hotographers, one day you may find yourself in the dreaded rut. You have all the technical skills under the sun to create great imagery, yet you still can’t get a hold on the flooded market. It seems like everyone with a camera is out there undercutting your value and winning over your potential clients.
If you’re feeling like you’re losing a battle here, know that you’re not alone. But know that you can arm yourself with skills that those photographers don’t have. Email marketing is a powerful tool that will bring you, potential clients, warm them to your brand, increase your reputation, and even sell your services for you.
Is your competition using email marketing?
This is where you get ahead of the competition with a real marketing strategy.
In this article, we’ll dive into email marketing and how it can benefit photographers specifically. I’ll also provide examples of how photographers can use it to their competitive advantage.
What is email marketing and why is it important?
Email marketing refers to any promotional emails sent from a brand. It doesn’t include receipts, confirmations, or shipping notices. These emails can be sent one at a time on demand (think newsletters), or they can be a series of sophisticated, automated flows that send to a predetermined group at a programmed time.
A contact could travel along the buyer’s journey from being a complete stranger to your brand to referring everyone they know on social media, all driven through email marketing.
A lot of photographers think that email is a dead-end road, but it has never been more important in marketing. Statista (2020) claims that almost four billion people are opening emails on a daily basis.
It is one of the Big 6 of Marketing and doesn’t require an MBA to master. Additionally, it’s the only marketing platform where you’re free to say what you want and when. You own the message completely; no one is flagging your account for promoting yourself and no one is intentionally blocking your visibility until you cough up money to “boost” your own content.
It is worthy of your time.
Photographers can rock any (or all!) of these email marketing strategies to get ahead of their competition:
1. A Newsletter Can Keep You on Their Mind
Look, I know that writing isn’t easy for everyone. I know it’s really difficult sometimes to write on demand and on a schedule. But, if you can write just one email newsletter a month to your list, it can make a big difference to your audience.
Use the opportunity to tell people about your new photo products, any seasonal mini-sessions coming up (give them early access to book!), or remind them about the importance of capturing memories, even if the world outside is difficult. Share your favorite iPhone camera settings or give them some other valuable information worth tuning into.
And don’t forget to tell everyone what you’ve been up to personally; people buy from people, and sharing an interesting fact about yourself will help your identity stay distinct from the rest.
Eventually, each one of those contacts will open that monthly newsletter and think, “oh yeah! I was wanting to do that mini-session this year/buy a print for Grandma!”
Boom! You just created more revenue for yourself.
Bonus: Once you write content for your monthly newsletter, it can be repurposed into social media teasers. Each time you share a tidbit, mention that you’re giving away the best info exclusively to your email subscribers. Give a link to your newsletter signup form each time, and you’ll see your list grow with thirsty potential customers!
2. A Welcome Series Can Show Potential Customers What Makes You Special
A welcome series is a sequence of emails that automatically send to a new email address on file. It doesn’t have to be complicated or long, and only sends one time at the beginning of your relationship. A photographer could use 3 or 4 emails to write a welcome message, describe your referral program, share your social media handles, highlight your best selling premium photo products, or give value with a PDF of your favorite local spots for family photos/fall leaves shots/free indoor hangouts (whose businesses will also be excited to share!).
Space the emails one week apart, be yourself, and add your booking link to each email. When they’re ready to book portraits, they’re going to know exactly who you are and what makes you special in the pool of competitors.
3. A Cross-Sell Flow Can Maximize Your Revenue Per Customer
A cross-sell flow is an email automated series that triggers once a client books a photoshoot. Now that your lead has become a customer (and a raving one at that!), they’ll now be open to a showcase of related products or services.
Let’s say that you offer wedding photography services. You could send two emails to cross-sell flow that congratulates the customer on their wedding, thanks to them for allowing you to be a part of it, and showcases your brand’s photo albums, archival prints, and frames, or any other services or products that might be relevant to their interests. Tell the customer why they’re awesome or valuable to their family legacy. The second email can give more details about pricing and how to purchase or book those items.
Current customers are low hanging fruit who are just waiting for another chance to engage with your brand and bring you more revenue! Don’t forget about them once you’ve taken their photos!
4. A Post Purchase Flow Can Get Your More Referrals and Reviews
You can use a short email series after a purchase to get additional value out of your customer. I’d recommend waiting at least a week after their photo or product delivery to trigger this email series.
Use this short series (no more than two emails here) to thank your customer for their business in a very personal and warm way. If you have a referral program (if you don’t, create one now!), now’s the time to share how a customer can refer your business, as well as what benefits they will get out of it.
Use the last post-purchase email to remind folks that you’re a small business and thrive on Google reviews. Give them your unique Google reviews URL. Although Facebook reviews are great, Google reviews are more valuable in terms of your reputation; when a client reviews you on Google, you not only tell the world that you’re 5-star, but you tell Google, who uses that reputation information to decide how high it will show your business in search results.
I don’t recommend asking for reviews on more than one platform (Yelp or social media, for example); it’s just asking too much.
In closing, email marketing is a powerful tool for photographers who need to bust out of the rut and finally get more clients.
So few photographers strategically use email marketing, so try one (or all!) of these strategies and see what good you can do for your booking calendar and bank statement.