In these times of social media uncertainly – the hacked accounts, the bots, the lack of visibility and engagement and the persistent changes in how we are supposed to be using each platform – there’s something reassuring about having an email list and using it.

Not only that, research shows that email marketing is super effective when it comes to sales! There are 4 billion daily email users (Statista 2021) and 50% of people buy from marketing emails at least once per month (Salescycle 2022). Furthermore, a recent study by McKinsey & Co found that email marketing acquired 40 times more customers than Facebook and Twitter combined and generated 174% more total conversions than social media.

We talk about the importance of email marketing all the time in The Design Trust – we know it works! So we asked three creative business owners to share how they use email marketing in their businesses – from how they build their email lists to how often they send emails and the email content that they create.

Muswell Hill Creatives – North London

Muswell Hill Creatives (MHC) was founded in 2014 in Muswell Hill, North London by local freelancer Rachael Booth-Clibborn. The organisation brings together local artists and makers united by a desire to create original, high-quality products through skilled workmanship. The collective offers mutual support and provides a forum for growing each members’ creative business. Muswell Hill Creatives’ Maker Fairs, Pop Ups and Events are popular fixtures and showcase the area’s thriving creative community.

Muswell Hill Market
Muswell Hill Creatives North London Market

Here, Rachael shares the importance of email marketing and how MHC uses it:

“We have an MHC website and active social media accounts, but email marketing is an essential part of the mix. Our newsletters connect us directly with supporters who have signed up at events or online and feel an affinity with what we do.

Patricia at The Design Trust once said at a workshop I attended, “social media is like going out on the pull and getting an email address is like having pulled!”

This is so true.  Social media is not fail safe, so whilst having lots of followers is great, it comes with a risk if that’s all you rely on; ever-changing algorithms and the risk of losing your account or it being blocked, are ever present. Email addresses have more ‘currency’ and connect you directly with people you know are engaged with what you do, and you can build a relationship with them.

I use Mailchimp to send MHC newsletters every month. Sometimes more often if there is an event coming up. They feature events, workshops and news from our members. It’s a place to celebrate our members’ successes and milestones, to share great new products with photography and links to member websites to encourage sales.

We grow our mailing lists by using paper sign-up sheets (or iPad) at events, sign-up links on Instagram bios, subscription links in email signatures and on our website. We will occasionally prompt our social media followers to sign up or we’ll flag that a newsletter is coming out soon and encourage them to subscribe. Our makers use sign-up pop ups on their websites – some with a discount for a customer’s first purchase. They will also invite customers to sign up when they make a purchase at a fair or market.

Muswell Hill Creatives The Idle Bindery Notebooks Amy K 1
The Idle Bindery Notebooks

We know email marketing works. Customers often tell us at our events that they came along because they’d read about it in a newsletter. 

MHC founding member, Michele at Wyckoff Smith Jewellery, has this down to a fine art.  She’ll often send a newsletter out a day or two ahead of an event and will include a couple of products with links. We often get a notification on our group chat that there’s been a resulting sale!

We had a lovely response to a recent newsletter from a local maker who sometimes sells with us as a guest. Becca said “What a lovely newsletter! Full of interesting events and things, it’s great to see how everyone is flourishing. Testament to you at MHC.”

Karin Celestine (And the hare) – Textile Artist & Author

Karin Celestine lives in a small house in Monmouth, Wales. In their garden there is a shed and in that shed is another world. The world of Celestine and the Hare.

It is a place where kindness, mischief and beauty help people find the magic in the ordinary. Karin is an artist and author, who creates needle felted animals of charm and character, including the stars of their own delightful stop-motion animations and their series of story books for adults and children published with Graffeg.  Their joy in the world of nature is also reflected in their sculptural copper pieces which complement their felt-work.

Karin Celestine
Karin Celestine

Karin told us:

“To encourage people to sign up to my email newsletter, I have a sign up form on my website that pops up after a set time, and a form on my contact page with tick boxes for areas of interest.  My social media has a Linktree and ‘subscribe to my mailing list’ is one of the top links.  I have a tick box on my check out page that is auto ticked to ‘subscribe to my list’ for people who buy things. 

Every so often I’ll do a post on social media saying if you don’t always see my posts, make sure you subscribe to be the first to hear of new work etc.  

As my work sells quite quickly, I tell people to subscribe to my email list so they can be the first to hear of details and previews of when new work will be up for sale. I also tend to reply to enquiries with something about ‘subscribe to my email so you’ll be first to hear’. 

