The following is a guest post by Zach Prez. You can find out more information about Zach, see the “About Zach Prez” section at the end of the article
Email has become a resource many of us would have trouble living without these days. However, email is more than a convenient method for keeping in touch with friends and relatives, or receiving inter-office memos. When used effectively, email is a powerful marketing tool.
An email list is the most valuable asset for any photography business. It’s the easiest and most direct way to engage with past and potential clients and encourage them to do more business with you. In fact, most photographers book more clients after sending out an email, than at any other time during the year. However, if the emails are never opened, they are obviously of little effect. When you send an email to a list of 1,000 people, 300 might open the email driving 50 clicks back to a website. How many of those visitors lead to new business? A strategy for getting emails delivered, opened, and clicked is essential!
Before crafting an email, create a value proposition. That’s a fancy marketing term telling the user what’s in it for them and what action to take. This should be something that grabs their attention right away. Your proposition might be education (what to wear, tips for hanging prints) or an offer (discount to loyal customers, limited holiday sessions available). Attention to subject lines will drastically affect how many users see your emails.
Every email needs a call to action that tells the user what you want them to do. The best calls to action reinforce the subject line and are repeated in various ways throughout the email. For example a subject line of “7 Tips for Better Wedding Photos” may have a link at the top that says “View examples of better wedding photos,” a button at the bottom that says “Contact Zach to get better wedding photos,” and a clickable wedding image on the right that says “Click the image to see Zach’s best wedding photos.” No matter where the user clicks, you achieve the goal to get the user to view more images or contact you. Timing also affects a campaign’s success. You wouldn’t send an email in June talking about Christmas sessions. Similarly, don’t send an email on Sunday evening if your subscribers respond to email during business hours. The most effective time to send emails is Tuesday mornings, but you can experiment with your list to see if that holds true.
There are many businesses that offer periodic newsletter subscriptions to their customers, and other visitors to their websites. This is a great way to promote your business and remain in touch with past and future clients. However, if the client is unsure how the newsletter will benefit them, they won’t give up their email address to simply “subscribe”. So what can you offer an existent or potential client to interest them in receiving your newsletters? Perhaps tips on taking photos at home, preparing for a photo session, or ideas to hang portraits. You can see how this sort of information is written in the interest of the user and therefore captures more interest than an email newsletter that simple “sells.” For return customers, I offer an email subscription to my blog posts. People who read the valuable content in my posts like them are likely to sign up to receive them in email.
However, newsletters can be a very time-consuming endeavor. This is why I use auto responders. An auto responder is a scheduled series of emails that walks a subscriber through my most important information. My website with web marketing ideas for photographers uses an example of this. 5 pre-written emails get automatically delivered over time to educate new website visitors with valuable information. The content is excellent, stuff I normally charge for. Each email is an opportunity to expose my brand, build trust, and get someone to contact me.
¢ Subscribers have a reason to sign up (valuable information)
¢ Everyone starts at the beginning
¢ I only have to write 5 emails instead of an ongoing weekly newsletter
¢ Grows 5-10 times more quickly than other email campaigns
¢ People can’t wait for the next email (high open rates)
¢ People refer their friends to subscribe
Auto responder benefits over traditional email newsletters:
¢ Huge time savings. It takes 5 minutes to email the text of a blog post and hours to create a newsletter
¢ More readers to your blog
¢ More comments on your site because you reach more people with blog content
¢ Ability to up-sell with promotional messages (can’t do that with RSS subscribers)
Remember to give people a reason to subscribe, open, and act on your emails. Strong subject lines, call to action links, and autoresponder emails can help accomplish this to make the most out of your email marketing efforts.
I’m a dad and social cyclist who loves to talk marketing over a cup of Lipton tea. I contribute to dozens of photography business sites. I wrote Photography Web Marketing Guide to help photographers get more clients with photography websites. At only $29, you’re going to make your money back with your first booking. It’s a no brainer. Follow me at http://twitter.com/zachprez