Can Email Marketing Work for You?
Email Marketing is the newest and most controversial method for sending self-promotion information to your current and prospective clients. As important a tool as it
can be, it can also add to the flood of spam your clients are receiving. Let’s look at how it
can work for you! First, email marketing combines the unique features of design flexibility, lower production costs, quicker turnaround, testing different offers, showing
new work, sharing information important to your clients and driving traffic to your web
site. Second, don’t underestimate the power of relationship building in email marketing
for your creative services. Lots of people prefer follow-up and even first contact to be an
email. It is personal and impersonal at the same time… quite the hybrid marketing tool!
Email will not take the place of stamp mail or phone calls but it is another avenue,
another chance to generate and maintain interest in your services.
Clients need to open the email so design it to your highest level of technical and creative ability. Consider using a different campaign for your current clients and your
prospective clients when planning your email marketing. Your current clients can get
more personal contact in your email than the prospective clients. Also, you can be more
general in your marketing message to your current clients – they have already worked
with you and know your work. Prospective clients need to get a more specialized and
targeted marketing message. It should be something very specific to catch their eye and
attention. Be irresistible!
Add credibility or third party proof as often as possible to your email marketing campaigns. By definition, marketing is you saying how great you are and you need more
objective evidence to convince prospective clients to respond. One of the best sources to
use is your membership in a professional association. This “third party proof” could also
be in the form of client testimonials, case studies of actual jobs or published work.
Repetition leads to recognition which leads to response. This is the mantra of all
marketing so plan spaced repetition of your email. The best rule to use is to gear the pace
of your email promotions to client’s need for your work. There is a risk in mailings that
are too close together: you’ll lose effectiveness and annoy the prospective clients. If
they're too far apart, you won't build recognition and you will lose the equity you gained
from the previous e-mailings.
Before you design your email marketing, decide what it is that you want your client (or prospective client) to do when they get your email. Set specific goals - do you
want them to call for more information? Visit your web site? Anticipate the next email?
Ask for a consultation? Refer you to their friends? You can have multiple choices
(everyone’s favorite!). Be sure to let the client reading your email know what their
In traditional direct marketing, you can increase the number of responses from clients by making an offer of some kind. This has not changed with the new email
marketing. It should be something they need or want.
Email response also increases when your personality and philosophy as a
photographer are strongly reflected. You are a total stranger to prospective clients
receiving your mail – whether email or ground mail. They need to get to know you better
to take the next step and respond. Email is an impersonal promotion tool, so put yourself
into the mailing to create a personal presence. You can add biographical information,
background information on the image or discuss your philosophy as a professional
photographer. Think of this personal information as the “why” clients should hire you.
The “what” is clear to them from your images. Help them respond by telling them why
you created the image they are looking at and what you would be like to work with.
Start with a "From" address that accurately identifies your name and not some
mixed up set of numbers and letters. Use a subject line that contains no more than thirty
five characters. The subject line should contain at least one keyword phrase that is
important to your client. Don’t try to be cute or clever and use words like “hello, free,
guaranteed" as these types of words are often spam-filtered and your email will never be
seen. Use an online content checker to test your email for potential problem words that
might trigger a spam filter.
Next, test how your email will look to clients. Broken links or raw HTML code in
email marketing could be a problem for you. Try setting up test accounts with the major
online services to see how they handle your email. Again, always put yourself in the
prospective client’s shoes, how will this look to them?
Use a targeted profile of the type of services you are selling and opt-in e-mail list.
Your best e-mail address list comes from current clients and good prospects that have
consented to email contact with you. This consent may come from visiting your web site,
replying to your direct mail, viewing your portfolio or an initial email query you send.
You can also buy an “opt in” email lists, check the sourcebook directories for names of
mailing list services.
Your very brief email body text should open with a two or three word headline,
lead to a strong image and then a brief paragraph designed to capture people’s attention.
Be sure to include active links to selected web pages on your site. You do not need to
send them to your home page. For example, if you are emailing to a list of travel clients,
you would send them the link to your “travel photography” page. Driving prospective
clients to your web site is important but don’t think of only an online response. Give
clients the option to call you - toll free numbers work very well here.
Don’t ignore “bounced” or undeliverable email that returns because the address
no longer exists or someone’s email In Box is full. Internet service providers have rules
about this and if you exceed their standards for undeliverable (bounced) messages, they
could flag you as a spammer and block all your email.
As of this writing, the CAN SPAM Act is in effect and you should check on the
rules before you design your email campaign. Following the above design and
production criteria will help keep you in compliance. Check the Direct Marketing
Association as one of the best sources for updated information on this hot topic.
Finally, balance your email message with selling and with interesting content.
Your selling message is important but editorial or newsworthy content makes your email
more attractive. This balance adds value to your campaign and keeps clients interested in
hearing from you.