Keeping Your Email Strategy Relevant

As marketing evolves, relevance is becoming more and more important. Sending your patrons and prospective patrons the most relevant communications is key to not only selling tickets but to engaging them in your brand.

Do You Have Low Open Rates?

If you are like most who send their newsletter to the majority of the people on their list, you probably have low open rates (if you need a benchmark of average rates in the arts field, MailChimp updates these stats monthly). What is the best way to combat this? It really just comes down to segmentation.

Figure out who is opening your newsletter. Delve into your data and see who is opening your email newsletter on a regular basis. Do they belong to certain patron groups like subscribers, regular ticket buyers, or donors?, etc. Maybe they don’t overwhelmingly come from one of those groups at all. In any case, create a segment of engaged readers in your email marketing program so that you can send to them as a group.
The next time you send out your email newsletter, try sending to this group as well as any other highly engaged patrons that you identify internally (subscribers, donors, etc.). I’m willing to bet that your open and click rates will be higher.

What do I send to the rest of my list? Remember: relevance is key. If you know what types of events they like, start there. Take a look at past ticket purchasing history and start to group them by interest.

You might identify people as liking holiday programming or new music for example. Perhaps you have a group that purchases tickets for big name productions like Carmina Burana or the Brahms Reqiuem. Once you have identified these interests, send them emails about more of that.

You can also use past email click data to determine interest. If someone clicked on a link for a particular event of production, odds are that they at least have some interest in that type of programming.

A Shift In Thinking

Using this approach moves your email strategy from something more “spray and pray” to one that is much more personalized. Yes, this will also probably mean that you will be constructing more shorter emails as opposed to fewer longer ones.

You may encounter some resistance in terms of this new strategy. One of the comments I almost always get is something like, “But we want to get this information out to everyone on our list and we can’t do that if we’re not sending it to everyone.” In this case, remember that the majority of those people aren’t even opening the newsletter email so they aren’t seeing it anyway. Sending more personalized, segmented emails will at least give you a shot to have more people engage with your content.

Test your new strategy. Like anything else, determine a test period to work out what works best and what doesn’t. Don’t feel like you have to come out of the gate with this new approach running like clockwork. Use the data that you gather after each email send to inform any adjustments you may need to make.

Ceci Dadisman is an arts marketer, nonprofit empowerer, and public speaker who loves helping organizations make marketing magic.

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