7 Simple Secrets to Successfully Email Marketing Your Show.

Remember when people thought Text Message Marketing was going to put Email out of business?  “People change their email addresses, but no one will change their phone number,” was one of the arguments for the future of SMSing.

And remember when people thought Social Networking was the next sales machine?  Facebook and twitter have their place, but they’re nothing compared to a good ol’ fashioned email in your inbox.

Email marketing is still the best electronic way to get your message across to previous and potential customers.

But now that more and more organizations, institutions and even individuals have jumped on the email marketing bandwagon, you’ve got to work extra hard to get your brand to stand out.


Well, I could write an entire blog dedicated to best practices about email marketing for arts organizations, but I thought I’d start with 7 Simple Tips for you to start with.  Sound good?

Here we go.

1.  If you build it they will come.

I don’t care how you do it (as long as you don’t violate any CAN-SPAM laws), but find ways to collect email address of people who want to hear from you.  Fishbowls, in-person solicitations, etc.  You’re creative.  You’ll find ways to get them to opt in.  But do not just rely on people visiting your website and signing up.

2.  If you keep building it, they will keep coming . . . in greater amounts.

Make it your goal to double the size of your email list every week/month/year (depending on the size of your list).  Email marketing is about volume, thanks to the fascist spam filters that shut out messages that some of your subscribers may actually want to get.  So you’ve got to get a list of at least 10-20x the number of people that you actually want to respond when you have an offer or info.  Point of clarification:  increasing the size of the list doesn’t mean decreasing the quality.  You always want to build with quality people who are interested in what you’ve got.  For example, getting a vegan to sign up for a meat-lover’s site increases your list count, but that subscriber will never be anything but a number.

3.  Don’t manage it yourself.

You’re a pro.  Treat yourself like one.  Get a service like Patron Technology, Constant Contact, Benchmark, to manage your list, send your emails, and monitor your statistics.  At DTE, we use and recommend MailChimp (they have this super cool app that allows me to check open rates from my iPhone – yep, I can see how many of this blog’s email subscribers open this blog with a click of an app).

4.  Set a schedule and stick to it.

Imagine your email marketing is like a publication.  Are you a daily newspaper?  A weekly?  Monthly?  Whatever you are, pick it and stick with it.  People like schedules, so make a pact with yourself and with them on when they will get your content.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t have “BREAKING NEWS” every once in awhile (In fact, a regular schedule makes a BREAKING NEWS off-schedule email seem even that much more important).  And if you’re not sure how often your subscribers want to hear from you?  Well, ask them.

5.  People send emails, not computers

News flash:  people like to hear from . . . people.  Personalize your emails.  Make them come from you, or your Artistic Director, or your lead actor, or your customer service rep, or your intern.  Whoever you think your customers want to hear from (remember, it’s about what they want, not about what you want).  But establish a voice, a personality, and sign those emails from that individual.  It is possible to establish a relationship over email. And then, watch what happens when one of your subscribers meets that individual at an event at your space.  When done correctly, it’s an Oprah like reunion.

6.  Check Stats.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Advertising has always been about testing, even the days before technology ruled the media waves.  You try something, you see if it worked, and then you adjust depending on the results.  With email marketing, it has never been more important and never been easier.  Test different subject lines, test sending emails on different days of the week, test different designs, test . . . everything.  What gets a better open rate?  What gets a better click through rate?  What gets a better conversion rate?  It’s amazing what you can learn, that you couldn’t just a decade ago.  Simply put . . . testing can make you or your org more money.

7.  Re-Read #2

I can’t say it enough.  Never ever stop building your list.  If you only pick one of these tips, make it #2.


No matter what the latest communication fad may be, I guarantee that email marketing isn’t going anywhere.  Make it a 2012 mission of yours to master it.

SIDE NOTE:  If you’re looking to learn more tricks and tips about email marketing, check out this seminar, taught by my Director of Online Marketing, Steven Tartick.   Every time I think I know something about email marketing, Steven teaches me something new.  And his insights have without question added to our shows’ bottom line here at DTE.  Click here to learn more.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.