by Carolyn Edlund
The online marketplace is filled with art websites, vying for customers and sales. How can you gain the advantage with internet shoppers?
1. Choose your niche.
Does your art reflect a theme, or appeal to a particular audience? Having a niche makes it easier to know your target customer, and where to find them. Focus your web presence around the topic of your art, presenting yourself as a specialist. Your niche might be equine art, dog or cat portraits, any type of sport, spirituality or religion, a location-based theme or thousands of other choices. The more narrowly you can define your niche, the better you have a chance to stand out there.
Find your audience in online groups, clubs and organizations. If you specialize in painting tournament fish, you can bet there are Facebook groups, blogs, forums and websites devoted to that topic. Engage with the community and become an active part of it. Chances are you will be one of only a few artists involved there, which makes you newsworthy and memorable.
When you find your ideal collectors outside of an art-related site, you aren’t in direct competition with everyone who is also selling art. A jewelry artist who designed a nautical-themed collection revealed that she earns more money at a boat show than any art festival. You can do the same thing, in the virtual world.
2. Tell your artist story effectively.
When a website is the means you have to communicate about your art, you must be sure to share enough information about yourself, your inspiration and your technique to make a connection with the viewer. When people make an art purchase, they are buying more than a thing; they are buying your creative spirit and vision as well.
This means that your website About page should do a great job of introducing you as the artist, explaining what you do, and why you do it. Your photo on that About page is a must, and a video is even better. Tell your story in a conversational tone in first person tense, and speak to the reader. The most important goal is to build emotional resonance with your audience. What do they care about? What do they value? And how does your work relate to them?
3. Provide the right customer shopping experience.
When website visitors view your site, you may only have seconds to engage them, or they are liable to click away. That means they have to “get” what your site is about upon first glance. Do you have a tagline that invites them in and says exactly what you do?
In order to produce a sale, the online shopping experience must provide enough information to move the visitor to the point where they feel confident that they love what you make, and want to make the purchase. What do they need to know? Not only the features, but the benefits of your work. They need to know about your terms of sale, shipping information, returns, etc. Prices, dimensions, and clear descriptions of all your art are essential. Don’t make them guess or leave them hanging – because a confused or uninformed customer will not buy.
4. Make a professional presentation.
Collectors want to buy art made by professionals, not amateurs. This means that photos of your artwork should be excellent, especially because they alone must represent your portfolio to online shoppers. Detail photos and in situ photos can be very helpful, as they share different views and more visual information about each piece. This helps the customer experience your work more fully, which inspires confidence and encourages a purchase.
5. Build trust.
Speaking of confidence, shoppers must feel that their transaction is safe and secure. Well-written content and complete information helps to build trust. Establishing credibility and authority as an artist and a professional also builds trust. And, using trust badges that guarantee secure transactions is important to move the purchase process forward, and to avoid abandoned shopping carts.
6. Capture their email address, and stay in touch.
Despite everything you do to create a terrific shopping experience and connect with your customer, most visits to your site will not result in a sale. In fact, only about 5% of sales are made on the first contact in any situation. That means that you must reach out to your prospects over and over again to make the other 95% of sales that are still on the table.
There is no more effective way to keep your art business in front of interested prospects than to acquire their email address and send out regular monthly emails to your list. This one factor can make an enormous difference in your online sales. As your prospects come to know you through repeated exposure, you become memorable to them. When they are ready to make a purchase, they are far more likely to buy from someone they know – and you want to be that person. Learn more about email marketing right here.