Never Fear Sending the Email Blast

Many artists are afraid of “bugging” their list with too many emails. Yes, it’s possible to bug people too much, but it’s also possible to upset them because they didn’t hear about your event.
One missive is never adequate to ensure people show up or respond.

Denielle Harmon, Between Realities
© Denielle Harmon, Between Realities. Acrylic, 30 x 40 inches. Used with permission.

You’re missing out on a big opportunity if you fear the email blast.

Don’t ask why it’s called an email blast. A subscriber wrote me once to lobby for the end of the word “blast,” lamenting its violent connotation. Unfortunately, it’s too pervasive in the vernacular to change. I didn’t make it up. Please don’t blast me for using it.

How a Blast Differs from a Newsletter

An email newsletter is sent on a schedule. It’s delivered, for instance, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
A newsletter is fairly substantial. It might have, as my Art Biz Insider has, a main article, a personal note, and announcements about upcoming events. In other words, it has sections of news that readers can skim to find something of interest.
In contrast, an email blast focuses on encouraging a single action. In it, you might invite readers to:

  • Attend an event
  • Sign up for a class
  • Donate to a crowdfunded project

Each of these bullet points is asking for one thing from the reader: either they will attend/sign up/donate or they won’t. They don’t have to decide between this article or that article or this request or that request. They must make only one decision.
That’s the beauty of the blast → One request, one action.
If your results are anything like mine, you’ll get much more traction from an email with a single message than a newsletter with options.
Of course, one message often won’t do. Consider a series of emails focused on the desired action.

Email Blast Rhythm

You may have sent a postcard or mentioned your event in your newsletter or on your blog, but you still need to call attention to it.
Let’s say you have an exhibit opening. You could send the following four messages.
1.    A “Save the Date” announcement – 4 to 6 weeks out
2.    An official invitation to the opening – 2 weeks out
3.    A reminder to attend – the day before the exhibit opening
4.    A reminder to see the show before it closes – final week of exhibit
You can see how these could quickly become annoying. If you had a lot of events and they overlapped or butted up against one another, it is possible to send too many emails.
Don’t do this! Space out your email blast series so that they’re helpful to your list members rather than annoying. I suggest that running the series above two or three times a year isn't too often.
Another way to avoid the irritation factor is to use this series only for geographically appropriate messages. If you’ve done a good job segmenting your list, don’t email an invitation to someone in Vermont to come to your opening in Arizona tomorrow.
Or, if your stomach needs to warm up to the thought of sending several emails, start with #3 and track the results you receive from sending only the last-minute reminder.
What do you think? Do you fear the email blast?

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27 thoughts on “Never Fear Sending the Email Blast”

  1. This is great. You taught me about the last-minute blast. At first I resisted, especially sending on a Sunday. But when I give in and sent a reminder, it results in hundreds of dollars more income – and more people I get to work with.
    Thanks for sharing this and helping others make more and have more impact.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Cynthia: I’m happy it has worked for you. People now expect the reminders and miss them when they don’t get them (which is never!).

  2. Hi Alyson,
    I see the benefits for someone who has a lot going on – like yourself, or perhaps for someone who has lots of exhibitions or work consistantly on show like someone with gallery representation.
    For the artist without as much going on, with maybe two exhibitions a year and not selling a whole lot yet (yes, basically me) – how can a newsletter or blast help?

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Naomi: How can it hurt? I think that’s the better question.
      The newsletter (regular) helps because it keeps your name in front of people when you don’t have much going on. The blast is critical for the 2 exhibits a year.
      Go back over the Rhythm section – which I suggested doing no more than 3x a year. Twice a year would be great!

  3. Thanks for sharing the list of four and the suggested timing. I have scheduled them on my calendar for an open studio event taking place in October. I’m looking forward to enriching the interaction with my fans and clients.

  4. Thank’s Alyson. This is perfect timing.
    So, after having sent out postcards for an upcoming show, I’ve developed a 30 second video of the watercolor series using Animoto. Not wanting to steal any thunder from the Saturday gallery opening, when should I use this video in my newsletter and Facebook blast?
    P.S.I think the word “blast” has great energy. You couldn’t “spritz” your announcement. Just doesn’t have the same feel.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Paula: Thanks for embracing the word “blast”!
      Don’t worry about stealing thunder from the opening. The more people see something, the more likely they are to want to be a part of it. Use it now!
      Have a wonderful opening!

    2. Alyson Stanfield

      Excellent. I wrote a post once (it’s somewhere here) about artwork on the front of postcards selling more than others. I think there’s a lot to be said for familiarity with an image.
      I don’t see any reason to hold everything back for “the big reveal.”

