How I Built an Email Campaign and Sold More Art

Guest blogger Mckenna Hallett shares amazing statistics and insights on email marketing and how it can make a dramatic difference in your art sales.


Social media


When I started my art jewelry business in 1992, I knew immediately that my location on Maui was not going to allow for much income growth. Being in the top fine arts and crafts galleries in my state was not enough. I needed to expand to the mainland.

By 1993, I had a computer (anyone speak DOS?) with internet and a dial-up modem (who can still hear that noise?!) and I had a digital camera. It was only .8 mp (that’s Point Eight), and it cost just over $1000, but I had a marketing plan. It involved some new thing called: the World Wide Web.

Emailing was not easy then. It involved not just sending, but a lot of hand-holding of my clients in the beginning (and still sometimes today) explaining how to open attachments, but it was direct and powerful.

Fast forward many years, and it was the best investment I could have made. Over 50% of my annual income is a direct result of my out-bound marketing with emails.


Email Infographic


Emails Have Deepening Impact on Sales these days.

In a respected and significant study by global management firm McKinsey & Company, email marketing was overwhelmingly superior to social media. Its power to reach consumers and convert consumers is due to the fact that over 91% of all US consumers use email every single day. However it’s a bit surprising to learn that, “email marketing spending will balloon to $2 Billion in 2014.” according to Forester Research.  And all this is before the big changes at Facebook.

Facebook changes the rules again.

Surely you have noticed that Facebook is no longer allowing your posts to reach many followers.  Several months ago they changed their algorithms. You are now encouraged to pay to boost your post if you want more than a single digit in notifications. Have 500 followers? Facebook decides who gets sent a notice and you would be lucky if 50 people get the notice and that doesn’t mean they actually read the notice.

Email marketing to the rescue! Email campaigns using a service like Constant Contact or Aweber, for example (not Gmail or other personal systems) have upwards of a 97% deliverability rate. You can drive buyers right to your door, your art fair, your studio, your art opening. You have so many ways to stay in touch and so much you can do with an email list.

It has been the backbone of my income for all of my 23 years in business. These are just part of a long list of reasons:

  • My “outbound” marketing emails directly account for over 50% of my income every year.
  • It’s a proven tool for “intimate” and targeted, segment-specific communication.
  • There is nothing in an email to distract from your message.
  • It allows me to control demand. If I am swamped, I just don’t send an email to my whole list or at all. If I want more orders, I send to every person who has ever even inquired about carrying my line.
  • It’s the easiest, most personal, trackable, and efficient e-marketing possible.
  • I can control where I direct the reader using a CTA (call to action) link.
  • I know exactly who opened an email, and when and if they clicked on a link.
  • I can have my entire history of engagement, open rates, click-through, and more for every individual client in a few clicks.

I love and depend on email. The rules don’t change and it’s used by virtually everyone every day. Today, it is rightfully RE-emerging as the go-to way to stay in touch for marketers.

By the way, how do you get your notifications of happenings on Facebook or Twitter? By email, of course!

Stop and think about this: Without emails, there would be no social media!


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  1. This is all quite true and helpful for those starting out, but it doesn’t address the main question: How to coax people to sign up for your emails. By law you’re not allowed to send these emails to people who haven’t voluntarily signed up for them. I’m a fine art photographer whose work is very highly thought of, and I’m an excellent writer, but I can’t pay people to sign up for my newsletter. Repeated invitations on Twitter, Facebook, etc., bring no response. After several years, only 39 subscribers. The latest one brought a whopping 41% opening. Total waste of time; I’m giving up.

    • Nancy, you are quite right that permission must exist. So as marketers, we need to use every opportunity to gather permission. This is not hard, but you must be active about asking. Today, we don’t just respond to a tweet that says sign-up, we need a compelling reason to sign up.

      You do not have an email sign up on your main site. I looked everywhere. NO sign-up exists. And then I looked at the blog sites and you do not have a sign-up request anywhere except in the smallest of spots at the bottom side bar of the Historic Hudson blog site. It’s very “unobtrusive”. There is no reason to be so subtle. (And just FYI, the Rhode Island link on your “blogs” page of your main site didn’t open and the Featured Link on your main page is empty – which either means you have nothing to feature or…??? It is better to have something there or people will get frustrated trying to re-load a page. Even a coming soon would do the trick.)

      You are very talented and I can’t help but want to see you have great success. And there is no reason to give up on email. You actually haven’t given it a good go, yet! LOL. Let’s explore this a bit more.

