CRM - A must-have when running a growing photography business.
Let’s start with the basics.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is, simply put, a way to analyze and manage your client information so as to improve the quality or efficiency of your client interactions. This is the “what.” The “why” and “how” should become quite clear to you throughout the remainder of this post, specifically in the realm of a typical photography business, so read on to find out!
Starting off with an unspoken rule: As an owner of a business, you should always have some form of client database - no matter how primitive or sophisticated that may be. You could even begin doing this with Excel spreadsheets if necessary - as the rewards in potential time saved and client retention are enormous.
If you already have some kind of database, the number of tasks you can both improve on and automate increases. Some CRM services provide you with the option of using email templates and inviting your clients to take part in customized offers, events, and so forth.
You could make it as general as a Christmas offer or as specific as that particular client’s honeymoon. This means that a photographer doesn’t need to learn programming in order to benefit from automated emails.
Content marketing benefits from CRM!
By using what we’ve covered above, you can periodically remind your clients (or contact list) of you and your brand by sending out regular newsletters about any new blog entries, galleries, and posts. If you already have a relatively decent amount of content that’s also SEO-friendly, this could have a beneficial side-effect, where the extra number of newsletter clicks could cause your content to gain a higher SEO ranking.
Many CRM services can also be used to generate website pop-ups. This could prove hugely advantageous to you should you decide to implement it in a way that pairs well with your published content. A well-configured lead generator could be a pop-up asking if the website guest is looking for a wedding photographer, on a blog post about weddings, or on your latest wedding gallery. Different pop-up templates could be used depending on the type of content.
Keep in mind, however, that if you’re set on the idea of utilizing pop-ups for your page, you should ensure that there’s a properly configured mobile version too. Pop-ups configured for desktop users will look very different on mobile, and could result in a poor viewing experience. This is amplified by modern viewing habits, where a majority of users will view content on their phones.
Looking to reap some long-term rewards? Create a lead magnet - this could be something as simple as an ebook talking about how one should dress for a wedding. Promote said ebook on your social media in a way that requires your audience to fill out a short landing page, pop-up, or Lead Ad on Facebook. Your potential client will be awarded a PDF from an expert in the field (and a session discount if you’re feeling generous) while you’ll get a stable income of new leads in return.
We’ve got plenty of examples for this on our side, too. If you’re curious to see how it works, feel free to view our digital marketing PDF landing page below in case you haven’t seen the guide yet.
Automated & Convenient
It’s worth mentioning that CRMs have many more functions than just content/offer reminders. You can, for instance, synchronize what we’ve covered above with a personalized calendar - to make certain events happen when you need them to or to plan ahead. Payments can also be streamlined with CRMs, whether by adding more payment options or forwarding your clients to your preferred payment service. While it may make you lose out on the “human” looking stream of information to some extent, you could also send automated payment reminders - but that’s up to you and your business structure.
One could also make the bulk of their workflow a breeze with automated sequences for things such as thank-yous and birthday wishes. This means that a photographer won’t have to constantly edit templates or remind themselves about particular clients - to spend more time and attention where it’s needed the most.
One of the most helpful things a CRM can help with, however, is saving money - in a very literal sense, as it’s not just in terms of the time investment saved on the points mentioned earlier but also in your online advertising budget. CRMs can offer a way to synchronize your database with social media like Facebook or Google Ads, which can allow you to exclude certain pre-existing client “groups” from your paid ads. You’ll also reach new leads faster this way.
Sales estimation, another lifeblood of any successful company, can become a trivial task thanks to CRM. It’ll allow you to calculate how much you’d make in a given month, quarter, or year, based on provided information - or even predict the probability of a “successful sale.” While this can be done via Excel, with this, you could forget about making confusing calculations going forward.
Various CRM Options are Available
Here are some notable examples of CRM services. Different options have different levels of complexity and features. They’ll also have varied payment plans and pricing, so be sure to pick one that simply appears the most useful to you:
- Light Blue
- Studio Ninja
- Sprout Studio
CRM’s Booking Potential - Putting it into Practice
By now, you should have an idea of the why and how. Let’s put this into an example to see just how it could help you in a real-life situation. We’ll use the concept of grow-with-me boxes as an example since you’d have plenty of occasions to flex your newfound set of tools in this idea. In short, it’s a way of having your client return for multiple subsequent mini-sessions in order to document the first few months/years of their baby’s life, by slowly filling out a Folio Box with prints from each session.
For starters, let’s say that you’re looking for fresh clients to attract to this kind of photography. You have a milestones session offer planned out and are getting ready to release it. While milestones sessions don’t necessarily translate to grow-with-me boxes in an instant, you can present this as the special deal being offered. It all begins with sending out newsletters and promoting the offer online, so at this point you can already help yourself out by:
- Using CRM to have a slightly customized newsletter for those who haven’t heard of your grow-with-me offer yet.
- Doing the same with paid ads, by making sure that the offer primarily reaches people who are interested in newborn photography but haven’t taken up your offer before / excluding people already in your clients list.
- Setting up contact forms and popups under your content dedicated towards newborn photography.
Leads should be slowly coming in and you may already be looking at a few potential clients. If anyone signs up through a contact form to, say, acquire a discount for your shoot, you can start sending them automated emails in order to remind them that they can take advantage of this offer.
Fast-forward to your first few successful milestone sessions. If your clients agreed to the grow-with-me offer, you can now send them an automated thank-you email, and then remind them of any upcoming milestones by sending automated emails every few months, tailored to the time frame in which they booked your first shoot - all thanks to your CRM of choice.
At this point, you can safely convert this client group into one which will be directed more towards specific newborn session ideas in your paid ads, content and even newsletters. Should you happen to know the baby’s exact age, you’d be able to plan out a birthday wishes email ahead of time, and use a template made for such occasions.
Cake Smash sessions are a perfect milestone to end on, or a conclusion to your client’s grow-with-me box.
Once your client completes a major milestone (or the agreed-upon set of shoots) you can now easily recommend them different customized offers - you know what they could be interested in, based on their past bookings. In this case, there’s a good chance those who completed a grow-with-me box would now want to do a family session, so you could then move them to that client group, and have custom emails / newsletters for that as well. Allow for a small personal touch by leaving a spot in the template where you refer to their baby.
In summary, what could have easily turned into a logistical nightmare, ends up being a small courtesy that effortlessly expands the scope of how many clients you can effectively work with.