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Using Your Portrait Online

Has someone once approached you who knows you and is very happy to see you and you recognize their face but you can’t remember their name? Or have you been in a conversation wherein you want to reference someone but their name escapes although you can easily recall their face? This aspect of our behavior has some interesting business implications.

We humans are programmed to remember the human face more readily than symbols; this ability is embedded deeply in our DNA so it is not surprising to learn about the results of some marketing research conducted by Medallia, a media research firm.

They studied responses to the websites of visual artists who were driving visitors to their website or blog by communicating to a mailing list. Medallia was interested in determining how artists might best increase the engagement of their blog/website visitors so they tested some strategies with the artists participating in the study.

The outstanding finding of their research concerned the use of the artists’ portrait — their face. Medallia found that the more artists (or any self-employed product or service provider using an internet presence) use our image in our website, e-newsletters and blogs, the more engaged our visitors/readers will be.

Medallia tracked the navigation of visitors to the websites of the artists in the study. First, they measured visitor response to the sites when an image of the artist’s work was presented on the home page. When that was the case, 8.8% of visitors entered more deeply into the site.

When Medallia had the artists change the image on their homepage to a portrait of the artist, 17.2% of visitors went deeper into the site. That’s an increase in conversion rate of 95%.

In another test, Medallia tracked communication instigated by visitors to the artists’ sites. When the artists provided an email link embedded in a text address, 3.7% of visitors wrote to the artist. When the email contact link was embedded in a portrait of the artist (and even a partial image), 5.5% of visitors wrote to the artist and that’s an increase in conversion rate of 48%.

If you do not have privacy issues that conflict with such a strategy, it might be worth a try for you. But there is a key thing to note here: the artists participating in this study had a mailing list and they were engaged in an ongoing program of communications with the people on their lists. I am sure the nature of the pre-existing relationships of these artists with the people on their mailing lists is a factor in the success of this experiment.

Regardless, the findings of Medallia are valuable. If you are an artist with a serious interest in merchandizing and if you use an online presence in your marketing, I’d seriously consider adopting the use of your portrait on your sites.

Chris Tyrell Loranger is the author of Artist Survival Skills and Making It!, an arts writer and educator. His popular opinion pieces have appeared in our newsletter since its first issue in 1986. Visit his website, www.christyrell.ca or his art marketing blog http://visualartmerchandising.blogspot.ca, to learn more.

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