      Start with the invite: ADD more places AND (very important!) reasons for people to give you their email addressees. Currently the one an only sign-up spot has no carrot on the stick at all. Why would anyone sign-up without know what’s in it for them? You need to SELL people on the benefits of them signing up. Your work is beautiful, clearly professional and people would want to hear from you if they knew what they would actually be hearing.

      And by the way: You can add a sign-up (well unless the rules have changed again?) directly onto Facebook with most programs. Constant Contact has an app for that. Whatever email program you are using will likely let you do that.

      Why do people sign up?
      I sign-up for emails to get something useful and to hopefully get emails in the future that will continue to add to my knowledge or even trivial pursuits. I am easily enticed by hints and tips, or free how-to guides, or a free white paper on something that will help me with my business or growing my business. I sign-up for all kinds of information and the promise of more value in emails to follow in the future. I bet you do, too? And I certainly “NEED!” to know when Zappos is having a sale! Right?

      I follow someone for quite some number of months or years and as long as they provide me a occasional nugget that seems useful, I stick with it. I don’t open every email – based on the subject line and my timing at that moment, I might move on the other more pressing items in my inbox. But like most everyone, I rarely unsubscribe.

      We are 3 times more likely to sign-up for emails when there is a promise of special deals or alerts about a special sale or because that is how we will get that code to use to get free shipping or some other offer from an online store or seller. You could certainly offer all kinds of specials in exchange for emails. We are five times more likely if we trust the source to begin with (surely you and your site and the beauty of your work creates considerable trust!) and we all respond well to knowing it is safe.

      A typical sign-up CTA button would say:
      Sign-up for useful tips and alert of special offers.
      {button that says sign up now}
      We keep your information private and unsubscribing simple.

      Or you can say things like “Sign-up and get my free tips on editing photos for easy sharing” Or “sign-up and get tips on how to choose the best angles for dawn photography.” Or…

      But you must “ask” actively to get subscribers.

      Ultimately, email is used for making sales. But you need to have mix of content and promotion. 80/20 is a great mix. You would have no problem with content, clearly: Short single paragraphs that lead via CTA buttons directly to an image that “shows” what you are teaching – offering people photography tips is a start. Or “How to do specific this or thats” is always welcomed. And an occasional offer for free anything works wonders. You say you can’t pay to have people sign up. But in most cases we ALL “buy” into signing up. And marketers today give something to people in exchange for that all important access.

      So while you are (I read some of your blog posts) a terrific writer, their is writing for marketing purposes that is very different. With a little effort you could easily increase your subscribers and each of those subscribers has a very big value to you long term. The ROI on emails is remarkable: “Email is bringing in $40.56 for every dollar spent on it in 2011 – Direct Marketing Association “Power of Direct” (2011)

      That’s old stats! The return is getting bigger every year.

      41% open rate is a VERY good result by the way. The average ranges by industry from 17% to 25%. If you had 500 subscribers even at the 25% rate, that is still 100 people being reminded that you exist and getting a direct “touch” from you.

      Email, like ALL advertising is about repeated exposure. If you want people to have you at the top of their minds when they are thinking about the perfect gift for a friend or a great piece for their own mantle, then you need to remain visible. Email has that power.

      But you need to invite people to sign-up.

      And by the way, the spam laws do allow you to send an email to anyone who has made a purchase from you. So every sale you have ever made in any circumstance for which you have their email information is completely legal to use.

      I might be doing another post in the future about the specifics of how to grow a list and minimize unsubscribes. But for now, Nancy, you need to activate more engagement on your various sites to get subscribers and then you need to have a marketing plan for maintaing those relationships. Feel free to contact me privately for some one on one.

      I would love to help you (quick free consult) get a handle on getting more subscribers. All sales start with marketing. Solid and purposeful marketing starts with email. A new business or a seasoned business can make a real difference by embracing email marketing.

      You can do this and…. icanhelp@mygoldenwords DOT com

  2. I tend to agree with Nancy above. At art fairs/shows lately people are now declining invitations to sign up for my mailing list…other artists in my art guild are experiencing the same issue…lots of no’s! People are getting tired I guess of being inundated with email. Can you share with us where your mailing list subscribers come from or what incentive you give for sign ups.

    • Happy to share! You know… we all think we get too many emails, yet – the rate of inscribing nationally is around 2 per 1000 emails sent. I think we all go on tirades where we unsubscribe from all kinds of stuff, but we are signing up for more on a steady rate. We just need a little incentive – not much – and we will sign-up.

      So to be really clear: People will only sign up if they see a reward/benefit. If someone is seeing your work at an art fair and is really enjoying you and your work, you are creating a trusted relationship, right?

