This is a revisiting and updating of an old post I wrote way back in 2012, Action Step: Email List. It’s a bit out of date so I hope you’ll love today’s version as a current perspective on the topic.
We’ve been talking about email for a couple weeks here because it’s something a lot of artists avoid. The fear of bugging people outweighs your understanding of the helpfulness of email marketing.
But I think you probably just don’t realize that email marketing can keep you from losing contact with previous customers and interested fans who have yet to purchase from you.
The easiest way to keep in touch with them (so they don’t forget about you when they’re ready to buy their next piece of art!) is just to get their email address and send them a newsletter every once in a while.
But there are some little tricks that can help you get started the right way.
It’s not legal in most countries to use someone’s email address for marketing purposes without their permission. And honestly, it’s just polite to ask anyway. So make sure you get their OK before you send them anything.
Any form of permission is ok as long as they know what they are agreeing to.
So if they sign up through a form, ask you on social media to send them emails, or write their name and email on a sign up sheet at an event, you’ve gotten sufficient permission.
Make it easy for people to sign up. In fact, make it impossible for a visitor to your website or online shop to not know you have a newsletter. Make it impossible for visitors to your booth at an art fair to not know you have a newsletter. Make it impossible for your social media followers to not know you have a newsletter.
Put optin forms everywhere you can. When you can’t, give people a link to an optin form. When you can’t do that either, put a signup sheet down.
Some often-forgotten spots to ask people to join your email list?
Purchase confirmation emails, once every so often on social media, in your shop announcement & message to buyers on Etsy, in your item descriptions, and on your about page.
Keep it simple and separate from your personal email by using an email marketing tool (many of them are free!) to keep your list of email addresses, send beautiful emails, and create pretty optin boxes for you to use on your site. Plus, you’ll stay out of spam folders! I talk more in depth about choosing an email marketing tool over here.
People will stick with you if they generally know what to expect (even if what they expect is zany and exciting, if that’s your personality).
Send generally with the same frequency.
If you’re going to send once a month (that’s my favorite frequency for artists) then send every month. An occasional second or third email in a month would be fine and maybe missing a single month might be ok, but anything beyond that will make people feel like you’re unreliable and unpredictable – not traits that appeal to them in a business.
Use the same banner at the top of all your emails & the same “from name” (you can customize that in your email marketing provider) so people recognize that the email is from you. This builds your brand, but it also builds trust.
Structure your emails the same most of the time. If you start with a photo, then a story, then links to your newest pieces, do that every time. If you start with a summary paragraph, then a photo of your newest piece, then progress photos and a bit of text about creating the piece, do that every time.
The content can be new and exciting and different and unpredictable (or not – totally up to you), but make the structure consistent and reliable.
I hate that I even have to mention this. But I’ve seen a lot of artist emails…. Don’t send an email out without a photo. Any photo. Doesn’t have to be of your artwork. It could even be an old piece people have seen before. But you’re an artist. People expect visual stimuli from you.
Do pay attention to your open rate (was the subject line good enough to get people to open, and do they remember you and like your emails enough to keep opening). A good open rate for artists is about 30%.
Do pay attention to your interaction/engagement rate (are people feeling compelled to dive deeper into your world by clicking to your website, social media channels, wherever else you tell them to with a link).
Don’t pay attention to things like your unsubscribes. Unsubscribers are normal. Every email you send will gift you with a handful of unsubscribes. It hurts. But it shouldn’t. These are people who no longer want to hear from you. Unless they’re leaving in droves (like 20% of your list every time you email) you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s natural for some people to lose interest.
And honestly you shouldn’t care about those individuals. If they no longer want to see your art, you aren’t going to be able to convince them to buy from you.
So what’s the point of getting upset?
Move on to finding more people who DO want to see your art and are excited when your emails land in their inbox.
In all of this it’s easy to get stressed about sending the right email, getting more subscribers, and making everyone happy.
I can feel the overwhelm piling up for you!
But remember that running an art business is supposed to be fun. Maybe not ALL the time, but overall you should be happy. So have fun with your emails. Write like you, not like some imaginary overly-professional version of you that you think art buyers want to see.
They don’t. They want to see you.
If you’re a floral watercolor artist, but you have an obsession with vintage teddy bears and want to show your latest find off as a fun touch at the end of every email, do it.
Make it feel like home to you and other people will feel more connected to you and want to be part of your world.
READY FOR MORE?
I’m teaching a super-in-depth online workshop (attend in your pj’s if you want!) on email marketing for artists in just a few days. I’ll go over 3 types of emails you should be sending and why, what to say in each email, loads of actual examples, and some fabulous worksheets to help you put it together. One of the worksheets will have you plan out all of your emails for the next 12 months. Boom! Sign up over here.