It Isn't So Hard to Connect Social Media Data with Your CRM System

It Isn't So Hard to Connect Social Media Data with Your CRM System

CRM integration is the process of using various technologies to “connect” multiple systems so they can pass data back and forth. Among all the possible systems to be integrated, social media could be one of the most informative ones.

Museum Data and What To Do With It – Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Part Two

As a part of the “Museum Data and What to Do with It” series, AMT Lab contributor Kate Lin takes a look at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s journey of adapting to technology trends, and how Big Data is changing the museum’s operations. This post focuses on the visitor experience and development at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. More on how data influences the Museum's marketing efforts can be found here.

Unique Audience Structure and Visitor Experience For Children’s Museums

George Brzezinski, the Director of Visitor Services at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, oversees all aspects of visitor services at the museum from admission, cafes, to rental events. Brzezinski brought his previous experience in the sports management field into the non-profit world 12 years ago. When asked about the most significant difference is in terms of visitor service at the Children’s Museum compared to other organizations, Brzezinski said, “the age of our visitors, obviously.”

Many visitors at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh are below the age of ten, which makes customer service especially important. To serve its audience’s needs, the museum is constantly working on enhancing visitor experience by finding ways to speed up the admission process. “When the most common visitors are young parents with small children, there’s not much room for patience at the admission desk. Data and technology changed every part of our operations, especially in terms of admissions and membership,” said Brzezinski.

Qualitative data collected through surveys and social media channels is informative in providing the museum with customer feedback.  Parking fee collection is one great example of how the museum responded to customer feedback using technology. Instead of having people pay the parking fees at the admissions desk, visitors can now pay at the machines in the parking lot. This seemingly modest change has made the admissions process much quicker and more convenient for the museum members. Now members can pass through the desk quickly and start enjoying the museum without taking out their wallet and waiting for the payment to be processed. There’s also an app for people to download that remembers their car’s license plate number and credit card information, making the payment process as simple as hitting a button on their device on each visit.

Efforts and Challenges in Data Collection at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

The unique composition of its audience also makes collecting data at the admissions desk a difficult task. As of now, the museum only collects zip codes from their patrons, unless they make a purchase at the museum. The target audience of the children’s museum are families with children. This audience group values efficiency and convenience more than others. If patrons purchase a membership, other data such as name, age, address and phone number can be collected. For regular visitors or non-members, it is almost impossible for the children’s museum to collect more data without sacrificing the quality of visitor experience.

However, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh has a department of learning and research that conducts audience surveys separately from the admissions process, attempting to make up for the information that is hard to collect at the front desk. The department utilizes special events such as birthday parties, reunions, and field trips, to gather feedback and shape profiles for different audience segments based on the results.

Data Integration: From Point-of-Sale E-Commerce Data to CRM Database

The implementation of Siriusware, an on-site ticketing and point-of-sale software, has significantly improved the data integration at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Siriusware delivers essential features required at every point-of-sale from online shopping, e-gift cards to admissions. Prior to Siriusware, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh had TicketMaster Vista, which did not automatically integrate e-commerce data with the museum database. Whenever a customer bought a membership online, the museum staff would have to manually enter the data into their database. With Siriusware, all point-of-sale data is integrated in real-time. An additional add-on connects Siriursware to Raisers’ Edge, the primary donor database at Children’s Museum, and allows the membership data to flow into the donor database and vice versa.

However, there are still some limitations of the current system to fit all the needs for Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Unlike some museums that outsource their café operations to a third-party provider, the Children’s Museum runs its own café service – the Big Red Room Café. Compared to other software packages that are designed for the food industries, Siriusware currently has limited functionality when it comes to managing food inventory.

Data Provides Insights for Development at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Gina Evans, the Director of Development, oversees the museum’s development efforts to raise two million dollars to support their annual operational budget, plus another one million to support other special projects and campaigns. Evans leads a four-person team, covering areas including corporate giving, individual giving, grant writing and special events.

Donor data is stored in the Raiser’s Edge database. The team tracks and analyzes the data to support the museum’s fundraising efforts. The team pays attention to trends over time, looking at the type of giving and how people give from year to year. Raiser’s Edge helps the development team tremendously for its ability to target each specific donor group differently based on the reports that it generates.

Examining data from Siriusware and MailChimp also provides the museum additional insights to detect potential future donors. It allows the museum to track people who make donations online or at the front desk and members’ activities in the museum. Mailchimp makes it easier to track the changes of the open rates and for the museum to test the effectiveness of different targeting strategies to those potential donors.

