Mass Email Blasts Should Be Illegal!

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, PatronManager. 

This is a tale of three organizations and my relationships to them as a patron. It’s an ugly story complete with a bloated email inbox, frustration, unsubscription, and lost patronage. Draw near and listen to the tale of mass email blasts: Why they are a terrible idea, and how they can cost your organization money and lost opportunity.

The first organization is one that I recently purchased tickets from for an upcoming concert. I am traveling to this city for a brief vacation and have always wanted to attend an event in this famed concert hall. Unless I were planning a vacation, I wouldn’t normally be able to see this vaunted orchestra as it is too far from my home. The initial online ticket purchase was uneventful, in fact, the organization did a good job with initial follow-up with ancillary options like parking and restaurants near the theater. Not long after my ticket purchase, however, I began receiving emails for other concerts — I was averaging two to three offers per week. I also got an email from them asking me to become a donor. I haven’t even attended the concert yet! I immediately unsubscribed from their emails (I don’t even recall giving them permission to email me in the first place). The final blow was receiving a mailing from them for another concert.

The second organization is one that I looked at with my daughter, a violinist and violist, who was interested in attending their orchestra camp and music festival this summer. In this organization’s case, the emails came less frequently, but most had nothing to do with my daughter attending their summer camp. The emails were for all sorts of events from classical to country to bluegrass concerts. They too asked me for a donation without getting to know me. My daughter ended up choosing another orchestra camp for this summer, and I unsubscribed.

The third organization is one in my hometown. My family has consistently purchased a 10-pack of vouchers to their outdoor summer concert series over the years. I don’t receive emails from them all that often, just whenever they have summer concert series announcements or are promoting similar events. Additionally, I have been asked about my experience with them… twice, once via email and once over the phone! Based off of these interactions and the emails I receive from them, I know this organization is paying attention to my buyer behavior.

So given these three scenarios which organization do you think I would want to stay engaged with? The first two organizations clearly didn’t attempt to get to know me as a patron. They didn’t listen to the information that was coming their way. They didn’t segment their lists or work together as a staff to try and engage me. They were just email blasting away in hopes that something would resonate and I would ultimately come to them. This is clearly not a recipe for long-term success.

Segmenting your patron list is such a critical first step in any email or snail-mail campaign. There really is no excuse for not doing it. First-time ticket buyers are much different than donors. Patrons who have unique geographic or behavior characteristics need to be segmented and treated accordingly.

So before you begin your next email or snail-mail campaign ask yourself these important questions:

  • What is the event you are trying to market?
  • Who is your core audience for the event?
  • What geographic, demographic, and behavioral factors will drive the patron’s buying decision?
  • How many different distribution channels will you use to reach your patrons?
  • How will your marketing content help drive their decision to purchase?

Beyond your core audience, there may be a secondary audience that will try the event if given a special offer. Here are some additional things to consider:

  • Who is the secondary audience that would try this event?
  • How will they be different than your primary audience?
  • What special offer will they most likely respond to for purchase?
  • What content can you use to educate them about your event?

By spending some time getting to know your audience, you can avoid the pitfalls that drive them away. Remember, the majority of your marketing dollars are being spent to acquire new patrons. Treating them with respect and thoughtfully engaging them will be a benefit in increased retention and loyalty that will lead to more future opportunity.

Pass a law in your organization today and make mass email blasts illegal!

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