I’ve had good reason recently to appreciate the value to arts organisations of maintaining good contact databases. Two reasons. First there was the sickening moment when I realised that the Excel spreadsheet everything is kept on had partly ‘scrambled’ (oh to get it all moved onto a properly secured database!) which meant we’ve had to re-enter much of the feedback people had sent us about their contact preferences. Yawn.
But secondly, and more positively, the Chief Exec of the organisation I’m working with negotiated to be given the contact data of the people who attended the concerts, by some of the venues where they play. After all, it was the orchestra the audience came to hear, not just the venue they chose to go to, so it’s logical to view the data as ‘ours’ as well as ‘theirs’.
Going a step further I also got from the venue the surnames and postcodes of the people who bought tickets but didn’t give permission to be mailed abut future events. So though I can’t mail them, I can at least cross-reference them with our contact database to see what proportion of the people we told about the concerts actually came.
It’s an eye-straining job do do this analysis, but has already yielded valuable lessons about how many people respond to our overtures and the difference between post and email response rates. So, even as a touring company without its own box office data, there’s a lot that can be done to learn about and build your contact list for better marketing – even if it does mean the occasional tedium!