In this Q&A, Leah Drake, gallery manager and head of technology, UGallery, talks to DTC Daily about how her business is changing the way people buy art, and the technology stack required to ensure consumers are willing to change the way they interact with art galleries.
Tell us how your product differs from more traditional, legacy brands in your sector?
As one of the original online art galleries, one of the first questions we fielded from investors was ‘will people want to buy art online?’ Keep in mind, this was before people were buying cars, groceries, and remote medical services online, so it was a fair question. Since our launch in 2006, we’ve proven that people do indeed love to buy art online. One major differentiator from traditional brick-and-mortar galleries is our accessibility 24/7 in every city in the world. A client located in rural Iowa recently shared that our gallery is where he finds his art because his local art scene is mostly hunting images of ducks and dogs. While we appreciate that style of art, we can also bring a more diverse portfolio than a regional gallery. The same holds true for rural artists who have limited gallery exposure in their local galleries. We’ve sold artwork to clients in all 50 states and over 50 countries.
What platforms do you use to acquire your customer base?
As a web-based art gallery, our client acquisition strategy follows standard web acquisition principles. Social media allows us to stay in touch with our customers, and Instagram is the art world’s favorite platform. We also stay active on Facebook and Twitter. Google is another platform that brings clients to our gallery, so we focus on producing high-quality content and other SEO practices.
How important is marketing tech and ad tech to running your day-to-day marketing operations at the company?
Marketing and ad tech are like the wheels on a car – they are an integral part of our operations and they send our message to both new and loyal clients. Our marketing tech mainly takes the form of an email service provider. A client recently shared that she awaits each new email from us with excitement for the new art and artists she will discover. Another client expressed that she is always so busy with work, but even if she doesn’t have time to look at art, she can’t help but take a peek at the new emails. Ad tech is a different ballgame, in that we are reaching new customers who love art and want to find the right gallery for their needs. When art lovers turn to search engines to find new art, our gallery uses search engine marketing to make that connection.
Do you have your own store or do you work with 3rd party platforms?
UGallery.com is a fully operational website where art lovers can search, filter, favourite and purchase artwork for their home. In addition to being one of the top 200 direct to consumer brands according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, we also partner with other DTC brands to sell art. Our partnerships include both branded and white-label listings to further our mission of promoting the joy of living with original art. We believe that the more original art in the world, the better!
How important is attribution modelling to your business?
Original art is a considered purchase, and it’s an interesting challenge in terms of attribution modelling. We recently had a client make their first purchase after an incredible five years on our email list. This was a person who regularly opened and clicked through the emails, and yet was waiting for the stars to align with their budget and the right artwork. In a more common purchase lifecycle, we see clients visit the website and then make a purchase within six months. In this time, clients interact with the website, emails, and social media multiple times, so last-click attribution is not the best way to look at our data. We have historically sliced the data with both a Linear Model, where each interaction shares equal credit, or Time Decay Model where the later clicks receive relatively more credit.
What does the future hold for your UGallery?
UGallery offers universal access to an exceptional collection of original art, and that mission isn’t going anywhere. Looking to the future of tech, we are excited about potential integrations with augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies to visualise art in more spaces. Wherever the technology takes us, our mission inspires us to advance original art in the digital age.