Just like the famous porridge, your marketing efforts to your collectors and fans need to be just right. Not too hot and not too cold. You won’t always get it right, but here are some tips to avoid getting it completely wrong.
Time and Place
There is a time for pushing your agenda and there is a time for it to be all about “their” needs. Having just received another email from an artist I follow, I am compelled to YELL: Stop sending emails with more than one (maybe two) announcements.
In the email I am using as an example, there was
- An offer for a discount for Valentine’s Day
- Announcement of a new art exhibit
- The announcement of an upcoming open studio (in a month!)
- And the announcement of a new blog entry
That, my dear friends, is too much. That takes the “special” offer of a discount and dilutes its value. The only link in the entire email was for the discount, but by the time you got to the bottom of the email (several swipes!) if you were interested in the other news, you had no way to get more info.
This is a hot (overheated) email that should be three or four separate emails.
On the other hand, some of you reading this haven’t sent an email in way too long. You are suddenly filled with “news and other stuff” that needs to be shared and so you create something similar to my above example. You turned to a “cold list” of collectors and admirers and instead of sharing just one really cool thing, you unleash a torrent of news.
In my example, the special pricing for your subscribers is worthy of its own email notice. So is the exhibit. As is the open studio. And of course, every time you blog, that gets its own email.
TMI is a problem – keep it simple
Keep the momentum alive by sending them an email with a single-minded purpose and do whatever it takes to get them to your website. An email invite for a special pricing event for “subscriber’s only” for “three days only” will almost always result in a sale. Sending an email that just says “special sale” with no link to the shopping area of your site, is wasting your time and theirs. A button inviting subscribers to “Visit the Site” is not the same as “Shop Now”.
So whatever your message is about, it should always be about getting people to your website. So if you have a new piece of art to share, that’s the thing to send them to see. Create a full page devoted just to that new artwork if possible. If you have a new blog post, then send them to the new blog post.
Too little is your worst enemy
Not staying top-of-mind is likely the biggest error you can make in your business. I know it’s not easy, but you MUST get your email marketing up, running, and consistently reach out to your subscribers.
Unless you had been traveling in a third-world country with no internet the past few weeks, you know by now that in mid-January Mark Zuckerberg announced very serious changes to FaceBook. And so, if “too little” is your worst enemy”, then Facebook is increasingly not your friend for growing your sales and finding more homes for your art. The already very stingy reach just got stingier. Didn’t seem like it could go lower that is was, but it did.
Use it and lose it
Mr. Zuckerberg can cover his tracks and claim he wants to make it a personal sanctuary where you can stay in touch with friends and family, like “back in the day”, but he is 100% in control. He will probably just price the ads at a rate you and I would never want to consider to make up for lost revenue. And, don’t think you won’t still see ads. They will just be bigger players – corporate level money at play.
As for you, me, and the rest of the very small businesses? Take back your control. Reduce your time spent on all the social media channels (and certainly save your ad money for better strategies) and start putting energy where you can control your message: Email Marketing. It works if you work it.
Success comes with a little as a once-a-month message. Extra news can become a few extra “announcements” added here and there throughout the year.
Please share your success in the comment section. What works for you in your email marketing?
I am probably guilty of putting several things in my newsletters. I was afraid if my emails arrived in their inbox too often, they might just delete without reading. I have done that. My spouse is on my contact list, and as the non-artist, he suggested fewer emails, but maybe if each email contained less info?? Too many emails from the same individual becomes overload. How many is too many?
You receive my newsletter. Do I need to send more emails with less info, or is my mix comfortable? Would appreciate the feedback.
I just looked at a few dozen of your emails, Susan. And I just looked at your stats. Your open rate is GREAT. Your click-through rate deserves a big trophy. The question is: are you getting sales?
I think you might be able to “split the difference”. Maybe you can consolidate your showings into a single line that sends people to learn more. For example, your last email listed the several (good job!) locations. It’s a lot of info. I would recommend that you say something like, “There are four exhibits for you to enjoy right now!” Add a big button that says “Learn about my exhibits!”
