Navigate then carried out a brand positioning strategy, including an audit of channels and recommendations for brand awareness and revenue growth.

Through the implementation of the strategy, the OCT secured a BBC2 television documentary series airing in 2023, plus a redeveloped experience offering, including dining nights and snorkelling in their exhibits.

Navigate has also added significant unexpected value by delivering partnerships through an introduction and relationship facilitation of DFDS, the world’s leading ferry brand. Through this introduction and meeting with two of Navigate’s clients, they’ve raised significant funds to support the OCT’s seagrass protection programme.

The Results

30% increase

We helped increase footfall by over 30% in the past five years

 £2 million ticket revenue

Over £2 million in ticket revenue directly from Navigate’s activity  

New key brand partnership

A mutually beneficial corporate partnership with long-term business relationship with DFDS secured  

"Working with Navigate Agency on our digital marketing has been an incredible experience. Their expertise and dedication have helped us reach a wider audience and showcase the wonders of the ocean. Their innovative strategies and attention to detail have truly elevated our brand and allowed us to connect with our community in new and meaningful ways. We look forward to continuing this partnership and inspiring people to care for and protect our marine environment." 

Head of Marketing/ // National Marine Aquarium

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