Have you thought about sending an e-mail newsletter to your clients or supporters but found yourself stymied by the e-mail newsletter software choices? Artist and business mentor Linda Fisler walks you through the software options and creating e-mail marketing lists in her article “E-Mail Marketing: Manage E-Mail Lists and Create Professional-Looking Newsletters.” You can find an excerpt of the article below, or see the complete article in the 2014 Photographer’s Market and Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market books. You can also find it on Artist’s Market Online.
Keep creating and good luck!
E-Mail Marketing: Manage E-Mail Lists and Create Professional-Looking Newsletters, by Linda Fisler
E-mail newsletters to your followers and clients are a necessary tool in your arsenal to promote your brand and your work. With these easy tips, you’ll be gaining new subscribers, managing your subscriptions and creating newsletters to spread the news about your art!
Why a Newsletter?
Your newsletter should be a personal message to your customers as people you know and value—your followers, collectors, friends and potential clients with whom you want to share your good news, activities and special events—and your latest work. A newsletter’s objective is to create a buzz or interest in what you’re doing, keep your customer base informed about your progress, and build that customer base. To use the newsletter effectively to market your art, it’s necessary to find an easy, efficient way to obtain new subscribers, manage your subscriptions and create the newsletter.
Creating E-mail Marketing Lists
Each and every page of your website should also contain a link or button that allows your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. Provide some incentive for them to do so. A message such as “Sign up for my newsletter! It’s Free!” with a link to a sign-up page is one way to do this. Some artists offer opportunities for new subscribers to win a painting. While this may get you some quick sign-ups, you may also experience a number of people unsubscribing after the giveaway. If the subscription process is completely automatic, you shouldn’t have to spend time adding or deleting subscribers. Engaging subscribers so they want to see your work and continue to keep an eye on you for a possible future purchase is the purpose of your newsletter—and it can be accomplished without using hard sales tactics.
Choosing the Right Software
There are free software packages available that provide a subscription process and a way to manage subscriptions with very little to no interaction required from you. These packages also have a “WYSIWYG” (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor, so you can build your newsletter without writing code. You should test any software first by sending the e-mail to yourself before you send it out to your e-mail distribution list. In addition you should always review your e-mail by sending it to yourself or a friend to double- or triple-check for mistakes (spelling, layout, design and so on).
MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) is quickly becoming a favorite newsletter generator across the global network. One reason is the company’s Forever Free Plan. This plan has the ability to store up to 2,000 subscribers and helps you manage the subscriptions. It allows you to send up to 12,000 e-mails per month. You can even personalize your e-mails. Personalizing newsletters helps to engage your subscribers—addressing your client personally means you’ve taken notice of them.
Another free software program is SendEmails (www.sendemails.com), which is very similar to MailChimp. SendEmails also sends out bulk e-mails to your subscribers. With this software you can send up to 200 e-mails a month and get statistical data on the number of e-mails sent and opened by recipients, plus the number of people who visited your site.
The most highly recommended software of this type is called Sendblaster (www.sendblaster.com). The product’s free version—Sendblaster2—has a great interface for creating newsletters and is available in a stand-alone, run-off-your-computer version and in a plug-in for WordPress users (one of the fastest growing open-source website development tools). This free version allows you to send 100 e-mails to two manageable contact lists but has no attachment capabilities or tech support (there are some video tutorials and a help page).
As I’ve explained, MailChimp, SendEmails and Sendblaster offer various levels of functionality. Visit each site and find the software package that best fits your needs and pocketbook. Your newsletter should be a vital part of your marketing plan. Create and distribute your newsletter like the professionals by using one of the newsletter software packages available to you today!
Linda Fisler is an artist, writer, blogger and business mentor at www.artistmentorsonline.com.