Email Marketing For Food Photographers – My Feb. 2015 Emailer

Email Marketing For Food Photographers – My Feb. 2015 Emailer

Since so much of marketing for a food photographer is trial and error, I thought it might be useful to you if you could learn from my mistakes.  My idea is to show you my latest emailer and to discuss what I did, why I did it, and what happened after I did what I did…

At the end of last year, I decided that, starting in January, I was going to send out one emailer per month.  So I put together a mailing list and even started test shooting, JUST for my emailers.  I’ll get into more on that in a second.

For me, it’s always been tough to get around to sending out emailers.  I know they’re beneficial and would really help my business, but I seldom found the motivation to send one out.  I’d set a schedule to send out one per quarter and end up sending out maybe half that.  I think the season that I found it so easy to procrastinate is because I never seemed to have a recent image that I was proud of, when it came time to send out the promotion.  I think I found a way around that.

I figured that if I got a great shot from a real job, that was great, but even if I did, I was going to do one test shoot per month anyway. That’s why last week, my blog post was about testing.  So basically, I have two New Years resolutions.  One is to religiously send out one emailer and do one test shoot EVERY month.  Part of why I writing this, is so that you guys can keep me accountable

So, each month, I’m going to show you my emailer, the stats, and my thoughts about what happened and why.  I will talk about the image, the copy, the headline, and any other factors that I think might have contributed to the effectiveness or lack of effectiveness of the emailer.Feb Food photography Emailer

 My Email Marketing Strategy:

When I started this process, I took my contact list and had it verified at I sent everyone an email telling that I placed them on my “once a month” mailer list and said that if they wanted off, to please just let me know or unsubscribe.  No big deal.  I’m calling my email campaign “Image of the month”.  That way, I’m hoping that people realize that I will only email them one time a month, so they’ll be less likely to “unsubscribe” because once a month isn’t “too much”.

My whole strategy is based on the concept “out of sight, out of mind”.  I want to potential clients images on a regular basis, so that they can see what I’ve been up to and see remember the quality and style of work that I am capable of doing.  The idea is that this regular contact will increase the chance that they will think of me when an appropriate job lands on their desk.   That’s it.  It’s not rocket surgery.  I just want to show them good quality work and increase the chance that they’ll remember me the next time they get a job that I might be a good match for. We’ll see if it works.  It will be hard to judge the results.  I don’t have any real way of knowing if a particular job was the result of an individual emailer or not.  I guess that marketing is an imperfect science.

My Emailer Subject Line: “Food Photography”

I think it is short, sweet, to the point.  I figured that everyone that received this will know me and know what was coming.  My open rate was pretty good, (43.1%) (Industry Average – 26.7) so I think it worked well for this market.  I might change it up a little next time, but I’m not sure at this point, probably not. I might make it “March Food Photography”

My Emailer image

I wasn’t crazy with the image, but I HAD to send something. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either.  I actually liked another image from this same shoot better than this one, but the stylist convinced me that I needed to broaden my horizons by showing a straight down shot.  I usually HATE straight down shots and I don’t want it to be a rut for me.  I still hate them though… :o) And the funny thing is that the one I wanted to use, actually scored higher in Instargam “likes”.  Go figure

My Emailer Copy

I think that photographer’s emailer should be mostly about the photo so I don’t put a lot of effort into the copy.  Maybe that’s a mistake. I don’t know.  My “call to action” is pretty much nonexistent, so that’s probably why my click rate was so bad. I might try to tell a little story about the shot with my next copy. I guess that will depend on the image.

Who Received the Emailer?

I didn’t tell you something earlier.  My list is divided into three segments.  The list is made up of “people” (172 people) , both “people and food” (342 people) and “food” segments (85 people).  I actually send out two emailers per month.  One goes to people buyers and one goes to food buyers.

“Food” buyers are the individuals and companies that probably would not interested in people shots, like Heinz, Delmonte, and clients like that.  The “People” segment is made up of people that work at hospitals, banks and such.  The largest segment is the “both” segment.  It’s made up of ad agencies and graphic design firms and other companies that I think would be interested in seeing both food and people shots. I figure that these clients might hire me to do either type of photography.  Yes, I’m a generalist AND a food photography specialist.  We can talk about that on another post.

So, what I do is this. One month, I’ll send the “people” segment AND the “both” segment, a people image and I’ll send a food image to the “food ” segment.  The next month I will send a people image to the “people only” segment and other two segments will get the food image.  This month, the two segments (food and both) got the food image.

The Results:

As of 1.5 days after the email was sent (Wednesday Feb 18th at 10:00 Eastern Time), here is what my mailchimp report said.

  • Emails sent – 434
  • Opens – 197 (43.1%) (Industry Average – 26.7)
  • Unique Clicks – 14 (3.2%) (Industry Average – 3.8%)
  • Total clicks – 17
  • Forwards – 0
  • Forward Ppens – 0
  • Bounces – 0
  • Unsubscribe – 1

What did I learn?

First off, I think I may need to mess with the segments.  I realized that in the previous month, I had my “grocery store clients’ listed in my “both” segment.  Sure, grocery stores use people shots, but they use a lot more food shots than people shots.  I’ll think about that a little… Maybe I’ll make another segment with a food preference so they get maybe 2 out of 3 food emails.

My open rate was great but my click rate sucked.  I’m thinking that either my image was lacking, I didn’t have a strong call to action, or that maybe my copy wasn’t all that great. Maybe all of the above? Maybe I don’t need the viewers to do anything…? Maybe it’s enough just to get a great open rate. After all, that is what I stated in my marketing objective.

So what do you guys think I did right or wrong?  I could use some feedback.

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1 Comment

  1. Rob · February 25, 2015

    I think the image looks great even though I know you don’t love it! Perhaps a stronger call to action would be better? “Image of the Month” does seem a little stagnant. A stronger call to action might improve your click through rate.


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