Some Insights about email from the Empress!

You all know The Swami of Statistics, right?  You remember him?  He’s the dude at The Shubert Org with the keys to all the Broadway ticketing data for the last several, oh, decades!  He’s chimed in on this blog on a couple of occasions with some terrific insights on a bunch of stuff, including premium tickets.

Well, what you don’t know is that The Swami has a data-lovin’ g-friend.

I call her The Empress of Email.

Most people call her Jennifer Tattenbaum, The Interactive Services Director for Telecharge, and she’s been in charge of all those email blasts that Broadway shows send out for, well, almost as long as we’ve been sending ’em out.

And that’s a lot of email.

And a lot of statistics about that email.

She knows more about clicks and opens than a safecracker!  (That could be the worse attempt at a joke I’ve ever made – please forgive me – it’s 11:47 PM and I’ve had two red bulls).

Back to the point . . .

Empress Jennifer writes a blog for Telecharge clients with tips and tricks for getting the most out of our e-marketing.  Just recently she graced an email conference with her presence and came back with some terrific best practices from all sorts of industries. . . and I’m gonna share her stuff with you:

Take it away, Empress!


Notes From The Email Insider Summit


I had a great trip to Utah for the Email Insider Summit back in December. This summit brings together email marketing leaders from global brands like American Airlines, Hewlett-Packard, Marriott, Oracle, AirBnB, Scholastic, Universal Music Group, GameStop, LivingSocial, and Penguin Random House. I also met a slew of technology providers offering innovative software solutions for improving email communications with customers.


Personal Conversations

As consumers receive more and more emails from online retailers, they suffer from “inbox fatigue” or “deal fatigue.” There starts to be a sameness to every email they see in their mailbox touting 40% of this or a 2-for-1 deal on that. This phenomenon was a central topic of conversation at the summit. Research indicates that an email has 2-3 seconds to make an emotional connection to customers. Good content solves problems customers are facing. When creating an email, think of a potential ticket buyer asking you, “How will reading and responding to this email improve my life?”

To this end, we’re planning some changes to the newsletter emails we send customers.

  1. Different versions of post-purchase and pre-performance emails for different types of theatergoers. Tourists who have never attended a Broadway show need different information than locals who go to the theatre every month.
  2. Different versions of our monthly newsletters that emphasize different shows, depending on a customer’s order history. Play multi-buyers will see plays front and center, while musical-only buyers will see musicals.
  3. more personal voice in our newsletters, with sections like Staff Favorites.

For show discount emails, sending an offer to multiple customer segments gives you an opportunity to personalize your message for each group. For instance, if you are marketing a musical to the “First Timers” segment, you might focus on a crowd-pleasing message, while emphasizing the creative team and actors for the “Black Box” segment.

Small Screens, Big Impact

One major theme of the summit was improving emails for customers reading emails on their iPads and smartphones. We at Telecharge are seeing that around 40% of our customers are viewing our emails on their smartphones. Other companies at the summit are seeing more than 50% of their customers reading emails on mobile devices, and that rate has been rapidly increasing.If we, as an industry, want mobile email recipients to open emails, click to order, and purchase tickets at the same rate as desktop email recipients, then we have to focus on getting more customers to open an email on a smart phone, click through on the email to make a purchase, and complete an order.Getting Customers to Open an Email on a Smartphone
Emails look very different in smartphone inboxes than they do on a desktop computer in Outlook, or in a browser-based email program like Gmail. Smartphones drastically truncate subject lines in their inbox displays. They also display something called the pre-header, which is the very first text of the email. This means that only the first few words of the subject line, plus the pre-header, are the enticements for getting a ticket-buyer to open an email.Here’s an example of an email which doesn’t look very appealing in a smartphone inbox:


Here’s an example of our new pre-header, and a smartphone optimized subject line. At a glance, the customer has the information he or she needs to decide whether to open the email.


Now That They’ve Opened the Email…
The next step is to entice them to click through on the email to order tickets. To this end, in 2014 we are going to change the look and format of our emails:Design mobile-friendly emails, with

  1. Touch-friendly buttons (larger buttons, larger label text, with lots of space around them)
  2. Higher contrast (for users who are saving their batteries by keeping their screens dim)
  3. A single column of information, so customers don’t have to move side to side, or pinch to read

These future design changes will affect all email recipients, desktop, tablet, or smartphone. But for smartphone recipients, in particular, we are going to create smartphone optimized versions of every email, which smartphone recipients will see instead of a shrunk-down desktop version.

Our new three-hit email program will also catch customers who viewed an email on their smartphone, but were perhaps hesitant (or didn’t have time) to make a purchase at that time. We email them with the offer again, to catch them when they have more time to order tickets.

Now That They’ve Clicked to Order…
Our redesigned mobile Telecharge and TelechargeOffers have already doubled conversion rates for ticket buyers using their smartphones. We are continually improving these sites to facilitate the on-the-go ticket purchase.


Pretty cool stuff, rights?  Thanks, Jennifer Empress, and thanks Shuberts for sharing this stuff with us, so we can all sell more tickets.


(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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