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This episode is part of the Brands that Book ‘Founders’ Series.’ This series will feature the founders and CEOs of companies that have created products and services for the creative industry.
Today’s guest is Nate Grahek, the founder of Sticky Albums, and more recently, Sticky Email. Sticky Albums makes it easy for photographers to create and share custom mobile apps for their clients. Nate built it after seeing the reaction his own photography portrait clients had to the custom mobile apps he was building for them and the referrals that it generated. But he eventually realized that he didn’t want to only provide a tool that generated leads. Nate also wanted to develop a tool that helps nurture those leads into clients, and that’s when he created Sticky Email.
In this interview, we chat all about email marketing, how photographers and creatives can implement email marketing into their businesses, some of the do’s and don’ts, and how Sticky Email can help. You can also find a link for getting started with Sticky Email in the show notes.
Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
Next Episode: Elle Ellinghaus – Building a High End Brand
Previous Episode: Founders’ Series – Becca & Jake Berg, Dubsado
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“[00:00:06] NG: So when you offer an email sequence in your form, you’re saying, “Hey, would like our free email crash course, or our 7-day email crash course on how to choose a better photographer for you?” You’re catching their attention with something they care about.”
[00:00:23] DJ: Welcome to the Brands that Book Show, where we help creative service-based businesses build their brands and find more clients. I’m your host, Davey Jones.
Today’s episode is part of the founders series, where we chat with founders and CEOs of companies that have created products and services that help creatives run their businesses. Today’s guest is Nate Grahek, the founder of Sticky Albums, and more recently, Sticky Email. Sticky Albums makes it easy for photographers to create and share custom mobile apps for their clients. Nate built it after seeing the reaction his own photography portrait clients had to the custom mobile apps he was building for them and the referrals that it generated, but eventually realized that he didn’t want to only provide a tool that generated leads. Nate also wanted to develop a tool that helps nurture those leads into clients, and that was Sticky Emails meant to do.
In this interview, we chat all about email marketing. How photographers and creatives can implement email marketing into their businesses. Some of the do’s and don’ts and how Sticky Email can help. You can also find a link for getting started with Sticky Email in the show notes. Be sure to check out the show email@example.com for the resources we mentioned during the episode, and I’d like to hear from you about what kind of content you’d like to see on the Brands that Book podcast as we move forward. I’d also like to know what episodes you’ve enjoyed so far and why. To leave your feedback, head on over to the Davey and Krista Facebook page and send us a message
Now, on to the episode.
[00:01:56] DJ: Well, Nate, welcome to the Brands that Book Show. I’m really excited to have you on, especially as part of this new series that we’re trying out where we get to talk to founders like yourself who have come from a service-based industry. But I have noticed that there’s some sort of issue that needs to be fixed and you went out and built this solution for it. So welcome to the show.
[00:02:19] NG: Davey, it’s an honor to be here. Thanks so much for having me.
[00:02:21] DJ: Yeah. So we were recently introduced by a mutual friend, and during that conversation you were telling me a little bit about your product. We’re going to get into that and the story behind it, and almost immediately I thought to myself, “He has to come on the podcast,” just because it was so evident how excited you were to talking about it and how passionate you were about it. So I’m really excited to share that with the Brands that Book’s audience.
So could you tell us a little bit about what Sticky Email is or Sticky, the company is.
[00:02:49] NG: Yeah, right on. I think just a little bit of history, I was a portrait photographer for several years, and then in 2012 is when I had my first idea to kind of take a thing. There’s this pattern you’ll hear, is I take lucky ideas I have or I see working in other markets, in our market, and I tried to make like them available to all photographers essentially.
So I was doing my own photography and I knew I had to find out a better way to spread word-of-mouth. So without telling the full Sticky Album story, because I think many people have heard it and know about Sticky Albums. It was a strategy of making a custom mobile app for each one of your portrait clients. Just a really cool leave behind, that it’s like a better business card. That way, your clients have this great way to show off their favorite pictures from the wedding, or from a shoot.
