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What Do You Know About Your Emails?

If you are like me, you may be taking time this summer to re-evaluate some of your practices like email marketing. Last year, I came across an interesting set of email marketing myths.

Now I know, these sort of articles are pretty common so I did a search for similar stories and actually found this list popped up fairly frequently. That must mean this list of myths is true…or that they have a really good email mailing list. In either case, they must know what they are talking about, right?

Two of the “truths” that caught my eye were for myths 2 & 3 – 85% of opens happen within two days of receiving an email, but only 21% of purchases happen during that period. 32% happen two weeks after. And “20% of your annual openers do so after being inactive for 6 months.”

First, let me say for the record I can’t believe any company is actually ceasing to send me emails after I fail to respond or take action for 6 months. It is hard for me to believe any company thinks they should give up after 6 months and actually does it.

That said, the basic idea that people are engaged by your communication and your organization long after you might assume they are hearkens back to the research presented by Andrew McIntyre a few years back that indicated people often felt a close association with a company/arts organization even after 2-3 years of inactivity.

This is just another bit of evidence from a different quarter that reinforces the concept of not giving up hope that a person will continue their participation in your activities.

The facts for myths 4, 5 and 6 were interesting to me. The fact that fewer than 1 subscriber in 2000 will tag an email as spam was interesting me. I don’t think I ever tagged a non-Viagra related email as spam myself, but I always worry that recipients might be liberal with the spam button. I am less concerned now.

I was also surprised to learn “sending four emails a month instead of one doubles the number of consumers opening one or more emails..” Post author Mark Brownlow explains,

“Don’t get misled by changes to rates. All things being equal, if you double your frequency and average click rates drop 20% that’s a win.

1000 mails/month at 10% CTR = 100 clicks

2000 mails/month at 8% CTR = 160 clicks

The converse is also true. If you remove 60% of your list and see click rates double, you’re actually losing.

1000 mails at 10% CTR = 100 clicks

400 mails at 20% CTR = 80 clicks”

In responding to myth 6 about shorter subject lines being better, Brownlow encourages people focus on being efficient with subject lines, but give yourself permission to use whatever words are necessary to make your impact. The infographic presents some interesting data about subject lines – less than 60 characters increase opens, but those over 70 characters increase clicks.

Of course, as they say, your mileage may differ and you really need to pay attention to the characteristics of those you are reaching. Brownlow cautions in the comments section, “…Many recommendations are based on scenarios or averages that may not fit your particular situation. As you say, testing is important…”

If you are apt to dismiss the data in the infographic as not matching your experience, then you can’t cleave to the myths as being true in turn because they aren’t likely to be true for your situation either.

Even after decades of using email, it is extremely difficult to calibrate its use as a marketing tool because the way people use the technology is constantly evolving.

I am keeping one eye turned toward Adam Thurman over at Mission Paradox blog. Last month, he was looking for guinea pigs to test and provide feedback on his email marketing class. I am interested to see what he may have developed.

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If You Love Your Brand, Set It Free

Last week I reflected on Adam Thurman’s recent post about wrestling corporation WWE reinventing itself three times to adapt to changing audiences.

He followed up with a post about how the visible manifestation of rebranding has to reflect an internalized change that has already started within the company, or else the rebranding fails.

He suggests organizations commit to rebranding themselves every 7 years or so.

His post reminded me that Japanese anime series change their opening sequence and music every time the season changes, which can happen multiple times a year. As an example, here is the opening of D.Grayman season 1 versus season 3.

There is continuity of characters and basic artistic look to let fans identify their favorite anime series when a new season comes out. However, other than the Drew Carey Show whose changes in opening sequences didn’t necessarily synch up with changes in seasons, I can’t think of too many American shows that make a regular change. (Granted, apples to oranges comparison.)

In any case, while most arts organizations may put out a different brochure every season, they may not change the look of their website as regularly. That might be something to consider, especially if you can feature the work of a local visual artist to draw attention to them as a resource.