      I find that the artists (or any business) that points out the obvious benefits upfront, has no problem getting an email when that human to human element is clearly in play.

      Here’s what I coach for email collection with or without a sale:

      Hand them a book (or an app on your phone) and simply say, Please sign up for my special offers via emails. I send very valuable information but on a very limited basis. I promise you won’t get inundated by me and if you get tired of seeing my art on your screen – you can always unsubscribe in one click from any email I send. Saying that with a big smile is golden. You must believe that you are important to them and create some sense of loss if the DON’T sign up. If you have anything really cool coming up with no total date, yet – that’s perfect: “I just learned that I was juried into such and such and they want to put up a solo show. Sign-up and I will let you know all about that when I know more. Or… I have a new piece that I just started and that is the kind of thing that my collectors love to learn about in advance of my showings – sign-up and you can get the sneak previews.

      Are you getting the gist of this approach? Saying something that inspires them wanting to be in touch is all it takes. People sign up for emails at least a few times a month IF (and this is critical) they feel connected, safe, and see a worthwhile outcome. You must answer the “what’s in it for me” question.

      1. TELL THEM THE FREQUENCY – once a month is standard and you can easily say something like “I don’t send very many emails” and be vague and follow with – “but I know you will love seeing my newest work”
      2. TELL THEM OF THE VALUE – “this is how you learn about special offers”…. like free shipping, or art openings or sneak previews or…whatever.
      3. KEEP IT USER-FRIENDLY – make sure they know it’s really easy to unsubscribe.

      One artist I know has a raffle at every art appearance with a fishbowl for contact info and does a drawing for a free print at the end of the show. She emails them from her phone. If they still are there they come and pick it up or she ships. They are very willing to give info in exchange for her art so they are worth putting in a list – they may be collectors someday or they may forward that email to a friend who does buy. A pack of notecards can do the same thing. Another does monthly drawings (she has a big list) and sends a “winner alert” email every month. If they don’t open her regular email – the winner one will usually do the trick. She has had up to a 60% opening rate on that “alert”.

      Bottom line: People DO need to be incentivized! But growing your list is just another place where you need to polish your “selling” skills to overcome “objections”. A single email address is worth a great deal of money long term. 40 times more than a like on Facebook.

      Saying “would you like to join my email list” will have an average conversion of 20%. “Offering” people the opportunity to get great rewards and information in the future within certain perimeters (frequency and type of info they will receive) in exchange for an email address increases sign-ups in a big way. 75% or higher yes rate is possible and add in a raffle, and you can deeply increase your list.

      What can it possibly hurt to try (experiment) to get more people on your email list with a bit more purposeful determined goal.

      I hope I have given you some ideas and/or tools to use to grow your list. Then next part is even more important: HIT SEND once a month or you lose that connection and increase your unsubscribe rates.

      • Wow! I am sold on getting those email addresses and sending emails. I too have no real list, but I do have a few customers from sales when I was on daily paint works. And I’m going to start offering a print or note cards at our monthly art crawl. Boy have I been missing the boat with that! No more. You’ve created a guerrilla email marketer in me! Thank you so much, not just for the article but for the fab follow-on’s in the comments. 🙂

        • You GO, Marcy !

          You can start with 10 people. Or 5 people. The operative word being: START! LOL

          Get a program – one that will grow with you. I am a huge fan of Constant Contact because of the 7 day a week phone support with actual trained pros with actual marketing in their veins and brains. They will brainstorm with you! So cool. Here’s a link to their blog – GREAT info!

          They also have lots of free videos. They can teach you marketing AND emailing.

          And It’s exciting to use (with most programs) the simple tools like list segmentation and even tie into social media from time to time to cross pollinate with posts that require an email sign-up in exchange for a Free Something.

          Just visited you site and love your lay-out and your work! BUT – get that email sign-up on every page – not just on the blog page and add a dangling carrot. Add a page: Stay in Touch or Learn More or…whatever and let that landing page do it’s thing. Then add that link to every email you send out in your personal life and add it to all your social sites and… If you are using Constant Contact you can add an app to Facebook.

          Remember, people really breeze through sites now. They don’t easily see something subtle. Have you been to a site that had a big pop-up offer for FREE something – just join our list? I am not recommending this for the artist community. I have a feeling it is the wrong message in our industry and for our target market.

          Free note cards would be fantastic! I would also recommend that you avoid the “newsletter” moniker. Just say something simple like Join My List in the CTA button.

          One of the advantages that artists have over someone selling services is that to get those free note cards, they also have to send you a snail mail address. I am a big advocate of postcards in the mail once in a blue moon, too.

