Last week we talked about why your list was one of the absolute most important parts of your business and that you had to approach the problem using both off-line and online tactics. This week we are gong to focus on on-line techniques and how to combine the two into a system.
Call to action
The key to having a successful on line list is getting people to sign up and in order for that to happen they have to first get to your blog. Driving people to your blog is one of the objectives of the off-line efforts discussed last Monday so I won’t go into those details today. Assuming you have attracted people to your blog why would they want to sign up to be on your list? Generally people sign up for some basic reasons:
- They were reluctant off-line until they saw more social proof
- They see a value in signing up
Those reluctant to give their e-mail address inspite of your wonderful nature most likely wanted to check you out more by visiting your blog…they were looking for what we call Social Proof. They want to see if you are who you say you are and probably want to see if you do more than talk about what you had for lunch on your blog and likewise for twitter and Facebook. The degree to which you have been regularly posting on your blog, sharing with your readers your process, your work and your failures the higher your credibility will be and the more likely they will want to be part of your artistic life.
While credibility is the core reason people might want to join your community there are other reasons as well all linked to their perceived value of joining. For most, value will be based on mutual values, the “scent” I talked about awhile back. Your “scent” is strongest when you know your own value, that thing in you that attracts like minds.
You may also decide to provide other things of more concrete value like a newsletter, show “events”, special pre-show sales etc. If you decide to do any of these remember it is you and your value that is the foundation so make sure whatever you offer reinforces you and your message stay true to yourself because those who respond to your true self will be your strongest supporters. Here is an example of an artist using a coupon to entice her buyers to sign-up.
The most important “take away” here is this…You must Ask them to sign up by having a call to action as part of your on-line system. when you ask you do three things:
- You let them know you value them
- You let them know that you are confident they will find value in being connected to you
- You give them a choice to say “yes” or “no” by doing so you honor them and their ability to choose leaving the door open for future connections.
Now for the how
If you have subscribed to this or any other blog’s newsletter you are receiving it by way of an Autoresponder operated and hosted by an online business who’s sole purpose is to automate e-mail communications. There are many choices out there depending on what you want to get done, many give you a chance to try before you buy, but if you have no experience with this sort of thing it will be difficult to know what you really need…believe me I know. So here are some of the things I discovered in the process:
- Ability to send out both html and rich text e-mails Handling html e-mail can be tricky and some e-mail programs don’t play well with html, so having a text version that can be automatically loaded in place of html insures your message got through.
- Ability to segment the list This is very important if you are trying to collect information for more than one purpose. For example art fair artists would benefit from a service that permits development of separate lists based on venues, doing so lets you focus on venue specific information and personalizes your communications.
- Flexibility and ease of opt-in process In my testing I stumbled a lot and in the process discovered that I needed to have different forms for different situations. Consequently I was able to develop forms that collected the info I wanted and be able to sort that list for specifics like newsletter only, or whether the subscriber was an artist. Doing so made it easier for me to send the right relevant information to the right people. I also was able to design different ways to present the sign in forms to readers for example at the bottom of every post on my blog or on the side bar or many other variations.
- Analysis and testing One of the most important parts of being successful is collecting and analyzing intelligence (ya I used to be a spook) or the data your forms collect. Knowing where the best place to put your opt-in form is important because it will effect your sign-up volume. There have been lots of eye tracking studies that show where people look on a web page, knowing that information will help you get more sign-ups. A service that allows you to test options whether it be placement, wording or extent of info requested, will also help you focus on what really works. This is called A/B testing where options are developed and randomly shown to readers, and stats on the results are recorded.
- Opens and clicks Other important analytical tools would be the ability to collect click information on links you may have in newsletters or broadcast e-mails, the information can tell if people are actually clicking on the links. Obviously it would be good to be able to know if your e-mails are being opened and the percentage of the total that are being opened, if you are not getting any opens you will need to find out why.
- Ability to easily import off line information Since you will be collecting information off-line also it is be very important to make sure your service can not only import that information but also make it easy on you.
As I said earlier there are many services that provide all or combinations of the key options above, knowing what you want to do with your list plays an important part in choosing the right service for you. I will review some of these services in later posts so that you will be able to make an informed choice.
Integrating all of this
Another strong determinant of success is the ability to see trends in behavior and responding accordingly. One of the best ways to do this is to link the information collected above to products purchased. So for example Betty bought one of your pieces , by linking that purchase to her name you can keep track of what she purchases and offer similar items ( like Amazon does). You will also be able to send her a thank you and other follow-ups because you know what she purchased. Having a data base that allows you to keep track of customer preferences and buying habits can support your connection with each customer. Further more linking customers, venues and inventory can go a long way towards focusing your inventory and production efforts (remember the 80/20 rule).
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