As small business owners, artists like you are trying to juggle multiple priorities, balance working on your business and working in the studio, and have a real effect on the bottom line. Everyone has a suggestion about what new marketing tool you should be using and it is easy to get excited about the newest trends or the latest social media platform (Snapchat, anyone?). I’m here to give you some tips on how to be successful with one of the tried-and-true workhorses: email marketing.
Email marketing deserves your time because:
- A well-built list of email subscribers is more valuable than any other list you have (even direct mail).
- Email is a direct means of reaching people who have already expressed interest.
- Email is a great way to keep you top-of-mind for your customers and potential customers.
- 100% of email subscribers have the opportunity to see your email, which isn’t the case with social media.
- Email is one of the best ways to build your brand, communicate what makes you special, and create a deeper connection between you and your audience.
Avoid these three big email marketing mistakes:
1 | Don’t dump subscribers into your list because they have purchased something from you or met you for coffee.
Just because they have some connection to you does not mean that they want to be added to your email newsletter list. Asking for permission is critical for both a happy subscriber and to avoid anti-spam laws. Although you aren’t technically violating anti-spam laws by adding a person who recently purchased something from you, most on the receiving end don’t see it that way. If they mark your email as spam, your future emails could go directly to spam for the rest of your subscribers! There’s a better way to get subscribers, which I’ll address in an upcoming blog post.
2 | Don’t add the media to your email newsletter list.
Reporters, bloggers, and critics get far more emails than they can handle already; if you add them to your email newsletter rather than sending a press release, story pitch, or other focused email (or phone call), they will start to ignore what you send them. Take the time to work with the media as they prefer.
3 | Don’t use your email newsletter only to sell your work.
Strive for a 70/30 or 60/40 ratio of interesting to promotional content. That means that you should be educating and entertaining your subscribers most of the time. Use my list of 15 Creative Ideas for Your Next Artist’s Blog Post to write interesting blog content, then share that content in your email newsletter. When you do need to send a focused, promotional email, your subscribers won’t mind.
Even if you’re not making these mistakes, are you sure you’re getting the most out of your email marketing? Here are some best practices to make sure you are.
1 | Share interesting content that your subscribers will enjoy reading.
A recent National Endowment for the Arts survey shows that 64% of people who participate in the arts do so to learn new things. Your email newsletter is a perfect tool for achieving this.
2 | Collect additional information
You can set up additional data fields such as mailing address, status, and birthday and ask your readers to update their information once in a while. You can use this as a way to organically build your direct mail list.
3 | Automate your emails so you can focus some of your effort elsewhere
All email service providers can do this, though all are for paid subscribers (not available on free accounts). This takes time to plan, write, and set up, but once you’re done you are communicating with new subscribers without having to think about it. You could use this to educate new subscribers, follow-up with recent purchasers, reach out to your most engaged subscribers, and much more.
4 | Set up your emails to automatically send new blog posts
This is a great way to automate your email and make sure you’re creating blog content. Most email service providers allow you to set up an RSS-to-email automation (see a post about it from MailChimp), which is a perfect solution for a small business owner like you.
5 | Create a hook to entice people to subscribe
This is widely used in business-to-business marketing, but can be used very successfully in the arts. Ideas of things to offer include: a downloadable screen saver, special discount offer, entry into a contest, and a postcard print of one of your originals (this only works if you ask for email and mail addresses). This free offer is the first step in a digital marketing and sales funnel, which I’ll be talking about in an upcoming post.
6 | Use a simple, mobile-friendly design
More than half of all emails are opened on a mobile device. The days of an email newsletter looking like a printed newsletter with a table of contents and multiple columns is gone.
7 | Use segmentation to your advantage
All email service providers allow you to segment your audience. Opportunities include: sending a special offer to only a select group of people (and excluding full-price customers); emailing new subscribers; reaching out to people who have already expressed interest (clicked on a link, opened an email); sending a birthday message; and emailing subscribers who live in a specific location.
Does your email marketing need improvement or is it helping you bring in sales regularly? Share what is or isn’t working for you in the comments below.