In my previous blog we have discussed why email marketing will help you with your photography business. And the importance to keeping people engaged with the services you have to offer.
Today I’ll write about how you can start your Newsletter/Email campaign.
“Can you now start to see why you should rethink including email marketing in your overall strategy for getting new clients if you’re not already doing that?”
Even then, I know you might still have some reservations.
For example, I hear the same objection to email marketing as I do with blogging, which is “I’m not a writer, and I’m just not good with words.”
I can understand that, but the reality is you don’t need to be a writer. You just need to be able to communicate with people in a real and genuine way. Does the issue of not being a writer stop you from emailing your friends and family? Of course not, because the formal rules of writing simply don’t apply to emails.
In fact, the less formal and the more personable you are in your marketing emails, the better off you’ll be.
Still not convinced?
Ah, yes, that might all be true, but I don’t want to spam people with emails they don’t want!
Then send them emails they do want instead! So, for example, if all you do is send hyped-up sales messages that look like desperate pleas to get people to book right now, the chances are that it will be seen as spam, and your subscribers will unsubscribe.
On the other hand, if you send people information and content that will actually interest them or help them in some way, they’ll be more than happy to hear from you.
It’s All About Creating More Trust
As you can see, getting people to hire you is based on trust, and that level of trust is earned over time – it’s not something that just happens the first time someone visits your website.
While SEO and social media are great at attracting new visitors, they’re not so good at getting people to keep coming back for more.
That’s where your email marketing campaign comes into play – you can communicate with people over time to lead them back to your website or blog for multiple visits, each time increasing the trust factor until they’re ready and comfortable hiring you.
So how do you actually go about doing this stuff?
How can you create a simple email marketing campaign without driving yourself crazy in the process?
I’ll break it down into 7 easily manageable steps to make the overall process simple.
Here we go then…
#1: Choose An Email Marketing Provider
Step number 1 is to choose an email marketing provider. They can handle the administration of your email lists, take care of who subscribes or unsubscribes, and of course send out the actual emails to your subscribers.
Whatever you do, don’t try to handle this yourself!
If you try to save money by not using a third-party email service provider, I guarantee you’ll run into all kinds of problems and could even end up with your website domain being blacklisted by just about every service provider out there, meaning that you’ll lose the ability to get your emails delivered to your subscribers.
For the sake of a few bucks per month, it’s more than worth paying for a good email marketing company.
But who should you use?
We have numbers of service provider, say Mail Chimp, Benchmark, StayInTouch etc. I usually prefer StayInTouch as it much cost effective and the services are incredible awesome with good support.
#2: Create Your Email Lists
Having chosen your email service provider, the next step is to set up your first email list. The purpose of the list is simple – your subscribers will be attached to your list with their email address, name, and any other information you collect when they sign up.
Of course, you can have multiple lists if you like, and you can have the same people on more than one list, which can help to segment your audience, but you obviously need to start out with at least one list.
Just give your list a name and create it – that’s all there is to it at the moment, and I’ll talk about how to add people to your list in a few minutes.
Before you can do that, you need to create something your subscribers will want in exchange for giving you their email address. That’s what we call a lead magnet.
#3: Build Your Lead Magnet
Often called an “ethical bribe”, the job of the lead magnet is to give your audience a reason for them to sign up to your email list. Because someone’s email address can be considered a form of marketing currency, if you like, your lead magnet needs to be something they’ll find interesting and valuable.
Although the most common type of lead magnet is an eBook, there’s no rule that says it has to be that, and it can be almost anything.
Some examples include:
- An eBook (really nothing more than a simple PDF document) with tips and ideas…
- A video or series of educational or entertaining videos…
- Some type of course, delivered by email or through a membership portal…
- Coupons or special offers just for new subscribers…
Unfortunately, this is where so many people seem to hit a wall, but for all the wrong reasons!
It’s natural to imagine we have to give our new subscribers something really amazing, which helps of course, but the other assumption is that it has to be big, or look super-impressive, which can actually be counter-productive.
Going overboard to create an epic guide just isn’t necessary at this stage. If you think about it, your subscribers just want some quick answers to a few important questions, and they don’t have all the time in the world to go through a big book.
In some cases, a simple but comprehensive checklist or “cheat sheet” can suffice, although I’ve found that a short eBook of around 8 to 10 pages works very well.
The one thing your lead magnet should have is a call to action, preferably repeated several times throughout, to get your subscribers to take the next step toward working with you.
