Introduction:

Ravens might be the perfect messenger for Games of Thrones and the seven kingdom of Westeros, but not for professional photographers. An email marketing campaign can help you close the loop in your marketing to get more clients, and it’s not hard to do – here’s how…

Why You Need An Email Marketing Campaign For Your Photography Business

Although the the seven kingdom happily use raven to ferry their messages around, that’s not really going to work out too well for us professional photographers, so we need something a bit more sophisticated, like a good email marketing campaign.

So today’s topic is why email marketing is important and some email marketing campaign ideas you can use or adapt for your business.

Stay in Touch - Newsletter Email marketing

Back in early years, I suffered from the same misconceptions and broken assumptions that many business owners seem to have about using email to communicate with my potential customers.

  • There’s too much spam going around so people won’t open my emails anyway…
  • I’m a photographer, not a writer…
  • Email marketing is too complicated to set up…
  • I already use email to communicate with people who are interested in what I do…
  • If I start a newsletter then I’m probably going to run out of ideas pretty fast…
  • The search engines will send me all the potential clients I need…

Although social media hadn’t really gotten into full swing back then, if it had then I’m sure I would have said that social media was going to kill email marketing stone dead.

Clearly, that hasn’t happened and, when I look back at the rather blinkered attitude I had in those days, it’s enough to make me slap my head at just how dumb I was not to include email in my marketing strategy. I’m even more surprised at myself when I remember that I’m one of those people who actually enjoys marketing.

So, I get it – for anyone who finds marketing less than thrilling, it must be easier still to leave email marketing out of the mix because it would only add more admin work when you would rather be out there creating photographs instead.

But ignoring email as a marketing tool can be a huge mistake.

Yet, despite everyone assuming otherwise, email marketing has consistently been shown to be one of the most effective marketing channels we have available. This is no longer a point of simple opinion, but a fact, as demonstrated in the impressive collection of statistics presented on the aptly-named website emailisnotdead.com.

I’m sure there are more, but I can see 5 big ways where email marketing differs from other marketing channels.

#1: Email Is Personal

Firstly, email is a much more personal form of communication.

Yes, I know we’re a long way from those heady early days of “you’ve got mail”, but an email still feels like something intended just for us. Sure, there’s a lot of spam around, but we’ve adapted very well to identifying it (both on our own and through our automated spam filters), and the spam that does make it through to our inbox is easily dealt with and consigned to the trash where it belongs. Thankfully, while spam is a nuisance, it hasn’t managed to destroy the overall need for email.

Of course, we still have to decide whether or not to open the emails we receive, which is based largely on factors such as how well we know the person it came from or how interesting the subject line is. This is why email marketing is a slow relationship-based game – your job as a marketer is to earn the trust of the people you’re sending emails to, and that doesn’t happen over night.

#2: Emails Command More Our Attention

The second reason why I believe email marketing does a great job is it commands more attention from our audience than even social media can.

Unlike the never-ending torrent of updates in a Facebook news feed or Twitter stream, an email is a singular thing and usually read in its own window, unless you have one of those preview-type setups. And, because the fundamental nature of an email is close to our internal mental label of “a letter”, we tend to assign a certain degree of importance to it, and thereby give it a bit more of our attention.

I use the word “attention” there in the sense of giving the content the consideration and thought it deserves, but there’s another kind of attention that’s in even shorter supply.

#3: Fewer Distractions = More Attention

The other variety of attention is the simple act of “paying attention” and the idea of being fully present at the time of reading. For example, I’m willing to bet you’ve got a whole lot of other things going on while you’re reading this, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you have 10 or 15 other browser tabs open at the same time, and that your computer keeps distracting you with those rather Pavlovian notifications that demand your attention or else risk missing something.

Even if you’re listening to the podcast version, maybe you’re driving to work or on your way to pick up the kids from school, or perhaps you’re busy editing the latest batch of images from a wedding or portrait session.

It seems that our brains are just unable to single-task these days because we’ve become so conditioned to deal with a barrage of external stimuli – a real shame, if you ask me.

Your prospects and clients are no different – they have a million things going on in their lives at any given time, and their undivided attention is probably the most valuable currency on the Internet! Getting enough of it to fully engage them can be a real challenge and that’s where an email represents a small but valuable moment of silence in an otherwise noise-filled world.

#4: Email Marketing Closes The Loop

The chances are very low of someone hiring you as their photographer, or buying from you, on their first encounter with your website. Unless you happen to be famous in your local community, the levels of familiarity and trust needed for them to make the leap and become a client are just not present in that first interaction.

The problem with most photography websites and blogs is that they’re part of an open-ended marketing system where visitors arrive, look around for a bit, and then leave with little chance of returning any time soon. It’s a bit like a roadside billboard in that regard – traffic drives by, sees the message fly past, and then the next billboard comes along, and so on.

Email marketing helps to fix that problem.

When you get visitors to sign up to your email list, you can send them emails over time that (among other things) encourage them to return to your website or blog to view content they may not have previously seen. This mechanism turns the wasteful open-ended system into more of a productive semi-closed loop.

#5: Emails Provide Multiple Touch Points Over Time

I’ve already mentioned that repetitive exposure to your photography brand helps people become more familiar with who you are and what you do. That in turn encourages an increase in trust, but another benefit of the emails you send out is the creation of multiple touch points, spread out over an extended time.

How does that help your marketing and, more importantly, your bookings or sales?

To understand that, consider the chances of someone coming across your photography website or blog right at the moment when they’re actually ready to book someone or make a purchase.

Statistically, it’s unlikely that you’re going to hit that exact point very often on the first visit.

By putting an email marketing campaign to work for you, and increasing the number of touch points you have with your potential customers, you increase the chances of being there in front of them at the right time.

Not only that, but your overall marketing message soaks in over time, as people read more of your emails and they become more engaged with you and what you have to offer.

This is where we can use the idea of “warm” and “cold” prospects.

It’s a bit like boiling a pot of water – the pot has to be on the stove a certain period of time before the water comes to a boil. Just putting the pot on the heat one time for a few seconds won’t do much for you. Likewise, taking the pot off the heat in the middle and then putting it back on means it’s going to take more time to regain the heat you lost.

Email marketing keeps your prospects warm until they reach the point at which they’re ready to hire someone – hopefully you.

Before I close here, I want to make sure you know there’s a really great interview on the Photography Marketing Masters podcast with email marketing expert Ian Brodie, the best-selling author of Email Persuasion. I highly recommend you take a listen to his interview and then get his book – it’s the best guide on the topic that I’ve seen, and Ian has a really useful private Facebook group to support the book where he personally answers questions from readers.

In my next blog, I’ll share you how to create an email marketing campaign for your photograph business.