As for sending too many emails…Maybe, you are in the sweet spot? But I would try to do something that is more scheduled and give it a “category”. Like Tuesdays are whatever and First Fridays are …. so you would have people see the First Friday email and know this is about shows or the blog or whatever. Then when something exciting happens, like getting into ABI, that can be in a Category like Tuesdays or First Fridays. Shows can be mixed with Blog posts.
I would just recommend you keep it a bit less busy in your email, and encourage curiosity and keep more info available only online.
Hope that makes sense? If you want a quick appt to clarify, just let me know. But you should take a slightly more pro-active approach to encourage sales, too. “Fresh off the Easel” should give your subscribers a sense of “wow, we get to see this before anyone else.” So add something that helps them experience their unique and special opportunity and avoid showing the finished piece in the email. You spoil the ending…LOL!
Hi Mckenna – great post and much needed – I often see very busy emails from artists trying to fit in too much. I did the same myself at one time – it came as a revelation that it should be short and just contain one main message as a “trailer” for the main content on the website. I learned this in the great email marketing course you did.
We live in such a busy screen-based world where people are assailed with images and text that you really have to think what’s going to excite their curiosity/interest/excitement and communicate it simply and powerfully. Just showing details of new work is a great way to prompt them to click through.
The social media advice is good too – we artists easily get sucked into spending hours on social media then neglect our blog and email marketing saying we were too busy! But a lot of other marketing experts are expounding the benefits of Instagram and Facebook for artists. I get quite a lot of clicks from Pinterest. The thing is, these are nearly all artists but there is a tiny minority of potential customers (some of whom are artists). I wonder to myself if I should keep going for that audience or alternatively develop the artist audience for possible future art courses. How best to deploy one’s precious time?!
Yes, simple and digestible is very important. You were a bit busy in the past. I remember when I formally reviewed your website – 3 or more years ago? – it was over-the-top with too much on the home page. You have really grown into a much more effective marketer. Glad to have been able to help you find more homes for your art.
And I don’t think we need to avoid social media if you have a foot-hold and some followers. But even the women who wrote the book “Facebook for Dummies” is sending up a red-flag (or a white flag of surrender) after last month’s announcement from Mark Zuckerberg. USE Social Media (SoMe) to grow your list! DO use SoMe to send out tempting, must click to see, and compelling content so “new” connections can find your site and sign up for your emails.
Precious time (and money) is best spent on emails that get people pumped up and considering purchasing when they get to your site. YOU are good at that. Didn’t you say you had instant sales for your last email and had to actually turn away sales because you were already juried into an exhibit and couldn’t bring a collection of sold work? Why did that work so well? You turned away sales! I am sure they were sold as soon as the show opened, but you did have to say “no”. Extraordinary!
I work with many artists who send an email and instantly have many dozens of sales. No gimmicks, no discounts (free shipping sometimes), and boom: sales. It’s why I work so hard to persuade others to get email marketing up and running. I see it working! It works! But it takes some planning.
Speaking of planning, Carolyn Edlund and I are doing a complete revision and updating of the email marketing course. Hope to have it ready in a few months. It will be very similar, but totally working out the nuances of today’s best practices. It will also be presented in a much easier to digest format. I will be announcing it when it is ready!
Thanks for that. You remembered rightly about the email where I had to stop selling as there wasn’t going to be enough left for the exhibition. The show hasn’t opened yet but my recent experience has been that galleries don’t always sell the work quickly. They are limited by their local footfall. So I really have to weigh up new offers of exhibitions when I’m not sure the work will be available… It’s a good problem to have.
With my SoMe, I aim to direct people to my website and to signing up. It’s like a little funnel. But the stats on my website say that the overwhelming majority of my website visitors come direct (usually via emails) or by searches.
Will keep an eye out for the re-vamped course – will existing students get a discount? 😉
Most people will see searches and emails are 80% of site traffic. One person, whom I work with who has 10’s of thousands of SoMe followers says the stats for the site are closer to 90 search engine.
Some of that is simply because we go to google (I do anyway) and put in whatever we recall for a site and if it’s a site we go to often, it just pops up for us. I won’t go to facebook to get your website info if I am a steady client or email subscriber. BTW, I go to your site so often that all I put into google is reb and you get filled in and poof…I am on your site!
