Posts Tagged ‘e-mail marketing’
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
Recently I helped a photographer with a marketing problem: he had too many good photographs to use in the newsletter he was sending out to seniors. Narrowing it down to just 4 images was hard.
Compare that problem to 99% of other small businesses around you. For example, you’ve probably seen the “call center” stock image from Shutterstock.com on the right. While it is a perfectly good image, it is one of the most common business images used in advertising. It is visual code for “we answer the phone.”
So while every other business is forced to use tired images like this, as a pro photographer you have access to dozens of great royalty-free photographs on your hard drive. Images that tell a story. Images that surprise. Images that move us.
Of course, great images alone won’t make your studio successful. You need to use them in products you create, then showcase those products in your ads, on your website and on your studio walls.
But make no mistake: your best images are a secret marketing weapon you have over everyone else.
Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Sam Sarkis, a professional photographer in Farmington, Michigan has made social media the cornerstone of his marketing effort, and the results have grown both his business and his bottom line.
Search for “sam sarkis” online and you will notice that he dominates the front pages of Google, Bing and Yahoo.
That’s no accident.
I spoke with Sam, and asked him about his general marketing plan, and how social media fits into it.
“I spend 2-3 hours a day marketing online alone,” Sam said. “First thing in the morning, then perhaps again later in the afternoon.”
I asked Sam how he finds that much time each day for online marketing.
“I don’t spend as much time in PhotoShop,” he explained.
I then asked Sam if that much time spent online hurts his business.
“I used to spend a thousand dollars on an ad. Now I spend nothing, and I get even more clients. And they are better clients too.”
So where does Sam spend his time? Without giving away his secrets, Here’s the list of links on the first page of Google alone!
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
MailerMailer has released a study on e-mail open rates, and the number of folks who open marketing e-mails is dropping. To make the most of your marketing e-mails, here are some tips to follow:
• Tuesday delivery is best, around 11am.
• Less than 35 character subject lines get opened more often.
• Most popular words in the subject line were: Newsletter, News, Party, Free, Events, Sale, Update, Tonight, Night, Week, Weekly. See the entire list here (bigger words are more popular).
• Personalization in the subject line is perceived as spam. Personalization in the message body increases click-through.
• Mail at least once a month so folks remember who you are and don’t consider your email as spam.
Remember, email newsletters continue to be the most cost-effective way to communicate with your past and potentially future customers. If you don’t have a plan for sending at least 12 email newsletters in 2011, you will limit your business.
Monday, January 10th, 2011
You’ve just created a great marketing email newsletter (or postcard), and you want to drive clients to your website to see more examples of your work. It makes sense: your website is your 24/7 salesman, showing off your studio’s products and services in the best possible light.
So at the bottom of the email newsletter, you write something like “See samples at myphotostudio.com” Not bad, but there is a better solution.
Ask any website marketing expert and they will tell you: When it comes to converting readers into paying customers with email marketing, it isn’t the subject line, the photographs, the graphics or the “from” address that has the biggest impact on converting views into sales.
The secret to email conversions is to send customers to a focused landing page.
Saturday, December 19th, 2009
If you don’t already have a email provider, this is too good an offer to pass up. Mailchimp (our second favorite email provider) wants to encourage small businesses to user their service, so they are offering a basic plan with up to 3,000 e-mails a month as long as you have less then 500 people on your email list.
If you aren’t already sending professional email newsletters, you now officially have no excuse.
Bonus Tip: recently I read about a business that was able to collect many more email addresses from prospective customers by adding this text to their sign-up forms:
We will use this email address to send you a monthly newsletter with tips and specials. We promise to never give your email address to anyone else.
For example, if you’re a wedding photographer who collects email addresses at the reception, you should put this on the card. The extra promise – and the fact that you use a professional email provider – will encourage customers to trust you.
Friday, December 4th, 2009
Back in the old days, running a small business was as simple as opening a checking account, keeping track of sales, and paying your taxes on time.
Their are two new laws on the books that can effect your business. Get caught breaking them, and you could be subject to tens of thousands of dollars in fines that could bankrupt you overnight. They are:
We’ve all read the stories about hackers stealing thousands of credit card numbers from large retailers. But you may not know that small businesses that accept credit cards account for the majority of credit card theft. If a customer’s information is stolen from you (by a hacker or an employee), you can be held responsible.
What is it? To protect customer information, the PCI Security Standards Council was formed. This industry watch-dog group has created a set of security standards for any business that handles credit cards.
Why is it important? While the PCI standards are not federal law, some states have adopted them as law, and PCI non-compliance has been used by the courts as proof of negligence in credit card theft cases.
What can you do? Start by downloading and filling out one of the PCI self-assessment worksheets. This will tell you what level of security you are responsible for. It could be as simple as filling out the worksheet and keeping it on file (in case you are ever audited) or as complicated as hiring a third-party consultant to independently audit your business.
What is it? The CAN-SPAM Act is a federal law that “establishes requirements for those who send commercial email, spells out penalties for spammers and companies whose products are advertised in spam if they violate the law, and gives consumers the right to ask emailers to stop spamming them.” Basically, that means that if you send out advertising e-mail, you need it to conform to the law.