It could be especially effective to change the header of a monthly newsletter since that can take less effort than revamping an entire website. Doing A/B testing with different art can help identify an effective look and identity for the organization.

You can probably get a high open rate on your emails if you tell people you want their feedback. This month half are getting one piece of art and the other half another, next month the art with switch for both groups. That way people not only are engaged by the request for feedback, but there is a sense of competition with another group about who got to see the better artwork first.

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Wrestling With Your Audience Composition

I am rather busy wrapping things up here at work and preparing to move, but I wanted to make a nod in The Mission Paradox blog’s direction for a post he made about reinventing one’s organization.

Adam Thurman had been tweeting in advance of his post about how many times he attended Wrestlemania and how wrestling held lessons for arts and cultural organizations so I was curious to see what he had to say.

I had watched wrestling once upon a time, but drifted away for various reasons, including the fact the basic plot was pretty repetitive.

Yes, you could say that about arts organizations which revive the classics. Romeo and Juliet aren’t ever gonna get any less dead (though you never know…) But these days, there are probably more people for whom the classics are brand new than repeats.

But you have to admit, while the basic formula does repeat itself, there is a heck of a lot of drama that goes on before anyone ever enters the ring. Much of it harkens back to some basic archetypes with which people can identify: heroic journeys, villains, anti-heroes, talismans of power, ethical quandaries.

Thurman addresses some interesting facts I wasn’t aware of about how wrestling giant WWE reinvented itself twice in order to appeal to changing demographics and tastes.

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What If They Don’t Want To Be An Executive Director?

On the Harvard Business Review blog site, Anne Kreamer asks “What If You Don’t Want to Be a Manager?” (h/t Daniel Pink) where she talks a little about the alienation one might feel moving from being a producer of material to a manager. While she talks about an experience in a corporate environment, it was easy to see the same situation cropping up in the arts when someone moves from creating content to producing revenue reports and reviewing labor laws.

One of the options Kreamer suggests, other than leaving the company and striking out on your own, revolves around changing the existing work environment. It was her last two sentences that resonated with me (thus my emphasis).

This is something more companies need to address. To remain globally competitive, organizations need to devise innovative ways to encourage and reward creativity. The unorthodox titles embraced by start-ups — directors of fun, ministers of information — can seem ridiculous, but the emphasis on improvising new ways of doing business is important. Furthermore, research conducted by Office Team found that 76% of employees did not want their boss’s job. If employees are no longer responding to the old carrots, it’s time for companies to establish new means of rewarding talent.

This reminded me of the Daring to Lead and Ready to Lead reports I had written on in the past that reported young arts leaders were chomping at the bit to gain greater responsibility in their arts organization, but didn’t necessarily want to assume an executive role.

It got me to thinking that while there is a lot of discussion about exploring new business models for arts organizations like the B Corporation and L3C, maybe there needs to be a corresponding discussion about changing arts job descriptions so that people actually want to assume the roles.

Two issues that seem to rise to the top for executive directors is work-life balance and that the position seems 75% about fundraising and increasing. It may be time to institutionalize the idea that marketing and development aren’t the sole province of those departments by spreading the responsibility around in job descriptions.

I have read a lot of criticism of Michael Kaiser’s ideas, but I have never seen anyone say he is wrong when he advocates for paying attention to the interests of potential donors and connecting them with your corresponding needs rather than viewing them as the source of a lot of money to answer the need you have prioritized.

With the proper training and expectations declared at the outset, marketing, education and artistic staff could take a more proactive role in identifying, engaging and meeting with donors than they do at present. Hopefully freeing the executive director to balance their personal and professional lives, improve their job satisfaction, connect back with the parts of the organization that excite them, and perhaps encourage others to crave their position.

The same can obviously be done with marketing where development, education and artistic, etc. are more active in expressing and advancing the organizational message.

I think people are already cognizant of this interdependent need based on a Twitter exchange between Adam Thurman, Howard Sherman and others this past September.

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