Jessica Backus, Senior Director Gallery Relations at Artsy answers gallery questions from our webinar: “What 700 Galleries Said About Digital Marketing and Sales in 2019.”
1. “We run a small gallery, and the vast majority of our Instagram followers are artists. How do we specifically reach collectors as opposed to artists on social media?”
First of all, developing a large artist following is a great first step in your gallery’s social media presence. A number of collectors discover new art via the artists they follow. I recently spoke with Roland Cowan—a London-based architect, collector, and trustee of the Outset Contemporary Art Fund—who said that he typically discovers artists via other artists (when properly @mentioned or #hashtagged) on Instagram.
If you’re looking specifically to target collectors, unfortunately, it’s hard to control and segment the audience that follows your gallery. The best rule of thumb for reaching more collectors on Instagram is to think of them like the rest of the digital community. First, be your authentic self—create content that is specific to the collector audiences you are trying to reach.
You can also engage in genuine conversation with the collectors you’re trying to target. Follow and engage with specific collectors you know, or those who have purchased from your gallery on Instagram. A like or comment on one of their posts will likely result in some of that collector’s followers being exposed to you and your content.
Think about what the collector is likely to get out of the interaction—for example, they probably will not want to be offered a work for purchase, but they will want to be a part of the larger conversation that is happening about art and artists today. As Cowan noted, “Over the past few years, I have found interaction with my posts by those I don’t know in the art Instagram community as generally genuinely interested, open, positive, and often with a critical view.”
On a final note, it is worth remembering that one of the strengths of social media is ultimately its weakness: It has a nearly infinite audience. There are platforms—such as Artsy—that cater to a more qualified and segmented audience. Artsy has over 1 million users from more than 190 countries, all of whom join Artsy with intent of discovering, learning about, and purchasing art. Further, collectors browsing Artsy can follow your gallery and the artists it represents, works with, or has available inventory by; they will receive personalized email and app notifications every time you upload new content.
2. “For art that is priced higher than $250,000, what would be the best way to market it online?”
I’ll use one final word of advice from Cowan, the architect and collector: When marketing works online, especially those of this caliber, you need to “entice as much as educate” your audience. Help them fall in love by telling a story, and ensure they have all of the information they need to make a decision.
We’ll break this down into some concrete steps you can take:
We recommend focusing first and foremost on the visual representation of the work. Whether it’s on social media or an online art platform, upload multiple high-quality images of the work, including detailed crops. Pairing these quality images with information about the work—such as the artist’s background and any relevant information or history about the piece—will help collectors feel informed when deciding whether or not to inquire.
To take it a step further, once you have your visuals and information together, we recommend a multi-pronged approach to raise awareness about the work. In many ways, you can translate what you’re already doing offline to the online context. If you can display pricing, all the better. (We find that it’s becoming much more common to list prices for secondary market works over $50,000 on Artsy, while primary market considerations may make it tough to do this.) You’ll then want to include as much relevant information as you can about the object itself—such as provenance, condition report, signature information, and whether there is a certificate of authenticity or whether it’s framed.
Finally, visual storytelling is key—it’s a great way to translate the concept of an exhibition catalogue or in-person conversation online. For example: In addition to the primary image, can you include an image if the work in the studio? Installed in a home?
When it comes to translating that awareness into sales, don’t be surprised if it takes a while to see the results you’re hoping for. At Artsy, we’ve seen six-figure artworks sell with only four messages exchanged, but we’ve also seen collectors show interest in a work and only purchase it a year later. During that time, the gallery will typically reach out periodically to follow up, blurring the line between marketing and client cultivation. In fact, the director of Praxis Gallery, Justina Gomez Romero, shared with us last year that she often posts works on Instagram to re-ignite a collector’s interest in a particular work. By featuring this work, she shows that it is broadly appealing and important to the gallery.
3. “When fulfilling online art purchases, how would you recommend handling shipping, logistics, and installation? What are the costs that cause friction for clients, and how can you keep them down?”
We’ve seen that one of the most frequent points of friction is a lack of clarity on who is covering the cost of shipping and insurance. Before the sale, you might consider asking for the collector’s zip code to get a preliminary shipping quote. We’ve found that for local shipments or easy-to-pack artworks, such as works on paper or photographs, many galleries absorb the cost of shipment to make the decision easier for the collector. At the latest, the time you are creating an invoice is when you should communicate the terms of shipping and insurance clearly.
Ultimately, shipping is a complicated endeavor for nearly every gallery—big or small. For our best shipping advice, check out our article “The Fundamental Shipping Practices Every Gallery Should Know.”
4. “How do you define small, medium, and large galleries?”
For the purposes of the 2019 Gallery Insights Report survey, “Small Galleries” were defined as galleries run by a single full-time employee; “Medium Galleries” were defined as galleries with 2–6 full-time employees; and “Large Galleries” were defined as galleries that employ 7+ full-time employees.
5. “Do you think that existing “traditional” collectors will engage in the online art market and actually make purchases?”
Absolutely—the online art market is the place to be for a gallery hoping to grow its network and increase sales. As one of the fastest-growing segments of the art world, experts predict that the online art market will be worth a staggering $8.37 billion in just five years.
While online platforms and marketplaces are increasingly where new, young collectors are getting started, they are just as likely to attract seasoned collectors. Artsy’s “2018 Gallery Insights Report: The State of Digital Marketing and Sales” provides valuable insight into digital collecting trends.
Out of the 700 galleries surveyed, those with the youngest collector base cited digital marketing tactics as a way to engage with their millennial buyers. Notably, 83 percent of galleries with a baby-boomer collector network reported that selling art online in 2019 would be somewhat or very important to their success. We see this trend reflected in our collector audience, too. In fact, about half of our audience is over the age of 35 (and almost 20 percent is over 54).
6. “How can we increase our gallery’s visibility through Artsy?”
As the world’s leading platform for collecting, discovering, and selling art, Artsy is the best place to optimize your gallery’s digital strategy and presence online.
Our user base has 24/7 access to your gallery’s Artsy presence. This includes your dedicated gallery page, artists, inventory, exhibitions, and Online Exclusive content. How does this translate to increased visibility?
Collectors browsing on Artsy will be able to find your gallery through many different avenues. For example, collectors can search by gallery location or specialty, such as “London” or “mid-19th century.”
In addition, collectors have the ability to follow both your artists and your gallery itself on Artsy. When you publish new works, they will receive notifications on the Artsy app and website, as well as a bi-weekly email. This allows collectors to discover and fall in love with new works in their own time zone.
To date, we’re seeing an average distance of 3,000 miles (almost 5,000 kilometers) between buyer and seller on Artsy. To name a few specific examples, gallery partners based everywhere from Milan to Long Beach to Dallas have connected with collectors far and wide, hailing from places such as Vietnam, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. As Jean-François Roudillon, director of Paris’s Galerie Loft, stated, aligning your gallery with Artsy means “exposure to the art world” and “new eyes to discover our art!”
Everyday, collectors from over 190 countries inquire about and purchase art from partners on Artsy. To learn more about how your gallery can reach our global network, explore our partnerships here.
Read the full report
Find out what your gallery can do now to be ready for the coming year by downloading Artsy’s annual research market report, “2019 Artsy Gallery Insights: The State of Digital Marketing and Sales.”