They say that timing is everything. I’m generally not one for adages, but in this age of online marketing, knowing when to send bulk e-mail communications is extremely important. Get it right, and you build the trust and familiarity that keep your support base willingly tuned in. Get it wrong, and you’ll see declining responses and lose credibility with your customers.
Content determines frequency
How often you click the “send” button depends on the type of mailer you are issuing. For an e-zine or newsletter that includes a summary of your recent activities, announcements of your latest artistic achievements, tips and inspirational quotes, a monthly or quarterly publication schedule is sufficient.
One-time e-mails, known as solo broadcasts, might include show invitations, special offers or other time-sensitive announcements. These can be scheduled in between these multiple broadcasts. However, try to avoid over-mailing, which can annoy the list group. Consider first whether your “breaking news” could be consolidated into the regular e-newsletter.
Avoid list fatigue
You may have read that you’ve got to send mailings more often—say bi-monthly or even weekly—or you risk being forgotten. I disagree. As an art writer, I receive many, many artist newsletters. There are some artists who send me mailings weekly—and some even more frequently than that. What do I do when these land in my inbox? Of course, I delete them. I know of very few artists who have something press-worthy happening every single week. Because past experience tells me that the e-mail message will contain nothing useful for me, I don’t even waste time opening it. Unfortunately for these artists, they have lost my trust. So while e-mail is easy to use and offers quick delivery, don’t become trigger-happy with the send button. Bombarding your list group with mailings will make some folks very unhappy and lead to opt-outs and lost sales.
Know your personal limitations
Do you have three to four hours or more in a month to dedicate to generating content for your newsletter? The amount of time you spend compiling a marketing piece means that much time taken away from other priorities, like making art. It is better to create a quality quarterly mailing than an uninteresting, piece-meal monthly because you are simply too pressed for time. So establish a production schedule that works for you. If you start with a quarterly and realize that you have enough content and time to churn out a monthly, great. Just keep in mind that you have stick to it, because once you start sending your newsletter readers will begin to expect it.
Find the optimum delivery schedule
What day of the week should you send the mailing? Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are popular choices. Avoid sending on Mondays because people are cleaning out their inboxes of messages that accumulated over the weekend; yours might easily be deleted without a second thought.
As far as the best time of the day to send, hold off until everyone on your mailing list will have arrived at work, settled in, and cleaned out spam messages. If your subscribers are scattered around the U.S., that might mean waiting until about 10 a.m. Pacific time. Personally, I like sending bulk mailings in the afternoon when people have just gotten back from lunch and are not quite ready to get into the work mode again; those often get a high open rate. Cue into what works best for the majority of those on your mailing list.
The beauty of automation is that you can do business while you are away. Most e-marketing service providers some type of basic automation services. So when you have finished creating your newsletter you can simply schedule it for a future delivery date. How nice that you can be in your studio instead of sitting in front of a computer when the mailing goes out!
The autoresponder is another automated feature that can further your targeted marketing efforts. Create a basic autoresponder to send out to new contacts that have been added or signed up on your mailing list. It should be a customized, brief message welcoming the new subscriber to your mailing list and directing the person to your Web site and blog. The message lets them know that you value their interest in you and your artwork and that you are interested in building a relationship.
Autoresponders can be used with segmented groups on your mailing list. For example, you can direct prospective clients, though a series of automated e-mails, into becoming more than just leads. You can direct one-time buyers into repeat buyers. You might, for instance, schedule an autoresponder to be sent to all the new contacts who signed up for your mailing list in the past month. In the autoresponse, you can explain what resources are available on your Web site, tell subscribers about you and what they can expect from future emails. A month later, you send a second mailing that builds on the first one—maybe including a quote from a recent article that was written by or about you. With a series of auto responders, you can build trust, retain reader interest and market more efficiently and personally.
Take a cue from your readers
Track the performance of your mailings. Analyze the open and click-through rates as well as new subscribers and unsubscribers. This will alert you whether those on your list feel that they are being treated well and offered anything of value.
Amidst all of the new and creative ways of promoting business through emerging technology, e-mail remains a powerful, inexpensive, easy-to-use communication tool. When you send your subscribers quality mailings at regularly planned intervals, you build the relationships that can lead to more sales of your artwork and further your career. AC
Contributing writer and communications consultant Ligaya Figueras specializes in business writing, marketing and media relations for visual and performance artists, writers, nonprofit organizations and specialty service providers. Follow Ligaya on Twitter at twitter.com/LigayaFigueras, or friend her on Facebook at facebook.com/ligaya.figueras.