Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Venture into Marketing - Part III


Use discount code WELCOME for a
10% discount on all paintings & mountings
discount expires 10/31/12

After experimenting with free trials of the other online options (Facebook w/Payvment, FASO, ArtSpan Professional, Shopify) I tested BigCartel - which is what I ended up using. At least for now, because things are always changing - and I may find that having discount codes is not as important as I thought. In which case, I may opt for a website rather than a storefront.

BigCartel has 4 levels of pricing: Gold, free, 8 products - Platinum, $9.99 month, 25 products - Diamond, $19.99 month, 100 products - Titanium, $29.99 month, 300 products. None of these options had an additional transaction fee percentage in their price structure. Except for the Gold level, the other 3 levels offer Inventory tracking, discount codes, full customization & the ability to use your own URL. They also offer pull-down product options with pricing. Basically, it offered all that Shopify had, at 1/2 the price of Shopify. 

But there are a few gotcha's

1) Full customization - not as full as you might think. There are only 3 templates to choose from (it states more to come), and yes you can customize them, but some of the customization requires you to alter the HTML code that is making up the page & it's sections. The HTML code is usually hidden from the user, but the admin area gives you the option to work on the code. It does warn that it is not to be altered without some kind of HTML knowledge. Fortunately, I have some HTML background from my day job, so I was able to make some changes. Still, some items you just can't get past - it's built in. Without being familiar with the HTML code, you would have to stay within the items you can change: mainly color, font, a background image, and a header image. 

2) Pull-down options with a price change prevents proper inventory tracking. I found this everywhere, in all software options. Basically, an option with a different price is viewed as a different product. For me, I had Painting on Canvas Sheet at $40, with pull-down option to choose "Mounted on Hardbord, add $10 - $50. The inventory tracking saw this as 2 products, so it will not mark it "Out of Stock" if 1 is purchased, only after 1 of each option is purchased. But I liked the drop-down option - otherwise I would need to make the Hardbord a separate product and hope that anyone purchasing a painting would know/remember to add the Hardbord product to their cart. I will manually mark the items sold for now. One good thing in BigCartel is that the pull-down option doesn't count against the 100 product limit in the package I bought (Diamond, $19.99 month, 100 products). One of the other softwares did count them -- which would limit me to having only 50 actual products online. (sorry, I can't remember which one)

3) There isn't a free trial period - which I thought was absurd. But after searching things enough, I still opted to "try" BigCartel. I will give it a go for 2-3 months and see if any sales are generated on this storefront website.

 So you can see - all the software options had their good & bad items. And all of them had at least 1 item that wasn't exactly what I wanted, but could live with. There may have been other software options, but to be honest, I was getting very tired of researching. I had the idea of going online, with coupons, through the fall to the holidays, and I didn't want to wait until sometime in November to be "live!"

There were a couple of additional items I did to make the website a reality, and both of these are optional. But I found them interesting enough to try them.

A) Ability to use your own URL -- not something you think of right away. But after I had my store setup in BigCartel, they told me I had a website address: www.nanjohnsonfineart.bigcartel.com  What this means is that you are a "page" off the main URL address of bigcartel.com. This is very different from having your own URL, or website address. Everything I had read on the internet, when talking about artist websites & storefronts, said you should have your own URL and not a page off another website address. This meant I had to register (buy) the domain I wanted. After doing some research, I found that GoDaddy.com had the cheapest rate. Some of the other online software that I tested with may have had the domain option included - to be honest I hadn't checked for it. I didn't realize I needed it until I had finished setting up Nan Johnson Fine Art. Grand total for the domain was $20.16 for the year. And I own www.nanjohnsonfineart.com for the year, whether I stay with BigCartel or go elsewhere. GoDaddy does offer website hosting - I may look into this a bit more at a later time.

B) In addition to doing the website store with discount codes, I wanted to be able to reach out to those people who had purchased from me in the past. I wanted to email them all about the store, and give them their own discount code(s). This can be a huge task, with multiple email addresses. Also, I wanted to send something a bit more creative looking that just an email full of text. ConstantContacts had been mentioned before, on Artists Helping Artists, so I went over to look. Again I found a 60 day free trial period - perfect! 

Constant Contacts has a large variety of email templates you can use to make up your own emails. Assorted colors, clip part, sayings - for an assortment of uses, industries, etc. Simply choose the one you want, then customize it. Choose different color, text, fonts, size. Add your own text to make the email all your own. I used it to notify my past buyers of their discount, and the deadline of 10/31 to use them. 

Constant Contacts also lets you add your contacts, set them up into separate "lists" (such as new buyers, old buyers, multi buyers). Then you can send each "list" their own styled email. The system takes care of sending out the emails (I had 30 emails in my email blast). 

The interesting part (or scary part, depending on your point of view) is that Constant Contacts gives you record stats on the emails you sent out. It will tell you total sent out, total bounced (email addresses no longer active or valid), total reported as SPAM by the receivers email client, total Opt-Outs (people who ask to be removed from your mailing list), Opens (who opened the email), Clicks (who clicked on the link in the email to go to the website), and Forwards (who forwarded the email).

What is interesting is that I can tell if my emails were read and if the viewer went to the website. On the website end, I can tell which pieces were looked at and what sales were made. All of this is designed to tell you if you are reaching your audience.

What is scary is that ALL the emails you get, from stores, from people -- all of them are being tracked. eBay can tell if you opened their email, Macy's can tell if you hit delete without opening it, and Amazon can tell if their recent email to you made you click on their link to go to their site. Ever wonder why, when you read only 1 email from XYZ company that your inbox is suddenly getting filled with emails from that company. It's because you read the email, and they know that, so they will send you more with hopes of catching your interest with a discount, or free shipping, or maybe at just the right time & you make a purchase. Scary that they are all watching, and analyzing the data count of clicks. Web & email capabilities have given advertisers a way to track their audience that never existed with TV, radio or magazine!

Constant Contacts does more than emails. There is also Social Campaigns, Event Management to name a couple. I have not looked into anything other than the emails at this time. I'm on a bit of technical data overload, so want to rest for a bit & see what I've got happening. Besides, all this marketing stuff has taken me away from my painting - and I'm going through a bit of a withdrawal!!

As far as whether this was a successful undertaking or not - that will be in a later post, at another time. I will let you know. Good luck to any of you venturing into this. Let me know how you do, what you try & what you find out. And if anyone has any questions, post it as a comment here or send me an email. I have no trouble sharing anything I've learned - and I have no trouble learning what I don't know either!

And don't forget to head over to my website & do a little looking! 10% off all merchandise, now through 10/31/12.

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10/18 - one added note. I use a separate email address for my artwork "world" - helps to keep it tidy & in one area. Up until now, it was basically junk mail clean. Now, after all the testing of software and usage of sites & services, my email inbox is now inundated with junk mail. Where before I had 1 a week, I know had 26 just this morning. It actually angers me, that testing/working with these companies has to result in my email address being sold. It is hard for me to point a finger at which one(s) sold it, but be forewarned when you travel down this path!






3 comments:

CrimsonLeaves said...

Interesting post, Nancie. That all said, it also makes my head spin! Glad I don't sell art! LOLOL (Of course, there is the reverse of that coin; it isn't good enough to sell...)

Karla said...

Hi Nan., Thanks for sharing your research with us! On-line sales are growing and surpassing other methods I think.

I went with FASO to mainly sell bigger pieces. I like that they have a daily art show that is e-mailed to (they say) 33,000 people. I also like that everyone who posts new art are featured. I like that better than DPW ( which I use for small pieces) where there is segregation featured artists vs others.

SYLVIANE said...

Very interesting!

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