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Targeting Smarter with Tags and Segments

World Arts West is leveraging audience management tools to share their story and sell out new venues.

World Art West's Executive Director Julie Mushe and Marketing and Communications Director Terry Conway

One might think that with over 4 decades of successfully providing creative avenues for Bay Area artists, World Arts West has their marketing strategy down. Truth is, they're still learning as they grow. The What's in Store crew visited the nonprofit's San Francisco headquarters to learn how they're using tags and segmentation to organize and better target their growing audiences.

Where World Arts West thrives is in their locally centric programming, specifically the annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. The event involves over 400 local dance companies and thousands of performers. "There's such a rich community of artists living around us," says Executive Director Julie Mushet. "We gather them and put them onstage together so that the audiences can experience what we get to experience regularly."

The challenge for Julie and Marketing and Communications Director Terry Conway is that they're juggling messaging for 3 different types of contacts: the local artists they serve, patrons and donors who attend events, and volunteers. "There’s a good deal of overlap between these groups of people," Terry says. "We have plenty of artists who are also ticket buyers and sometimes donors, and donors who are also volunteers." Here's how they're turning insights about their people into smarter marketing.


A man, a woman and an excessively friendly-looking cat

The results: Exceeding attendance expectations

In its earlier years, the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival was staged through various community centers in the Bay Area. The most recent homes for the festival—War Memorial Opera House and Zellerbach Hall—have seat capacities that number in the thousands. Admittedly, Terry didn't think they'd be able to come close to filling the spaces. Instead, they've sold them out. "I think Mailchimp played a role in that just because we were able to target better and effectively tell the story," Terry says. "It's really important for us to have a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that allows us to optimize our communications with all of these contacts to get them the right message at the right time."

A sun with some mighty ruddy cheeks. A tag hangs from one of its pointy parts.

The tools: Tags + segments

That easier method Terry was looking for came in the form using tags to label contacts with important details, which then function as segments she can send to. "We're using tags to organize our audience depending on what they've done and how they interact with us," she says. "If you're a 2018 ticket buyer, you're tagged with that. If you're also a volunteer backstage for a certain year, you're tagged with that. If you've donated to us at some point in the past, we have that tag as well."

Illustration of a hand holding a pencil

The goal: Send targeted messages that matter

The goal for all of the World Arts West marketing efforts is to tell the story of and bring more attention to their artists, the festival, and programming throughout the year. The trick is doing that for an overlapping database of donors, volunteers, and over 20,000 artists and another 40,000-plus ticket buyers. "I’m a marketing department of one, so having an easy method to segment our audience is essential," Terry says.

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