Automated Museum Email Marketing

American museums draw 900 million visitors each year. The museum industry has delivered culture, history and unique experiences to American families for decades. But competition is fiercer than ever, and small to mid-sized museums, many of which are still rebounding from the losses of Covid, must evolve their marketing if they want to expand their reach and draw new visitors each season.

One way to reach out to patrons that yields a high return on investment (an average of $36 to every $1 invested, according to Hubspot) is email marketing. We all know the perils of spam. But email remains one of the most reliable ways to reach your audience and keep them engaged with your institution.

That’s why we’ve compiled four museum email marketing ideas you can launch tomorrow to keep your institution at the front of your visitors’ minds.

A visitor at an art gallery takes in a museum email hung on the wall for display.

4 Types of Museum Email Marketing

A well-timed message can draw repeat visitors, inspire people to volunteer, encourage donations, and prompt your supporters to share their experience with others. And as email automation tools grow more sophisticated and accessible than ever before, it’s easier for organizations on a tight budget to manage some very effective marketing.

1. The Win-Back Email

Subject: We’ve missed you!

Your online ticketing platform gathers email addresses at checkout.

Using built-in features or an integration with your email automation software, send automated emails 4-6 months after a guest’s visit. This email should highlight what’s new this season, and should link to upcoming events or new exhibits highlighted on your website. Consider a bounce back offer with a special on admission, discounted food, or a gift shop deal.

(And, for that matter, don’t ignore your website. Even if it doesn’t immediately translate to repeat visits, drawing new visitors to your site will boost your presence online and keep you front of mind for new museum-goers in your area.)

Don’t write a dissertation. Emphasize what the guest came for in the first place — your premiere features and exhibits. Keep the copy light and to the point, and make it easy to see where to book the next visit.

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2. The Automated Museum Admission Email

Subject: Happy birthday from Your Museum Name

More than half of all emails are spam, so it’s natural for people to be wary of new messages and get easily fatigued when they receive too many. That’s why when you have a guest’s or member’s data—such as their birthday and email address—use it wisely, with emails they actually want to see.

One way to send a simple yet lightly personalized message is with an automated email offering them a special during their birthday month, such as bringing a friend for free or half price admission.

Tone down the sales and keep it simple. Wish them a happy birthday, and quickly explain the details of the offer. Then, make it easy to book a visit online with a clear call to action that’s easy to find when skimming the email.

3. The Museum Volunteer Drive Email

Subject: We need people like you.

Automate an email to new members of your contact list and volunteers who haven’t participated in over a year. Avoid the urge to talk about your museum from a promotional perspective. Assume that they already know what makes you great. Instead, focus on the benefits of volunteering and how everyday people can support your mission. Be honest about why you have a need and how your volunteers can solve problems for your organization.

Consider easy to digest pieces of content like a quick infographic on the number of volunteers you have, their ages, their backgrounds, and the duties they perform at the museum. Position volunteering as a way to meet new friends, network professionally, and become more exposed to your exhibits and the culture you promote.

What do you want them to do when they finish reading the email? That call to action should be clear and compelling and make taking the next step as easy as possible.

website redesign checklist

4. The Automated Museum Review Request Email

Subject: How did we do?

Museum attendance is heavily reliant on good online reviews. Reviews affect how well you show up in local search results and how likely it will be that potential guests choose to visit or not. You should have a good spread of reviews across Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor at the very least — but there are dozens of niche directories you can also consider.

Check in with guests on the day after they visit and ask how you did. This email should be short and gracious. Thank them for visiting, share that you hope they had an amazing time, and offer a simple call to action to write a review. Be sure to include a link directly to the review site. Use your automated marketing software to randomize which link is sent out, or send a different link every few weeks to help distribute reviews across sites as evenly as possible.

This email can also include your museum’s social handles and any relevant hashtag campaigns so your guest can tag you in the social content they share about their visit.

Work with an agency that understands museum email marketing

Automated email marketing is an easy way to keep you top of mind in between visits. Including these four types of emails into your strategy will encourage guests to come back, share their experiences, and support the mission of your museum.

At Big Sea we have a proven track record working with museums and cultural institutions to raise funds, draw new visitors, and boost their online presence. Contact us to find out how we can help your museum grow.