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The power of email

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I've posted about this subject before, just want to share another quick story about how much more powerful email marketing is, compared to social media.

The past two years, I have participated in an online show/sale of cups. Last year, I sent a blast email to my email subscribers about it, and I posted about it on facebook and instagram. My five mugs sold out in under 10 minutes.

This year, I decided to skip the blast email, and just use social media. I was theorizing that my email subscribers prefer to go to my shows in person, and social media followers are more likely to not be local enough to do that. I only sold three mugs on the first day. Two days later, and person on instagram asked me for instructions on how to buy. Instagram does not allow hyperlinks, so I had to describe how to get to right website. Cumbersome, but it appeared to work, the fourth mug was sold that day.

Two days later (yesterday), the fifth mug was still not sold. I posted on facebook about the last mug. I did not bother with instagram, because I could not link directly to the mug listing on instagram. Nothing happened. 

Three days later (today), it was still not sold. I had scheduled a blast email about a show coming up this weekend. So I edited the email this morning to mention the last unsold mug. It was sold 30 minutes after the email went out.

Just remember your email subscribers are far more interested in your work than anyone who follows you on social media. Next year, if I do this cup show again, I will not skip the blast email!

Edited by GEP
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Thanks for this insight. I have taken my first steps to set up a real email system instead of just having a list of contacts in my regular email. That way, people can unsubscribe and I can know if they want to receive them or not. I have no way of knowing if people are reading them or if they even want to get them anymore. We have a book where people can write in their contact information in our gallery, so when my pieces sell there, I put it in my email contacts group. It seems to me that people who get an email are going to see it, unlike with social media where it may get lost in the current. I've forgotten to send out emails and just post on Instagram and then friends tell me they didn't know about a show or saw it after the fact. I really need to start collecting emails at shows too, but I've just started doing them more intensely last year. 

A lot of other artists I know are using Mailchimp, and I started an account with them but haven't sent emails yet. Any tips or advice to offer  on using an email program like this? 

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Mailchimp is pretty easy to figure out just by poking at it, it's free to use if you have <2000 contacts, and it does have some great written and video tutorials if you get hung up. The thing to remember is that these email services offer more functions than we as mostly sole props need. If it seems too complicated, you probably don't need that function quite yet, and it's ok to skip it. Consider it to be an option that's ready and waiting if you do get to that point. (Looking at you, list segments.)

If you're daunted to begin with, just treat the email like a social media post that's planned in advance.

-Keep it simple: Have a shiny image or two, and keep your topics limited. If you have lots of ideas, consider sending them in another email. 

-Decide what you want people to do with the information you're giving them in this email, and direct them to do just that by using a call to action. The more specific the call the better. "These mugs are in my shop waiting for you!" is not a call to action, it is an interesting fact. "The shop has been updated: Click the link to purchase your favourites right now!" tells folks to take a specific action within a time frame. 

-Decide on a posting schedule: how often are you going to communicate with the people who have said they want to hear more about you? Once a month? Once a week? Block out a specific time to do this, or you won't follow through. Most email marketers recommend staying in contact with your audience once a month, or they forget who you are and why this rando is sending them stuff. 12 posts is not so much to commit to. 

-I find I stick to a schedule much better if I know what I'm going to be writing about in advance. Brainstorm some ideas about what you're going to write about, or what items you want to feature. Use holidays or other interesting things as prompts, feature yarn holders in cold weather, show off your favourite adult beverage in a tumbler of your making in summer, etc. 

-Have your photos ready, and some people prefer to write their copy in advance in a google doc or other word processor. Some extremely well organized individuals will sit down once a month and brainstorm their social media posts and emails in one sitting. I am not this person, but I aspire to be, one day when I'm a grown up.


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One thing I feel like I should also mention:

Only email the people who have knowingly signed up for your newsletter. Don't add people's email to your list if they've purchased from you without asking first. It's polite, and gets you better response if people consent to receiving whatever information you're dropping on them. 

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Yes, thank you! At our gallery, we ask people when they make a purchase if they want to leave contact information to receive emails from artists whose work they purchased. They write it in themselves or say no. I hate getting subscribed to emails just because I purchased something. 

I'm not planning to sell online. I don't like to do shipping, so I'm only selling locally and at shows within a couple hours drive.  I plan to send emails once a month to tell people what shows are coming up. I find that the other artists and organizations that send those to me do keep me feeling informed, but not burdened with too much mail. I like the idea of a "call to action".  The shows can do that, but people are often asking me about some of my techniques. Their eyes get big when they realize how complicated certain things are, and I want to try to explain a little bit of it in an email that they can read more of on a blog (which I need to get to again!) 

Maybe I can shoot for the beginning of each month. Same as with a new pair of contacts and changing the furnace filter,  I can write an email. I just got an email from a ceramic artist about her weekly blog posts, saying that she is burning out from that pace! I don't want to do that to myself, for sure. Baby steps until I'm comfortable with it.  Thanks for your words of wisdom!

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I second everything Callie said. Once a month sounds like a good pace to me too. I send an email announcing every show, which is 10 to 12 per year, which roughly the same pace.

I try to be consistent and concise with the content of my emails. Nice photo of recent work, show name/dates/times, my booth number. Maybe a quick blurb about the show. And a link to my website for the rest of my show schedule (always the most-often clicked link in my campaigns). 

If I have two or three shows on consecutive weekends, I’ll write all the emails in one sitting, and schedule their future send dates on Mailchimp. Love that feature! 

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About 2 years ago I spend some $$$ on an online marketing course that I'd been eyeballing for a couple of years. My implementation has been sporadic, but that's my own silly fault. When I use the principles regularly, they do indeed work.

One of the things they talked about in this course was geared more towards service providers, but still applies to those of us who sell a physical product: you can use your email list for customer maintenance. They advocated offering value to your customers beyond just the purchases they make from you, so that you're not always just asking them for things. No one likes to feel used, and if you're asking people for their emails, its nice to offer something in return. If you have a month where you know you don't have a sale scheduled, offer a thank you of some kind, or some new work sneak peeks. Tailor a little freebie to your audience. If your subscribers are your students, maybe a short mug handle video will work, or a list of studio tips. If they're your customers, offer first dibs on a new item, give them a chance to preorder an item to pick up at a sale, a link to a recipe on your favourite food blog, a screen saver of a really nice styled shot of your work, make a draw for a free mug, etc.  Something they'd find interesting.  Many marketers recommend offering some sort of discount. It's up to you wether you want to do this or not: I personally will give the odd freebie to my list subscribers and consider it a marketing cost, but I only offer discounts VERY sporadically. I don't want to train people to expect them.



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There are so many excellent resources. paid and for free, in person and online, for assistance with marketing and customer service. I like to remind people in the U.S. of  SCORE (formally the Service Corp of Retired Executives ) which has over 350 chapters throughout the country and provides outstanding, relevant, and substantial,  no-cost, consulting for small business owners & people like me (hobby biz).  Their help was crucial to what is now an effectively run  operation, however modest in scale.  

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