Could This Be A Solution To the Email Blast Problem?

For the last few years, email blasts have been a hot button issue for sure. Every now and then the heated debate starts up all over again.  There aren’t many topics in our industry that can incite such road rage, but the email blast one does every time.

I never fully entered into the debate because I never had a solution.  I understood both sides and the few times I did engage in side conversations, I would always try to remind people the importance of being able to actually know who clicked on the e-promo.  Without that information, we cannot be as targeted or relevant in our marketing.  And, without it we no longer know if what we are doing is even working.  It used to be that we knew who was looking at the work because portfolios were requested, but not now. Now, we need to rely on the email blast data to learn anything specific about who is interested.  An email blasts is the ONLY marketing tool that offers that kind of specific data.

On the other side, I would hear stories of overflowing in boxes, emails at all hours, photos that weren’t at all relevant to what the person needed.  Many use words such as torture, annoying and irrelevant.  One art producer friend asked me to imagine sitting at my desk trying to get work done and waiting for an important fedex to arrive.  She said to then imagine that the doorbell was ringing every five minutes and I had to stop what I was doing and answer the door each time because I needed that fedex.  Well, instead it was the mailman and all he had was junk mail for me and I had no where to put it all.  Exasperating.

Over the years, things have gotten so extreme that recipients have hosted websites that shame photographers and reps that send the e-promos and belittle the process.  Of course the irony of them bashing any form of marketing given our business is not lost on many of us.  These types of sites always come with derogatory URLs and comments that are equivalent to cyber bullying.  Not a very productive way to start a conversation or look for a solution.

Then one day, the same art producer friend called me to vent some more about e-promos. At first, the conversation was the same. The mailman metaphor, the overflowing mailbox, the understandable annoyance. But then she said something that I hadn’t heard before. She said, “You know Heather, agencies are starting to block email blasts from the provider’s servers.”

I had never heard that before. And, I knew then, that I no longer could avoid the conversation because I didn’t have a solution. I had to have a solution.

Well, a solution we have! An experiment of sorts. And, it is called OneEmailerAMonth. It is a site dedicated to showcasing the e-promos from our photographers. You can easily scroll through the collection, search by specialty or even by photographer.  You can even link to their websites if you want to go deeper.

What is different though with this experiment, is that we will be throwing out all of our old lists and starting over. Our very last blast will be to be an invitation to participate. And, then no more email blasts (for a while anyway!)

My theory is this. We know art producers, clients and creatives all want some sort of e-promos. They just want to be in control of which ones they get and how often.  They want transparency and control and do not want to show up on some random list they cannot easily unsubscribe from.    By choosing to receive our promos, we are giving them just that.  Rather than sending 8 per month, we will be sending just one.  ONE that they have asked to receive.

I fully suspect that our numbers will be way down for a few months while we build a following.  However, if the average open rate on a regular emailer yields us 10-15%, we know now that the numbers of followers we need are actually not that hard to achieve.

Now, if we determine after a few months that it is actually hurting us to not be sending out our e-promos to our original contacts, then we will have learned a valuable lesson and will start over.  But at the very least, we will have tried something different and started a productive conversation that we hope will help start find real solutions for an entire industry.

Be the first to sign up.  Email me here and we will add you to our list.

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The first 50 agency friends to sign up will receive a fun camera tote (sorry photographers, we will think of something to send you soon!)

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14 thoughts on “Could This Be A Solution To the Email Blast Problem?

  1. Heather as a teacher in a vocational photo program, trying to keep abreast of trends and workable marketing tool this strikes me as an inspired solution. I have often referred students to your blog to keep up on trends and possible techniques and this is certainly one to reference as well!

  2. Heather, I’m curious, Agency Access tells me the average click through rate is only 2%.
    There is a wide margin between your two numbers, as you state 10-15%

    Can you comment on this?

    Thank you.

    • Hi there! Thank you for posting your question – you made me realize that I meant to type OPEN RATE and not CLICK THROUGH RATE. I will change that. My Cloick thorugh rate varies but many times it is up there in that higher percentage. I think it all depends on content and how focused the list is. We spent years curating our list which is why the fact that I am staring over is such a big deal. It is an interesting experiment. We will see what happens!

  3. I have now seen this from both sides. As a photographer it seems like you have to do the email blasts. Yet all the time, money and energy that went into the email blasts never seemed to provide a real return on investment. Now that I am a recipient of dozens of email blasts every day. I feel an obligation to look. I can see how poorly the the lists are vetted 1 out of maybe every 25 promos that land in my inbox is relevant to the work we do.

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