Embrace the Infinite Back Room
Have you ever considered your gallery’s space and wished for higher ceilings, endless back rooms, and plentiful storage? Limitless wall space is synonymous with art-world success, as the multi-floor empires of mega-galleries can attest. With premiums on ground-floor real estate and trendy locations, it is also the costliest aspect of running a gallery. So think outside of the white cube. There’s room for you to grow your square footage online—without a hefty budget.
Early adopters like auction houses that have already invested heavily in web real estate are starting to see dividends roll in. Christie’s posted $15 million in online sales for the first six months of 2015 and Skate’s recently reported that major gallery players are following suit.
Your gallery’s online presence is your storefront to the largest audience in the world. With these four steps, expand your collector base through strategic investments in digital.
Get To The Top (Of Google)
On average, 36% of web traffic to online art platforms comes from search—higher than traffic from social media—which means that search engine optimization (SEO) is absolutely critical for your gallery’s website. While the art world has been slow to adapt to the changing online landscape, collectors are already searching for art on the web. Over the past year, users made nearly 200 million Google searches for the top 10,000 artists.
While you can invest time and money into optimizing your gallery website, consider platforms like Artsy that reach a global collector base long after your last art fair. Artsy ranks on Page 1 of Google for over 10,000 of the most-searched artists and has more than a 20% share of market searches for artists. Artsy Partners benefit from this higher visibility on search engines, making your listed artists more discoverable to potential collectors.
Back-Up Your Back Room
Keeping your website updated with new inventory can increase web stickiness and drive collector engagement. But for smaller websites with fewer visitors, Instagram and online art-specific platforms can help. These platforms aggregate diverse resources and are visited daily (if not hourly) by many buyers, allowing your inventory to reach exponentially more collectors, both worldwide and year-round. Reaching more collectors means doing more for your artists.
Create a complete exhibition archive online. Even if some of your works are no longer available, displaying your exhibition history serves as an educational resource for collectors, curators, and students, allowing them to learn about your artists long after the show has come down. The value in building this historical context is why Artsy does not limit artwork uploads, allowing partners to virtually “hang” limitless works.
Monitor Your Metrics
Since January, follower counts on Facebook and Twitter among online art platforms have increased 31% to a growth average of 13%. This rise reflects collectors’ keen interest in online social networks. We’re also seeing focused growth campaigns to increase follower counts among a handful of auction houses and online platforms.
While social contributes 4% of web traffic to art websites (TEFAF), 41% of collectors surveyed by Hiscox first discovered an online art site through social media. Among early adopters, almost a third purchased specific works they discovered on Instagram. Galleries not leveraging social media are finding it hard to compete.
Use a simple template or spreadsheet to monitor your digital metrics on a weekly or monthly basis. The easiest to track are: number of followers or page likes, number of hashtags or mentions, number of post likes and shares, and volume of traffic to your website from social media networks. Use these metrics to compare performance week to week to determine what works for your gallery. Play to your strengths and take note of what resonates with your audience.
Create a Roadmap
TEFAF reported that 65% of dealers felt that the internet and online sales were having a positive influence on the art market, allowing for “greater flexibility for buyers and a broader range of art to choose from in terms of variety and geography.” That said, 73% felt that online sales would increase in the future, but feared that it could make them obsolete.
Cut through the confusion. Gather your team and discuss the long-term goals for your gallery’s online presence. Designate ownership for each social media channel, SEO efforts, updating digital inventory, and syncing apps like Artsy Folio to ensure you are putting your best foot forward across all digital channels.
Elena Soboleva (@elenasoboleva) is an Art Specialist and Manager of Special Projects at Artsy. She works with collectors, oversees art fair sales, and develops curatorial programming. She studied economics and art history and writes about the art market and online trends.