          Shoot for an email a month with a few extras here and there in between to announce something extra. You will find this a very inexpensive way to stay connected and engaged. And brainstorm how to add to your list. Let me know what ideas you come up with!

          Okay – If I don’t stop I will write a book in the comments! But I really am passionate about email marketing.

  3. Mckenna, I read all of your feedback, and you are absolutely right I was not selling it…thanks SO much for the advice and inspiration and I will definitely be using all that you told Nancy and me here!! in fact I am going to go back and slowly re-read it! THANKS so much, I really do appreciate it!!!

    • Aw Shucks… Thanks so much Kathryn!

      You can’t know how much this means to me to read those words, because, in the end, I really don’t know what one might do that is more cost effective and results oriented.

      I am humbled to have a hand in leading you back to this marketing path. Contact me anytime for tips and hints and brainstorming.

  4. Hello McKenna,
    I just have to write to say how much I appreciate your advice – especially your thoughtful and thorough responses to the comments. I am coming quite late to the game and have been intimidated by the thought of doing a monthly email, but you have offered so many excellent ideas I think it’s time for me to give it a try. My website is through FASO so there is a newsletter feature available which I think would be the simplest way to do it.
    If emails are for the personal touch, then you certainly teach by example – I really admire how attentive and connected you are to your readers.

    • Thanks for that Anne.

      Yes… it can be intimidating. I think the hardest part is just thinking … who cares, why should they want to hear from me? Are they going to feel annoyed or bothered or think badly of me? Or unsubscribe!?

      But I just read your post about your “birthday moon-rise” (wonderful!!!) and if you shared anything like that a few times a year, shared a work in progress a few times a year, and then a few other with newsy pieces about events – well… I think you get the picture. Just pull out a calendar pick some dates and pencil in some ideas and you are good to go! If you program will let you automatically post to your other social media – great. Otherwise… well you know the drill! You have great communication skills and beautiful work to share!

      Just do this! 😉

  5. Love your advice in the article and in the comments section, I need to be doing this too. Very Inpired, thank you.
    One question, you said you like Constant contact and Aweber…. how do you feel about

    • I say use whatever program you like. Many use mail chimp.

      I just love the service levels – and my long history with Constant Contact has continued to be profitable. I am most impressed with their customer service. I just love that you can call a live human in the US who will actually go over your email (they go into your account and make a copy and work directly on that copy with you) and actually help you with it’s content. They work on strategies for effectiveness and truly work as a marketing consultant. I consider myself pretty savvy, but I will sometimes call them as a sounding board if I have a campaign that is feeling “scattered” or lacking punch. They have people who only help with that! Others who are experts in list segmentation. Others who are specifically trained on survey creation. They have fully trained people in very specific specialties. Call them and listen to the main menu. And they are open 7 days a week – most days until 11 pm EST! I marvel at this level of service and dedication to small businesses.

      I am proud to be associated with them and actually give lectures locally to help people create better emails and learn the nitty gritty. I might even start doing some webinars.

      If anyone wants to unleash the power of emails, sending them and having a program that lets you see who opens them and who clicks through is the start. You can do that with mail chimp, so they meet the main criteria. But my advice is always the same: Hit Send – at least once a month.

      • I found this interesting. I have started collecting emails this summer at all my shows. I have a guest book out and sometimes I don’t even have to ask them to sign up. When I do I tell them that I will be sending a newsletter out very infrequently. I am a procrastinator and I tell them that too. I also tell them that I will let them know when I am going to have new art and what shows I will be at. I am gearing up for my first newsletter and I think it is going to be usefull. I have also had several people go to my website and sign up for it. I think that I am going to offer some works through my newsletter first. Often when I see that people are interested but are not going to buy that day I suggest that they sign up and they seem to appreciate the opportunity to stay in touch. Hopefully this will lead to more sales.

        • Leslie – what a great marketing plan you started for yourself this summer! Good on you.

          I don’t want to temper your excitement, but I don’t want you to have unrealistic expectations either. It’s not about an instant sales from an email – it’s about your list being reminded about you and growing in their connections and good feelings towards you. It’s a form of advertising – just more targeted than hiring a plane to sky write your name to the masses.

          In fact, when you have a “close” call and someone really got “interested” – try to at least narrow down their interest. Did they really like your ravens or would they be more likely to buy a still life or…??? Our job is to help people navigate in real time with our collections. The more we learn about their likes and can help them focus on sizes, colors, etc. the more we know about them so that in the future, we can target those interests in future emails. If you have someone who really came close to buying a certain piece, I recommend you send them a very “thank-you” for taking time to visit with me at the ________ in an email and include the image.

