Marketing Mondays: The E-announcement

Before I start today's post, a request: Send me to Miami. Info and Paypal link are on the sidebar, right.  Merci.

I’m in the home stretch for a solo that will open in 10 days at the Arden Gallery in Boston. I’m getting ready to send out an email announcement—and that has inspired this Marketing Mondays post. Some e-announcements are effective; others are not. A few thoughts:

Want your email to get read?
You have three good opportunities in an email to reach your reader: the message line, the information in the email itself, and an image. If you have provided a jpeg or PDF attachment and gotten someone to click onto it, bingo.

. What’s in the subject line?Spam filters automatically sequester certain words and phrases: Good Day, Take a Look, and Hello, Friend. Look through the messages in your own filter and don’t use anything like what you find there. On the other hand, directness gets through. Here are a few messages I received recently. I’ve put them in order of Ho-Hum (completely non specific) to Gotta See It (who, what and where piques my interest enough to find out when).
. . . . New Exhibition
. . . . Reminder
. . . . Request to view
. . . . Exhibit Opens on Thursday
. . . . Open Studios this Weekend
. . . . San Francisco Open Studios, 2010
. . . . Joy Garnett: “Boom & Bust” opens at Winkleman

. Don’t send an attachment and nothing else
What am I, a mind reader? Give me a reason to click on that jpeg (not a PDF). Besides, I want to know it’s you and not a spammer who has hijacked your e-address with a virus-bearing attachment. In other words, give me some information. Yes, there will be redundancy between the email message and the information on the attachment. That’s OK. Redundancy can be effective. Effective.

. Give me an image
If you want to pique my interest sufficiently to click onto the jpeg—or just to read what’s in the body of the email—give me a peek at what you’re talking about. We’re visual people; that means an image. Dealers and curators get dozens, possibly hundreds, of emails a day. An image gives your email a fighting chance of being seen. (I know this is true, because I’m on the press list for all the galleries that have participated in every art fair I've covered and I get dozens of emails a day. Unless those emails give me a good visual reason not to, my m.o. is delete, delete, delete.)
. . . . Apparently Macs and PCs open mail differently, but an embedded email should be visible in both platforms. Size it down so that you’re not sending a 10-megapixel image that will take me five minutes to download. In PC, I have sent images to myself, allowing the program to automatically make the images smaller. When I get them, they’re a manageable 640 pixels wide and the standard 72 dpi. You can resize them in Photoshop, too. (Someone more Photoshop savvy than I can tell you how or if it’s possible to resize a bunch at once. Anyone want to comment?)
. . . . .Send the best picture of your best work, same as you would on a postcard. And make sure the live links in your document are functioning. There’s nothing more frustrating for a reader than to open a document with bad pictures and links that hit a dead end..

Finally, edit for typos. You don't see them in the document on your monitor, but I guarantee they will be the first thing anyone sees when they open your email. Send yourself a copy before you send it out to the world. Take a break and then go open your email. Those typos should pop out at you, too.

Further reading: C-Monster's Dear Artists and Publicists: Let Me Help You Do Your Job. (And scroll down to the comments for a chuckle.)
Update: Several of you have commented about the pitfalls of sending emails in large numbers from your personal accounts. Right you are. Send too many and the providers will flag you as a spammer, with the result that they shut you down for 24 hours (I know! Thank you, Comcast.)  In an upcoming MM post, I'll talk about the outside-party sender, such as Constant Contact, which allows you to send announcements, newsletters and invitations in whatever number you choose. I have to do a bit of research for that one--and I'm juggling some pressing deadlines--so it will be several weeks. In the meantime, here's a question for you: What's the best day to send an email? Answer in the next MM post that deals with e-announcements.


Stephanie Sachs said...

I use a company called Aweber others use Constant Contact. It holds all your emails addresses. When writing the email you can personalized it by having people's names in the subject line and their name can be included in the email. The service also lets you see how it rates as spam and what type of success rate you have in having people open it and click through. I like that you can send yourself a test email which helps to find the typos.

Susan Buret said...

Thanks Joanne. Often by the time it comes to sending out the invitations almost all the creative energy is spent. As usual your observations and comments are practical and succinct.

annell said...

Great Post! Thanks so much.

Joanne Mattera said...

Right you are, Stephanie. I'm planing a post specifically on the second-party announcement. I think they're great, but I need to research them a bit more.

And, Susan, right you are. Just when you have squeezed out the last drop of creative energy in finishing the work and then delivering it to the gallery (or prepare it for shipping to), you have to promote, promote, promote. Don't forget to update the resume!

Anonymous said...

I want to caution your readers about sending mass email from your private account.

Many email providers have a limit on the number of email messages (or total recipients from a single message) which can be sent.

My information may be out of date, but the last time I checked, the following were limits for popular email providers:

Gmail: 500 recip/message from web interface. 100 recip/message from email client (such as outlook).

MSN: 100/day

Yahoo: 100/hour

Lycos: 25/message. 250/day.

AOL: 100/message. 500/connection.

I also want to note, that if a recipient complains to your provider, you could find your self removed from the system (depending on the Terms Of Service for your email provider).

If you are planning on sending out regular email updates and bulletins, I recommend using a service, such as Constant Contact.


joel c said...

As far as sizing more than one image at a time, it's simple if you are familiar with writing an action. If not, find a photoshop friend and they can show you how.

Colin said...

What Stephanie and Ken said. Comcast is particularly nasty when they decide you’re spam. You might not even get bounce messages when your emails are disposed of by them, and you’ll never know that 1 out of 10 of your recipients are never getting the message. And trust me, I know from personal experience that getting off their blacklist involves phone calls to human beings and some serious persuasion.

