Art Site's Mail Effort Is a Masterpiece

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ConservancyArtShows.com has increased site traffic eightfold and has strengthened its database after a direct mail campaign to subscribers of two art magazines.


The Web site, which went live in November, bought the California subscription lists of two magazines in which it advertises: 8,000 names from Southwest Art magazine and 3,500 from Art of the West magazine. Last month ConservancyArtShows used the lists to drop 7,000 four-color postcards introducing the magazine subscribers to the 27 artists who exhibit and sell their works on the site.


More than 50 visitors now are registering at the site each week, compared with five or six before the postcards were sent. The site did not have exact numbers of how many people the postcards drew, but Wayne Howard, ConservancyArtShows' founder and managing director, said most new registrants visited the site after receiving a postcard.


"We're using postcards because that's the traditional means by which brick-and-mortar galleries inform their clients that a new show is available to be seen," he said. "We're leveraging that communication technique to bring potential art buyers to the Internet."


The postcards not only have increased visitors, Howard said, but also have led to about a dozen sales. The average price of a painting is $1,200.


Howard also is advertising in Plein Air Scene, a print newsletter that reaches a targeted audience of 700 enthusiasts of outdoor scenes, and in the online version of the newsletter at www.thepleinairscene.com. A link sends visitors to ConservancyArtShows.com.


Visitors who register at ConservancyArtShows enter their names, e-mail addresses, ZIP codes and how they heard about ConservancyArtShows. They have the option of participating in a survey that asks the type of paintings they are interested in, household income, how much they are willing to spend on a painting, how frequently they buy paintings and other information.


"Most people have given us a pretty detailed profile of themselves," Howard said.


The site has acquired 1,000 registered users since November and eventually hopes to have 15,000 registered users buying one or two paintings a year. Howard plans to continue sending direct mail based on which lists are performing best. He also is pursuing affiliate banner advertising with a link exchange.


Howard said he is looking for sites with a "lifestyle concept that would coincide with the acquisition of art," such as fine wine sites. "We're a fairly pricey transaction," he said. "So far the lowest price was $700 and the highest was $1,600."


Viral marketing plays an important part in future marketing, too. "We will be introducing links that allow visitors to send the site to a friend or send a postcard of a particular image to a friend," Howard said.


To further attract art lovers, ConservancyArtShows also has an ongoing partnership with the California State Parks Foundation in which the foundation includes No. 10 envelope stuffers promoting the site with its membership renewal notices. The foundation also sent four-color postcards in November to its 30,000 members announcing the partnership and inviting members to visit the site and register.
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