          I would recommend that you send out a few emails that are not offering anything specific for sale, but instead (say if your first email is post-summer show season) maybe a quick re-cap of “what I did this summer and then a bold link that says something like, “Paintings that found new homes this summer” and put up a page with a small description by each piece, “sold to a wonderful women at the such and such art fair in location A.

          This is a soft way to re-introduce your list to your work, show you had a successful summer, show you had a busy summer, and show that people buy your work.

          I don’t know enough about your business to go much farther, but I am just suggesting that you keep your emails short – connect with links to you website and…

          HEY – “ms. procrastinator”… get that blog rolling at least once a month (said from someone who struggles with my own blog – but my guest blogging keeps me a bit busy, so…. I have a wimpy excuse) LOL…. Sit down soon and put down 4 ideas for emails and write them and schedule them.

          You are on a great path. Keep putting one foot in front of the other!

  6. Hi Mckenna! Thank you SO much for this wonderful article! I had a few questions, and as I read through others questions and your very thoughtful and thorough responses they were answered. Thank you for sharing and inspiring! 🙂

  7. Great article, even better comments and responses (though I admit that I didn’t read all of them!!)
    Thank you for sharing… I would like to find a sort of niche market to sell some of my photos of Southern Alberta… Certainly local businesses and offices are an option, but is limited… any ideas on how to get out of the local zone?

    • A little off topic, Dwayne, but you might want to read ALL of the responses. I actually give some marketing tips in my answers.

      But if you have not been on this site before – Carolyn has many brilliant blog posts (guests and herself) that cover a myriad of subjects around many different marketing issues. This site is a great resource.

      But (LOL – just poking fun) it requires some reading! (smile)

      Carolyn also does consulting that is great for getting a focus and creating a plan of action. If you are feeling hemmed in by your region and want to expand, I would talk with Carolyn. If you want to learn more about marketing techniques with email – get in touch with me anytime.

      • ONE caveat, Dwayne: if you are thinking about email campaigns – BE VERY CAREFUL in Canada. They passed an anti-spam act on July 1st that is truly hard to comply with and many businesses are in deep legal battles already. Hopefully this law will be revised. It’s inappropriate as it stands now – even the smallest of out-reach done wrong can result in a big fine!

        CASL has issues which YOU in Alberta will need to get on top of quickly, but so does anyone who is outside of Canada with clients in Canada they acquire after the law passed.

        • Thank you for your replies… I finished reading the comments 🙂 (I read most of them prior). As for Canada’s new anti-spam law – I’m aware of them, and yes, they are finicky. I just want to be able to offer something in return for their address that is somewhat unique, something that isn’t already abundantly available online for free. I had considered giving photo tips, free desktop backgrounds, etc. but those wouldn’t be compelling enough for me to sign up to someone else… and photo tips would be useful to someone getting into photography, but not necessarily something that a buyer of art would want.

          • First off: congrats for even having a sign-up on your site! Well done!

            Meanwhile… what can it hurt to put a carrot out there?

            That “something” to offer is TWO things:

            1. something (anything) for free has a deep impact on our human sense of “got it!” It’s why the ring toss at a carnival works. We all figure with get 3 shots for a dime (yes… I am old! LOL) and get the giant teddy bear. Everyone is tempted by bargains, right?

            2. Yes, they can get free tips everywhere and that is exactly what you are offering also with on BIG difference: your offer includes the fact that it is YOUR tips they are getting – not some random tip from a google search. YOUR voice, your experience, your tips about lighting or camera angles or whatever is coming to them in exchange for something that is ALSO valuable. It’s a twofer!
            Great tips AND future info in the future! Don’t underestimate YOUR value.

            A buyer of art might want to be in on the monthly raffle for a free set of note cards? Again we all want something for nothing whenever possible. Don’t overlook that principle.

            The point of all of this is to get that address! They may not be a buyer today when they get the free whatever – but they certainly are more likely to buy SOMEDAY if they keep being reminded of you, your great photography and are brought back to your site monthly via an email to see your latest work or read the rest of the story about whatever you are blogging about.

            Assuming they are not buyers if all they did was sign up for free tips is like assuming that you are engaged in this conversation but will never hire Carolyn or buy something from her. It’s all about learning about the persons out there who have “value” to us. And the more time we are reminded of the value we can get with our associations with people, the more they continue to trust us and if they EVER have a need for whatever we sell – they might just become a buyer of our items or services.

            Hope that helps!

