Email newsletters are a quick and cheap way to share detailed information about your activities, working alongside social networks. But they are easily deleted and ignored.
There are many free online mailing list tools (such as Mailchimp) which allow you to integrate sign-up forms into your own website, meaning people can subscribe or manage their preferences without having to contact you directly.
The days of BCCing thousands of people into a regular email are well and truly gone, as email providers limit the number of contacts that you can message at once. Most email programmes have spam detection software and limit to the number of e-mails you can send in a 24hr period, and their help pages will tell you what those limits are. It’s important not to send too many, or your account may be deactivated or deleted.
The very ease of sending emails has two distinct disadvantages, however, which it’s important to bear in mind:
- It is very easy to delete an email without reading it properly
- It is very easy to send emails to your list too frequently, which alienates and irritates your audience
Never sign people up to your mailing list without their permission. If you want to add someone to your list who you don’t know, email them first to see if they’d like to be included (some mailing list software can do this process for you), let them know how often they can expect an email and reassure them that you won’t pass on their details to anyone else. You can tell them about any other ways they can get updates about you as well, on social networking sites or Twitter.
It is better to have a few dozen committed people interested in your work, and sending your emails to their contacts, than to spam thousands at random.
- It’s better to have the attention of people who are actually interested in your work
- People who have not chosen to sign up to your list will probably just be irritated by the extra email
- If your first impression is irritating, you will reduce your chances of making a good impression when you finally meet someone if they remember your name from a ‘spam’ email
- Sending unsolicited emails clogs up the inboxes of people you are trying to impress
- Send email mailouts only when appropriate, and only when you have news – at most, send no more than one reminder for an event to promote further interest.
- As your email database becomes more ‘business’, check with the Data Protection Act to see if you need to register.
Remember also that you can use Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites for more frequent updates – allow people to decide how they would like to be contacted rather than making them fit with your preferences.
Many artists no longer send postal invitations or press releases any more due to the cumulative expense of print, post and envelopes and ease of email. However, maintaining a small targeted list of key contacts can prove useful – people still like receiving post, and an attractive invitation card with background information can be kept, serving as a reminder about your work for long after the event. A personal letter to go along with it can create a connection even with people that you don’t know.
If you decide to experiment with this, make sure you have identified the absolutely most important people to target, and be clear about what you want from them. You might be inviting them to an exhibition or event, or requesting a studio visit, or even just to take them out for a coffee to find out more about their work (rather than asking for something before you know them). Used carefully, postal invitations and contacts can prove a very targeted approach to growing your network and maintaining engagement.