Sep 16, 2013

First Avenue’s Relevant, Rewarding Emails

Craig Finn toasts the crowd at a Replacements tribute show. [Erik Hess]

Legendary Minneapolis music venue, First Avenue, boasts more than 40 years of business. During those four decades, the "downtown danceteria" has hosted artists as varied as Frank Zappa, B.B. King, U2 (who wrote part of their album, October, during a First Avenue soundcheck), Run DMC, and Lucinda Williams (who was married on the First Avenue stage in 2009). They’ve also embraced their local scene, putting on shows by the likes of Hüsker Dü, Atmosphere, The Hold Steady, and Morris Day. In fact, one particularly notable Minnesotan chose First Avenue as both the set and the setting of his movie, Purple Rain. Not bad!

Much like the good taste that has helped keep the club running so long, First Avenue has made some smart email marketing decisions. In addition to a basic, weekly campaign, and a membership newsletter (for folks willing to pony up for exclusive events, free tickets, and other perks), they’re careful to make sure their customers don’t miss out when one of their favorite bands returns to the Twin Cities.

"I access our ticketing database and export all email addresses of purchasers who previously bought tickets for an artist’s last show at First Avenue, as well as similar artists that have played," Art Director Kristin Backman says. "I then import these addresses into a group that’s not seen by the public."

Once Kristin has a group of folks she knows will be interested in a particular show announcement, she tends to promote it one of two ways, depending on the people she’s emailing:

1. "Sometimes we have shows that offer pre-sales with a password before tickets go on sale to the public. We offer those passwords to our First Avenue members and newsletter subscribers. Depending on the show, we sometimes send out targeted email to past ticket buyers a few days before the general newsletter so they get first notice of the pre-sale."

2. "When a show needs some help selling tickets, for a final sales push we sometimes send out a simple email the week before with the subject, ‘Don’t miss this artist at First Avenue’ or something similar, placing a simple image with show info and ticket buying info with a link. We’re hoping the recipients will be reminded of the show and will purchase tickets in advance."

First Avenue manages to both reward their most engaged readers and reduce irrelevance for customers who have proven loyal in the past. Turns out, when you show people you appreciate them, and only send them things they care about, they end up with more time to party like it’s 1999.