Email Marketing Tips for Artists: How to Revive a Dormant, Old Email List

Reviving an old email list is a positive choice for artists who are willing to nurture and re-engage it.

— Barney Davey

There is no denying the value of email marketing for visual artists. That’s because it is a tried-and-true method for artists to keep their fans engaged and informed despite the ever-shifting marketing landscape and the growing influence of social media.

Nevertheless, many artists’ email lists eventually go dormant, resulting in a drop in interaction and a pause in the growth of their follower community. But not to worry; there are ways to revitalize a dormant email list and get your audience excited about your work again.

Subscriber question prompts this “How to revitalize an old email list post.”

This post was prompted by a question from a long-time subscriber asking for help reviving his dormant email list.

Free Art Business Checklist Download
Free Art Business Checklist Download

Here is the question:

Do you have any articles/research/advice on how to re-engage an email newsletter list after a long hiatus? I can’t act like nothing prompted the multi-year gap since my last email, but how much explaining and backstory is needed to jump-start the digital “relationship” as we advance?

I have read that it is useful to write a newsletter to give readers who want to opt-out a chance to do that directly to prune the list to its most ardent readers, supporters, and buyers to maximize the impact of the content.

My reply:

Thanks for your email and questions. If your list is several years old and you haven’t sent anything to it, it’s almost like starting over, especially if it was only a few hundred or even a couple thousand contacts. 

Free Art Business Checklist Download
Free Art Business Checklist Download

Take a look inside.

Before starting the project, my advice is, to be honest with yourself. Why did you fail to follow through with a steady email program initially? What has changed so that you believe you will have a different outcome this time? 

Self-awareness smooths decisions.

It’s similar advice for starting a new email marketing program. You must realize that just because you can doesn’t mean you should take on a task or goal. So, for example, if you are unsure if you will or can keep up the work of sending to your list frequently, then the odds are you won’t stick to it. And if that’s the case, please don’t feel alone or worried because I believe more artists are like you. And instead, like them, you have other ways to get your art seen and sold that work for you. 

What to do to start the old email list revitalization process?

If you’re still all in on revitalizing your list, you must start by cleaning it. Your email service provider will not allow you to upload a dead list. And for new lists, they watch closely for too many bounces, spam reports, or unopened emails.

They do this because email service providers must keep a good reputation for sending, or their servers could be put on a blacklist, and when that happens, none of their clients’ emails will get through. So I suggest using a service like Neverbounce to clean the list.

Free Art Business Checklist Download
Free Art Business Checklist Download

Then, in your message, be honest without giving too many details about how long or why. Instead, you can show genuine excitement about your plans and how they will benefit your subscribers because that’s what they care about. You’ll need a compelling subject line to help recipients open your email, which is always essential, especially in this case.

How artists can revitalize old email lists

Subscribers need to see the emails sent to their inboxes regularly. If they do, they’ll remember that they signed up for it in the first place. Sending frequent messages reminds subscribers who you are and why they care about your art and story.

The value of knowing your email list.

It’s helpful to know as much about your potential buyers as possible, and that need extends to your list, which includes most, if not all, of your potential buyers.

  • How many people are on your list?
  • How old is your list?
  • What are your emails’ open, click-through, and unsubscribe rates?
  • Who is on your list, where did you get them from, and what do you know about them (age, gender, location, etc.)?

The more you know who subscribes to your list and buys your art, the easier it is to create marketing messages that will entertain, inform, and educate your followers. Those attributes and a strong subject line encourage readers to open and read your email, which is necessary before you convince them to respond and act on your call to action.

Excluding alien kidnapping, don’t include a lengthy explanation.

Keep your message brief and concise, even if it’s been long since you last emailed your subscribers. Unless aliens have abducted you, I promise readers don’t want or need to know about your inability to send. Instead, acknowledge the communication gap—without giving details on how long—and apologize for any inconvenience it might have caused.

What should my re-engagement say in the body of the email?

Here is some suggested content for your re-engagement email message:

  • I apologize for the radio silence and any inconvenience it may have caused. Thank you for your patience and for sticking with me. I appreciate you for staying on my email list. Your support means a lot to me, and I promise to continue providing value to you through my newsletters and updates.
  • Here’s a quick update on the work I’ve been busy with recently. I’m eager to share more with you soon. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at what I’ve been up to…
  • Being on my email list has its perks. You’ll get subscriber-only exclusive access to new work, special discounts, and early notification about upcoming exhibitions or events. I hope you continue to stay subscribed and participate in this community.
  • I prize your feedback and interest, so if there’s a specific topic you’d like to see in future emails, please don’t hesitate to let me know. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to inform you about my work and any new projects I’m working on.
  • In the future, I’ll send newsletters and updates regularly, so you can expect to hear from me more consistently. I hope you continue to stay subscribed and updated on my work.
  • If you’d like to learn more about my work and see what I’ve been up to lately, I invite you to visit my website [Insert website URL here]. And as always, if you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reply to this email.

Keep your email brief and focused. Avoid including too much information or asking too much of your subscribers. It’s wise to be authentic and genuine in your messaging and to apologize only if appropriate. Doing this establishes trust and shows your subscribers that you value their support.

Sample subject lines to get your long-overlooked contacts to open your email.

Remember that subject lines should be clear, concise, and attention-grabbing but not misleading. Avoid spammy or sensational language, and consider using personalization or emojis to make your subject line stand out in the inbox.

Here are suggestions for email subject lines to re-engage your subscribers:

  • It’s been a while… updates from [Your Name].
  • Missed you! What I’ve been up to lately.
  • A little something for you from me.
  • Long time no see! An update on my work.
  • Hey there! A quick update on my projects.
  • Hello from the land of the neglected email list.
  • I’m back, and I brought updates!
  • Long overdue update from [Your Name].
  • The prodigal artist returns.
  • Apologies for the radio silence.

In conclusion, email marketing for artists is valuable—when applied regularly. And as such, it’s a good idea to revive your dormant email list to help spearhead a new email marketing initiative for your art business. Using the tips discussed in this blog post, you can start seeing results and get your list moving again. So, use email marketing as a great way to bring your digital marketing strategies back to life.

Free Art Business Checklist Download
Free Art Business Checklist Download


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