You absolutely want to build your list: but you also want to retain that list and stay in great communication with your most loyal fans. This takes care and attention!

A blog post that strikes the wrong note can lose you 10% of your list overnight. One well-known artist, whose large list numbered many nature lovers and environmental activists, thoughtlessly posted a paean to his all-terrain-vehicle adventure through some pristine wilderness. A full 20% of his list deserted him!

The messages you send out, whether via your newsletter, your website copy, your ebooks, your webinars, your social media posts, or in any other way, must have a risk-adverse quality to them if you want to retain the list you’ve spent so much time and energy building.

Likewise, you want to carefully retain your most loyal customers. A small percentage of your list are your loyal customers, those folks who are most interested in what you do. They are the lifeblood of your art life and the folks most likely to pay real attention to what you’re doing, take a workshop you offer, buy a new painting or sculpture, and talk you up to their peeps. You will probably get to know many of these folks by name, because they comment on your blog posts, send you emails with questions, come to your in-person talks or gallery openings, and take your workshops more than once.

You’ll want to do the following with everyone but with your loyal customers especially:

+ Communicate with them regularly. Don’t let months go by without letting them know what you’re doing. I send out a weekly newsletter and have been doing that for twenty years. You may want communicate less frequently than that or even more frequently, but do make it a habit to send out regular news, at least once a month, even if you have nothing spectacular to report. Your local customers really do want to know what you’re up to!

+ Communicate personally with your best customers and your long-time customers. Some folks are worth your individual time and attention. And make sure to pass along any relevant information. Say that someone has taken one of your watercolor workshops three different times and you become aware of some bit of information that might be quite useful to that person. Take a moment and drop that person an email passing along the information. You don’t have to do this often or with everyone, but if a natural occasion arises to pass along some useful information to one of your loyal customers, do so!

+ Provide great customer service. It may be your policy, your habit and your custom to provide great customer service as a matter of course, and that’s great. But you want to pay special attention to providing great customer service to your top fans and most loyal customers. This means replying to their emails the fastest, dealing with their complaints quickly and fully, and trying your best to handle any special needs they might have or any special requests they might make.

There are many other efforts you might make to retain your most loyal customers, for instance by providing them with incentives and being flexible with your policies when it comes to them, and many wise and careful tactics you might employ to try to retain all the folks on your list, for instance by double-checking your messages to weed out red flags and by avoiding contacting your list when you’re feeling hot under the collar. The headline: building you list is super-important; retaining it, just as important!


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