Marketing automation is for more than marketing

July 24, 2019

You may remember Jack Rubin’s keynote address from the 2017 TLCC conference in San Diego, and his call to break down the silos that keep organizations from working across departments. He reflected on the choice of that year’s conference theme, Powering Transformation:

“I couldn’t help but think of how many stories in my visits and in talking with you, I’ve heard from Tessitura organizations, about the transformative power of Tessitura as a silo-buster, powering organization-wide collaboration and communication, breaking through departmental barriers and enabling the ability of the organization to see and communicate with the full knowledge of the patron’s history.”

Centralizing data is the first major leap toward building a customer-centric organization. When you have a single view of the patron, you are forced to see the many ways in which they interact with your company. After all, they have a single view of you. For your patron, there is no distinction between a phone call with your box office manager, an appeal letter from your Board chair, or a brief exchange with the person who tears their ticket. Your customers expect to be recognized. In our digital age, they demand that every representative of your company at every touchpoint “see and communicate with the full knowledge of the patron’s history.”

Tessitura provides the “full knowledge” part. How do you deliver on the “see and communicate”?

Marketing automation is the second major leap toward building a customer-centric organization, and it goes well beyond marketing. Just because it’s called marketing automation doesn’t mean other teams can’t come out to play. It’s about building better relationships between your patron and your organization, and that’s something that matters to every department.

There are many ways to build better relationships and technology is key to doing this effectively and efficiently, but be careful. When we talk about Customer Relationship Management and automated processes, the conversation gets all MBA-sounding, and loses the essential humanity required to do this well. Don’t forget that we’re talking about real people. Beyond sending flowers and chocolates – a good start, certainly – you should follow the same tenets of how to cultivate any kind of personal relationship:

  • Welcome new people
  • Address people personally
  • Talk to them in the moment
  • Learn their interests
  • Remember their history
  • Solve their problems

We’ll address each of these practices in subsequent blog posts, and provide concrete examples of how marketing automation can help you to strengthen your relationship with your customers. Before we begin, let’s examine why this is a job for marketing automation, and not regular ol’ email marketing.

Email alone can’t account for the many ways your patrons interact with your organization. There needs to be coordination across email, social media, SMS, your website, and even in-person contacts. Beyond departmental silos, you don’t want to get caught in the trap of thinking of your communication channels in silos. Here are a few examples that may be all too-familiar, in which relying just on email leaves an organization wondering what happened to their patrons.

The Missing Newsletter: A Development Department Mystery

Imagine one of your Board members is on a Spring cleaning kick, having recently finished Marie Kondo’s Netflix series. She takes this enthusiasm to her Inbox, and goes on a mad cleaning spree, unsubscribing from promotional emails left and right. Your email newsletter becomes an unintended casualty.

Fast forward a few weeks, and your Board member gets a call from a friend, excited to have received a Season Announcement email. This is the first your Board member has heard of such an email, because she doesn’t realize she unsubscribed from your list. The Board member phones your Executive Director, and let’s fly a salvo of scorn because she’s not getting the organization’s communications, and is caught off guard when talking to friends, family, and colleagues.

How was your Board member removed from your email list? With email only, it’s a mystery.

What if, as soon as your Board member clicked on Unsubscribe, that action triggered a text to your Executive Director, alerting them that a VIP (that could be a Board member, a big donor, or other key stakeholder) has asked to be removed from further communications? Instead of getting lost in their inbox, the note pops onto the homescreen of your Executive Director’s smartphone, and they immediately and proactively call the VIP to chat about what prompted the Unsubscribe action.

The Distracted Dad: An Education Department Mystery

Imagine a patron clicks through an email to your website, looking for more information about the upcoming East Asian art exhibit. While poking around, he sees that you offer a Summer Art Camp that would be perfect for his 10-year-old twins. At that exact moment, he is struck in the head by a soccer ball, kicked by one of the aforementioned children. He picks himself up off the ground, and a chase ensues. Your distracted patron forgets all about the summer camp opportunity, likely suffering from a mild concussion and massive sleep deprivation.

What happened to that camp registration? With email only, it‘s a mystery.

What if, as soon as your patron landed on the Education section of your website, his record was tagged for Family Programs? Later that night, after checking to see if Dad purchased anything from the museum – whether online, in-person, or on the phone – an email is sent, with details about all of the Museum’s family programs, including Summer Art Camp. The patron clicks through the email directly to the Summer Camp registraton page and signs up his twins, hoping to channel their aggression into artistic expression.

The Disappearing Subscribers: A Guest Services Department Mystery

For our last mystery, we present a ghost story. Or, more accurately, a story of your subscribers ghosting on you.

Imagine your subscribers are about to see an edgy, experimental new work that you risked including in your main season. With fingers crossed the show opens, and you send your usual sequence of pre-show and post-show emails. Your post-show email includes a link to a survey, to gauge the audience response to new programming like this. Your ushers report that a few people have complained, otherwise, patrons have been quiet. Your survey response rate is low, but not atypical, with only a few complaints. A few months later, when the time comes to renew subscriptions for next year, you are surprised to see some of your long-time patrons failed to return.

Where did they go? If they were upset, wouldn’t they have told you? With email only, it’s a mystery.

What if, immediately following every performance, your patrons get a text asking how likely they are to recommend the show, on a scale of 1 to 10? It’s a simple question that doesn’t get lost in the patron’s inbox, because it shows up immediately on their phone’s homescreen. It’s easily answered by typing a number and pressing SEND. Most importantly, feedback was requested right after the curtain came down, when patrons’ emotions are running high and they are more likely to respond. It’s easy for a patron to shrug something off the next day, and never let Guest Services know that they were dissatisfied. In this case, depending on the numerical response, a Customer Service Issue (CSI) record can be generated automatically, so your Box Office or Guest Services team will be notified and they can proactively contact an unhappy patron, identify the issue, and attempt to rectify the situation. Conversely, if you have a patron who reports a stellar experience, your team can reach out to them and look for an opportunity to bring them closer to the organization.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more examples of customer experience are out there, ripe for automation. Do you work in marketing, education, fundraising, or any facet of customer experience? What opportunities do you see? What challenges do you want to solve? Reach out to us and start a conversation today.