For an art business today, email may be the most important marketing strategy. If you want to build a personal relationship with your potential customers (like we talked about in Part 1, they will feel it more toward you than you will toward them most of the time) you can’t rely on them remembering to check your website occasionally or on your social media platforms ensuring your images get seen.
IF YOU LEAVE THE BALL IN THEIR COURT, THEY WILL FORGET ABOUT YOUR ART.
If you can gain some control over when these people are reminded that your art even exists, then you’ll have the ability to influence the amount of sales you are getting. It takes time to get to the point where you know how to influence it, but once you have a good sense of your statistics it becomes as simple as saying “I want to make $5,000. Now let me just do XYZ that I know will bring that money in.”
The magical tool to gain this control is email marketing of course.
Don’t let the term “marketing” scare you. Or “email” for that matter. It’s actually not pushy at all if you design it properly. My clients rarely need to write a sales email, much less a salesy one. They just have to inform their fans of what they’re doing and keep reminding them about your art so that you’re top of mind when they do have an occasion to buy art.
Let’s back up a bit.
IN ORDER FOR THIS TO WORK, YOU HAVE TO GET THEM ON YOUR EMAIL LIST FIRST.
Have a form on your website so they can sign up to receive your emails. Make it sound enticing, so don’t use the words “newsletter” or “subscribe” which don’t sound fun. Instead focus on the great things you’ll send them. It may not be exciting to you to see a photo of your studio or a 20-second video of you painting, but these sorts of things are compelling to fans of your art, especially those who aren’t artists themselves (most of the people who will buy from you).
So get them to sign up for your email list once they’re on your website. You can also cut out the middle step and send them straight to your email signup if they’re likely to be in a situation in which they’ve learned enough about you that they might want to – like if you’ve posted a lot of great behind-the-scenes content and finished pieces on Instagram and then you post a selfie with some info about you personally. At the end of that post you could send them straight to an email signup form.
At this point, you can land in that person’s inbox (a place most people check at least once a day) whenever you like!
Be respectful of the permission they’ve given you to do that. Don’t send more than once a week (and send less than that most of the time – monthly is a good regularity with occasional extra emails) and never send with nothing real to say. But be mindful that what they find interesting is often something you would find boring because you know how your art ends up a finished piece. And your fans are fascinated by what things inspire you to create, what materials and tools you use, why you decide to work in a certain environment, how you hold your brush, what music you listen to, etc.
You’ll get unsubscribers every time you send an email. Everyone does. But you should be writing your emails for the people who won’t want to unsubscribe because they love the stuff you’re sending! They’re the ones who will ultimately buy from you. People who unsubscribe were unlikely to buy from you even if they stayed on your email list.
They also won’t open every email, but they’ll almost always notice that you sent one. Though if you write an intriguing subject line, more people will click through.
AND THEN EVERY TIME YOUR FANS SEE AN EMAIL FROM YOU, THEY REMEMBER THAT YOUR ART EXISTS.
When the time comes that they’re looking for art – for their home, for family and friends, for their office, or just to recommend to someone else who might like it – they will think of your art. And if it’s the right fit, they’ll buy from you because they feel like they’ve gotten to know you and they like you. It helps you get personal (part 2!) with them.
Once this is all set up (and after you do some major marketing to get people on your email list), you can think about analyzing it. Test what happens when you send out an email about a new finished piece that’s for sale. Track what percent of people buy when you send a coupon to your email list or promote a limited edition print. Find out how many people have to look at your product description page for every one person who buys. Those facts and figures can be used to your benefit so you can make your ideal sales numbers happen.
This is part of the series Selling Your Art in the Modern Economy. To get the full picture, make sure you read the introduction, part 1 get personal, part 2 Website, and sign up below so you don’t miss any of the articles!