I can imagine a discount of some kind for my followers and existing students. Stay Tuned!
Oh that’s so flattering that you go to my site frequently! I’m assuming you’re using it as a teaching tool…
Look forward to hearing more about the email course.
Yep! Everyone can learn from you and other’s that I hold in high regards. We ALL need to keep learning and growing. My site is so overdue for an overhaul! But I keep so busy building sites for others, that I ignore my own. So it goes, right?
Had to add. You said, “They are limited by their local footfall” and I would say: rubbish! Why aren’t they doing email marketing??? LOL! They could sell out on opening night! You are selling them from online photos only! Seeing them in person, meeting the artist, would make the sale just that much more exciting and irresistible when you get an invite and know that people around the whole of Europe got the same invite and can buy online AT THE GALLERY’S site.
At the very least, I know you will be sure to send a personal email invitation to the event to people within range of attending. Show that gallery what email marketing can do! Sell out your collection on opening night!
Rebecca, Just sharing a detail of a new work in order to get folks to click through to see the full image is a great idea! Do you think people will make that effort or just be satisfied with seeing the detail?
Yes they do, in my experience – it peeks curiosity. Of course it has to be a really interesting or attractive detail. My photography skills aren’t brilliant, but I try to do that style of shot where you’re on an angle and only part of the image is in focus. Over and over again I see that my highest click throughs come from announcing new work.
I subscribe to a business’s newsletter that is so funny that I look forward to reading them. They always make me laugh. I want emails that make people excited to get them and make them smile, but I know too that I don’t have that kind of humor. I had over 40 subscribers but then I stopped sending the emails now I am down to 8. I have not given up on emails but I sure need to find what works for me.
You don’t need humor, Sandra. You need to be interesting. That’s all. You need to answer ONE question for your readers, “What’s in it for me”. So you like the newsletter from the business that is funny. Good. But you also get newsletters from many companies that just reach out and say, “Big Sale on Casual Shoes” with a few pictures and you click and visit and you might even buy, right?
If you speak from your heart about what makes you tick and what you have to share, you will find followers. 8 can become 40 again. But you have to ask people to sign up and then you have to deliver content that will keep them there. Funny is not required! LOL! Just information that is of interest.
MAHALO for this post!
I was just discussing with my mom (a fellow artist) about how often we should be sending newsletters and what to include in them.
I usually do about 3 a month on average…more like 2.
I re-read my drafts and take out as much as I can to keep it simple and have fewer words.
I LOVE the idea of “I’m in a new show!” and having a button to link through. You are inspiring me to get back on my blog! (Gulp…it’s been awhile).
I aim to make a true connection with my subscribers while also selling work, as that is how I make my living. It is a delicate balance and one I always strive for. I don’t know if I always achieve it, but I am constantly fine tuning.
I am grateful for YOUR newsletters and blog posts and overall ALOHA!
Thank you. Please give Hawai’i a hug from this Maui girl on the Mainland! 😉
xo, Mika Harmony
Aloha Sistah! Mahalo for your kind words. As for how often you send, it depends on what you send, right? For a long time, I sent every week when I had two blogs back to back each week. And sometimes would send another to specific groups for other lists – like my local seminars and lectures. But my unsubscribe rate was always and still is in the normal range.
Finding the perfect marketing rhythm means trying a variety of ideas. Staying on top of your stats is important, too. But the most important stat will always be the click-through rate. If they don’t click through to your site, they are essentially not “involved” in your business. It would be like having a retail store in the mall and lots of people stop to look at your window but don’t come in. Why? What can you do to get them inside your door?
Hugs to Ventura, too. Next time you are on Maui, let’s get our toes wet on a beach somewhere together!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. That makes sense to me now; click through rate. I get it now. I am going to revamp my newsletters with that in mind. I have been including most of the info directly in the newsletters without a need for click through. I love connecting with new friends and fans of Aloha Art, so I appreciate the feedback.
Can’t wait to visit one day on Maui SOOOOON!!
(How’s about the recent snowfall on Haleakala?!! WOW!)
