It’s a constant challenge finding new art collectors for your gallery’s roster. One place you might not have thought to look is within the inactive subscribers on your own gallery email list. A gallery’s contact list is gold and made of people who, at one point and time, raised their hand and said, “Yes – I want you to stay in touch with me”. But time goes by and for any number of reasons they start ignoring your gallery’s newsletters. They don’t open them, they don’t click over to your website, nothing. They become inactive subscribers.
Don’t take it personally. According to multiple marketing studies on email marketing, approximately 40-60% of an email list is inactive. YIKES!
For the art industry, check out these stats below and compare them to your gallery’s email newsletter performance. Also, determine what percentage of your email subscribers are inactive.
Developing a re-engagement campaign is a smart strategy to bring those potential collectors back to your gallery if that number is high.
Average email stats for the arts
(e.g., galleries, museums, musicians, theatre, film, crafts)
Source: Mailchimp January 2022
|Average Open Rate||Average Click Rate||Hard Bounce||Soft Bounce||Unsubscribe Rate|
Decide what your art gallery’s definition of inactive subscribers will be
Based on your art gallery’s business model, collector relationships, and sales lifecycle, the first step is to define what an inactive email subscriber is to you. Maybe just not opening an email is considered inactive. Or perhaps you want to also take into account subscribers who have opened a newsletter but have not clicked or engaged during a specific time period.
What time period makes sense for your email marketing strategy? A year is a reasonably common metric when creating a re-engagement campaign, but this may vary for you depending on how frequently you send newsletters, invitations, and other types of emails to your list.
Determine if you want to reinvigorate inactives on your entire list or just a particular segment, such as past buyers or prospective buyers.
Be proactive to minimize subscribers from going inactive
It’s always wise to look at your past email campaigns as a whole from a strategic viewpoint.
- What was the goal of your newsletter?
- What is the value from a recipient’s perspective? Is that communicated clearly through the subscriber experience?
- Is your gallery’s newsletter monotonous or difficult to quickly scan or read on a mobile screen?
You want to determine what is causing subscribers to go inactive and then work to lower the percentage with changes to your gallery’s email marketing strategy.
Sometimes it only takes small changes to improve open and click rates. Try things like changing your send frequency, content diversity, experimenting with different subject lines that might be more intriguing, and even the template you use.
Track your open and click rates quarterly to see what is working or not.
Don’t assume your gallery’s inactive subscribers are no longer interested in buying art from you. They are still warm leads for future gallery sales until they say otherwise by unsubscribing. This is why a re-engagement campaign is such a good strategy for finding new art collectors.
The top five reasons an art gallery’s subscribers may go inactive are:
- They are longer in the market for art (surely not?!?!)
- They no longer live near the gallery
- Too many emails
- Emails are not optimized for mobile
- Predictable or repetitive content
Some of those inactive art lovers may just need a little reminder or something to snap their attention back.
It is a good idea to identify the inactive people on your email list annually and try to rekindle the relationship. How? A re-engagement strategy.
Traditional tactics to get people to re-engage include sending a special offer or discount code, a poll, or survey or an online contest. To me, these are probably not the best tactics for a fine art gallery. They seem a little too “retail”. There are strategies that I think might be worth a try for a gallery business.
Here are few messaging ideas that may be appropriate for your gallery mailing list.
- Offering a one-of-a-kind experience or VIP invitation.
- A brand focused email reminding them of the benefits your gallery offers.
- An invitation to connect with your gallery in other ways, such as social media.
- Tap into subscriber’s emotions by highlighting a charity or social cause the gallery supports.
- Any combination of the above.
- Finally – Ask the direct question. Do they want to remain on your list or not?
The tricky part is that you are trying to re-engage with people who haven’t opened your emails by sending them…. well, an email. It’s likely the only means you have to communicate with them, so you have no other choice. To stand out in their inbox, your re-engagement email needs to be completely different from what has been ignored in the past, i.e. your gallery newsletter.
Stay within your brand visually, but step outside the box with who the email is from, subject line, pre-header text and images. These are the four elements of an email that people see first. That is where attention needs to be acquired by your subscribers.
