Top 5 Takeways: 2017 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report

Gallery Partner Updates
Apr 24, 2017 10:32PM

“A market yet to awaken” is the theme of this year’s Hiscox Online Art Trade Report and a promising insight for art world professionals investing in their digital strategy. As with any maturing market, the path to shift consumer behavior online is not without obstacles. That said, the online art market continues to perform strongly (online sales reached $3.75 billion in 2016), despite wavering growth in the global market.

This year, Artsy was voted the online art market leader by our peers and ranked the top online-only marketplace by collectors. As we double down on our efforts to connect galleries and collectors worldwide, we’re sharing the top 5 takeaways our partners can act on today.

1. Collectors are loyal online

In the past 12 months, 65% of existing online buyers bought more than one piece of art. According to Hiscox, “this suggests that [existing] online art buyers are increasing their share of online purchases.” Additionally, 60% of galleries said online art buyers are increasingly confident about buying art at higher prices.

Pro Tip: Reconnect with past collectors through Conversations

Conversations, Artsy’s direct-to-collector messaging tool, enables you to manage your inquiries, offers, and sales in one place without the mess of an email inbox. We recommend periodically reviewing previous messages in Conversations to reignite collector interest—make an offer to a confirmed buyer or extend an event invitation to a potential collector who inquired.

To learn more about how to make the most of this CMS feature, check out the Conversations Toolkit.

2. The more information, the more likely the sale

Hiscox’s survey results suggest “[online art] buyers are looking for more than just buying [an] artwork. In fact, they are attributing significant value to the educational experience.” When considering a purchase, 79% of surveyed collectors said they wanted more information about the artist and artwork.

Pro Tip: Commit to uploading complete metadata

Adding metadata in CMS not only educates the collector and increases their confidence to buy, but also improves your online presence and discoverability. Be sure to include an artist biography and select artwork categories for every work you upload. We also recommend adding provenance and exhibition histories to further engage the potential collector.

Furthermore, 52% of online art buyers state that content is important in their platform choice—this represents a 23% increase since 2016. At Artsy, we’re proud to produce the fastest growing and most read online art publication. This editorial content not only educates our growing audience of collectors, but also drives traffic to our gallery partners. To take advantage of our 200% growth in readership, develop your own branded content with Artsy Writer (available to Preferred and Premium subscribers).

3. Transparent pricing builds trust

88% of online art buyers say price transparency is an “essential ingredient” when buying art online. Hiscox anticipates that as the online art market continues to grow, “price transparency will become the norm rather than the exception.”

Pro Tip: Publish exact prices

We asked our Analytics team to confirm the importance of price information and learned that published works with exact prices are over 800% more likely to convert from inquiry to sale. If you are one of the many partners who already publish price information, keep doing what you’re doing! If you have yet to publish artwork prices (and maybe feel hesitant to share), try listing prices for your accessible works (under $10,000). Remember you can always update price information depending on market demand.

4. Traffic to online platforms continues to grow

In the past year, monthly traffic to Artsy has more than doubled. According to Hiscox, this growth illustrates a larger trend among existing and potential collectors to search for art and design online. 52% of survey respondents said they are “visiting online platforms on at least a weekly basis or more”—that’s an 11% increase since 2016. Additionally, 63% of visitors say their site visit lasts for 10 minutes or more.

Pro Tip: Update inventory regularly

When you publish artworks in CMS, collectors who follow your artists receive notifications via email and iPhone. Take advantage of Artsy’s highly engaged audience and upload new inventory regularly. We recommend setting a calendar reminder at the beginning of each month to upload new works, or add “Upload to Artsy” to your exhibition to-do list.

5. Instagram is the go-to social media app for galleries and collectors

After following behind Facebook for years, Instagram is officially “the preferred social media channel in the art world.” In fact, 57% of galleries say Instagram is “the most effective [social media app] in terms of raising awareness.” But how does this influence collector behavior? According to Hiscox, “the growing use of social media suggests that client feedback (such as likes and followers)...could play an increasingly important role in driving the emotional consideration for proceeding with the online art buying process.”

Pro Tip: Develop an Instagram strategy and stick to it

With a flurry of new features like Albums, Stories, Live and more, there’s a lot to keep up-to-date with on Instagram. To improve your social media strategy, check out Artsy’s 2017 Guide to Social Media in the Art World and watch our 1-hour webinar about Instagram, hosted by our in-house social media experts.


The Hiscox Online Art Report surveys online art platforms, art buyers, galleries and dealers to inform its findings. The 2017 report includes responses from 42 online art platforms; 758 art buyers identified through ArtTactic’s client mailing list, Twitter, and Facebook; and 142 galleries and dealers.

Gallery Partner Updates