Mobile Bidding App Streamlined Fundraising Events

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh was one of the first cultural organizations to use GiveSmart, a mobile bidding app for its fundraising events. The app handles the guest registration and helps with the auction and bidding process. The customers can register on site or pre-register online in advance. It is a high functional tool to collect visitor data and streamline the event process by providing real-time data reports such as which items are more attractive to the audience or which ones are neglected. The real-time reports allow the museum to take immediate actions to further promote those neglected items on-site. The data collected by the app also provides the development team with valuable insights into the audience’s preferences and bidding habits when planning for future events.

It took the museum more time to set up the mobile app, it has made it much easier to manage the auction data and financials for the fundraising events.  Other Pittsburgh non-profit organizations, such as Society of Contemporary Craft, have just begun to use this app after consulting with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Challenges to Utilize Data For Development Efforts At the Children’s Museum

Budget is always a concern in terms of acquiring other technologies or talents in helping the museum to interpret data. Aside from looking into possibilities to purchase more advanced software packages, the staff is continuously looking into maximizing the functionalities of their current resources. The development team is also looking to take more advantage of the crystal reports function, a reporting tool within Raiser’s Edge database that takes the reporting to a much more detailed level. 

According to Evans, the average members of the Children’s Museum remain for about four years and leave when their children are about eight years old, moving on to other organizations such as the Science Centers or the zoo. Those members might return to the museum when they have new children or even grandchildren. One of the things that the museum is trying to achieve is to establish the donor profile over his or her life time to establish patterns of behaviors and better understand its donors. “Currently we don’t have those data profile because our museum has only been around for 36 years, which is only a generation long,” said Evans.

Like many other non-profit organizations, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is challenged by not always having the ability to collect the data it needs or the capacity to digest and analyze the data it has. However, the museum has continued to demonstrate growth and a strong dedication to providing high quality content and service for its visitors. With standardizing data analysis being one focus for the upcoming 3-year strategic plan process, we will certainly look forward to the progress that the museum can achieve.


Banner Image "Lion Dance by Josh Gates" provided by Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

Building “Real World” Relationships Online: Alan Cooke of Convio

Alan Cooke of Convio
Alan Cooke of Convio

Alan Cooke knows arts donors. This opera-lover also happens to be a master marketer (formerly with Hewlett Packard) and he puts his passion and his skills to good use at fundraising software company Convio, specializing in systems for non-profit organizations across the spectrum.

Convio’s most visible campaign is likely the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team fundraising efforts. (They have also done a fantastic job with Pittsburgh’s own Carnegie Museum.) However, Convio provides a range of different tools—at the core is Convio online marketing, which is a collection of tools—email marketing, website design, platforms for peer-to-peer fundraising, etc.

I recently interviewed Alan after seeing his presentation on online fundraising at the Opera America Conference in June.

Arts organizations, more often than other non-profits, have two messages that they’re getting out there. They’re asking people to buy tickets and on the other hand, they’re asking for a donations. How do you find that different from your other non-profit clients when you’re working with performing arts organizations?

The ticket-selling organizations are a little bit different from the majority of our organizations which only have contributed income. I think that, in terms of opera companies, many people really don’t understand the economic model of an opera company very well. I certainly did not understand that when I was an occasional single ticket buyer for the opera.

Perhaps one of the things that needs to happen is that organizations need to do a much better job, first of all, of making the case that simply selling tickets is not going to cover the cost of the productions. A lot of that is just education. You can make that case pretty well on your website and also through your communications with people, but you do need to make that case. Secondly, there’s the question of where you want to start. In the case of ticket-selling organizations, it’s logical to optimize your website for ticket purchases. There are things that you can do after someone has actually purchased a ticket where you can start to move them down a path and start to make your case--really simple things, like when they buy a ticket give them the option of making a small donation or trying to get people on a monthly plan where they’re giving a relatively small contributions every month. It’s automatic, you don’t have to worry about it and typically the lifetime value of those donors is very, very high.

One of the things that I have seen with digital communications in arts organizations is that you have the marketing department… And then you have the development department. Sometimes they play together very well, but sometimes, you’ll see accounts that are very obviously controlled by one or the other, and not a lot of overall relationship building. Your thoughts?

This problem of silos is a very common problem throughout the whole non-profit world. I think we have marketing departments that have their own agenda and their own tools and then you have a development department that has their own separate tools and they don’t talk about it to each other very much, which causes all kinds of confusion. Breaking down those organizational silos is easier said than done. Often smaller organizations have an easier time because they have fewer people, but as organizations get large, those walls sometimes can become very, very strong. It’s true that there is a lot of marketing chatter, which often doesn’t have very much to do with relationships. I think we’re starting to figure out how to build relationships the way that the development people have always done—you can do those same things online.

