Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mailing List Segmentation

Major mailing list management programs, such as Constant Contact and MailChip, offer users a list segmentation function. You use this to divide your list members into sub-lists. For example, I might want to send a particular email exclusively to women who've taken one of my self-defense classes, or to those who've taken my safe rolling & falling class.

Large organizations don't always take advantage of this to the extent possible. I get a lot of email from San Francisco Symphony, and some of it - weekly reminders about which concert will be on this week - I don't necessarily need to see. I checked with them recently, and they do have plans to segment their list more than it's currently segmented.

This morning, I've got email from San Francisco Opera encouraging me to subscribe to the summer, 2018 production of Der Ring des Nibelungen. Evidently, they're also a little behind at mailing list segmentation: I applied for Ring tickets in January, and I already have the confirmation of where I'm sitting.

It's admittedly more difficult for an organization with thousands of addresses on its mailing list to segment that list than it is for me: I have around 125 people on my list. Still, it's possible to run a script comparing existing Ring ticket purchasers with the full SFO mailing list. Tessitura might even have such a function built in, for all I know. Heck, it's possible to do this by dumping the information into a spreadsheet, and it can't even be that difficult to write a little macro to create a non-Ring mailing list to get this stuff.

I note that I'm not particularly bothered by the extra email suggesting I subscribe. Some sections, for some of the cycles, are selling out fast, I've heard from people who bought tickets this week. So anyone who is thinking of going really should get going on their tickets, before the Ringheads snap them all up.


Drew said...

This is such a great topic and one where many groups have yet to completely maximize what they accomplish with email marketing. One element oft overlooked is proper segmenting actually results in list members receiving message at a frequency and rate they prefer. Ceci Dadisman writes about this quite topic on a regular basis at ArtsHacker; she had an article last week about how to use segmentation after a mass list send: https://artshacker.com/what-to-do-after-the-send/

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks, Drew! Clickable link:

What to do After the Send

Eric G said...

Segmentation with communications is very important, and arts organizations are really only just getting the hang of it. To note, it shoudln't be hard to plan an email about X, Y, and Z programs, and build a list to all contacts who should be interested, and tell the distribution program to exclude names from a secondary list (made of existing ticket buyers to X, Y, and Z programs). MailChimp does this easily, for example.

worth noting, as a sports fan as well, I get a lot of emails (and phone calls) asking me to buy tickets to events that I already have tickets to. Lots of organizations can do better in this area.

Lisa Hirsch said...


The weirdest failure-to-communicate inside an organization's systems was when I purchased a ticket for something like $75 and the suggested donation was $2,000. :) This was an obvious error and it was easy to figure out what had happened. I understand that org's systems have been updated to avoid this kind of thing.