I usually email about once or twice a month, not more than 3 times as I tend to worry I am annoying people otherwise.

Sometimes they are just updates of collection releases or new book news. Sometimes I tell people what I’ve been up to, pictures of my walks in nature, what I’m reading, interesting podcasts, pictures of my work, a bit of chat about what I’ve been thinking about, behind the scenes type things. I talk about the seasons and what is happening in nature, what you can eat or forage or do in the garden, or some folklore of the season. These are a bit more work so I don’t do them too often. I used to do them every month but it became a stress so I just do them when I am inspired to now. 

Karin Celestine Work
Coracle Mouse by Karin Celestine – image: Yeshen Venema

I don’t offer discounts on my work but I would do a sale just for subscribers. Or I do an email that says ‘this mouse is hiding on the website for sale, can you find him’ sort of thing so readers have to search pages on my website, and maybe they come across new things they don’t normally look at. 

I have a button on my Mailchimp emails that says ‘don’t click’. It links to a page on my website and I change the message on the page each time, so people will often open the email to read it so they can click the button they are not allowed to click just for fun. It is silly but it works! I get a lot of traffic to the website from people clicking that button that they shouldn’t click! 

I find if I put a social media post saying ‘link in my bio’, people who click through will often subscribe to my emails from Linktree. 

The reminders to subscribe and the checkout tick are my main ways to get new email subscribers, though the checkout does result in a few unsubscribes!” 

Cynthia Kurth – Jeweller

Cynthia Kurth was born in Berlin in 1968 and now has a goldsmith workshop in the basement of a small terraced house in Bremen (D). During her training at the vocational college at the goldsmith school in Pforzheim and her studies at the University in Wismar, it was confirmed that her passion lies in designing unique pieces of jewellery in metal.

Without the need for sketches, Cynthia implements her ideas and designs directly in a creative process that is similar to drawing with silver and gold. She is particularly captivated by ornamentation, structures, patterns and surfaces. Nature, campfires and the dream of a simple life are also reflected in Cynthia’s fondness for medieval and fantasy stories.

Cynthia Kurth Rugen Meer
Cynthia Kurth

Cynthia told us how she uses email marketing in her jewellery business:

“For quite a while I thought that customers would be annoyed by receiving too many newsletters. So, I only sent out one per month, and sometimes I didn’t send one at all because I thought I have nothing to tell. Nowadays, I see newsletters not as advertising. I use them as the name implies: to spread my news.

That’s why I am now planning to increase the amount of newsletters to four a month. I choose working names for the four emails a month: Like helpful links, news about my life as a jewellery designer, favourite pieces of the month, what’s new or a monthly review. These names are just for me and my inspiration. This helps me to stick to my plan and to find content.

And I include one call-to -action in my newsletter:  mostly to generate traffic to my website.
I think it’s important to keep a newsletter short. No long essays. Those texts belong more on the website or a blog page. Email are more like entertaining ‘greeting cards’ rather than long, handwritten letters.

Cynthia Kurth Ring
Cynthia Kurth Ring

The first thing I created for my new website was a footer with a form to sign up to my newsletter. I love to see this as a friendly invitation to stay in touch at the end of every page on my website.

I also set up a landing page where I lead all interested people to: from social media platforms, with a QR code and or any other occasion. It´s easy to share that page and the subscribers are doing the double opt in on their own.
I also put the link to the landing page in the signature of my emails.

Another good idea is to have the sign up form in Linktree.

Every time I write a newsletter, I make one or two social media posts out of it. I either use a screenshot, a picture of me sitting at the computer with the newsletter on the screen or share a little bit about the topic.

For years I tried to get new customers using social media, and I had a considerable number of customers, to whom I mainly sent my good wishes at Christmas. But now I have the details of people who already love my jewellery.  I see my email list now more as my tribe, my supporters, and maybe like gallery visitors, which makes it easier for me to write to them regularly”.

We’d love to hear in the comments how you use email marketing in your creative business. What do you write about in your emails? How do you get more people to join your email list? We love to hear from you.

One Response to “Real Life: 3 Creatives share how they manage their email marketing”

  1. I write about events and classes coming up and a little about what I have been doing in the studio.
    I ask visitors to my studio to sign up for the VIP List to get an advance notice of upcoming classes- subscribers get the news before it hits social media or my website.
    I have a bowl with stained glass pendants ( no chain or cord) made from scrap glass that in person subscribers can pick from when they sign up.

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