Recording Virtual Attendees in your CRM

September 01, 2020

Let’s be candid about this: performing arts organizations have been hit particularly hard this year, struggling to survive during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Your organization, like many, may have had to cancel your entire 20-21 in-seat season and opted to move your performances online to virtual events. Perhaps these performances and events are free to the public, part of your subscriber benefits, or you charge for the events. Just like live performances, a lot of hard work and planning goes into virtual events, and you’ll want to maximize your efforts by capturing attendee data in your CRM.

A key benefit to capturing virtual attendee data is that it allows organizations to analyze their return on investment. Organizations can use the data to determine whom amongst their constituents are loyal followers, what types of performances create the highest audience engagement, and who is most likely to become a season subscriber, member, or donor. Additionally, organizations will be able to continue engagement with new constituents, drawing them in to additional performances through targeted marketing efforts.

Here are a few things to consider before adding attendee data to your organization’s CRM:

  • Find the right virtual event software – Not all providers offer the same level of attendee details within their registration reports. You’ll want to select a provider that collects and delivers, at a minimum: attendee full name, email address, survey responses, and source (how did they join your event). Additional fields that are nice-to-haves include: phone number, organization, job title, and time in session.
  • Review data – It is critical that you review the data you plan to bring into your organization’s CRM. You’ll want to clean up bad data, e.g., fake names, email addresses, etc. and ensure you’re not creating duplicate records.
  • Determine the best upload method – Now that you have your clean data list ready to input into your CRM, you’ll need to determine the best way to do this. Some systems offer easy-to-use tools that allow you to import lists directly into the system. Other systems work with a third-party vendor to offer

Additionally, we’d like to offer these System Specific Tips, to aide in your importing process.


Blackbaud’s The Raiser’s Edge 7 (RE7) and RE NXT databases offer clients several options for getting data into the system. The most efficient way to get records into your database is through an import. Keep the following tips in mind when importing your virtual event attendee data into RE7 or RE NXT:

  • Ensure skilled staff are performing the work. Using the Raiser’s Edge import tools takes an experienced and skilled system administrator to successfully execute import and achieve the best results. It is advised that a system administrator be consulted before major changes to the system are implemented.
  • Set yourself up for success. Exporting constituent IDs or Import IDs of your existing constituents as part of your invite list can allow you to append data to existing constituents (e.g., phone numbers, email addresses, survey responses). However, you’ll have to match the IDs from your invite list against the attendee list delivered by your virtual event provider when preparing your import files.
  • New constituents. You have the option to import participants into your event without creating a constituent record. However, if you would also like your new event attendees to become constituents in RE, you will need to import them as constituents through a constituent import. Next, export your new constituents’ import ID, along with a name or email address. Add this import ID back to your event registration list by matching on name or email address. Then create your participation import. You can add the event participation record to the existing constituent record by including the constituent import ID in your participant import.
  • Third-party vendor software. A helpful option is to use a third-party tool to assist with importing new constituents and event participants into the Raiser’s Edge or RE NXT. Third-party tools (like ImportOmatic or Importacular) will review data, and flag any records that look like duplicates allowing you to choose what happens to those records. You can often set up the import process to clean and standardize data, cutting down on time spent fixing your data files.

Tessitura offers a variety of options to help organizations accurately record patron information, as well as adapting to the demands of providing online content. These include two types of import utility tools, as well as some of the features included with TN Express Web.

  • TNEW and Online Streaming. Tessitura’s TN Express Web (TNEW) is the most seamless option when it comes to getting patron information into your database. This is because it allows the ability for patrons to register or purchase an online experience in the exact same manner as they would purchase a ticket for a live show through Tessitura.
  • Tessitura Import Tools. If you opt to use a third party service to have patrons register for streaming content, Tessitura offers two import utility tools to help import constituent data. These include the Constituent Import Utility and the Order Import Utility. The Constituent Import Utility imports basic patron information, such as name and address. The Order Import Utility includes all the information gathered by the Constituent Import Utility, plus the purchase history of that constituent.
  • Stay up to date with Tessitura.  Tessitura continues to implement changes and new tools to help navigate our new normal. The best way to stay appraised of these new items is make sure you are signed up for their Product Announcements emails to stay up to date.

Blackbaud CRM (BBCRM) offers the ability to import registrations into an event registration batch, where they can then be reviewed and committed. The ability to import and commit batches is controlled by the same permissions that govern event registration batches in general, so event managers will need to coordinate these imports with their usual data entry partners.

You will need to have a few things set up in BBCRM to make this work. First, you will set up the event and registration options. When you import, you will need to know the event GUID (that long string that uniquely identifies the event in BBCRM), and you will use the description of the registration options to match your online registrants to the options for which they’ve registered. Some key things to remember:

  • Carefully set up your import template. When you’re importing, be aware that even though a registration option includes multiple tickets, you will still have a single registration. When you’re defining the import template, you have an opportunity to specify how many additional registrants that your registration data may contain as a collection. This mapping of the import file will create “Guest of…” records in your batch registration data.
  • Watch out for duplicates. BBCRM event registration batches may not always do a great job of detecting duplicates. You will want to review the data carefully to ensure that you’re matching the main registrants and their guests to existing records as appropriate.
  • Don’t forget the GUID! If you are able to export a list of potential registrants to your third party event tool, remember that BBCRM will match up registrants on the basis of their constituent GUID (the system record ID—not the constituent ID). Make sure that’s the value you export, because that’s what you’ll need to import and match your registrants to their BBCRM constituent records.
  • Batch it up. To create a batch import template, you’ll base it on the existing event registration batch template. The utility to create a new import template is in Batch—look in the menu bar on the left for the create batch template task.

Spektrix can support organizations and their patrons accessing online streaming content with varying levels of sophistication depending on their needs, resources, and budget.

  • Use the API. Using the Spektrix API and customer Auto-Tags tool, you can grant access to a separate page or microsite which hosts your digital content, limiting access to only eligible accounts. Patrons can purchase tickets online in the usual way and the transaction is processed within Spektrix. Once set up in Spektrix, this approach will require your web developer to create the secure pages and use the API. Spektrix has an Integration Portal where your developer can find out more about the API calls required.
  • 3rd Party Integrations. If you opt to use a third party service (like YouTube, Vimeo, or Zoom), you can sell tickets using Spektrix and utilize existing functionality such as AttributesE-tickets, and their Dotdigital integration. This enables you to send links and passwords to patrons once they have purchased a ticket to your streamed event. While this approach is simple and quick to set up, it is worth considering how links and/or passwords are sent in emails/e-tickets, as access could be shared beyond those who purchased a ticket.
  • Build a Custom Solution. Spektrix has a host of web partners and a website dedicated to helping clients find a web developer best suited to their needs. Spektrix can support any developer who wants to use the API to build a partner integration, and one web partner has even created an out-of-the-box solution already: Cog Design has created CogPlayer that any organization can use, regardless of who runs their main website.

Whatever your system, it’s important that you are capturing patron data for your virtual events. We hope this information helps you do just that, so your virtual audience can return to your space in the (hopefully!) near future.


Have questions? We’re here to help. Contact us for more information.