A problem I can overcome but can’t solve

(Reading time: 3 minutes, 16 seconds)

I think museums could benefit from a more in-depth understanding of their audience’s behavior online. So, I’m planning a service around Google Analytics for museums.

One hurdle is the software museums use. In a perfect world, once I’ve cleaned up the museum’s Google Analytics account, GA could be hooked up to whatever CRM/ticketing/member software the museum has. Then, I could create custom segments, set up goals, and we’d be off to the races.

But the software museums have to deal with makes me want to cry.

On Friday, I wrote about the poor user experience that pervades so many of these systems.

Their lack of interoperability is equally frustrating.

So much of the software for museums either won’t share information with other systems — newsletters, analytics, third-party form systems, databases, etc. — or it's so hard to make them do so that no sane employee would try.

Is that deliberate? I don’t know.

I do know the people who run these software companies aren’t dumb. They know better than their customers what’s possible when it comes to integrating their software with other systems, and I can see how allowing customers to easily move data in and out of an automation-friendly database like Airtable or to connect with Zapier might not be in their interests.

Anyway, back to Google Analytics.

In thinking about the obstacles to helping museums with their analytics, I came across this forum thread about Altru’s inability to connect to Google Analytics, which shows the frustration around this lack of interoperability. Here are some highlights:

Come on, developers! Please help us track analytics and conversions. We need data to make savvy decisions. Please help us do so!

Conversion tracking is an extremely important aspect of marketing to track ticket sales, donations, and more. I hope that your developers make this a priority!

Is there any update on this? I am unsure how we can track which online sales came from our calendar vs email vs outside source... We also use Google Analytics for our website.

This is the main reason I fought getting Altru in the first place. For me it provided no marketing tool that I needed. I send emails through my website company because the branding is better … Not being able track the full purchase process is killing us. Our ads are generating a lot of clicks but once they get to Altru I have no idea what is happening to them.

We had to change to a different email provider because of the lack of analytics. And to fix the lack of page analytics we are adding a java script patch to send visitors through a separate page (to collect analytics) before they land on an Altru page. We have been asking for analytics for 4 years now. This is ridiculous.

That last post was from July 2016, which means that the person had been asking since 2012. They may still be waiting because the most recent post is from April 10th of this year:

Any update on this, Altru?

My ears were ringing with these customers’ frustrations when I visited Blackbaud’s Altru product page and found myself glaring down copy like this:

Convert more donors with more strategic messages; our customers have seen a 14% boost in donation revenue per year for their first three years on the solution.

Does Altru generate strategic messages for its customers? That’s some next-level software. And a 14% boost in donation revenue — compared to what? Compared to before, when the customer was using PayPal and making blood sacrifices to the gods in the hopes of receiving donations by mail?

I know. You’re thinking, “Wow, Kyle. You found marketing copy from an enterprise software company that makes little sense and is light on detail. And that surprises you? If a frog had wings would it bump its ass a-hoppin’?”

Still, all this got me thinking about what an opportunity there might be to develop a product that would compete against the companies. Software that would prioritize user experience — both museum employees and patrons. It would also play well with other software and customers would own their data — No more Hotel California.

But I’m not a developer.

As for helping museums go deeper with Google Analytics, I’ll be able to get around the siloed nature of these software solutions with Google Tag Manager.

If any of you are using a CRM or similar piece of software that you love — or one that just plays well with other, third-party software — hit reply and let me know. I’d like to find a solution I could recommend to others whole-heartedly.

Thanks for reading,


Kyle Bowen