Why is it important? Nobody likes spam email. In an effort to combat it, congress defined spam as anything from the Nigerian prince who sends out a million copies to the small business that sends out a few dozen coupons. Last month, Alan Ralsky of Detroit, Michigan was sentenced to 61 months in jail and ordered to pay $250,000 in fines. While sending lots of spam email was a factor, what brought him to the attention of prosecutors were complaints by private citizens (think of an unhappy customer with too much time on their hands).
What can you do? Make sure any email you send meets the requirements: Don’t use any false or misleading information, clear subject line, identify yourself as a business, provide a way for the recipient to get off your list, etc. Rather than keep track of all the rules, many businesses use an online email service like Constant Contact, MailChimp or Vertical Response (the one we use). These programs are designed to insure your mailings follow all the rules.
Thursday, September 17th, 2009
In Building your e-mail address list – Part 1, I explain how to build your e-mail list from past customers, friends and referrals.
Once you’ve added all the people you know to your e-mailing list, it’s time to start adding people you’ve never even met. These are folks who’ve visited your website and want to learn more about you.
To gather their e-mail address, you need to:
- Put a professional contact form page on your website. Use a “Contact me” menu option or button in the upper right-hand corner of every page to link to your form. Don’t just show your e-mail address – make it easy for potential customers to contact you by e-mail.
- Put an e-mail newsletter sign-up form on every page of your website. Link to the sign-up form from your Facebook page, and put a link to it at the bottom of e-mails you send out daily.
The two tools I recommend for this are Wufoo and Vertical Response. Wufoo lets you create a professional contact form on your website, then collects the e-mail addresses in an easy-to-use file you can import into Vertical Response. Vertical Response lets you create a professional e-mail newsletter sign-up form you can put on every page, collects e-mail addresses, and automatically adds them to your e-mail newsletter list.
Sound confusing? Here are the steps:
- Open a free Vertical Response account. Upload every e-mail address you have into your master list.
- While in the List tab, create a new e-mail newsletter opt-in form. design the form, then copy and paste the code into every page on your website. If you aren’t comfortable modifying your website, you should have your web designer do it for you.
- At the bottom of every e-mail you send out (even for personal notes), put a link to the e-mail newsletter opt-in form. You’ll be surprised how many people will take the time to click the link and join your mailing list.
- Open a free Wufoo account. Design a contact page, then copy and paste the code into your contact page on your website. If you already have a contact page (some website templates have them pre-installed), whenever you answer an e-mail, make sure you manually copy the e-mail address to your vertical response master e-mail list.
- When you’re ready to send your first e-mail newsletter in Vertical Response, you’ll have a master list including past customers, friends, family, anyone who has contacted you, and anyone who signed up for your email newsletter. If you use Wufoo, you can easily download the list of everyone who has contacted you from your website, then upload it into your Vertical response master list (don’t worry – Vertical Response weeds out the duplicates automatically).
Note that while both Wufoo and Vertical Response are free to use, when it is time to send out an e-mail newsletter, Vertical Response charges 1.5 cents per e-mail sent. Since they also throw out duplicates, that is a pretty good bargain.
If you are diligent about building your e-mail marketing list, you should see it grow by dozens of people every month. Because it is inexpensive to send e-mail newsletters to these folks, you’ll soon find that your e-mail list is your most important marketing tool.
I just received this great link from Vertical Response to an article called 29 Ways to Collect E-Mail Addresses for Your Business. This is a great list you can copy and check off for your studio.
Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Next to your camera, your e-mail list is your most valuable business asset. It connects you with the group of people most likely to need your services.
Before e-mail, your customer list was was the best marketing tool you had. But your e-mail list can contain:
- Past customers
- Friends and family
- Folks you’ve met in person
- Referrals from clients
- People who visit your website (or Facebook page, or Twitter)
Notice how as you move from 1 to 5 you move from customers most likely to purchase from you to least likely (the marketing jargon for this is concentric circles of influence). When mailings were expensive, your tendency was to focus on marketing to the first group only. But with e-mail, you can market to all five for only pennies apiece.
So how do you get e-mail addresses from each of these groups?
1. Past customers – If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you only have e-mail addresses for a small percentage of your old clients. If you typically contact them by post card, when you send the next one offer them a free gift if they go to your website and “register”, i.e. give you their e-mail address. the gift could be a coupon, a limited edition print, or a PDF booklet you’ve written called “My top 10 tips for taking great snapshots.” It should have a high enough perceived value to get them to give up their e-mail address.
2. Friends and family – This one is easy. export your personal and business e-mail lists into your customer list.
3. Folks you’ve met in person – Always carry business cards. When you meet someone, offer them a card. If they give you one back, add them to your e-mail list. If they don’t have a card, ask for their e-mail anyway.
4. Referrals from clients – I wrote a post about referrals here, but the idea is that if you don’t get them to book a session, at least get their e-mail address.
5. People who visit your website – To get these folks you should have a contact and sign-up form available from every page on your website. If you don’t have this, the next post will explain the tools that I recommend to use.