A lot of organizations are getting people’s email addresses after they’ve attended one performance and then they get an email asking for, for example, a $150 donation. Marc Van Bree has made the point that that’s like asking someone to marry you after the first date.

That’s right. It’s all about relationships. The online world is not dramatically different from the real world. You need to ask permission and you need to build a relationship with somebody before you start hitting them up for money. That’s a simple thing to do but there’s a surprising number of people who don’t do that.

Then how do you build that relationship and making the case for support to new pools of donors? In your Opera America session, you mentioned the concept of a welcome series.

Convio-welcome-messageSo, the idea of a welcome series is that when somebody takes that step of raising their hand and saying, “I am interested in what it is that you have to offer” by giving you their email address, at that point you can’t just ignore them. You can’t just take it for granted and then immediately start asking them for money. Just like you would in a normal face-to-face relationship, you need to welcome that person to your community and you do that by seeking out some spaced email communications thanking the people for getting to know your organization and giving them some background information. Gradually, as you move down what we refer to as the relationship pathway, you give them more and more ways to become involved and to get more deeply embedded in the culture of the organization.

One of the very good things about using a technology platform is that you can automate all that, so you don’t have to write these things every time. It can be completely built out beforehand and automated. And we have found that by doing that, by making sure that as soon as someone joins your list, they get put into that communication stream. Not only are the open rates higher, but the conversion rates are much higher. And once they actually convert and donate, becoming a financial supporter of the organization, you can take them out of that stream and put them in a different stream. All of that can be automated and set up quite easily.

One of the ways that you mentioned non-profit arts organizations could combat the current economic climate is to reposition themselves as a community resource. How can an organization do that via digital means?

This came out of a conversation that I had with the general manager of my local opera company in Austin and I think that what they had said was fascinating. The difficulty that they encounter, especially in a medium-sized market like Austin, Texas, is that it’s not easy to sell opera. There is a relatively small audience for opera in that kind of a city and particularly in times of recession, it’s difficult to make the case. So this was an enormous struggle for the opera company in Austin, as I feel it is for many opera companies.

What they decided to do, which I thought was very clever of them, was they built an excellent music school on the premises right next to the concert hall and they started to garner quite a bit of attention in the city because of the quality of the music education that they offered to children. They had promoted that pretty heavily on their website and they have started to build a whole new pool of supporters for the opera who are people who would have never been on their list before—parents of children who now go to the school at the opera. It’s a completely new donor pool for them and it’s a donor pool that is amenable to different techniques, so they have started to do a fair amount of online fundraising to that audience, and that’s been pretty effective. They are obviously younger people and people who are not perhaps as familiar with the opera as the traditional audience. It’s basically given them a new pool of donors.

I heard that you recently added a database component to your collection of online tools. Tell me about that.

CRMThe database component an interesting new development for us. There are obviously a lot of vendors out there that sell databases to non-profit clients, but it became apparent to us that a lot of clients didn’t only want a set of on-line tools. They wanted a set of online tools, but they also wanted an entire CRM [Customer Relationship Management] system, where everything worked together. I think we have done a pretty good job in the past of integrating with programs like Raiser’s Edge. Data flows back into the master database and flows the other way.  But it became apparent that a lot of those database tools were expensive and were relatively complex and that there was an opportunity for us to build a more integrated system together, and that was really the approach that we took.

What we decided to do rather than actually building something from scratch ourselves is we partnered with Sales Force. Sales Force has what they refer to as a non-profit template, which is a kind of a database for non-profits based on their commercial product. We built on top of that core piece and we built a product which is called Common Ground™. It’s a database specifically for non-profits, which talks to our online pieces.

So, if I were a development director, sending out emails and getting fine return on investment, but I really want to take my fundraising to the next level, what’s the first thing I should look into from Convio?

Rather than even looking for a tool, Convio is known for extremely interesting and high-quality research. For someone who is just thinking about how to get to the next level, I think they are thought-provoking. Obviously, they are not going to get you there automatically, but there very interesting. For a technology company, we do a lot more research than many technology companies and I think that’s one of our great assets. It depends on who you are; if you are a small organization, I would hope that you are really at the point where you are strongly thinking about bringing in technology to help you get to the next level, I would hope you’d look at product tours, which are short. They are a pretty good way to see what’s possible.