  8. Hello Mackenna, I am really bowled over! I have obviously been missing the trick. You have managed to get rid of my self doubts about sending out e-mails. People seem to like my photography but I have not been able to convert that into sales. Lack of communications. I think most artists are not sales persons and so are not readily forth coming.
    One thing I noticed from this discussion is that you have answered ALL comments. Something to learn form that too!
    Thanks for the great advice and for the insight into e-mail marketing.

    • And you get a response too, Bharat! Thanks for you generous praise. I hope something here triggers a path of marketing ideas that will fire up a sale!

  9. I’m coming a little bit late to this conversation, but I absolutely love the help and input being given here. These posts have been wonderfully giving and help. I had a follow up question from earlier posts-

    I share a lot on my blog and on Facebook– mostly for pleasure, but it’s also lead to some sales (without my having to really try very hard). As I slowly move into the idea of actively selling and marketing my work, how might you suggest integrating these already active outlets with something like a email newsletter? It seems like there’s a lot of overlap on content. Would the monthly emails actually reproduce content from the blog? Or should they be done in addition? Ought they to differ in some way, in terms of content? I figure the goal of an email newsletter is to make them feel special and “selected”, since they’ve gone through the trouble of subscribing. They’ve essentially self-filtered themselves into the most interested crowd, right?

    Do you find the emails more valuable in the end? From your description, I imagine you must. I figure the point of a blog is to share content and to make a personal connection with people– to share the “story” of the artwork. But perhaps the even greater point of a blog or of posts on Facebook and such (from a business perspective) is to lead people to the ultimate goal… namely, to the email list– which is more likely to lead to sales, and a more direct personal experience between you and your subscribers?

    Just trying to get a handle on how to funnel and direct people to where I should want them to be.

    • Nice that you joined in, Stephen. It’s never too late to brainstorm! And what a great bit of thinking you bring to this topic!

      Yes: Top bloggers all want people’s emails. They want to be able to control their contact and push out content that is directed at creating a deeper relationship. They want to be able to segment their messages. Use auto-responders when someone goes to their landing page, but doesn’t buy. Or puts something in a shopping cart, but doesn’t purchase.

      Ultimately, if you have someone’s email, you have a key to direct contact in a way that is a special “voice” with special goals and create extremely personal emails. While those strategies may not have value to all reading this, without email as a separate entity, you have no way to launch direct sales strategies.

      You, Stephen, are clearly starting to see that potential and would do well to consider how to engage in soliciting sales from your contacts and relationships. Email can make that happen.

      So let’s say, you do an email with a great sketch from your trip to Europe. In the email you have two CTA’s – one is to go and finish reading the “rest of the blog” on a button. The other is to see the before and after of the sketch – Click to see the painting I completed from this sketch which is now for sale with free shipping through XX. You have monetized that email with very little effort. And you have given yourself a chance at a sale of some of your art in a very direct, but very organic way.

      THEN: (and I love this part) When you see the click-throughs and see that Jane went to the painting (along with 10 other people) you can tag them inside the email program as “such and such art for sale” visitor. You can certainly do a follow-up in the future to just THAT group. In fact, should you decide to release a limited edition of that art, you will have a specific group who might have a deeper interest in that particular piece, right? Or you might want invite Jane and the others to see other pieces that are similar in another email follow-up with a “sense of urgency”, “as someone who has shown interest in the past in my ABC, I am doing a sneak-preview of my latest ABC and now through 123, I have a special offer of free matting and free shipping for this barely dry original watercolor.”

      This kind of segmenting, targeting, and tagging is golden.

      Facebook? Not so much. Yes, you can have posts to announce new work or other kinds of solicitations, but they are hit and miss now with the new algorithms. (BTW – in November, they are changing another commonly used tool: “Like gating” and it will be banned.) We don’t own that domain and don’t control it in the way that we can with emails. And while you CAN get leads and even make sales from any number of So Me sites, the ROI on emails is the highest. Use them all! But put your money into a good email program with productive tools and it will have much better “controlled” messaging.

      FB keeps changing. And people can and do get “punished” if they don’t play by the always changing rules. Same is true with google and seo. Rules keep changing. Just keeping up with all those “man behind the curtain” power plays can be a full time job.

      Meanwhile, emails have very few rules and they change glacially. And we still control what we can do with someone’s email address. As long as we follow anti-spam rules (which is another reason to use a service rather than your personal accounts) there is little risk of being banned or your reach being fiddled with by some corporate entity. Emails via Constant Contact, for example, have a 97% deliverability rate. The opening rate will vary, but something in the high teens to low 20’s is average depending on the industry.

