Bringing it all together.

Museum of Science and Industry CRM
Looking up at the Museum of Science and Industry Rotunda, lit with theatrical lighting and projected moon.


  • Implemented CRM to drive revenue and data-driven decision-making.
  • Salesforce seamlessly integrated ticketing, parking, and other databases.
  • New data and targeted campaigns increased email-driven revenue by 174% in 2019.

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere, had a problem. Six different systems were responsible for ticketing, membership, finances, and email… yet none of them spoke to each other. MailChimp was a de-facto CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system as it was the one system that knew a guest’s email address, membership status, and last visit information. Data was moved by exporting and importing massive spreadsheets. And decisions were often made by anecdote, not data.

Illustration of MSI's digital systems not integrated.

In collaboration with the Museum’s Chief Marketing Officer, we created a lightweight CRM strategy, which was socialized with approved by Leadership.  


Increase paid revenue by improving guest engagement and fostering data-driven decision making.

Primary objectives: 

Organize and improve our ability to capture, store and analyze guest data.

Establish an efficient, flexible program of CRM and marketing automation.

Communicate with guests in a personalized way, based on past purchases and behaviors.

We also sought to define “storing” (CRM) information vs. “acting” (Customer Analytics and Marketing Automation) on that information.

CRM: Gathering, consolidating, and maintaining what we know about our guests.

Customer Analytics + Marketing Automation: Measuring and acting on our gathered knowledge.

Given the scope of the project, a CRM Manager was hired to manage implementation, roll-out, and training. Salesforce was selected as the CRM platform due to its features, aggressive nonprofit pricing, security practices, and ability to integrate with other systems. The Museum partnered with SkyPlanner to set up the initial configuration, including the tricky work to bring past, present, and future ticketing information (and systems) into Salesforce. 

The team worked over 3 months to build the appropriate schemas, integrations, and reports, and import data to establish Salesforce as the center of the Museum’s data universe. We also selected ActiveCampaign to replace MailChimp for email campaigns and complex automated campaigns like membership renewals.

ActiveCampaign email automation workflow.

Once complete, the Museum had its first 360-degree view of guests and the capabilities to act. 330K+ households and 10MM+ ticket records. Data questions that previously needed a request form and weeks of waiting became self-service and answered in minutes. We also created post-visit automated emails to collect guest feedback, household composition and exhibit interest to drive targeted email campaigns and automation. In 2019, a quiet temporary exhibit year for the Museum, CRM increased email-driven ticket and membership purchases by 183%, nearly doubling e-commerce conversion through better data and targeted campaigns.

MSI guest journey flow.

Today, integrated by CRM, ticketing, parking, and the fundraising database all work together to create a seamless experience for members and guests. Waiting in lines, manual processes, and impersonal mass emails have been replaced by instant digital membership cards, self-service purchasing, and tailored offerings.