Now that we’re settling in here for 2008, I’d like to do a review of the last year in e-marketing and take a look forward at the year to come.
What was most interesting to observe in 2007 was the maturation of e-marketing. By now, some things are just accepted as necessities in the arts marketing world – having a good Web site and sending regular e-mail is becoming such a "given" at most arts & cultural organizations that it’s no longer seen as "new" or cutting-edge.
The latest trends, such as online video, podcasting, text-messaging, and social networks, while technologically not new, have certainly taken center stage in most arts marketers’ minds. As I’ve been saying in my seminars and on my blog for a while, this is a very exciting time for arts & non-profits, since as these technologies mature and become more and more affordable, we’ll have better tools to reach and motivate our patrons than ever before.
In the e-mail world we focus on, what I see is that the organizations that are having the most success are the ones professionalizing their strategy and approach to e-marketing. The truth is that once you’ve gotten the hang of sending an e-mail, it’s no longer a question of technology. The things that make a difference are the things we cover in our training sessions and webinars and seminars:
- E-mail editorial: What to send, to whom and how frequently – and most importantly, how to always be relevant.
- E-mail segmentation: Sending more and more targeted messages to your list through smart segmentation and not just doing a "blast.”
- List building: Smartly and aggressively building your list to reach your donors and patrons consistently.
The thing is, these aspects of e-mail marketing are harder than merely composing an e-mail! They do take thinking, planning, and some investment of time and resources. It’s becoming more and more obvious when I get an e-mail from an organization as to whether it’s been really well thought out, or thrown together at the last minute. Much the same thing can be said about arts web sites.
The thing we all need to keep in mind is that arts patrons are being bombarded with more and more high-quality communications online and are exposed to the very best Web sites every day. And thus consumers won’t be as forgiving as they once were.
As a result, more and more of our company’s time and energy is being placed into helping share industry best practices, case studies, benchmark statistics, and tips & techniques that we gather from our clients. I think this is one of the things that makes Patron Technology different than other corporate e-mail providers, and we’re poised to do more and more of it in 2008 to help the industry improve.