The (Marketer's) TV Guide

Public broadcasting station WGBH in Boston cleans up its dirty data and boosts donations.

Television is woven into the fabric of American culture. And public broadcasting has a special place with its worthy mission of airing content that serves the public. WGBH in Boston, the top producer of content for PBS, createsBoston's WGBH boosted donations by getting to know the viewers behind the data. and distributes several TV favorites—from costume drama Masterpiece: Downton Abbey to docufilm series Frontline. Like all public broadcasting stations, WGBH depends heavily on support from its viewers; and providing a good experience for donors is crucial to the station's survival.

But some donors were having poor experiences instead. Cate Twohill, ‎senior director of CRM services at WGBH, explains that some donors who use multiple channels to contact and make contributions to the station were getting solicited several times over—as if they hadn't previously donated to the station or as if they were different people on each channel. Simply put: WGBH's records didn't recognize individual donors across varying channels.

“We have so many different ways that we can hear from our local constituents. They can call while we're on-air; we knock door-to-door; we borrow lists from other nonprofits," Twohill says. "[And] there are so many different ways that we can collect the names and addresses from our local constituents.”

As a result, she says, the station's databases were plagued with more than 80,000 duplicate contacts because each data set was treated separately—creating silos and potentially annoying donors. “Once you have a duplicate account introduced, you dilute your ability to have a strong conversation with that single person,” Twohill explains.

Marketers for the station realized that WGBH needed to clean its constituent management system. So the team turned to RedPoint Global, a marketing automation platform provider. The goal was to help the station clean up its data and provide one connected experience for donors.

“Donor management is the lifeblood for WGBH,” says George Corugedo, CTO of RedPoint Global. “And [the marketers at WGBH] were having trouble with getting all of these databases to work together; they had a donor database, historical databases, data from events and canvassing or their donation drives. And they couldn't bring any of this data together.” He says that even if a donor gave $25,000 a year, it was highly likely that the generous constituent would get a solicitation for another $100 donation with the promise of a modest thank-you gift, such as a coffee mug: “It was the nightmare scenario. And it was happening all of the time.”

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