We caught up with the leadership of Toronto-based Resa’s Pieces to discuss their success using email marketing in the arts. Resa’s Pieces is a nonprofit arts organization with a mission to meet the growing demand for adults to “reawaken that talent and rediscover making music.” Members of the concert band, strings ensemble, and choral ensemble learn and perform music and then share their love of music with the community.
What are your main goals for your email efforts?
Our main goal is to share information with our membership and then with our patrons and audience. We use emails to keep our fans informed of important updates and make sure they are “in the know,” especially when it comes to announcing our main events. As well, we’ve used Mad Mimi emails to promote annual holiday concerts and to make sure that we’ll have an audience to play to!
How often do you send your emails?
We like to be conservative in sending out emails so we don’t “bother” folks. We aim to provide people with only the most important info, as we’re respectful of their time and of how many emails people receive daily. We tend to schedule monthly emails from March to June. We also send an additional three to five emails during the balance of the year. While this doesn’t add up to a lot … it certainly does the trick for us!
Who is involved in the actual content creation?
Our webmaster assists in creating a Resa’s Pieces theme and then our “in-house” team takes it from there.
Is there a particular process to get from coming up with the ideas to hitting send?
We come up with the text and images and decide on catchy phrases to draw people in right away. We aim to set out the information in the most concise way — crisp and clean — adding links where needed. Then we test away by sending the email to a select few for comment. Revisions are made, and after we have a finished product, we schedule the final version to go out. We like the emails to be as short as possible and to the point.
We’ve also learned not to provide too many “click spots” in the email. That is, we make sure that if the audience is going to click, it’s for the call to action! We try to limit where the links go to keep people on the content of the email vs. clicking away.
We aim to give our audience an interesting subject line, hoping that readers will be curious to open the email, view it, and then engage if/where available to do so.
How do you approach segmentation?
We have various audiences, having worked extremely hard on building our database. We keep separate lists so it’s easier to schedule which email goes to whom! We are constantly adding to our audience lists. It’s a work in progress.
What has been the #1 benefit of using email to communicate with your audience?
Communication is the benefit! Setting up all the info and then knowing that the email is sent to ALL, at one time, proves to be effective. It’s easy to plan ahead, scheduling emails in advance of target dates. And tracking and following stats has been exciting for us! We seem to be successfully reaching our fan base. This success translates into full audiences and a rewarding experience for our members (i.e., playing to full houses, happy crowds with smiling faces, and sharing our love of music with the community.)
What’s your top piece of advice for email marketing in the arts?
Building a database is key! You can’t do much without it. We suggest thinking of ways to collect people’s emails. (And in Canada, make sure to check out the new anti-spam laws that came into effect July 1, 2014). Develop a plan, put together a team, and lastly — be creative and have fun!
Email Marketing Takeaways for Other Arts Organizations
- Put together a good in-house team to create your email content and plan the best timing for your mailings.
- Build your database by finding creative ways to get people to opt into your list.
- Segment your list into groups (i.e., donors, volunteers) so you can send relevant content to the right people.
- Send valuable content at a pace that’s appropriate to your audience. Provide value without burdening your contacts’ inboxes.
- Limit the number of links in your emails to encourage people to click on your primary call to action.
- Take the time to come up with compelling email subject lines.
- Test your email content on some willing editors before sending it to your entire list.
- Use email analytics to track your success and keep making improvements.
- Be creative and have fun — you’re in the arts!