In The Age of “Click to Contact,” Are We Losing Connection With Our Patrons?

Today’s guest blog post is written by Ameris Poquette, Data Specialist, Patron Technology. 

I’ve lost count of how many mailing lists I’m signed up for, but it’s probably in the hundreds. Every day, I get (at least) twenty some-odd emails from different sources all wanting my business — most of which end up living out their years unread in my spam folder. There’s no question that the Internet has changed the nature of marketing and the way we communicate with our audience — it’s become a digital, mass-market affair. Signing up for a new mailing list is something we do at the drop of a hat, for anything that even mildly piques our interest.

Today, even “contact us” pages that are meant to lead to a real human interaction can feel impersonal, cold, and automatic. In some ways, this is the nature of this new medium, which allows us to reach more people simultaneously than we’ve ever been able to before.

So the question becomes, how do we learn to stand out from the hundreds of unread messages in your patron’s inbox, most of which are trying to do the same thing you are? How do you maintain a connection with your target audience in the digital age?

For the purpose of this blog post, I pulled up all of the emails that were sent to me by an arts event space I frequent — they show movies and host nights of performance art — and when I see an email come through from them, I almost always open it. I wondered to myself, why?

Well digging in, the first thing I noticed about their emails is that the subject lines are always patron centric. It’s not “here’s what we’re doing,” it’s “here’s something you would enjoy.” The second thing I noticed is that the emails are all written by the same person, the woman who runs the space. She writes in first person (using “I” or “we”) and always signs the emails with her name. And lastly, I noticed that their content is not purely promotional, in fact often times they don’t even mention the events they have coming up until the end. For example, in the most recent email I received, the first thing mentioned was the fact that their venue had won a grant. The email went on to discuss how they plan to use that money to better the space (and by correlation their patron’s experience). I was instantly engaged and excited!

So what are the takeaways from this? No one wants to be flooded with promotional emails and advertisements that are catered to the masses. Your patrons want to be seen and treated as individuals. They want to be able to place a person’s name with your organization, not an automated robot with a generic signature. And, they want to be in the know about the goings on of your organization outside of the shows/exhibits that they see.

Don’t be afraid to scratch past the surface of what your organization does, and make your marketing campaigns more personal. In the digital age, we often forget that the tools we use are meant to connect with other people, not just inundate them with information.

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