Your 2020 Digital Marketing Handbook with Michael Anthony
Alright Shutterreaders, 2020 is upon us, and it is shaping up to be one of the best years yet. Our economy is booming, and for wedding photographers, The Knot and WeddingWire are predicting the highest number of engagements since they started tracking those statistics. There is no better time to start planning than right now. Well, a better time would have been six months ago, so let’s go with the saying that it is never too late to start. Here are some strategies that you will want to adopt to crush it in 2020 and beyond.
1. GET YOUR WEBSITE AND BLOG IN ORDER
I have to admit, I always put this item on the back burner until I get to December. The reason is that I spend a year building content, and then usually dump it all on my website and blog at the end of the year. My workflow looks like this: Throughout the year, Evolve will do about 50 creatives from each wedding. From there, I will pick the weddings that best represent the type of work that I want to show throughout the year, and then I will create blog posts for each of them.
My blog posts do not have a lot of text on them. Instead, I want to focus on the imagery and create solid links back to an individual landing page. For instance, on my website, I may have a webpage titled “Vibiana Cathedral Weddings Los Angeles.” The Vibiana page will typically contain a ton of text regarding Vibiana Cathedral Weddings.
On that page, we will talk about cost, planning, details, and the other things that people are searching for. I will have all of my future Vibiana Weddings feed back to that individual page.
No time to write? I’ve got you covered there, too. We use a service called Verblio to write content for our website—you just fill out a quick form, pay the fee, and then approve the article you like best.
It’s not cheap, but nothing good usually is, and your time is more valuable doing things you are good at, like shooting and doing executive duties in your business.
2. PLAN YOUR PORTFOLIO
Over the first five years of my business, this was my number-one duty in my offseason. I believe today that your portfolio is the most critical asset in your industry. I also learned the hard way that the images that we submit and score in competition are not the best images for attracting new clientele. Photographers appreciate art. People appreciate trends and exclusivity. Your job is to find a balance between the two. For us, it’s a colorful brand of images, where our subjects are two-thirds of the frame, and the tones are not too dark or too bright. The photos that do the best for us on Instagram are typically a good indicator of the images that our clients will come to appreciate, so over the last two years, I have used that as a measuring stick to hone the photos on the first page of our portfolio.
If you are still struggling to have enough excellent images for your clients to view, then it’s time to plan some portfolio shoots. Aim for four to five of the target genre in the first quarter. In 2020, we are planning to increase our portrait bookings. To accomplish this, we did fashion portfolio sessions like we’ve done for weddings in the past. Create a plan, set dates, and get your vendors involved.
3. PUT A DIGITAL ADVERTISING STRATEGY IN PLACE
Digital advertising is often the most comfortable and least expensive form of advertising you can do. But that also makes it the most competitive. I highly recommend that you put together a plan that involves a mix of both print and digital ads. Here is quick breakdown list of some of the sources you can look to use. Keep in mind that each of these could be a full-day workshop. This is meant for you to use as a starting point.
Paid directories – WeddingWire, The Knot, etc.
- Useful for getting in front of a broad audience
- Require a competitive price point, because they attract window shoppers
- Usually own the top placement on Google, so that they can get you in front of many people
- Will result in your lowest conversion ratio, so I don’t recommend looking at them until your brand is well established
Social Ads & PPC – Facebook & Instagram
- Good for reaching a highly targeted subgroup
- Require understanding that people on social media are typically not actively looking for a photographer, so passive marketing works best here for high-dollar items such as weddings. Ads for portrait sessions are typically much more effective, especially contests and model calls.
- Must put a plan in place to warm up a cold audience and then to close a warm audience.
Google & PPC
- Good for additional brand awareness
- May be highly competitive and expensive, so plan to outspend your competitors
- Require developing a solid booking strategy, as with social ads
- Great for portrait and small-event photographers
- People will be budget-conscious
- Requires awareness of who your client is, understanding the “constant Yelp complainer.”
As you can see, there are many options to choose from, so I tried to give you the pros and cons of all of them.
I know your next question—which one should I do?
The answer is that you should look into the latter three options first, and when your business can support it, look into the first as well. Keep in mind that none of the topics I discussed above is a magic bullet—you will book a few weddings here and there from each of these, so it’s best to have a good overall strategy in place.
On Facebook, you will see photographers saying, “Facebook works great for me!” or “I swear by Google PPC!”
What you have to understand is that all success is relative to your business’ needs—those people may be only trying to book three weddings per year. For a company trying to book 200 weddings per year, the strategy will be completely different.
4. WORK ON YOUR EMAIL GAME–YESTERDAY
Email marketing continues to be king; it’s where your competitors are falling flat, because it takes a ton of work to do correctly. Our business booked 50 percent more weddings in 2019 for 2020 clients by automating our entire email game.
I am not talking about new leads—you guys who have seen me speak at Obscura already know we have been doing that for years. I am talking about creating a plan of action to email past clients to turn them into future clients.
That’s right—you who have been in business for a few years may not know this, but you are sitting on a gold mine.
Using a drip email system (like … Drip), put together an email sequence that will target your existing clients over a year with monthly specials, and every other month, run a sale on your prints using N-Vu or your gallery provider. I promise this will make you money. It will take a ton of time to develop the infrastructure, but invest the time and see the results.
5. PLAN A CONSISTENT SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
Businesses fail at social media because they lack consistency. I get often asked how we grew our Instagram following in the early days of Instagram. I did it by being consistent, and not over-posting. I have found a good balance is to be posting new content once every day or every other day. I also feel it’s OK to recycle old content after a period of six months or so. Remember in step one how we talked about getting your blog in order? Now is the time to use those blog posts as social media content. What I need you to avoid is inconsistency in your posts. Whether you decide to do it three times a week or seven times a week, just make sure that you are consistent and thorough in your tags and locations.
Speaking of Instagram, make sure that you are tagging all the vendors involved, not only in your text but also in your actual photo. For wedding photographers, make sure you geotag your venues as well, as this will allow you to appear in the search results.
Hopefully, with the above tips, you will be able to enjoy your most successful year ever. And make sure that come June, you are putting a strategy in place to take care of 2021. Remember, you can never plan too early!