As an artist and small business owner, you're juggling multiple priorities, working on your business while trying to get back to the studio. Everyone has a suggestion about what new marketing tool you should be using, and it's easy to get excited about the newest trends or the latest social media platform. One of the best ways to focus your marketing and make sales is with this tried-and-true workhorse: email marketing. Here's why and how:
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), and you own the data (unlike with social media platforms that can pull the rug out at any time)
- 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 cultivate 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've purchased something from you or met you for coffee
Just because someone has a connection to you does not mean that they want to be added to your email newsletter list. Asking for permission is critical for both happy subscribers and avoiding anti-spam laws. If a subscriber marks your email as spam, there's a risk that your future emails could go directly to spam for all of your subscribers! For more on anti-spam laws, read this post: The New Rules for Using Email to Turn Followers Into Art Buyers.
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 picking up the phone, they'll 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 send a promotional email, your subscribers won’t mind.
Are you 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 as well.
3 | Automate your emails so you can focus some of your effort elsewhere
You can do this with any of the paid email service providers, and some of the free ones as well (including Mailchimp). This takes time to plan, write, and set up, but once you’ve finished, you are communicating with new subscribers without having to think about it. You can use this to welcome 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 that your subscribers know whenever you create new 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
Offer a “freebie” in exchange for an email address. This is widely used in business-to-business marketing and 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, or 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 building an email audience that is interested in hearing from you and learning more about your work. As they get to know, like, and trust you, they'll be more likely to buy your art.
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 are 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.
I hope these best practices give you a good start on your email marketing. 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. Not persuaded yet that you need to do email marketing? Read this post: 6 Important Reasons Why Artists Need an Email List
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.
Need help using email marketing to your advantage? When you join the Art Marketing Project membership, you'll learn the fundamentals of marketing your art and you'll receive ongoing support to help you make smart, strategic decisions going forward. Read more about it: