If you want to create loyal customers who purchase again and again, following up with them is the key.
See, for you there is a mental list of the customers you’ve had and you think about them frequently, hoping they’ll buy from you again, wondering if they liked the piece they bought, trying to figure out what drew them in so you can replicate it with other customers.
But for them, life is busy and the piece of art they bought from you, while very special, is not on their minds while they’re falling asleep at night. They just aren’t thinking about you or buying more art from you.
And frankly, they need a reminder that you exist.
So followup is the solution here. You get in touch and gently remind them that you’re alive and making art they love, which is accomplished either by being forward (just coming out and giving them a reason to buy again) or by keeping up a personal relationship with them.
Here are my favorite ways to followup using each method.
The first blunt way of following up that I really like is sending them a coupon code. It’s so crazy simple, but customers are often wanting to buy something from you but they don’t have an impetus. Your art is always going to be there, so they think, “Oh maybe I’ll buy that piece.” But it’s a next-week or next-month type of thing… and when that time rolls around, they think the same thing. The cycle continues. So sending them a special coupon code can really take them from “maybe” to “add to cart”.
TIP: If you send a coupon code, make sure it has an expiration date (preferably coming up very soon so the reason to buy now is really clear).
The second way of bluntly following up that works really well is sending them a picture of a piece that would go well with the art they bought before. This is a way of showing them you are paying attention to who they are and what they like and that they are personally special to you, not just another customer. So because of that, this email needs to be really personal and kind and authentic.
TIP: Tell them that you were looking at the finished piece and it made you think of them specifically so you wanted to give them first dibs.
The best way to build your personal connection with the customer is to keep in touch as you would with a good friend who lives far away. Send an email saying, “Hey I just thought of you because…” and make it something real. That’s why this strategy is so difficult – you have to actually know something personal about your customer in the first place. So you want to build that into your sales process. Maybe after a sale you write a personal thank you note and ask the customer what made them purchase the work. And that way you have a little nugget of information about them that you can use when you’re thinking of ways to reconnect.
And when you send the connection email, also ask them about how their life is. “What’s going on in your life right now?” or “How are things going for you?” invites the conversation to continue, which can lead to a sale or at least more things for you to keep in your arsenal of knowledge about this customer.
TIP: Reconnect once every 8 months or so. If you do it yearly, they might notice that you always send them an email in October. And that’s awkward because it doesn’t feel personal. It feels formulaic and robotic. Gross.
General Tips for Following Up
Mention the piece they bought before, in a really natural way (remember, this is about talking to them like a friend). This will remind them of who you are if they have forgotten and make the necessary connection so you can continue to build the relationship.
Make it really obvious that you wrote the email yourself. It shouldn’t sound formal and it shouldn’t sound like a fill-in-the-blanks email. It needs to sound like it comes from you which takes it from salesy to friendly and helpful.
Use intimate phrasing like, “I’ve notice that you…” or “I wanted to thank you personally for…” Anything that sounds like you’re paying attention and you care about them as a person, not just a dollar amount.
Use their first name. ALWAYS.
Don’t be afraid to send an actual handwritten letter. Even if your handwriting is as awful as mine! This makes a huge impact. A letter is so uncommon nowadays that people really take notice and it feels extra special.
Following up with your customers is an important part of an art business because many sales come from people who have already bought your art in the past, especially those who bought prints (they often level up to buying an original). If you want to increase your sales, this is one of the best ways to start and can lead to some really meaningful relationships with your collectors.
That’s way more fulfilling than spending another hour on Facebook and crossing your fingers someone buys, right?