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Top 3 Google Ranking Factors for 2017

photographer online searchI read an interview with Miriam Ellis, an expert in Google search & SEO at Moz.com. Although she says there are many factors that determine where your website page will show up in Google searches, she had 3 recommendations that local businesses should focus on in 2017.

1. Reviews are Critical. According to Ellis, surveys indicate that 91 percent of consumers now read online reviews and that 84 percent of people trust online sentiment as much as they do personal word-of-mouth recommendations. It is important not only to grow your studio’s local reputation on social media, but you have to respond quickly and expertly to both praise and blame.

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How to Get Reviews for Your Photography Studio

online reviews for photographers

Online reviews can have a big impact on your business. They have the power to boost your brand and drive sales. In fact, 90% of consumers read online reviews. That number trends even higher when shoppers are making an expensive purchase like professional photography.

It doesn’t matter whether you own a stand-alone studio or not – online reviews are just as important.

Think word-of-mouth is your most important marketing? 88% of customers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. When you have excellent reviews, shoppers are likely to spend more. For example, studies have shown that for every additional star local businesses gained on Yelp, they saw a 5-9% increase in revenue.

How do you get more online reviews? The easiest way is to ask for them. Send an email 24-48 hours after clients receive their photography asking for a review. Personalize the email, and it will make a world of difference. Mention the product they bought, their name and any personal interaction you had with them, too. Here’s an example:

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5 Tips for Word-of-Mouth Marketing

girls-talkingMost photographers will tell you that word-of-mouth (WOM) is their most important marketing. It makes sense. A 2012 report by Nielsen found that 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth over all other forms of advertising (WOMMA).

Unfortunately, too often we assume good WOM marketing “just happens.” The reality is that with a little bit of extra effort, you can increase the likelihood that someone will recommend you to a friend who is looking for a professional photographer. And the best part is, it won’t cost you a dime.

Here are 5 tips you can use to turbocharge your WOM marketing:

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3 Steps to a Photography Sale

photographer online searchMost photographers have busy seasons. Wedding season peaks in June and September. Senior and undergrad photography peaks in the fall. So the common logic goes like this: “To save money, I’ll start marketing my photography a few weeks or months before the season begins.”

This logic doesn’t work as well as it used to. In the age of the Internet, it helps to think about the steps to a sale:

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Use Social Media to Build Your Brand

 

pro photographer brand buildingEvery marketing plan should have 2 goals: to build your brand, and to create ads that encourage sales.

A strong brand builds trust and name recognition, while ads with a call to action generate sales. Your studio needs both. If clients don’t trust your brand, they become price shoppers, and the only call to action you can offer is a discount.

Unfortunately, some pro photographers believed that once social media (Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, Blogs, etc.) became popular, they could quit spending money on expensive ads and focus on social media alone. Then when they stopped meeting their sales goals, they decided social media wasn’t worth the effort.

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Increase Word of Mouth With This Marketing Idea

Bad photographyI watched a funny Youtube video the other day by a comedian who’s entire act revolves around showing a bad PowerPoint presentation (if you’ve ever used PowerPoint, you’d laugh too).

How could you adapt this idea as a way to market your studio? One way would be to create a 10-minute talk and slide show about “bad” photography. Here’s the first sentence:

“In 1888 George Eastman patented a camera that used rolls of film. If he ever saw this photograph, he would have smashed it with a hammer.”

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Don’t think online reviews matter? Think again!

If you don’t think online reviews are important to your business, here’s a study that may change your mind.

1,100 businesses using Capterra’s Conversion Tracking software were studied, and Capterra was able to track the conversion rates of businesses that had reviews displayed versus those that did not. The resulting conversion rates broke down like this:

0 Reviews=4.6%
1-4 Reviews= 5.2%
5-9 Reviews= 6.4%
10+ Reviews= 7.1%

What does this mean to you? 10 or more online reviews on a site like Google Places, Yahoo Local Business, Yelp.com, Yellowpages or Angie’s List can increase the number of potential customers who find you online and pick up the phone by 50%.

In this study a “conversion” was counted when a potential customer filled out a form. For you, it may be a contact form, an email or a phone call.

Collecting online reviews should be one of your goals for 2013. Here is a step-by-step article to get you started. Here’s how you should handle negative reviews.

4 Steps to Deal with Negative Online Reviews

A client emailed me recently with the question, “I have a negative online review. This is why I hate all this online social junk. How can I get rid of it?”

Although we’ve written about this subject in several articles over the past year, I realized it might be helpful to put them together in one place.

Step 1: Make it easy for clients to review you online. Here’s a step-by-step guide. If you’re actively collecting positive online reviews from happy clients, an occasional bad review isn’t going to hurt your reputation. Prospective clients are smart enough to understand that if you’ve been in business long enough, not every customer will be a happy one.

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The Photographic Studio Website of the Future

Flash websites are dead. Static websites are dead. Facebook has changed everything.

When the Internet became popular, photographers began putting up static websites that would show examples of their work, and tell about their business. Flash made it easier to create pretty websites, but they were still a glorified yellow-page ad: who we are, where we’re located, what we do.

Google (and Bing and Yahoo) made these websites work because they provided an index to the Internet. But they only answered one question: “how can I find a photographer among a million other photographers?” A great achievement, but it still used the old yellow-pages ad metaphor.

Then Facebook came along, and it turned the idea of searching for a photographer on its head. Instead of worrying about keywords (which Google still does) Facebook asked the question a different way: “which photographers do my friends like?” It’s the difference between an ad and a word-of-mouth referral. People hate being sold, but they will trust their friends.

Which brings us to today. So how will potential clients find us in the future? Here are some likely scenarios: Read more

Put Your Preferred Vendors List to Work For You

It is not uncommon for a wedding photographer to have a “preferred vendors” web page. Even if you don’t have a web page listing your preferred venues, caterers, etc., chances are you have a list in your studio so you can answer the question we all inevitably get from clients, “who do you recommend?

The problem with a preferred vendors page on your web site is that while it promotes your vendor’s websites – and it might be useful to your clients – it isn’t helping to build your business.

Here’s a way to put your vendor list to work for you: Offer your vendors a special promotion they can offer to their customers. Here are a couple of ideas that can work for your studio.

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