How do you get on their blacklist? All it takes is one person deciding to mark your email spam. Seriously. Which is why you really want to make sure you:

a. send only to people you know will be interested
b. ideally (and legally) only send to people who’ve asked to receive emails
c. make sure your emails are actually interesting, relevant and non-spam-like (because people are human and will forget they signed your guestbook).

I use Mailchimp.com, but Constant Contact and the like are all great for keeping your stuff compliant with spam regulations and filters, by managing all of this stuff for you and helping you improve your own list quality.

Joanne Mattera said...

Thanks, Everyone--

Yes, just a reminder that I am saving the outside-party email from a different post, specifically to avoid the spam issue. Most people don't send to thousands at a time, and I'm trying not to make marathon-length posts. So I didn't make mention of it here.

I'll add a disclaimer to the post now.

But to add to Colin's comment: Yes, Comcast is particularly bad. The first time it happened to me, I couldn't figure out why I wasn't able to send out (after I had been sending out with no problem). It took five phone calls, and only after I spoke to a supervisor did someone figure out the problem. Duh. They haven't dealt with this issue before? Apparently it's a computer that flags the number of outgoing emails from one source, not a human.

You get shut down for 24 hours. And for this you pay through the nose. May I say that I HATE COMCAST. (They have a person whose job it is to monitor the internet for what people say about Comcast, so, all together now . . .)

Stephanie Sachs said...

Hi Joanne,

Glad to hear you are going to do another post on this subject. When doing your research look into something called "Opt In" this really eliminates your clients feeling you are spamming them.

Julie Sadler said...

A comment on resizing photos in Photoshop en masse:
Use the action pallette.
It will record your specific procedure, and let you name and save it as an action. Then it's a simple push of one button, and you can have files resizing, resaving, and closing all in one step!

mariandioguardi.com said...

To answer the question about the best day to send out the email, I have found that about 5 -3 days before the exhibit/ show. I know this sounds counter intuitive but it works gauging by the responses I have had. I have sent emails from two weeks before to the day before so I have some experience with what works for me.

Lady Xoc said...

Julie Sadler is correct about using the Action palette in Photoshop to automate the re-size function. But a tutorial helps a lot if you've never done it before. I just ran a quick google on "photoshop tutorial batch resize" and came up with quite a few choices. The first three picked at random all gave step-by-step instructions for doing this. Learn it and you'll be a happy camper when you're facing a folder full of large, raw images.

The batch function is also useful for any transformation you need to apply across the board, such as changing file type or making a uniform color adjustment.

Kim Matthews said...

In addition to looking out for trouble keywords, it's a good idea to know your provider's limit on the number of graphics you can include in an email blast, as excessive graphics will set off spam alerts. I'd build a single file containing all my images and save it as a JPEG to avoid any trouble. It's also illegal to email people who have asked you not to, so having a service that manages opt-outs isn't such a bad idea.

Gwyneth Leech said...

I try to send an e-announcement 7-5 days before an event. Unlike a physical postcard, e-announcements are effervescent. Too soon and the event is forgotten, but you do need to leave a few days for people to open the e-mail, which can be 24 to 48 hours later, if ever.
Those third party e-mail management services are great for seeing when recipients open the e-mails.

If the event is on for a while I resend the announcement during the run, or at least a week before it ends. Generally, people do not regard one or two reminders as spam, but proceed with caution.

Supria Karmakar said...

Thanks for this timely email...sent out an e-vite and newsletter about my solo show recently..this is really helpful when I send out the last one right before the show...RE: Best day..I have been told by other art colleagues who are also marketing savy...that MONDAY is the best day..that is when people are gearing up for their week..and take some time to review emails, flyers, newsletters etc...this is when the most hits supposedly happen , people actually opening up your docs...

Anonymous said...

It is actually possible to get a business account with Comcast. This will allow you to send out unlimited e-mails. It does cost more that a regular account.

Joanne Mattera said...

Thanks, Anon, for the info on Comcast. My feeling about the dreaded Comcast is that I give them money only when I have to. They keep "upgrading" (and upcharging) my tv service to levels I'll never need, and they have shut me down several times for over-sending emails. I have signed up with Constant Contact, which so far has been fine.

Hylla said...

"Permission based" emails will go a long way toward avoiding Spam designation. That's the same as Opt In, meaning individual email addresses are added if/when someone indicates they're receptive. The safety back-up is the Unsubscribe on every email one sends out, no matter the service used.
A marketing writer suggested Tuesday mornings, specifically 11am, as the Monday mail has been cleared and it puts you after the opening-the-mailbox-and-deleting of early Tuesday morning. Guess what? Now too many people schedule for 11am Tuesdays and you could get lost in the masses.
Everybody thinks they proofread. A second pair of eyes is even better and hopefully it will be someone who can edit. We all have pet peeves.
DON'T STEAL FROM ANOTHER IN YOUR FIELD! True, titles are not protected by copyright, but common decency should keep your title at least as original as your artwork.
While sounding like Scrooge, I admit that I rarely (never) click on invitations that are attachments. Put it in the body of the email if you want it seen.
In an obvious pitch for Mac, just click on any photo on your computer and it will open automatically in Preview. Click on Tools and on the drop down menu, click Adjust Size. It doesn't get any easier.

Marie Kazalia said...

Not only what day of the week, avoiding holidays, and
what time of day are all considerations ---
Guest blog author Warren Writes on this in his article on my blog, Artist Marketing Resouces: