If you’re a photographer, you’re automatically competing in a flooded market full of people with cameras. You may find that your pricing, services, and visibility are undercut by your ever-increasing competition. Email automation is a powerful tool that will let you collect potential customers, warm them up to your services and products, keep your brand relevant, and hold onto current customers. It can give you a strategic leg up on the competition and increase your reputation.
In this article, we’ll discuss the definition of email automation and how photographers can strategically use this powerful tool to collect, nurture, and retain customers. We’ll also provide examples of how a local family photographer can use each tip.
Email automation is a set of pre-written emails that are programmed to send to people at specific times during their journey; from complete strangers to those singing your praises on social media. You only have to set the emails up one time (aside from tweaks), and the rest of the process is automated for you.
It’s an important, but often overlooked, part of a photographer’s marketing plan because there’s a preconception that email is dead, it’s too difficult to write and execute, and/or that photographers just don’t have time.
But email has never been more important in marketing. In fact, it is the only marketing channel in which you own the message and who sees it. No one is shaking you down for money to “boost” anything for more eyeballs, and no one is flagging your message for promoting yourself. Four billion people are opening email every day (Statista, 2020). It's also one of the Big 6 of Marketing, so don’t discount it.
Email allows you to keep a running list of potential clients that you don’t have to maintain, allows potential customers to know you more before they book, and keeps you front of mind just when they’re ready for some photos. It also acts as a networking tool that keeps you in touch with your previous clients.
Here are some ways we recommend photographers use email automation:
The first piece of email automation comes with actually collecting people’s email addresses. The most effective method of doing this is embedding a signup form on your website. Luckily, Dubsado has you covered on this so it’s even easier than easy.
Once your form collects names and addresses from visitors, you have a hands off, ever-growing base of potential clients right at your fingertips.
A photographer can easily add a signup form onto a homepage popup, banner, or button on a specialty page, or add this to their “Contact Me” page. Popups are usually the most effective because they’re guaranteed to be seen (as people have to manually close them).
Related to the signup form, potential clients will be more likely to give you their information if you give them something valuable in return. Whether it’s a discount or a guide, it’s what marketers call a *lead magnet.*
Photographers can set up a lead magnet promotion or guide to automatically email a new contact after they’ve filled out the form. Motivation is key here. Make sure you list the offer or guide in the form so people know what they’ll get before they fill in their contact details.
1. As an offer, Photographers can set up a first-time discount code (you can use Dubsado to create codes and keep track of who has used it).
2. Creating a guide can bring a lot of value to your local reputation. It is a valuable piece of information that can be shared freely but also has your brand all over it. As a photographer, consider creating a one page PDF of your favorite locations for Fall family shots, a list of your “top” or “favorite” local businesses for families (who will also want to share this!), or your favorite iPhone settings to create great-looking portraits yourself. Are other local photographers doing this?
3. Probably not.
4. That’s why you become the expert. And when you increase your reputation, customers will come because they trust you.
A welcome series is a series of emails that simply welcome a potential customer. It can be used to deliver your promotion or handy guide, give a personal greeting to your contact, and give them useful information that you’d want them to know.
A photographer doesn’t need a complicated welcome series; you can write up 4 quick emails that include a welcome letter, a list of your most popular shoot events, highlight your coolest photo products, ask people to follow you on social media, or talk about your involvement in the community (you can also embed a link to your booking calendar in each and every email).
Just include your logo, space the email deliveries apart using a reasonable time frame, and be yourself. Remember: people buy from people, so you don’t have to stretch yourself.
When the contact is ready for booking portraits, they’ll remember you.
A cross-sell flow is a series of emails that you can send automatically to current customers. It’s meant to showcase related products or services that might interest a customer.
A photographer could create a simple, 2 email cross-sell flow that sends to clients who have had family portraits taken. The first email could showcase your brand’s photo books, archival prints and frames, or family mini-sessions. Tell the customer why they’re awesome or important for families. The second email could delve deeper into pricing and how to purchase or book.
“Oh yeah, we’ll need a photo album for Grandma!” - thought of every person who received your cross-sell email.
Your customers are already your fans- offer them another chance to engage with your brand and bring more revenue to you.
A seasonal series can allow you to create email reminders to book seasonal work without any work from you. It is another one-time setup that will send based on the calendar date.
Set up an August email to remind folks that fall mini-sessions are coming up, catch up with them again in late October to book holiday shoots or purchase holiday cards, and keep setting up for each of your biggest revenue events.
Include your booking link in each email, and you’ll eventually grab those warm leads and turn them into customers after they’ve been nurtured through your Welcome Series.
Now those warm leads have moved into raving customers!
In closing, email automation is a powerful tool for photographers that can set you apart from the rest of your competition. With some one-time setup actions, your potential customers can be collected, warmed up, and current customers nurtured, all on auto-pilot.
So few photographers strategically use email automation, so try it out, and let it run. Become a thought leader in your industry, generate more revenue, and fill your booking calendar!
Are you a photographer and ready to jump into email automation? Start setting up your Dubsado emails and forms today!
Written by Melissa Dusette, creator of the Photog Marketing Academy at Golden Wolf Photography