How to use e-mail marketing to sell your photographs and paintings.
Hello fellow photographers and artists. Have you ever wondered how to use e-mail marketing to promote your photography and artwork? If you're like most other artists, you have your own website, use a national website store, a local gallery, or you use social media to sell your photos and paintings. I am a NH landscape photographer and I've had some success selling my work in a local gallery and on my website, but I've had no luck with social media. I've found that the biggest challenge with my website is getting noticed on the internet and attracting new visitors. That said, I'm always looking for new and creative methods of self promotion.
When I'm not taking pictures, I work part-time for my brother's funeral supply business and I've had great success promoting his products and services using e-mail marketing. This experience gave me the idea that I might be able to use this same strategy to promote my landscape photography. I'm happy to report that I've had success using e-mail marketing, which I'd like to share with you. This is what is know as "proof of concept" in the business world. Are you ready to learn something new? Then let's get started...
Target Market: The first challenge is to try and identify who your target market is (your typical buyer). I attempted to find out who typically buys photography (wall art), but quickly discovered that this information isn't readily available. If you've been selling your artwork for awhile now, perhaps you have created a profile of your typical buyer. Regardless, it this profile information isn't available, you can still be successful marketing your work.
E-Mail List: The second challenge is to buy, or build your own e-mail list of prospects. From what I've read, buying a list can be expensive and limiting. Many list vendors will only allow you to use the list once and will charge you each time you use it, which can get expensive. So, let's examine how you can create your own e-mail list. Using myself as an example, I know many businesses buy and display wall art and photography: Lawyers, Doctors, Dentists, Inns, Hotels, Interior Decorators, Funeral Homes, Banks, Colleges, Municipalities, etc. I also know many people buy wall art for their home, but trying to find e-mail addresses for people is much more difficult than finding e-mail addresses for businesses. So, the first thing I did was build an e-mail list, starting with people I knew (doctors, dentist, accountant, financial advisor, contractors, neighbors, friends, family, former employers, etc.). Next, I did a google search using Manta, which will list businesses in a specific city/town. Focusing on those businesses that had a website, I then searched them to obtain an e-mail address. Some published their e-mail address, while others used an on-line e-mail form. I also found some business e-mail addresses by going to their company Facebook page. In addition, I found that if you google a College/University, or private High School, many publish the e-mail addresses for their administrative staff and their faculty. Many law firms also provide personal e-mail addresses for all of their lawyers. Once you create a list don't forget to add your own e-mail address so that you will get a copy of all messages you send out. When you create your list, you can lump all businesses together, or you can create many smaller lists, segmented by industry type, ie. Lawyers. By creating a separate list you can target a specific message to just that market segment. For example, your promotional message to Interior Decorators might be different that your message to Lawyers.
E-Mail Marketing Company: Now that I had built an e-mail list, I realized that it made more sense to use an e-mail marketing company to send out my bulk promotions and to manage the statistics, unsubscribes etc. Having used Constant Contact for my brother's business, I decided to use them for my e-mail promotions. Before I go further I'd like to explain that I'm not a paid spokesman for Constant Contact, nor have I received any financial benefit from them. There are many e-mail marketing companies similar to Constant Contact (MailChimp, HubSpot, Sendin Blue, Drip, etc.). I encourage you to do your own research before you select the company that best meets your needs.
Constant Contact Billing: Constant Contact charges $20.00 per month to store up to 500 contacts. If you go over this amount, I believe their next billing tier is $45.00 for up to 2,500 contacts. They don't charge per list, so you could upload multiple lists and they also don't charge for the actual e-mail blasts (transmissions). So, in theory, you could send out an e-mail promotion daily and still only pay $20.00 per month, assuming you uploaded less than 500 contacts. I think you'll find Constant Contact's billing to be very competitive with other companies, but again, you can do your own research and make your own choice.
How it Works: Once you set up your account you can then upload your list, or lists of contacts. I built my lists using Excel and they were easy to upload. Names can be added or deleted from these lists as needed. Your next step is to create a campaign (e-mail message). Constant Contact offers well over 50 different templates, which you can customize to meet your specific needs. You have full creativity in the type and size of the font, color, inserting photos etc. You will give each campaign (e-mail transmission) a name and title. When you are building your message content, you can easily link and imbed your website or e-mail address to the body of the message so prospects can easily reach you. Since you are a visual artist, you will want to include one or more images of your photography or paintings. As to the body of the message I'll leave that up to your creative talent. Once you create a message you can then send a "test" message to your own e-mail for proofing. Then, once you are satisfied with the message you can send it out immediately, or schedule for another date and time. You can also send the message to just one list, or all your lists. As to when to send the message, I would recommend early morning, M-F.
Managing the Results: Once the e-mail message has been sent, you can then track the results of the campaign. I would recommend waiting one or two days before checking results. Most people will open or delete e-mail messages the same day or no later than the next day. Sure, you might find some people checking their e-mail a week later, but most of your results will come in within the first two days of the campaign. As far as results, Constant Contact will show you the following: # Sent, # Bounced (undeliverable), #Opened, % Opened, # Unopened, #Clicks on your website, #Unsubscribed and #Spam (those who classified your message as spam). The national average Open rate is about 22%, so you can compare your results with the national averages. Don't be discouraged though if many of your prospects don't open your message, as many people automatically delete e-mail messages they aren't expecting. If you want to identify who opened your message you can click on "Opened" in the campaign results page. Those who opened your message are more likely to become prospects or buyers, so you may want to eventually build a new list of just those who opened your messages. After multiple campaigns, you may want to consider deleting those businesses or people who won't even open your messages. By deleting them, you are freeing up space to add new contacts. Multiple messaging will help to build your image, but I would caution not to send out e-mails too frequently, as you will end up with more unsubscribes.
My Results: Over the first two months of using Constant Contact I sent out 16 different e-mail campaigns. Most of these were to different lists and not to the same list of prospects. My total billing came to $40.00 over the 2 month period, as I kept my total number of contacts less than 500. Here were my results:
1437 - Total e-mails sent; 70 - bounced (undeliverable); 1367 - total delivered; 371 - total opened (represents an open rate of 27%); 39 - website clicks (those who went to my website); 16 - unsubscribed; 1 - spam classification and most important: I sold 8 photographs to 3 separate customers.
If you have any questions, or comments, please contact me: Ron Bowman at: [email protected] or by using my contact page on my website: www.rbphotonh.com