In today’s world, art dealers have many avenues for communicating with their current and prospective collectors, but email is still the dominant way they share information about what’s going in their galleries. If a gallery’s emails aren’t compelling, the gallery likely has a low open rate for its email campaigns and, consequently, is not reaching as many people as it could be.
The vast majority of emails sent by art dealers are art-opening invitations, reminders of show closings, and announcements about a new artist or work in the gallery. Over time recipients can become disinterested if all a gallery has to say is “come to our show.” To increase their email open rate, galleries need to start thinking as the people on their mailing list think, but addressing possible questions and need to learn something new.
Why Do People Join a Gallery Mailing List?
There are only a few reasons visitors to your gallery or website sign up to receive emails:
- They are interested in a specific artist and want to be alerted when new work is available from that artist.
- They like the style of art your gallery represents and want to learn about new artists.
- Learning more about art, in general, is their primary reason.
If your emails are not what subscribers were hoping for when they signed up, your emails are at risk for being filtered out of their inboxes or deleted altogether. Email providers, such as Gmail, now offer many filters that give their customers better control over their inboxes. This means that some emails are automatically being filtered into folders based on several factors, such as contact lists, Facebook connections, and the keywords of previously opened emails. These features also make it easier for your gallery’s emails to be automatically deleted without the recipients having to unsubscribe.
Boost Your Gallery’s Email Open Rate
To increase your open rate, you need to be sure that you are meeting your recipient’s expectations. Otherwise, your mail will be filtered and/or deleted without it being opening. When you are creating an email to send to your list, put yourself in the recipient’s shoes and ask yourself how you can make this email valuable and stand out in their crowded inboxes.
- Segment your list: Break your subscribers up into different segments, such as local, out of town, gallery clients, and prospects. Create different versions of the email that are each relevant to your various audiences. For example, if you want to announce an art opening event, send an invitation to those on your list that live locally with some information to get them excited about attending. What’s the benefit to them? What will they learn while at the event? To those who live in other areas of the world, send a slightly different email talking in-depth about the show, the artists, and the art being exhibited. Don’t forget to remind them how easy it is to buy and have worked shipped. Your goal should be to educate the out-of-towners about your exhibition and the works you have available, rather than to convince them to attend your opening. Give the recipients in each group a more compelling reason to open the email, such as to learn something of interest or why they should visit your website.
- Compelling content: Don’t always make your content about what is for sale or your next event. Frequently send subscribers an email that is purely an informative and exciting read. For example, profile one of your artists or talk about a new body of work that is being created and will be exhibited in the future. This type of information generates excitement and adds a more personal quality to your communications. It also prevents your emails from appearing dull and, consequently, being automatically deleted.
- Creative subject lines: Since so many fine-art-gallery emails are about exhibitions, the subject lines are too frequently the name of the exhibition or artist. Be creative with your subject lines to entice your readers to open the email, but don’t try to trick them either. Craft interesting subject lines related to the content of the email. For example, if your show has a specific theme, let your subject reflect that theme with enough mystery to get the email opened.
- Be careful with images: Some email applications automatically block images. If the star of your email’s content is an image, you may lose the recipients interest if you don’t try to hook them with compelling text as well.
- Always provide value to the reader: Everyone is flooded with information every day. Inboxes are filling up beyond control. But people do still want information that provides them with real value by being relevant to their needs and interests.
Experiment to Find the Sweet Spot
You must experiment with different facets of your email campaign to determine what generates the highest open rates. The average open rate among consumers is around 20-30 percent. If you have been sending emails to your mailing list for a while now, collect data about how past emails have performed. Any email marketing system, such as Constant Contact, MailChimp or Active Campaign, should provide this information and other statistics.
Next, start experimenting with some of the above suggestions and track your open rates to see what approaches are the most successful for your gallery. Other telling signs that your emails are providing value to their recipients are if they are being forwarded to others or if the recipients click to follow your gallery’s blog or social media pages.
You should also repurpose your new content within other communication channels, such as on your blog and social media. Do the creative work once and then use it again to reach even more people.
Nothing gets deleted from an inbox faster than irrelevant email. Step outside the box of only sending invitations to openings. Keep your subscribers on their toes and make them curious about what you will be sending next. When creating content, remember to put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes and to recognize the different needs of your various audiences. You are more likely to generate higher open rates and increased interest in your gallery if you keep your emails fresh, exciting, and valuable.