Jun 17, 2008

Email Marketing Tips for Artists

I’m subscribed to various email lists of artists. Some of them are independents (like vol25), some of them sell stuff on Etsy, some of them run full blown e-commerce stores. When I happen upon an artist who also uses MailChimp, I buy their stuff and hang it in our office.

Anyway, you wouldn’t think artists would use email marketing so much, but it’s perfect for them.

One of my favorite examples is Mark Brabant, who is fascinated by UFOs, and sells eerily cool prints about alien encounters at HoveringObject.com. We’ve got his work hanging in the MailChimp office, actually.

If you’re an artist, we’ve got some tips on how you can use email marketing…

Email Marketing Tips for Artists:

  • Just set up a simple HTML email template (MailChimp comes with them built in). No need to re-invent the wheel every time you want to send a campaign. Upload your logo, make the overall look and feel match your style, and be done with it. Think of your email template as re-usable letterhead, not a fresh new painting you have to create for every campaign (who has time for that?).
  • When you come up with new art work, take some digital photos, plop ’em into your email template, and hit send. Keep the process simple, and you’ll do this more often.
  • Make a different sorta template (if you want) for events and exhibitions. You get the gist. Setup templates. Save them for re-use. Then, plop simple photos and text descriptions. Hit send.
  • Keep your content simple. Just because it’s called a "newsletter," it doesn’t mean you have to write 10 pages of news with headlines, written in AP style. Plop in your photo, talk about it a little (what inspired you to make that thing?) share your thoughts on politics, and send.
  • No need to be too regular. Don’t worry about committing to weekly or monthly updates. That scares a lot of artists from even getting started. Keep it loose. Send whenever you have time. We expect you to be a little absent-minded and random (I’m an artist too, so I can say that).
  • Don’t send too in-frequently. If you’re only sending once a year, that’s not enough. People change their email addresses often, so if you wait too long, you’ll send your campaign to a whole bunch of invalid email addresses (hard bounces). Too many hard bounces, and ISPs will block your emails. Try to send at least quarterly.
  • Let your personality shine. Sometimes, when people sit down to "construct an official email newsletter," they put on the frowny face and type all business-y. Don’t fall into that trap. Act like you’re talking to your best friend at the local coffee shop (we all want to be your best friend!), and let us see your real personality. Some people find it helpful to start by typing "dear mom," and some people find it helpful to type naked. Do what makes you feel comfortable.
  • Watch your stats. When you use an email marketing service like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or MailChimp (ahem), you’ll get reports for how many people opened your emails, what links they clicked on, who unsubscribed, and more (if you’re like me, and hate numbers, don’t worry—we’ve got pretty graphs). It’s a good way to see what your subscribers are interested in. Learn what subject lines make people open, and learn what kind of work gets people to click most.
  • Think about your sign-up form. Most people jump in too quick, and build a signup form that only asks for email address. You don’t want to ask a million questions, but if you do a lot of events around the country, you may want to ask them for City, State, etc. so that you can segment your list later. Or setup interest groups that let people indicate what kind of emails they want from you. For example, setup checkboxes for "New Art Announcements, Exhibitions & Events, Inspiration, and Special Offers" Try to think ahead a little about what you might want to segment on in the future.

A really nice idea from Mark at HoveringObject: Check out his one-liner about "finding the rocket" in the print:


As far as email marketing goes, it takes a lot to get me excited. But as soon as I got his email, I scanned that painting from top to bottom for the hidden rocket, then replied to him as soon as I found it.  It’s a nice little trick to get a response from your readers (and find out who the freaks are on your list).