I am finally pretty content with vendor mailings. Vendor mailings allow a show promoter to use their vendor lists to send email blasts containing show-related news and promotions. Prior to vendor mailings, promoters had to export their vendor lists as CSVs and then import those CSVs into something like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact. While there may yet be situations where that is better, and CSV exports are still a thing, vendor mailings should save promoters a lot of time and headaches. Vendor mailings can be scheduled per show and provide a variety of options for selecting the set of vendors to whom the mailing should be sent. The promoter decides on the content of the mailings and It's Show Easy provides tools to allow the promoter to include show and vendor specific information in the mailing. Additionally, vendor mailings are equipped with features to help ensure that promoters don't get labeled as spammers.
To schedule a mailing the promoter simply specifies the date and time at which they want the vendor mailing to be sent and It's Show Easy will send it for them when the time comes. This way a promoter can plan a mailing to be sent out after a show ends to thank vendors for participating or the promoter can plan a mailing to be sent a few months before the next show to remind vendors of deadlines and/or policies. In my first go at scheduling mailings, I thought it would be best to have them scheduled relative to show-specific times (i.e. the show end date). Not only did that prove to be complicated to implement, but it proved to be confusing to the promoter. The approach didn't earn the label, "It's show easy," so I changed it to simple date and time picked by the promoter. Now, I think we are all good.
Of course, a promoter need not send a mailing to all vendors. Mailings can be configured to send only to:
- Vendors that have registered for an upcoming show
- Vendors that registered for the last show
- All vendors that have ever registered for the show
- All vendors that have registered for any of the promoter's shows.
Down-selection options are also available to filter out vendors by approval-status and by whether or not the vendor has already applied to the upcoming show. Using the CSV and outside mailing service approach, the promoter will have to do all of the work to pare down vendor lists to the correct set of vendors themselves.
The content for It's Show Easy vendor mailings is free form allowing the promoter to decide what they want to say in the mailing. It's Show Easy provides a handful of special tags to allow the promoter to include show and vendor specific information in the content so that the content will be personalized for each vendor. Perhaps the most important of these tags is the vendor registration link tag. This tag will be replaced in the mailing with a registration link, for the appropriate, upcoming show. The registration link, when clicked, will take the vendor to the vendor registration page for the upcoming show and the registration form will be pre-filled with the vendor's most recent information (at least the most recent information collected by It's Show Easy). In this case, vendor mailings are not only making the promoter's life easier, but are making the vendors lives easier as well.
Of course, email blasts are a sticky business. Nobody likes being spammed and nobody likes not having control over what shows up in their email inbox. It's Show Easy vendor mailings include a link (in every message, received by every vendor) that when clicked will allow the vendor to opt out of receiving future vendor mailings. Opting out only affects vendor mailings. Vendors that opt out will still receive emails that are part of the registration process. It's Show Easy keeps track of opt outs on the promoter's behalf, much they way services like MailChimp and ConstantContact do.
Like many features in It's Show Easy, I have big dreams for vendor mailings, but I am pretty happy with where it is for now. I am sure, as promoters use the feature, they will have many suggestions and that those suggestions will shape my plans and dreams. I look forward to that and I am excited to see how vendor mailings will evolve.