Art in your inbox – 5 tips for creating an effective email newsletter
If you’ve been sending sporadic messages to your friends and frequent audience members alerting them to your upcoming shows, it might be time to switch to an official email newsletter. At the very least, you’ll streamline your mailing list, systematize how and when you share updates, and work to develop a written voice and brand that reflects your artistic aesthetic. While you might appreciate the frills that come with using an email marketing platform like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, you can also create a more than handy newsletter with a basic email account. All you need to do is carefully consider the layout, timing, and general feel of your email newsletter before sending out your first missive.
Send your newsletter when you have news
When deciding whether or not to send an email on behalf of Sidra Bell Dance New York, executive producer of publicity, web design and marketing Claudette Bell (and Sidra’s mother) prefers to think of timing in terms of of upcoming events. “We look at what the SBDNY schedule looks like and work from there,” she says. A typical newsletter, which comes out every one to two months on average, might lead to a recap of Sidra’s latest premiere – including press quotes, photos and additional performance dates – and also include workshops, courses or residencies for upcoming guest artists.
Dancer, writer and teacher Anh Vo takes a similar event-driven approach. “This summer I sent three in a row because there was so much going on,” they say. “I don’t have any timing rules. There is wiggle room when you are not a business.
Vary the media you include
“Know your audience,” advises Claudette. Sidra regularly collaborates with photographers and always has new graphic and multi-dimensional images to include in email marketing campaigns. Vo, on the other hand, chooses to break through what they describe as a “wall of text” with tweets or memes they’ve recently come across and captured. “I enjoy pop culture,” they say. “There’s something there – laughs, maybe, or a connection.”
Don’t be afraid to ask people to join your mailing list
“Sidra’s mailing list has been growing since 2001. It started with friends from college,” says Claudette, who now claims the total number of subscribers is close to 10,000. At every concert and reception, she make sure to include a program insert with mailing list information or have a physical sign-up sheet handy.
Vo will often post an Instagram Story ahead of an upcoming e-blast, asking if anyone would like to receive it. “There’s a chat-box feature that you can use where people can enter their emails,” Vo explains. They also have an option on their personal website for visitors to sign up for their mailing list.
Create something you would like to read
Vo cites Miguel Gutierrez’s “spewsletter” as an explosion of emails they like to open and read immediately. “That’s what I’m looking for with my own writing,” Vo says. “I’m not thinking about grabbing people’s attention but creating an experience with email, assuming they’ll go from start to finish.”
Aim for absolute precision
Double-check and triple-check that the names, event titles, locations, dates, and any other proper names you include in your newsletter are correct. “And credit your contributors,” says Claudette. A correction email is rarely a good look.
Email Marketing Platforms
MailChimp offers a free version for those with a subscriber list of 2,000 or less. (There are also essential, standard, and premium plans, with tiered monthly pricing.) The platform lets you customize easy-to-use templates, and each plan includes audience engagement analytics tools.
constant contact has two projects. Both have tiered pricing, based on how many contacts you have. Although Constant Contact offers over 100 templates, the interface isn’t as simple as Mailchimp’s and there are fewer audience analysis tools.
gmail is Anh Vo’s favorite platform. They think a personal email seems to inspire more dialogue. “People respond, I respond to them, there’s more conversation going on,” Vo says.