Email Marketing: An Introduction for Photographers


You might ask what a photographer needs from email marketing. After all, you get in, get the shot, get out, and get paid. Boom.

Here’s the thing though. That’s just sales. Sales ain’t nothing.

The big money’s in loyalty. The big money’s in the three R’s of email marketing:

  • Retention
  • Referrals
  • References

This article will give you a breakdown of how your photography business can benefit by integrating email into your online marketing efforts. It’ll also give you three email templates you can use to implement these strategies for yourself.

Email Marketing for Retention

It is somewhere near 700% more efficient to sell to a previous customer than start from scratch. If you’ve already proven your ability to take a good picture (alongside your prices, personable nature and everything else that makes you competitive in your market and awesome at what you do), then re-engaging those customers is likely the best way for you to make money.

How to Retain Clients with Email:
email marketing for photographers

Be aware that you don’t have to only contact your clients a few times a year (though the emails in this article might make it sound like that). I’d recommend testing your email volume to determine how often your previous clients are comfortable communicating and engaging with you. If you have a list of 250 previous clients, reach out to 100 of them 6 times a year, 100 of them 12 times a year, and rest only 3 times a year. Is it worth the drop in subscribers for the increase in sales if you email more?

Email Marketing for Referrals

Let’s say that last year you did a wedding for Jennifer and David. Lovely couple, late twenties. If you remember rightly they had a large reception (about 200 people) and a huge number of friends in attendance. How many of those friends were also in their late twenties? How many of them were in relationships, and how many likely to get married in the next couple summers?

And all those couples are seeing Jennifer and David’s photos on Facebook, Instagram and in that massive photo album they paid for. Your talent is obvious – that ability to get the candid shot as well as the posed. And that thing you did with the sparklers! Awesome.

Each and every one of your clients is the gateway to a dozen more. Photographers are in a unique position, marketing-wise, and you need to be taking advantage of it.

How to Get Referrals with Email:

email marketing for photographers

Of course you can also hand out cards at the reception, and that usually works okay. But getting an existing Fan (or previous customer) to promote you on your behalf is significantly easier and better for your business. In the marketing biz we call this word-of-mouth marketing, and it works pretty simply: According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising or marketing. Makes sense, to be honest.

Email Marketing for References

You’re not the most trustworthy source of information when it comes to… well, you.

You’re a bit biased, you’ll have to agree.

But recent studies are showing that, when it comes to a brand or business, the most trustworthy person to communicate isn’t the CEO (in this situation, that’d be you) – but is, increasingly, a person like your prospective clients.

Makes sense, right?

How to Get a Reference with Email:
email marketing for photographers

These references can be placed anywhere you like. Most photographers already have a couple on the About Me page of their website, but what about featuring three or four glowing reviews on your homepage, right next to a link which reads “Check out why Janice was so pleased!” which sends visitors to Janice’s picture in your portfolio?

Automating your Email Marketing Campaigns

You might notice that all of the templates I’ve shown here look pretty damn personalized – everything from first name, month of wedding, and when the email is sent makes them look like I did them by hand.

Nope. All automated. All this stuff can actually be planned ahead (provided you’re using a good email marketing platform pretty easily.

You can schedule your email marketing automation software to send a referral or retention email exactly six months after a certain date (like a client’s wedding or photoshoot). You can use merge tags to put first and last names in the salutation of an email, make it sound like you remember the exact date of a client’s wedding, even (and this is where you’ll have to do a little work) plug in customized stuff, like the name of the fun Aunt, parents, color of flowers, and more to add some serious personalization.

Here’s what the retention email would look like with all the merge tags highlighted.

email marketing for photographers

Imagine being able to change your pricing and discounts automatically, alongside personalizations which have proven to improve clickthrough rates by at least 14% and conversion rates by 10%.

Top Tip with Automating Emails:

  • Don’t be too good. One of the primary indicators of email marketing automation is when an email comes through exactly six months after a certain date (so make it six months plus three days or something). Or (and this is the worst) when a merge tag comes through with the name uncapitalized or poorly matched. When in doubt, go generic.


I hope this quick guide has given you a bit of inspiration for implementing email marketing for your photography business. The templates here would work just as well (with a little tweaking) for all the other facets of your business, whether family, portrait, graduation, anniversary or boudoir.

Have any questions about implementing merge tags, automating or how to set it all up (and which platform to do it on?) Ask away in the comment section below!

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