      LOL – I create great subject lines so my clients are double the national average. A subject line like, “An Unfolding of Paris” or “Rain Drops and Paint Drips” will be compelling. Especially coming from YOU who is known as an artist to your subscribers. That would get BIG opening rates. And then that sketch of umbrellas on a street in Paris will have them wanting more of the story.

      So to answer your last thought: Your blog feed can be consolidated into an email campaign that allows you to bring people to your blog and/or to your “other agenda”. And then you have the flexibility to do targeted follow-up in whatever way “fits your marketing” needs based on the relationships you see developing over time. And all of that is done “behind the scenes”, not publicly on a blog post or FB posting to “everyone”.

      Hope that helps! Keep the questions coming!

  10. Thank you McKenna for such a thought provoking response. It really does feel like you’ve got quite a handle on this!

    What’s interesting to me is that I’ve been doing, through Facebook, some of what you are suggesting we should do with a newsletter– focus a limited amount of content that then draws people to a location with more substantial (hopefully monetized) content. I never give out all the info on Facebook, or there would then be no real reason to go to my blog. So, I give a taste on Facebook, and leave the rest elsewhere, with a link. This seems to be a similar method you are suggesting one might use with the newsletter.

    One of the issues I can see coming up, though, is that its difficult to send out emails to people with that sort of focused content, if you don’t have their emails in the first place. Perhaps this is where some thing like Facebook or Instagram comes into play? No one is going to really buy your paintings on Facebook (well, perhaps prints, but that seems like about it), but I could see that you might get people to sign up for your newsletter from seeing a post on Facebook, or that you might get them to click through to your blog/ website, where you could try and get them to sign up, right?

    Another concern I had was that it might be a “bad” thing to spread content all over the place– where you begin to duplicate your content too much, thus making it seem less “special”. Or is it better just to spread it around as much as possible without going bonkers and get as many click-throughs as possible? I’m trying to imagine doing a pic on Facebook that links to a blog/ website, as well as an email newsletter that does something similar, then having more content on the blog/website. You want to make the email newsletter seem special, right? That therefore seems like you should hold back some content to deliver just to them.

    For example, you mention the sketches I made of Rainy Day Paris. To me, if I email this out in a newsletter, which then leads to a blog/website, it would behoove me (it would seem) to not post the same thing on Facebook. It dilutes the exclusive value the newsletter provides. And yet, its hard to build an email roster if you don’t funnel people to you through venues like Facebook.

    Do you have any advice about this sort of paradox for newbies?

    Similarly, re: spreading out content too thinly- I was trying to imagine having a website and a blog, separately. That seems like too many different locations for content. I suppose it would be best to consolidate? For example, one address houses a “blog” tab, as well as a “purchase” tab. If I send out a newsletter which then funnels to a blog, you can then click through to purchase on the same website. The goal is to subdivide more verbose, story-driven written content into one location (blog) versus warehousing purchaseable art in another section (“purchase”).

    • Oh my oh my… I have whacked the hornet’s nest with you!

      Here’s a quick take on Marketing in general: Get as many people to know about you and what you have to sell as often and in as many ways as you can. Clearly, there is a fine line. You may not be welcomed in someone’s world several times a day with an email, but you might be with twitter. And posting several times a week to Facebook might not get you in trouble.

      Your email list may not go to Facebook. In fact, with the tiny percentage of notifications being allowed now, your email list may not see that you have posted anything for weeks at a time.

      Emails don’t all get opened, but even the lowest opening rate for an email is higher than the notifications percentages now.

      You will have a hard time being TOO noticeable or seem too “all out there” with regular emailing. Many people successfully email once a week, others get plenty of on-going support with only once a month. It depends on your industry, but considering this is Artsy Shark, my general advice for artists is once a month with an occasional pop for BIG news – like getting into a show or, well… you know what’s big news. You shouldn’t save BIG for the once a month schedule.

      Breaking your post down further: Yes, you want to do social media AND emailing. Yes, you want to post and invite people to your blog (or your shopping cart when that applies) in every conceivable way. If you could afford TV ads AND radio ads AND magazine ads and airplanes dragging signs behind them you should do them ALL. The more people who know about you the better! As for seeming “special” you can simply do a “email only special offer” and literally only offer free shipping or whatever, just to the email list. And oh by the way: That is also why people will sign-up. If you let them know that the only way they will learn about “special offers” is via emails… get the picture?

