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.


(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • Ken glad that you are covering this.
    I’ve used 3 different services for sending my ‘Hughes Happenings’ quarterly newsletter and I am happy to recommend MailerLite: http://www.mailerlite.com/a/my0s8mnchj
    Here’s my Fall 2011 Issue: http://KristinaHughes.mailerlite.com/y4c7k2
    It’s $99 for the entire year, unlimited sends, up to 10,000 subscribers. Over 10K it’s $99 for each group of 10K.
    Support has been great and they’ve even added social network profiles that I suggested including my IMDB link and YouTube which some other companies didn’t have.
    If I can add 2 other “tips”…using a service protects people on your email list from having others see their emails. It’s a poor business who emails from their Outlook including everyone on the planets’ email addresses within the email. Lastly, it allows people to permanently remove themselves if they aren’t interested in hearing from you. Rather than having to ask you to remove them. Saves time and money for you and less aggravation for them.

  • Maybe one should look at another marketing opportunity and that is the emails we all send from our corporate email addresses every day. I represent a company that has developed a solution for just those emails and thus this post.
    The basic idea behind WRAPmail is to utilize the facts that all businesses have websites and employees that send emails every day. These emails can become complete marketing tools and help promote, brand, sell and cross-sell in addition to drive traffic to the website and conduct research. WRAPmail is available for free at http://www.wrapmail.com.
    WRAPmail also helps search for missing children with every email sent by incorporating an optional RSS feed from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children

  • Alex says:

    I totally vote for that People want to hear from People. I have about a 400 person emailing list of my friends on Wall Street. When I had a fund raiser for my theater company last year 200 people came.
    That’s a lot. But it’s because I sent a bunch of emails with no graphics and I don’t do this very often and we only charged 20 a person. plus food and drinks.
    But I also sold tickets by hand. And lots of those people came too (same people in some cases)
    BTW I almost always read your blog, because it’s emailed to me and comes from a Person!
    BTW 2 — I’m really tired of everyone on FB asking me to donate to all their kickstarter / crowd sourcing campaigns. Sometimes that seems like all FB is for these days! arrrrgh. (note to self – never use kickstarter or those other things, people are BORED)

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