Short answer: Send them content they find interesting.
Long answer: SendGrid’s 2019 Email Benchmark and Engagement Study data has been published and it has some important insights for arts organizations on why people open or don’t open emails.
The two top reasons why people open your emails are quite simple: they like hearing from you and the content is stuff they want to read. I would argue that those things are inextricably linked — if you send people content they like, they will like hearing from you, and they will like hearing from you because they know that the content is going to be something they like.
We tend to get fixated on things like subject lines, discounts, and whether or not to use emojis but it really comes down to the simple fact that content and segmentation is key. It is easier to play around with subject lines but it is more important to set a precedent of sending compelling content to each segment of your list. There is no single message that is going to be relevant to your entire list.
Here are some other key findings from the report:
- Only 35% of recipients said an offer or promotion had a strong influence on their decision to open an email, but will still verify the sender prior to opening the email.
- The time of day isn’t that strong of a factor in a recipient’s decision to open an email.
- Recipients didn’t indicate that subject lines have more influence over their decision to open than who the email is coming from.
There is a ton more interesting data in the report.