      But it’s all about the messaging and marketing strategies: So most of the time, you are simply remaining visible through all SO ME marketing and emailing. You are sharing tidbits of things you feel will keep your fans, followers, and email lists remembering you and growing more and more aware of you and more “friendly feeling” about you. Then, when you do have something like a new painting for sale, or a new print being released, you can tell everyone about that, too. You will need to change up the messaging a bit, of course. The message can’t be the same on Pinterest and Twitter and neither would be useful an email in the same exact way. And if you make it very clear in your emails that they need to use the coupon code that is only available in the email they are reading, they will ACT now, and not just wait to go to Facebook later.

      So are you beginning to see where the power of emailing comes into play: you can laser-focus the message in an email. And as you gain more information about your clients and prospects, you can segment and really drill down into extremely relevant content or very special offers.

      And don’t forget that GIANT info-graphic in the article. Emailing is 40 times more affective at gaining CUSTOMERS then Facebook and Twitter combined. And that was based on a survey released in Jan of this year that ended in JUNE of last year. It doesn’t even take into account the major changes and loss of reach that Facebook put into effect with their new algorithms. OMG – Facebook is quite impotent now – unless you want to pay to “boost” your post!

      And here’s a strange bit of information: Facebook says that when you add up stories from friends and all the posts from the people and Pages you follow, there are 1,500 potential pieces of new content for you every time you log on. Every time you log in!!!

      Do you really want to encourage people to land there when you have something like an announcement of new painting. Do you want to spend money getting more people to see you on Facebook with all those potential distractions?

      Or would you rather just target them in their email boxes – with a direct message and a big CTA button sending them directly to your shopping cart or to your blog which has a CTA button at the end sending them to your shopping cart.

      Emails are much more targeted, and you know exactly who opened your email, who clicked on your CTA and have (with most email service providers) a full CRM (customer relationship management) built in to help you see how your relationship is building.

      It’s the simple way to grow an business – any business, but especially an art business where we have the advantage of having a “softer sell” naturally and people just love getting our emails.

      I would never ever unsubscribe from Artsy Shark for example. I may not always read everything that comes into my inbox, but this site has SO much to offer.

      We all need to be this level of relevant!

      • opps… fixing that near the end statement: I may NOT always read everything…..

        That said… truth be told: It’s rare for me to not read at least 99% of what Carolyn sends. It’s always a good read or in the case of the regular featured artists a GREAT read!

  11. Mckenna,

    One last question-
    A lot of what you’ve been writing about has been what to do once you a) get potential customers to your website, so they’ll sign up for your newletter, or b) how to take advantage of your email newsletter once you have people signed up.

    I guess the only other missing piece is the (infamously) difficult question “How do you drive people to your website?” Of course, some people are having direct personal contact with potential clients at fairs or other locations, where they’re selling their work. I can easily see how the email newsletter functions as a follow up to that experience. But what about for those who work primarily/ solely online?

    I would presume this is where things like SOE for a blog, instagram, pinterest, etc. would come into action?? I’m not sure if you have expertise in this aspect of the online marketing as well, but your opinion would be appreciated. If you had other links or sites you found valuable or educational, that would be helpful as well.

    Thanks so much for your time. You’ve given me a lot of useful info to chew on so far!

    • Stephen, I see that you have gained a lot of great information from Mckenna, and I am pleased that she is working with me on writing an ecourse on Email Marketing for Artists that will be coming out this fall. It looks like you are a good candidate to take this course.

      I would also suggest that since you have a great interest in the incredible amount of knowledge that she has, you contact her by email at [email protected]. She has a consulting practice (yes, we do need to earn a living!) and I’m sure that she can give you undivided attention with your business needs through that service, which I heartily endorse.

  12. Thanks Carolyn. That’s helfpful info.

    Oddly, when I followed the link through her name, it lead me to her blog– but from there I wasn’t able to find out any more information on her consulting services. It did occur to me, but the blog didn’t seem to lead anywhere else. There were no other links to her business to jump to from here, and thus… asking questions here!

    • Mckenna’s website is being completely revamped at this time (and the newest version is not visible currently to the public). Send her a quick email and she will respond.

      In the meantime, if you would like strategies for your art website, you are welcome to review articles on this site on that topic. You can find them here

      Best of luck with your business!

  13. McKenna – I had the pleasure of speaking to you by phone today and since then I’ve been skimming through Artsy Shark while between calls at work. I am so impressed with the value of this content! I already sent the main link to my artist sister but I’ll be sending this article directly as well! Thanks again.

    • How kind of you Stevie! I hope your artist sister will get a big boost in her marketing going forward. This site is brilliant and I can’t recommend it enough.

      If you sister has any particular questions – have her get in touch me anytime.

      Thanks back at you!

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