If you’re like me, not a day goes by that you aren’t deleting an email that you (tragically) never had time to read.

Half the time, that may even be the reason—you see the subject line, reflect upon your schedule for a second, and then shake your head and issue a resounding, “Naaah.”

The “Nah” factor is a big one when it comes to email marketing. You only have a precious few seconds to capture a person’s attention and fully engage them.

One way to do this is to ensure that each email is instantly gratifying.

Entrepreneur and marketing consultant Adam O’Neill sends emails on behalf of an artist whose work he markets and says that this is a key part of his strategy.

“I try to make every email seem like a break from someone’s day,” he explains.

Here’s how:

1. Make each email an exotic sighting  

The artist Adam works with, Traeger di Pietro, is based in Martha’s Vineyard. He and Adam have worked hard to build an email list of people who appreciate the work, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will immediately buy a painting when they see it in an email.

“Art is a luxury good,” Adam says. “That means people aren’t going to buy pieces regularly, they’ll buy them occasionally. That’s why, over the past two years, we’ve sent out just 16 newsletters. Any artist should respect an audience’s time, first and foremost.”

He adds that he even tries to send the newsletters out at odd times, so that people aren’t likely to be flooded with other emails from other companies when they get a new one from Traeger.

Not overwhelming subscribers has paid—the emails consistently have over a 50% open rate.

2. Keep things focused

It’s hard for emails to be instantly gratifying if you can’t communicate your message in less than a few seconds. Luckily, Adam has an advantage when it comes to keeping each email short and sweet.

“No matter what your business is, you want to make sure each email has unique content,” he says. “I’m fortunate, because each of Traeger’s pieces is unique, and he is a phenomenally talented artist.”

Adam makes sure to feature different paintings in each email and the strategy has worked wonders: almost every newsletter will generate several inquiries from serious collectors which ultimately leads to final sales of the featured work. Not bad, considering Traeger’s paintings sell in the $1,000 to $7,000 range.

Meanwhile, other subscribers still open the email, because they don’t want to miss the chance to see the latest Traeger masterpiece.

3. Have a call to action

In addition to Traeger’s art, there’s always something extra, too, whether it’s recent press, invitations to gallery openings, competition results, or announcements about other upcoming events.

Whatever the case, there’s always a valuable next-step in the emails:

The art of email marketing

When Adam started helping Traeger with his email marketing efforts in 2010, they started off with about 35 contacts. Now, thanks to networking, social media, and art events, that list has grown to just under 500 names.

Just by making sure that he doesn’t overwhelm subscribers with emails—and keeping each one focused—Adam has significantly helped grow Traeger’s audience. That extended reach means improved sales, too.

“We’re on track to quadruple last year’s art sales already,” Adam says, “and I certainly credit the newsletter as being a big part of that.”

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