Promoting the worlds of the arts, culture, and heritage in smaller communities can be tricky. But on BC’s Sunshine Coast, the Coast Cultural Alliance (CCA) has figured it out. The non-profit society is a network of people working together to create employment and business opportunities through cultural tourism and the arts. They print a monthly Arts & Culture Calendar and a yearly Purple Banner Studio and Gallery Guide. They also run a successful art crawl through 75 studios on the Sunshine Coast each fall. Since 2005 the CCA has also tapped into the power of email marketing to promote their member artists and help create a market for their artwork.
How do you use email marketing?
One of our goals at the CCA is to keep our members updated on the arts and culture scene throughout the Sunshine Coast and BC. Sending out the CCA Events and Opportunities e-newsletter once a week is an effective way to get this information to our members.
Many of our members are artists, so each week the e-newsletter helps to promote their work by featuring one artist and linking to their website.
We also welcome new CCA members each week in the e-newsletter. Having a weekly format for the e-newsletter is important because it lists ongoing events throughout the upper and lower Sunshine Coast. And in the “Opportunities” sections we list calls for submissions and requests for proposals that our members may want to take part in. Then we list arts funding sources and links to other newsletters.
How did you grow your list of subscribers?
The email automatically goes out to about 255 members of the CCA, and there are approximately another 665 subscribers who have an interest in arts and events. They’ve either subscribed to the newsletter at our coffeehouse events, through the CCA website, or after receiving the e-newsletter from a friend.
How do you measure the success of your emails?
We use MailChimp, a free service for up to 1,000 subscrivers, to send out the newsletters. It provides us with statistics to track open rates of the email. We get a very good open rate of about 42% for members and about 32% for non-members. We can also track click-throughs and monitor what people are most interested in clicking on. We’ve definitely noticed that click-through rates for our feature artist of the week are consistently good.
What is the feedback from your subscribers?
Many subscribers tell us that this newsletter is all they use to learn about local events. People consider it a “go to” resource. In fact, local information centres print it out each week so tourists can see what’s going on. We also hear from local tourism businesses, such as B&B’s, who say they use it regularly to let their guests know what’s happening from day to day while they’re visiting.
To what do you attribute the success of your e-newsletter?
It’s like one-stop shopping because it’s a terrific summary of just about everything you need to know in the arts/culture/and heritage world locally. We’re able to produce such a robust listing of events and opportunities through our own research and because members have the ability to upload information to us. While the e-newsletter targets a niche market, it enjoys a wide subscriber base because it appeals to both artists and people interested in art. That makes it a great promotional vehicle for our members, while giving non-members the information they want to know about the Sunshine Coast arts scene.
Any word of advice for others interested in email marketing?
An online email marketing service makes sending out an e-newsletter easy. We used to send out our e-newsletter manually from a personal email account. It was slow and labour-intensive, and the chance of the e-newsletter ending up in spam folders was great. Using an email marketing service is so efficient and it provides us with the statistics to measure the success of our emails.