Today I’m explaining all the many reasons why photographers need a mailing list.
Email marketing is one of the most valuable and overlooked forms of marketing for photographers.
This is by far my own personal favourite marketing strategy – I’m not a massive fan of social media, and my mailing list has enabled me to build relationships with the lovely folk in my audience in a way that not only feels comfortable to me but that has proved incredibly effective in terms of getting more clients.
Here’s why I strongly advise you to set one up if you’ve not already!
1) It’s far more reliable than social media
Mailing lists are the only platform other than your website and blog that you completely own. Social media platforms constantly change and these changes are completely out of your control – algorithms change, accounts get hacked or banned, previously free features become paid and sometimes platforms close down completely. We’ve all heard of people who spent years building up a big social media following only to lose it all in a day due to circumstances completely out of their control.
When people buy companies, there’s a reason why mailing list size is prioritised far more than social media followings – the latter is too unpredictable whereas the former is gold dust. Relying on social media for marketing is putting all your eggs in one very risky basket. It might work wonderfully for a while but that could all change and there’s not a lot you can do about it. Social media can be great but think of it as the icing on the cake rather than the cake itself – the ‘cake’ should be something you own and have 100% control over.
2) You have total control over the aesthetics and format…
…whereas on social media you’re limited by their design choices. You can ensure that all your emails are completely on-brand and designed for maximum impact. Multiple types of content can be combined (whereas on social media you usually just have to pick one specific type of post at a time). With mailing lists you can combine things like buttons, images, text and videos all in the same email, all formatted exactly how you want them.
3) You’re reliably communicating to an already warm audience
People can start following you on social media for a variety of reasons, many of which have nothing to do with them actually being interested in purchasing your services – so when you market on social media you’re talking to a very mixed bag of people – some ‘warm’ (ie interested in working with you) but many of them ‘cold’ (ie not yet or at all interested in working with you).
Clearly it’s far easier to market yourself to people who have already indicated they might be interested – and agreeing to be on your mailing list is a big sign that they are! It’s a far bigger commitment to join someone’s mailing list than to ‘like’ them on social media so it’s a far more reliable indicator of their level of interest in you. You might have some information or services for them that they’d love – if you post these on social media, due to the algorithms and depending on how often these people are actually on the platform themselves, they may well not see it. But if you email them, they’ll definitely see it.
4) You can track and organise engagement
Mailing list platforms enable you to track the stats relating to how much people engage with your emails – you can see whether people open them, click on links etc. This makes it much easier to gauge how interested specific people are and to tailor your communications with them accordingly.
The tech sets you up to be so much more strategic, responsive and effective in your marketing – listening and responding to others’ actions rather than you just shouting randomly and indiscriminately into the void. Similarly, you can split your mailing list into different sections so that you can send relevant content only to the relevant people. For example, this email is only being sent to the photographers on my mailing list, and not the families. I could post this on social media but then everyone will see it, many of whom have no interest in it!
5) You give potential clients another easier option if they’re not ready to book you yet
Not all clients want to book you as soon as they come across you. If you don’t have a mailing list, clients might come to your website, have a look around, then leave – they might not be ready to book you and might not be ready to contact you – but if those are the only options you’re giving them, you may lose them altogether. A mailing list gives them an option to keep in touch with no commitment.
You can of course direct them to follow you on social media – but what if they aren’t on social media or that particular platform? Or what if they are now, but choose to come off it in future? No-one comes off email. Give them an easy choice that enables you both to keep in contact and continue growing that relationship.
6) They are fantastic for relationship building
Statistics show that most people have to come across you at least 7 times before they’ll buy from you. People are more likely to buy from people the more they know, like and trust them – and this takes time. This is just like meeting people in real life – if you just hear from them or meet them just once, you’re unlikely to make arrangements with them (with the occasional exception) – but if you’ve met them a few times or heard others talk about them, you’re more likely to do so.
People generally don’t want to commit to strangers – so give them the opportunity to get to know you better and take them from being strangers to knowing, liking and trusting you.
7) They are a brilliant for converting enquiries into clients
This is one of the most common struggles photographers face and mailing lists are a brilliant solution to this. Of course you can follow up enquiries manually, having a system to send reminders and chase them up – but this is time-consuming and there’s the risk of inconsistency. Using your mailing list to develop a fantastic enquiry, welcome or nurture sequence is a fantastic way to efficiently communicate your brand vision, values and messages to magnetise likeminded people, and to immediately differentiate you from other photographers.
So, there you have it – 7 good reasons you need a mailing list! But where and how should you set one up? Personally, for email marketing I use Active Campaign which is brilliant and I’d highly recommend it – however it’s not always particularly cost-effective if you’re just starting out. MailerLite is a fantastic option to get you off the blocks and is the platform I recommend to all my students – great functionality, easier on the budget and they have heaps of free video tutorials to help you get started.
Hopefully all the above has convinced you why photographers need a mailing list and given you lots of info to get started with your own. However, if you want more practical help getting your mailing list set up and creating a killer enquiry sequence to wow your enquiries, I have heaps of resources to lead you through all of this step-by-step in The Shutterhood – come and join us!
So, do you already have a mailing list or are you going to set one up?
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