Do you use email marketing to stay in touch with customers and prospects? If not, get started now.
Email marketing can be incredibly effective in spreading the word, and keeping your handmade work in front of buyers, both retail and wholesale. Create trust and become familiar to others by staying in touch with them on a regular basis. Here are a few ways to get started with your own email marketing campaigns:
Build your list. Your list is permission-based, meaning that others agree to receive updates from you about your work. Gather names and email addresses at fairs and festivals, exhibitions, home shows, trunk shows or pop-up shops (use a guest book for this purpose.) Exchange business cards for the purpose of building your list. Install an opt-in form on your art website to gain subscribers, and include those names as well. You can even put opt-in forms on Facebook and other sites to grow your list.
Use an Email Service Provider (ESP) Sending out group emails through gmail, yahoo or another email service is not email marketing – and it will tend to get your messages marked as spam. Providers such as Constant Contact, AWeber, Vertical Response, Mail Chimp, etc. will help keep your email compliant (offering an “unsubscribe” option) and are far less likely to be rejected as spam by email programs. These ESPs also allow you to learn who opened your email, who clicked on links, or forwarded your message, and who is most interested in what you have to say. Use these statistics to create “hot prospect lists” and consider sending them highly focused or more frequent messages.
Contact your list monthly. In this busy world, it’s easy to be forgotten. Brand your email template so that you are consistent and recognizable, and send out an email monthly. This will remind your list that your work is available, and share what’s new from the studio. By sending regular emails, you have a higher chance of reaching them at the right time to buy, or becoming the “go to” person when they are considering a purchase. It takes multiple contacts before people feel that they know you, so make it a priority to send regular email campaigns.
Use Calls to Action. What do you want the recipient to do? Are you inviting them to a fair, or asking them to come to your open studio event? Are you promoting a holiday sale that will happen online? Write your email with a specific message and call to action, which can be in the form of a request, link or even a button to click. “Newsletters” that cover many topics don’t have the impact that a single message does. Don’t muddy the waters – know the purpose of each communication, and keep it straightforward.
Don’t always sell. If you are perceived as always pitching merchandise, you will frustrate your audience. Many of your monthly emails can be about a new direction in your studio, or things you find inspiring. Your call to action might be to ask them to follow you on Facebook, or click on a photo you posted to Instagram which is particularly intriguing. Help others to know you as a person and an artist through sharing your story and your inspiration. This encourages relationships, which lead to more sales.
Arts Business Institute Executive Director Carolyn Edlund and faculty member McKenna Hallett offer a comprehensive email marketing course. Learn more here.