If all the trends and innovations
in the marketing and business of photography, one of the most exciting
is e-mail marketing. This can be considered as a supplement to your advertising
and direct mail and is a great way to reach current and prospective clients.
Your challenge is to create relevant and meaningful e-mail promotion rather
than just "spam."
Make A List
Have a good e-mail list. Your e-mail address list comes from current clients
and good prospects. Usually, a good prospective client is someone who
has responded to some other form of marketing. They may have "come in
the door" by visiting your web site, replying to your direct mail, or
seeing your portfolio. Many photographers do the research to determine
good prospective clients based on the type of photography that client
buys. For information about buying any kind of list, review the web site
for research possibilities.
Have A Goal
Have a specific goal for your campaign. Regular contact with current and
prospective clients may require two different e-mail messages. For current
clients, you can be more familiar as they already know your work. For
prospective clients, you will need to keep in touch for a reason that
engages the client. It could be special offers on portrait packages, new
services available, or current client success stories. Be irresistible
and remember you are looking for response and recognition of your name
A Case Study
Mark Ross contacted me after reading one of my articles to tell me about
his own e-mail campaign. Ross is based in New York City and has been doing
architecture and interior design photography since 1976. He has been published
in many architecture and interior design magazines including Architectural
Digest, Casa Vogue, House & Garden, House Beautiful, and Interior Design.
He also shoots advertising photography for furniture and textile manufacturers.
"I decided to try my hand at
e-mail marketing because it was an inexpensive way to do a direct mailing
and one I could control on my own," said Ross. "I knew it would be possible
to change the piece as often as I deemed necessary and at no further expense.
How can you beat that? "I started by targeting big architectural and interior
design companies in the New York area. Since that was a short list, I
then included smaller firms within the New York area but still the list
was too short. Then I began thinking 'big' in a different way. Why not
include national firms that have New York branch offices? It eventually
became evident that there wasn't any necessary reason to limit my prospects
to New York alone. Why not include all the major American cities? And
so the campaign grew.
"It's a daunting effort and
it's one I do myself. As you might imagine, it takes a lot of time. I'm
now including names of graphic designers and design firms in order to
reach a wider audience. I've created a second and distinctly different
series of photos for this particular audience. It includes product and
travel industry work. One thing I have learned is that as you keep doing
the e-mail marketing, you will keep coming up with more ideas as to how
and to whom you can market."
Keep It Flowing
"The greatest concern for me has been finding a way to show eight images,
each at about 21/8" long without creating too large an e-mail file," said
Ross. "I wanted to avoid a reply message such as, 'The e-mail file you
sent us is too large and it ties up the office server. Please remove us
from your list.' "It's been a chore finding a way to crunch it to an acceptable
size, but just recently the e-mail file has gone from 1.6MB to 360KB.
Now, I no longer receive those messages.
"Once a month each promo goes
out to an ever-increasing list of potential, as well as already existing,
customers. I use eight images as they happens to fit within my Outlook
Express window comfortably and it shouldn't matter if someone has a 15"
or 20" monitor, as long as they scroll down their e-mail program's screen.
I ask them to do that right off the bat at the top of the text message.
The text message is short and to the point. I simply state my name, say
what I do, and offer a link to a free, communal web site where I exhibit
more of my work."
Measure The Response
Work very hard to measure response. Most photographic marketing response
has not been moni- tored in the past, but today's new business economy
demands accountability. Work with your web site host and designer to put
today's new innovative technology to use for your photography business.
For example, you can "tag" the link you use in your e-mail to your web
site to track the responses that come from each e-mail promotion.
Ross told me, "My average response
rate (and that's just the positive response rate) is around 4 to 5 percent
and definitely on the rise. There are more hits to my site than there
are responses to my e-mail. Very few firms care to see a traditional book
anymore, so it's important to use the Internet to market your work. Creating
an acceptable e-mail promotion campaign by finding a balance between interest,
format size, and brevity, all those elements are important."
This is not a technical column but I would be negligent if I didn't mention
some considerations for creating a successful e-mail marketing campaign
for your business. Here are some tips:
- Personalize your e-mail
whenever possible. Otherwise, use the "Bcc" field for a cleaner and
less intrusive message.
- Be careful with your "from"
address. Your e-mail should be from your name, not a scramble of letters
- You only have 24 to 35
characters in your subject line to get your e-mail opened, so choose
- Your e-mail body message
should open with the first couple of sentences designed to capture the
client's interest and active hyperlinks to get them to click to select
- When you do give a web
address in an e-mail, please make sure the client can make an immediate
visual connection. You can use your logo, a signature image, or any
design element that tells the client that "this is the right place."