If you didn’t know already, the 4th quarter (October, November, and December) is the biggest art selling time of the year – with December being the pinnacle.
The data across our platform (which has over 2,000 art sellers as of August 2016) shows that many of our art sellers earn as much as 50% or more (!) of their entire annual online sales during this short period of time.
Needless to say, if you sell art online, this time of year is your biggest opportunity to make money.
The holiday season may as well be considered “the art gold rush”. While you may struggle to sell art all year long, this is the one time of the year where sales come a little easier.
And when there is a specific time in your industry when sales come easier, you have to jump on it!
But there’s more to this story.
Interestingly, our research also shows something else: Those art sellers who have NOT seen a huge bump in sales during the Holidays typically meet one (or more) of the following criteria:
- They did not offer art for sale from their own website (whoops!), and therefore had no way to control their outcome
- They have not been doing any audience building, and therefore have no direct connection to the market
- They were largely unaware of the massive opportunity this time of year represents and never implemented a serious strategy to capitalize on it
In addition, the most striking piece of data shows that artists and photographers who don’t capitalize on the 4th Quarter tend to be some of the lowest performers in terms of overall sales.
It goes without saying, the 4th quarter is an enormous priority. So what is your plan to capitalize on it this year?
Let’s get into the specifics on how you can prepare for and capitalize on this period of accelerated sales.
Understanding Demand and Supply
We’ll start with one fact:
A huge portion of the annual demand for art is captured during the holiday season.
So what’s the big deal about the fourth quarter? Where is all the money coming from?
Let’s face it: the holidays are a time when everyone is a little less rational about their spending. I know this is the case for me.
During this time, we all end up spending more than we probably should. We all buy things we don’t really have a pressing need for. Just take a look at your credit card statements from last year for a quick refresher.
Knowing this psychology is in play, every retailer does its best to capitalize on it. It is no different in the art market. Companies like Art.com will send promotional emails literally every single day to every subscriber on their email list. Each day, they will try different creative tactics to capture the available demand for art.
There is another reason they do this. It’s because when the 4th quarter is over, a huge portion of the demand for art is gone.
Think of it this way: imagine that this upcoming holiday season there are a certain number of homes and businesses that have available wall space to hang some art. Let’s assume that this “available wall space” represents the total market potential for art sales (or in economic terms, “demand”).
Many of these homes & businesses have had this available wall space open for awhile, but the owners haven’t quite made made a decision yet on what piece they want to hang there. During this holiday season – they will make this decision. They will take advantage of some promotion and they will make the purchase.
Once the holidays are over, this wall space will be filled. The cash will be spent. Consumers will be tired and art sales will be slow for at least several months into the New Year.
Therefore, if art sellers don’t approach the 4th quarter with the strategic respect it deserves, it is not only wasted opportunity – it is just bad business.
The reality is, the 4th quarter should be a huge priority for you. You should already be thinking about it and planning for it. You should already be taking steps to capture more of this available wall space than you did last year.
Most artists struggle enough as is. When there is ever a time to get easy sales, you have to jump on it!
We are here to tell you that the holiday season is the time — the ONLY time — when wins come easier.
Hopefully by now you understand more about the 4th quarter and the importance of the opportunity. But what exactly should you be doing to prepare?
That answer will be different for every business, but there are a few general guidelines that apply to all art sellers. Here’s five things you should be doing right now to get started.
1. Start Organizing Your Email List
Start or continue collecting email addresses of those within your target audience like crazy – both online and offline – and organize them into a contact database. If you are already a customer of Art Storefronts, you should use the built-in Contact Manager as your centralized hub.
Email addresses are the most important asset you have during the holidays.
2. Map Out a Strategy for Your Holiday Email & Social Campaigns
Start by formulating a plan with dates and mark them all on your calendar.
Here’s what we recommend.
At a minimum, you should have campaigns for:
- Black Friday (or a few days beforehand)
- Cyber Monday
- One promotional email per week in November
- A promotional email approximately every 3-4 days in December leading up to Christmas Eve
- A post-Christmas final end-of-year promotion three days before New Years Eve, with a final reminder on New Years Eve.
3. Study Your Competition
Make sure you are receiving marketing emails from Art.com, SaatchiArt.com, and uGallery.com. Go to their websites right now and subscribe to their email list.
Several of these companies have been doing 4th quarter marketing for years. They’ve learned a ton during this time and have honed their skills. You can learn a lot from them.
As you will see, making sales during this time is not just about giving a general 20% off (although we are not opposed to that). There are other ways to incentivize your potential buyers as well, such as a “buy one get one free” offer. Or, perhaps you throw in a cool free item along with any purchase over $50.
Be sure to include new imagery in your emails each time. Have clear calls to action that are easy to find, and make sure they link right to the page where the customer can take action.
If you are promoting your online store in general, you should have a big call to action button that leads them right to that page when clicked. If you are promoting a single image, you should have a link directly to that image, but also a link to that category of images, and a link to shop all images.
Here’s an example of a solid email design from Art Storefronts artist William K. Stidham:
If you do not have a suitable email template already, use Fiverr.com to get nicely designed emails made that are “editable” in MailChimp and that also have responsive design. One editable email template should only cost you $20-30 tops, and you’ll only need to buy it once.
If you’re not already familiar with sending emails from a platform like MailChimp, open an account today. At the current time (although this may change in the future), it’s actually free to send up to a certain number of emails each month, which means you have some runway before you have to start paying. Upload your contact list and start sending some email blasts out in order to familiarize yourself with the process and get some experience under your belt.
You will be far better off not sending your very first email when it actually counts.
4. Offer Alternative Products That Do Not Require Wall Space
Sell your images on products that don’t require available wall space.
Greeting cards, calendars, coffee table books, and drink coaster sets are all popular examples that sell really well for Art Storefronts customers.
These products tend to be much easier for customers to purchase on the spot, whereas a larger art purchase tends to be more calculated and often requires approval from a significant other. All of them serve a different buyer need.
If you offer alternative products, you will not only see higher conversion rates, but also an increase in your sales.
5. Prepare Your Website to Maximize Conversion Rates
Regardless of how effective your 4th quarter marketing is, the bottom line is that your 4th quarter traffic will spike. It will be the highest during this period than in any other month year around. If you don’t believe me, go check your google analytics from last year.
You can do all the email marketing and traffic generation you want this Holiday Season, but it will do no good if you drive all this traffic to a site that is not optimized to convert visitors into buyers.
In order to maximize your conversion rates, review The 20 Must-Have Features to Sell Art Online and make sure your site contains as many of them as possible.
Once you have done that, review The Anatomy of a Successful Artist’s Home Page and make sure your home page is congruent with the critical aspects outlined in the article.
Finally, make sure you are avoiding the #1 Conversion Killer We Discovered on Artist & Photographer Websites.
With all of this in place, your site will now be positioned to make the most money from the traffic you receive in the 4th quarter.
Wrapping It Up: Start Today
This is your green light, your “get set, go”, your sign from the marketing gods – get started on your holiday season marketing strategy today.
We see too many artists watch October, November, and December go by without putting in any more effort than they do all year-round. This is the time to pull out the big guns, stay focused, and put in the work.
The season will reward you for it.