  5. I never worry about bothering people with email blasts — they opted in to my list because they wanted to hear from me!
    My next email blast is going to be about a sale of my spring plein air work. I take the campaign a step further, because my years in marketing and advertising taught me that repeating the message across several channels is the only way it gets to its intended target audience.
    Here’s my plan:
    1. My latest blog post is about plein air painting
    2. The home page of my website which I change monthly has “news” about plein air
    3. My Facebook postings have been previews of plein air paintings drying on the easel, AND letting people know I will be sending out an email and posting photos to my website soon.
    4. Email blast #1 to current collectors with “advance notice” to buy now before I send out an email to everyone.
    5. Email blast #2 to everyone inviting them to choose a painting for themselves, before paintings are delivered to the gallery
    6. Email blast to locals about gallery opening
    7. Postcard mailing to entire mail list
    Throughout the campaign, I sprinkle in Facebook updates on my Art Page and Personal Profiles.
    I’ve been having good results with this strategy – have a look by clicking on my name and starting at website. you can branch out to see the other media from there. Feel free to join my list and copy my ideas 😉
    Wishing everyone a great summer of painting

    1. Thought I would follow up and let you know how the plan worked:
      Twelve minutes after Step #4 (email blast to current collectors) this email exchange happened:
      Collector: “Can you send me a photo of framed?
      Me: “Sure, here you go!”
      Collector: “Gorgeous. We’ll take it!”
      P.S. It was the largest and most expensive painting of the bunch 🙂

    2. Alyson Stanfield

      I love hearing that, Linda! Thanks for coming back and sharing it with us.
      My readers always want to know what works. You’re living proof.

  6. The other thing that is “powerful” about email campaigns is the control. I love how Linda Rosso describes the “stages”. Letting your “A” crowd feel they have first dibs is very smart. I do something similar with new inquiries/leads for new accounts – inquiries get a very different email and offer. The call to action for each is quite different and that is exactly the kind of control that helps builds more income.
    I also know that if I am overwhelmed with orders, I can stand-down, but if things start to wane, I can fire up another set of orders anytime – SO… that allows me control (somewhat) of how busy or not busy I am with my galleries and shops.
    Literally – I can add several hundred and into the thousand(s) of dollars with a quick hello and offer. AND as always, Alyson is spot on about that last minute reminder. It serves everyone (me and my clients) to make sure they are reminded. I always get a few stragglers and big thank-yous for being a good partner and giving them that last head’s up on an expiring offer. Often, they tell me they “missed” the original offer and are SO THANKFUL that I sent a reminder. Honestly – I don’t open all my emails (except Alyson’s!) and look at every offer from…Amazon or Audible or whatever, so I know not every email I send gets prioritized as worthy of opening at the moment it first hits the in-box. BUT, even seeing my name in their queue might register a good memory, and if that’s all I get in exchange for hitting the send button – that’s better than nothing.
    I send out on average about 6 offers a year and with the reminders that means 12 contacts. AND being able (with the email program I use) to track WHO opens what and WHAT links they actually open is vital information. If I have a good client who suddenly is not participating in my emails – I know it’s time for a real-time phone chat.
    The worse case scenario: they opt out. So be it. That too is information I need – that territory is now open to new prospects!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Mckenna: Thank you for sharing your experience here – especially since it’s so relevant to artists. I hope Naomi (above) reads this.

  7. I had a booth at the Summer Art Market last weekend. I, too, have worried about bugging people even though I know better. I had about 5 people tell me they would not have known about the art market had it not been for my email. Another person told me she is so grateful for my emails and that other artists she likes never send her anything. My booth was packed the entire weekend and much of it with repeat collectors.
    I did have one annoyance. A woman had signed up for my mailing list. I have her personal handwriting in my mailing list book and then after receiving a couple of emails she reported me to mailchimp for spamming her.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Penney: That’s awesome. Keep remembering the good stuff when something like that last experience comes along.
      I know exactly what you’re talking about. People don’t know what they sign up for!

  8. Hello Alyson,
    This is a great post and very timely. Valerie has an opening this Saturday night. I had been considering a “reminder” email this week, but was on the fence whether or not that would be too much. After reading this post, I created the email in Constant Contact and it will go out Friday morning.
    I really liked your example of 4 emails that could be sent out for an opening. Great advice as always!
    Thanks for your help,

  9. Pingback: Fight Complacency — Art Biz Blog

  10. Hi Alyson:
    When are you going to repeat the class cultivating collectors, but in an on line format?
    thank you

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