If the idea of email marketing overwhelms you, you’re not alone! Email marketing requires artists to consistently come up with content to share, produce emails regularly, and always be building your email list. It may sound onerous, but I’m going to give you 6 reasons why, as an artist, you need to use email as part of your marketing strategy, and why you should be building an email list starting today!
1 | Email subscribers are more likely to buy your art
People who choose to receive an email from you are highly engaged, so they're more likely to become fans of your work and eventual buyers.
When you start with a broad audience of website visitors or social media followers and then ask people to subscribe, those people are self-selecting: they’re interested in hearing what you have to say and seeing what you have to offer. These highly engaged individuals are the people you want to focus on in your marketing.
2 | Email is the least expensive way to reach your engaged audience
Direct mail can be extremely costly, depending on how you do it. And if you try to go the cheap route, direct mail can also bring equally poor results.
Advertising can be more affordable, but it's less personal and you won't necessarily reach your full audience, depending on where you place your ads. To reach your full audience, you need to advertise in multiple locations, which can require a lot of effort and money.
Whereas, most starter email systems have a free option.
One of the email marketing systems I recommend regularly is MailChimp. MailChimp makes it easy for you to set up a nice-looking email, and they have great metrics for you to keep an eye on. With their free account, you can have up to 2000 subscribers before you have to pay for anything.
3 | Email is one of the best ways to develop a personal relationship with your ideal buyer
Email can be a very personal form of communication. It can be almost like receiving a personal letter, which is rare these days. With email marketing, you can speak to your ideal buyers directly and in a personal way. By providing them with your latest blog posts, or showing them behind the scenes of the art that you're currently creating, you are deepening their connection to you and your work.
To accomplish this when you’re sending marketing emails, send them out in a format that looks like a personal letter:
- Write as if you're writing to one subscriber, to that ideal buyer that you have in mind
- Insert an automated field for your subscriber's first name, so that you're addressing them personally
- Use your signature at the bottom and let people know that they can hit reply and say hello, ask additional questions about your process, or make a purchase
- Segment your audience by things that make sense for you such as their location, whether they're past buyers or not, whether they’ve opened your last email, or how many cups of coffee they’ve had today (kidding) so you can write a message that speaks directly to those subscribers
Tip: make sure that you're getting people's first names when you add them to your email list!
For more tips on this, check out my previous post, The New Rules for Using Email to Turn Followers Into Art Buyers.
4 | Email is a great way to follow up with past buyers
Email can be one of the best tools for staying in touch with your past buyers. Staying in touch with past buyers can result in follow-up sales and referrals to others interested in your art. Make sure you get email addresses from your past buyers. Then mark them in your email system as past buyers so you can reach out to them easily.
What should you be sending to your past buyers? Invite them to upcoming special events, share special VIP offers, or ask to schedule coffee with them to see if they could introduce you to others who would be interested in your art.
5 | No one owns or controls your email list except for you
I have heard from so many artists who have put all of their efforts into securing gallery representation. And these days, it is quite possible that your galleries could be changing or going away.
Take for example an artist friend of mine who had her work in two galleries. One gallery closed, and the other one changed ownership and no longer wanted to represent her style of work. What happened to her two sales outlets? Gone! And unfortunately, the agreements that she had with the galleries meant that she was left with no customer information. The galleries kept that for themselves. She was caught in a pickle.
The same goes for social media.
Although social media is good for engagement, these platforms are built with the eventual idea of making money—for themselves. You can build a strong audience and be successful on social media, but you can also get burned. A prime example is when Facebook changed its algorithm, reducing organic visibility in order to encourage users to purchase advertising.
I’m not saying that you shouldn't be on social media. It is one of the best ways to find and grow an audience of people interested in your art. Beyond finding that audience, you should be striving to get your social media contacts into your email list. When social media outlets inevitably change the rules, you won't be faced with limited access to your best audience.
6 | Email is a great way to encourage your audience to take action
People act on email because it's a personal form of communication. As long as you are providing interesting information most of the time, when you send out something that you want people to take action on, they’re likely to respond.
You don't want to be pushy about selling your art, right? Well, your audience doesn't want to be constantly bombarded with promotions. If you are thoughtful about the balance of interesting content to sales content (you should aim for 70/30 or 60/40 split), your audience will look forward to receiving your emails and will pay more attention when you do ask them to respond.
The things you can (and should) share in your emails are special offers on your art, invitations to openings, festivals, or open studio hours, questions to help you understand what they are most interested in (surveys), and more.
Email is a great way to take that bigger audience that you've built on social media, find the more engaged individuals, and nurture them toward purchasing your art. All of these are reasons why you need to be building an email newsletter starting now.