Last modified: December 29, 2016
Email marketing is the only channel that lets you communicate with your clients in a private environment, their inbox.
With so many distractions available on the web, sending your messages straight to the target can be a powerful instrument. Why try multiple marketing tactics and fail at all of them instead of focusing on just one, the email marketing?
It basically allows you to address a targeted audience, who consented to receive your updates, in a very personal and personalized manner.
Email marketing also increases your chances of getting more clients, not to mention that it can be surprisingly cheap and effective.
Whether you’re a tech-savvy or a newbie, when it comes to reaching your audience via email, it shouldn’t be difficult to succeed. Let’s have a look together at what can you do, as a photographer, to successfully grow your business through email marketing.
The essentials of building an email list
Before anything else, I’d like to draw a clear line: email marketing should refer exclusively to reaching out to clients who opted to receive your messages. Sending unsolicited emails, as much as you’d like to call it marketing, is actually spam.
For this reason, building an email list is the most important part of growing your photography business via email marketing. Do not worry, though. As long as your services are precisely what your clients need, they will gladly sign-up to receive updates from you.
Step 1 – Make the sign-up process visible
If you want people to subscribe, you’ll have to let them know that they can. So it all begins with slowly but steadily growing your email list.
On your photography website, you could:
- Set up a special notification window that will pop up as they reach your homepage;
- Place an advertising box, somewhere on the right sidebar of the blog or in the footer of your pages;
- Create a special call to action at the end of each post on your blog;
- Create a special Opt-in page, where you’re telling them why they should subscribe for your updates etc.
If you don’t have a photography website, you can still use the social networks and even your email signature to gather subscriptions. What link should you use, you wonder? Where will you invite your clients to subscribe to your emails?
A website like Smore, where you can start a free account and craft a gorgeous online flyer can prove handy. On Smore you can personalize your flyer, write a catchy message, and link it to your email marketing account, whether it’s MailChimp or anything similar.
Step 2 – Choose an irresistible incentive
As you already know, so many companies and online businesses aggressively advertise via email. No wonder that some people are already scared of subscribing to email lists… If you want to grow a list of enthusiastic clients, you have two options:
- To constantly publish valuable content that they will love to read;
- Or to offer them something else in exchange.
Naturally, you’re the one to decide what you would like to offer, but it can be:
- A special email course that they are interested in – a What-to-wear guide for photo sessions, like the one that I wrote in here, could be of interest to your clients;
- A posing guide or a guide on avoiding the most common mistakes when planning the shooting of a particular event is another luring offering;
- An e-book that you think will bring them value, not necessarily related to photography;
- A discount for a photo session with you;
- Or anything else you feel comfortable giving away.
Step 3 – Always foster your subscribers’ trust
You gained the trust of these people and made them give you their emails. But this is just a first small step. The true challenge comes from constantly fostering their trust, by delivering whatever you’ve promised and by protecting their privacy.
Therefore, you will have to tell your potential subscribers that you value their privacy and that you will never share their contact details with a third-party. You need to make this promise visible, right where you’re asking them to opt-in for your newsletter. And you must keep this promise whatever happens
Free email marketing services
Once people opt-in for your emails, you’ll have to start sending the valuable promised information. And while you might be tempted to use your regular Gmail account, this isn’t a good idea.
Email clients such as Gmail or Yahoo do not encourage mass emails. Most likely, your messages will be blocked by their filters, directly sent to the spam folder, or perhaps not even reaching their accounts.
You need help from professional email marketing software that, by the way, can be available for free! MailChimp, for instance, is one of the most popular free email marketing software out there. It has some limitations, of course, meaning that you can only use it for free as long as you’re sending a maximum of 12,000 emails a month to a maximum of 2,000 contacts. But you can just wait until you get there and upgrading to a paid account, with enhanced features, will be your last problem.
Aweber or ConvertKit are two other reliable options that you can check out and compare.
Your photography email marketing strategy
Your clients subscribed because they were anxious to receive relevant information or that special offer you have set up. Whatever you promised them, make sure you deliver, and this will be the most productive email marketing strategy for your photography business.
Here are a few aspects you should consider, to plan ahead with confidence:
Be consistent with your delivery – ideally, you should send a minimum of 1-2 emails per month. If you mentioned and promised a particular delivery frequency, stick to it. There’s nothing more annoying than subscribing to 1 monthly newsletter and receiving 3 emails each month.
Use enticing subject lines – the fact that they subscribed to your newsletter is no guarantee that they will open your emails and read them. At least not all of them. So it is up to you to write enticing subject lines that they won’t help but clicking. Try to keep them simple and short, so they will stand out in the inbox. Also, introduce a benefit or make them curious about something, suggest what’s in it for them.
Make content keep up with subject lines – on the same principle as initially suggested, you should be offering something valuable and written in the same engaging style as the subject line. Always give what you suggested you’ll give, never lure your subscribers into reading an email that disappoints them through the nature of the information. And also essential, instead of focusing on you and your business, focus on them:
- Make your text educational and entertaining at the same time;
- Offer them tips and tricks;
- Create personalized suggestions for specific events they might be interested in;
- And, why not, ask what matters to them and what they want to receive from you in the future –make them feel that their opinion matters to you!
You want to write that kind of email that people can’t wait to get! So valuable that they will check their inboxes for it, even before you hit the send button. If you know your audience well, you can do that!
The 2 details that make a big difference
Now that we went through the major aspects of your photography email marketing strategy, there are still two other things that I’d like to discuss. These are the minor additions that can greatly contribute to your business:
1.Automate the process as much as you can – by building auto-response series, you can plan ahead and mind other things while valuable emails enter your subscribers’ inboxes, just as you promised. Even the free email marketing software that I previously suggested supports this feature. You’re basically choosing a trigger, an action that will initiate the series of events; then, you plan in what order you want to send the emails, craft those emails and schedule them for sending.
- If you’re a wedding photographer, for instance, you could start sending a series of practical wedding-organizing tips as soon as someone subscribes to your list.
- As a child photographer, you could send a series of practical advice on how to prepare kids for photo sessions and how to make the best choices for the best outcomes.
- Create a signature that stands out – your email signature is your virtual business card. Use it to promote your work, to encourage people to visit your blog more often, to invite them on your social networks or even to book sessions with you. Pick a goal that suits you and make your signature all about it. Wisestamp is a cool app that can help you personalize this signature with ease.
All these considered, you already have the email marketing basics for promoting your photography business. You just need a little bit of confidence. As you will soon find out, the software you need is intuitive and practical, and the people you address are actually eager to hear from you. Don’t let them down!