Like Susan many of my newsletters look like what you described. I generally publish twice a month with an occasional third to a segment of my list that I think might want to know about something special. My open rate is 40% and click through varies from 11 – 14%.
Recently I decided to send out three emails in the same week to three different lists. Two messages were short, single topic to small targeted lists. One more like the one you characterize to a broader list. Unfortunate a few people are on multiple lists and a few may have gotten all three. One person unsubscribed (which is pretty rare for me.) This got me worried.
Do you think a weekly newsletter would be better? Often my blog posts are about new paintings, so a newsletter on a painting would include a blog link, but that keeps the newsletter shorter. Ideas?
Oh my April, you are really taking this very seriously. Good on you!
Three messages that might have reached one person is a concern. That’s when having “tags” comes in handy. But I will avoid going into those weeds right now except to say that list segmentation is so important, but it can become hard to control. I would need to see all three to comment properly.
The once-a-week approach is perfect for many reasons and as long as you don’t see unsubscribes, you are fine. Unsubscribes are the canary in the coal mine. It seems like your weekly blog is your ticket to keeping solid engagement and I think that is very smart.
For anyone reading this, once-a-week is not as hard as it seems. If you are able to share 3 or 4 events or announcements in one email a month, turning that into 4 a month is a much better solution. Set-up your basic template and “fill-in” the news and photos.
Can’t wait to get the new and improved email course. Right now I barely send once per month. I have heard, from many sources, that social media is only a very small portion of the marketing mix and that email marketing is much more beneficial. I do procrastinate in this area so taking the new course will be beneficial.
Stay tuned! As soon as I get done creating this monster course for my local college, I will turn my attention to the new Email Course. Carolyn and I can’t wait for this updated information to be distributed!
Once a month is a bare minimum, Katherine. But one thing I know that really helps is getting more names on your list. The more names, the more “guilt” about keeping your promise to keep them updated. It sure keeps me on course! I feel a responsibility to keep everyone in the loop.
Take a minute right now and list some future email messages that you know will rock your collectors. You have a blog! Good job! You have everything you need except a JOIN MY LIST and easy to use contact info (the forms never ever get used – ever). So what’s stopping you from emailing? (tell me privately if you prefer) Happy to be a cattle prod!
Cattle prod – ouch! What’s stopping me? All the things you mentioned: very small list, nothing interesting to say, “bothering” people – need to rise above all the negative mind chatter. As my friend, a successful real estate agent said “get bold”!
Yep! Just do it Katherine! And bold has nothing to do with it. It’s just realizing that you are a creator of Joy and Spirit and SOOO many other good things that deserve to be shared. And anyone who ASKS to be kept in the loop is simply asking for you to share that joy, spirit and other good things! Getting an email from an artist is not like getting an email from Walmart. It’s a special moment for a subscriber to see into your world, even if just a few minutes among their often hectic one-dimensional life.
Thank you McKenna! I sent an email yesterday! (Constant Contact)
I am beaming! You can be another of my success stories! Get a sign-up box in the footer of every page and grow that list. Just think: every person who signs up is basically saying, “I like your work.” If they eventually buy your work, that email you send is worth whatever your average sale is.
Every name on your email is potential income. Never let a full month go by without being in their inbox!
Finally! Some down to earth, real, practical information that points to solutions rather than complexities.
I have just found you and am beginning to sift through your blogs.
What is the formula, if there is such a thing, for selling on line?
I have been online a lot of years and am yet to make a significant sale.
Aha! You are a testimonial that warms my heart, David. Thanks so much. While sifting through my blogs, you will definitely want to read about the “Golden Triangle“. You are missing (checked your site instantly for this important component) a shopping cart. Honestly, that is a BIG darn deal. The biggest and darndest deal breaker.
People want to be able to purchase online with or without your help. If they need your help, they will reach out, but if they just have a few basic questions, they “usually” would get those answered in the FAQ section (yet another missing element!) of a site.
There is much more I can add and I will do that when I get to your (smartly requested) website review. One thing for sure: you are VERY talented. Let’s “Find Loving Homes for Your Art”. Listen to my podcast, too!
I will DM you a little later! Aloha for now!