One question photographers seem to have here is, “where do I put the lead magnet and how do I send it to new subscribers?”
There are several options for this, the most common is to simply store it in a folder on your website. You can also use a cloud-storage option, such as Amazon S3, which is the method I recommend if your lead magnet is a video file or other large-sized asset.
Whichever option you choose, all you need to do to get your lead magnet into the hands of your new subscribers is to give them the URL where they can access it.
#4: Craft The Welcome Message
This is where the welcome message comes into play. This is a special email you create that’s attached specifically to your new list.
The welcome message is automatically sent to all of your new email subscribers as soon as they sign up, and this is how you will deliver your lead magnet to them.
The welcome message is also important because you can let your people know they’re in the right place, show them where and how to access your lead magnet, as well as laying the foundation for your future email marketing campaign by explaining what they can expect from you going forward.
Managing your subscribers’ expectations at this point can go a long way toward keeping them happy and reducing the unsubscribe rate in the future. For example, if you plan on sending an email each week, on a Tuesday, let them know that’s what they can expect, rather than hoping they’ll just pick it up as they go along.
#5: Create A Dedicated “Thank You” Page
Most people will stop at this point, assuming they’ve got everything covered, but there’s another important element you need to have in place that can really help cement the new relationship with your email subscriber.
Email service providers such as StayInTouch allow you to redirect your newly-subscribed contacts to a special page on your website as soon as they subscribe.
This is called the “thank you” page, and its purpose is exactly as the name suggests. This is a page you create on your website that sits outside the normal navigation and is designed to be ignored by the search engines. You don’t link to it from anywhere else on the site, so the only real way people can land on this page is by subscribing to your email list.
You can use this page to thank people for signing up, to reassure them that your lead magnet is on the way to them, and what they can expect to get from you going forward – essentially the same things you would include in the welcome message, except that you don’t provide the lead magnet download link on the thank you page.
However, you can take this a step further, by presenting a new subscriber special offer, or providing something of additional value. You might even have a low-cost product for sale. The idea here is to get your subscribers used to interacting with you, so that they’ll be more likely to follow your calls to action in your regular emails.
#6: Integrate Your Sign-Up Form
That still leaves the question of how to actually get people to sign up to your email list.
To do that, you’ll need to use a sign-up form, and most email service providers allow you to create those in their system and then deploy the HTML code on your website wherever you want to use it.
The main issue with most sign-up forms is they don’t look all that attractive, and you might need to alter the style of the form on your website by adding some custom CSS code in your style sheet. Alternatively, you can use one of the many opt-in plugins available to create better looking sign-up forms that integrate with your service provider.
This is really the only technical step in the whole process, but it’s not that hard to overcome, and you can always find someone to help install the sign-up forms if you don’t want to get involved with it.
#7: Send Regular Weekly Emails
Finally, you’ve got everything in place, and all that’s left is to send out your regular emails – I refrain from calling them newsletters because the last thing people really want is another business newsletter.
How often should you be in contact with the people on your list?
I recommend once a week, not the once per month option that most people seem to want to default to. A monthly email sounds attractive and perhaps less intrusive, which appeals to those who are scared of being seen as spamming their list, but the problem is people will be more likely to forget about you in between emails.
Once per week means you can send a couple of information-based emails each month, and one that tells them about an offer, event, or promotion you might be having. As long as most of your emails are packed with useful and interesting information, they will be well received, and you’ll be able to get away with the occasional sales-oriented email.
Another question I often hear about this has to do with which format to use – HTML or plain text emails.
My answer is almost always to use the HTML format so you can take advantage of the tracking system to monitor open rates and click through rates etc. but to only send text in those emails.
Yes, I would avoid using those pretty HTML templates that seem so tempting for the simple reason that a fancy template full of graphics will immediately make your email look like a business email and rob it of your personality. Think about it, you don’t usually use pretty templates with lots of graphics to email your friends and family, do you?
No, of course not.
The same goes for your clients and prospects.
Consider the fact that you’re in a people-based business where personal interaction is an important element. Your clients have to know, like, and trust you before they will hire you, so putting your email communication on a formal business footing is likely to be counter-productive in that situation.
Yes, there are businesses that can benefit from using a more formal style of email, but I don’t believe photography is one of them, so I recommend that you stick with simple text emails and an informal writing style, at least until you’ve gotten used to how all this works and you can experiment to test different formats for yourself.
I hope this will help you through your venture in Photography. Wishing you all the very best!!!