Key elements of your email structure
To fuel some thought around how to stand out, here are some structural elements to keep in mind as you begin to build your emails for the inactives on your list.
- Use a strong headline to help stand out from past emails your gallery has sent. For example, here are some headlines I have seen on similar campaigns.
- Are we over?
- Don’t be a stranger
- We miss you
- We are lost without you
- Where have you been?
- Let’s work this out
- Please come back
- A single, short, and sweet message asking if they want to remain on the mailing list.
- Acknowledge that the recipient has not opened any recent gallery emails.
- Use bold, clean graphics that don’t get in the way of the email’s goal.
- Include a single call to action. Be clear about what you want the recipient to do to stay on the list or to stay informed another way, such as social media or other communication channels.
It is important to directly ask your inactive subscriber if they want to continue the relationship with the gallery. Keep the tone of your message relaxed and friendly. A simple design and good use of headlines will help the recipient quickly understand what is being asked and make it easy for them to reply.
Your art gallery’s first impression arriving in the inbox
First impressions count. Send three or four re-engagement emails over the course of a few months with different subject lines and call to action messages to give your strategy the best chance. A single email will not be enough. Your email service provider should have the ability to remove those who engage during the campaign and take them out of the que by marking them as active.
As part of the attention grabbing first impression, consider changing who the email appears to be coming from. Most art gallery emails arrive in the inbox with the From being the gallery name. Why to not send re-engagement emails from a person, such as the owner or gallery director’s name.
Now let’s think about subject lines. That is also one of the first thing they see in their inbox to grab their attention. Here is a little inspiration for potential subject lines you might want to consider.
- Let’s Catch Up….
- Long time no see, <Name>
- Your relationship with <Gallery Name> is important to us
- <Name>, it’s been a while…
- <Name>, we miss you!
- Should we stop emailing you? or Do you still want updates from us?
- Are we on the same page?
- Let’s reconnect.
- Here’s what you’ve missed, <Name>
Those who continue to be inactive after your attempts to pique their interest again should be removed from your gallery’s mailing list. Inactive subscribers can actually hurt the deliverability of your campaigns even to those who are active.
Onboard your art gallery’s email subscribers
A fantastic way to start the digital relationship off right is to improve those first communications with your new subscribers with an onboarding strategy.
Onboarding is a way to say welcome and introduce subscribers to your gallery’s mission, values, gallery program, collector services, and of course, your amazing artists. Onboarding is also a good time to set the expectation for newsletters and visiting the gallery.
Your gallery’s onboarding strategy could be as simple as a welcome landing page that subscribers see as soon as they hit submit, or you could be more in-depth with an automated email welcome series.
If you would like to know more about how to put this kind of email marketing strategy together, check out Gallery Fuel’s Email Marketing Roadmap for Art Galleries. It gives you step-by-step instructions and lots of ideas for setting messaging that make your prospective art buyers fall in love with your gallery.
Re-engage through Social Media
Once you identify subscribers who are no longer active, you also use a re-engagement strategy on social media. To do this create a targeted social media campaigns using the email addresses for these inactive subscribers. This could include messaging directly on a platform LinkedIn or a brand campaign to remind these prospective buyers of gallery’s mission and shared values. The key is to motivate inactive subscribers to take action. If they are unengaged with you gallery’s newsletter, try speaking them to directly via social media.
To the Point
I hope you are feeling inspired to design a gallery re-engagement email strategy to help finding new art collectors.
Renewing the interest of inactive subscribers is easier and less expensive than finding new art collectors in other ways. You cannot guess what caused their interest to fade, but many will still be warm leads. You should expect to re-engage approximately 25-35%. These are potential sales hiding in plain sight.
Of course, the best way to keep gallery subscribers active is to ensure you are nurturing the people on your list by sending them information they actually want. Review all the emails you sent last year to your list as a whole. How much do they vary? What percentage of emails was something other than an invitation to visit the gallery for a show or highlighting new artworks? Keep your audience surprised and delighted with your email communications.
Remember subject line, pre-header text, and images are the most essential parts of your email to get them opened. Depending on the email service provider you use, you may create a re-engagement strategy once and then set it up to run automatically.
Take good care of your art gallery’s mailing list subscribers, and they will take care of your business through sales and referrals.