Artsy’s CMO On The Art – And Data Science – Of Looking Beyond The Top Of The Funnel

Everette Taylor, CMO, Artsy

The pandemic accelerated the shift to ecommerce for everything from groceries, exercise equipment, furniture – and art.

Artsy, an online marketplace for buying and selling fine art, saw its ecommerce business grow 150% last year as people looked to beautify their homes or make some extra cash by selling art on consignment.

Galleries and museums struggled through the shutdowns of 2020. Artsy filled the gap as a virtual showroom for artists and studios that were unable to display their work in person during the pandemic, said Artsy CMO Everette Taylor.

“We have a digital platform where businesses and creators can engage with more than 2 million collectors globally,” Taylor said.

Artsy has been supporting artists in other ways, including showcasing Black collectors and gallery owners during Black History Month in February. Artsy also worked with OUTFRONT Media for a nationwide transit content partnership spotlighting up-and-coming Black artists.

But diversity and inclusion can’t just be a one-and-done. It’s an ongoing objective that needs to be incorporated throughout the year, Taylor said. Artsy has pledged to do just that.

“More than ever, consumers can smell BS,” he said. “You have to be genuine in your approach.”

Taylor spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: Who’s your favorite artist?

EVERETTE TAYLOR: Kerry James Marshall. He’s a figurative artist out of Chicago. I get lost in his work. I could literally sit for hours looking at one of his paintings.

Sounds like you’re in the right job! A CPG marketer might love what they do, but they probably can’t say they feel about toilet paper or toothpaste the way you feel about art.

I’m in a unique position as a CMO because I get to be in a space I’m genuinely passionate about. I think a lot of CMOs are passionate about the mission of their company, but I don’t know how many can say they’re genuinely passionate about the product, service or space they’re in.

In the past, you’ve talked about how it’s the “unsexy stuff” that can unlock a brand’s real potential. What do you mean by that?

You can put millions of dollars into the top of the funnel, but it’s not going to work if you’re not also focusing on things like lifetime value.

Customer experience, life cycle marketing, retention, product marketing – it’s all got to be tight and on point.

That means looking at the data, running A/B tests and analyzing which emails and pushes engage which audience segments. That’s how you get the most out of the users you acquire at the top of the funnel.

Are you saying you don’t think data is sexy?!

Being able to integrate more data into creative and brand marketing initiatives – I’d say that’s sexy. But it also takes a certain kind of person who really loves engaging with data and using it as part of their arsenal as a marketer.Kerry James Marshall's Untitled, 2009

How does Artsy use data to reach and understand its audience?

One of the most important things we do is user research so we can establish different personas.

There are many kinds of art collectors. Elite collectors, for example, spend millions. Experienced collectors know exactly which artists they want to buy. Aspiring collectors are still learning and building themselves up. Then there are those who don’t know much about art other than the fact that they like it and want to buy it. Others just want to read our editorial.

We also have galleries and institutions that use our platform to sell and people who use us to consign artwork and pieces they have in their home.

What are some examples of the different experiences you provide for different personas?

If someone’s first experience with Artsy is bidding on a certain artist in an auction, for example, we know of at least one artist they’re interested in. From that, we can show them other works by that artist as well as work by related artists based on the purchase history of customers with similar interests.

If you come to us because you want to sell a work of art you have in your home, you’ll receive messages from Artsy’s advisory team with information about how that artist has performed in recent auctions along with an offer for a free valuation.

Which marketing channels work best for you?

Paid search and email are always good ways to reach people who want to consign in the secondary market. To generate awareness for auctions, Google Display Network, and display advertising in general, have been most effective.

But regardless of the persona, we’ve found that our own internal channels – email and push – are our best-performing channels.

What prompted you to make a big investment in out-of-home marketing during the pandemic?

The world is a lot more open now than one might realize. After being stuck inside for so long, people tend to notice things more when they go outside now. I’d say it’s actually a very good time right now for brands to take advantage of out-of-home advertising .

But how do you track the effectiveness of OOH?

We created a brand awareness dashboard where we can track things like app downloads and organic traffic volume. It’s not a perfect science, even if you have something like a referral code, because some people may not use it.

But if you identify your KPIs before you launch, you can see when metrics spike. From there, you can draw logical conclusions as to whether or not your brand marketing is working.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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