Over the last – That took off and we have thousands of customers now all over the world in all different niches helping create millions of page views and referrals and all of that. But as we’ve grown a team of really smart people and we’ve been imitated by dozens of other services, it’s driven me to keep finding more to how can I help photographers? Because the challenge is still there, and I’m sure you’ve talked to so many photographers yourself. The main challenge is how do I book more clients, right? There’s been all different places I could go with software. That’s what’s been fun. The last six years, I’ve learned that through having a team that’s really good at building software, we can kind of build whatever we want, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to make sense. It doesn’t mean it’s going to solve a need.
So I really start by listening to our audience and listing to the market. I think the big aha in the last couple years was while we were really good at helping photographers get referrals, a referral does not equal a booking. Getting somebody to show up to your website, like you guys do amazing design work just to make that amazing first impression, right? People put all of this energy into their website and all of this energy getting people to visit their website, but then nothing happens. It’s such a sad thing, right?
[00:05:14] DJ: Yeah, that’s an important distinction too between getting referrals and what happens once you get that referral, and I’m really excited to dive into this latest product as well, Sticky Email. I would love for you to tell us what that is just because email building or email list building is such a buzzword right now and it’s something that’s been around for decades now. But I think in the creative industry, it’s something that has just been started to be talked about more and more. So can you tell us a little –
[00:05:40] NG: I noticed that, and I think that people were –I was trying to teach email marketing years ago and it just kind of fell flat, but now the last two years I think you’re right. It’s become a more hot thing in the photography industry and more photographers realizing they needed to focus on it.
So I was a little like, “There are dozens of services out there. Why would we do one for photographers?” So Sticky Email is simplified email marketing just for photographers, and I think the biggest thing we add to this space is pre-written email sequences. So that photographers who have struggled with other email marketing tools or they struggle with what to write, which is always what I struggle with, they don’t have to anymore, because, out of the box, we provide templates and prewritten emails that will work to help you nurture potential clients and turn them into bookings.
[00:06:35] DJ: Okay. I love that, and there’s so much to unpack there, and we’re going to get into kind of the differences between a mailing list, or a newsletter rather, and email sequences and what that looks like. But I can’t let you off the hook, something you said earlier, when you’re portrait photographer, you said you built custom mobile apps. Am I getting that right? For each of your clients. Did you have, I think, like experience, I’m guessing in – Do you have a tech background? That’s what’s I’m trying to ask.
[00:07:01] DJ: Yeah. Good question. So there’re a couple things. I’ll start with my experience. I’m not a developer. I was working in corporate training and development. Right around 2007, 2007 is when the iPhone came out. A little bit after that is when the iPad came out, and my company went like crazy. They’re like, “Nate, we got to put all of our training on to iPads and mobile devices. We have a mobile Salesforce.” I was like, “Okay,” and I meanwhile knew how to do classroom training and I really quickly had to teach myself how to do online training and then put it on mobile. In doing so, I learned how to put really cool content without going to the app store just using HTML and putting it on to these mobile devices.
Meanwhile, I had my first kid. Fell in love way hard with photography. I was growing my portrait business. When I went to print out custom business cards, I would do like 25 custom business cards for each client to put their face on them. So to encourage them to essentially pass out my business cards, and took my cousin, she went, “Nate, I don’t think my friends are going to want paper,” and I said, “Oh!” Then I had the classic million-dollar, like light bulb moment, I said, “Well, I can put your images in a gallery in an app, and I could put your face on the app icon. Would that be cool? You could share it that way.” She was like, “Well, yeah. Duh?”
So I did it and it worked really great for my business and I quickly – I had an a neighbor who’s a developer who really helped push, inspired me that I could make this into a software service so other photographers didn’t have to learn HTML the way I did, and it’s just a simple builder. We’re now on our third, fourth version, and that’s really where it all got started.
They’re not actually custom mobile apps in the app stores. They are HTML 5 websites with a bunch of awesome features that act like apps so that whenever your client shares the link, nobody has to go to an app store, nobody has to install anything, they just get us a simple message, like a prompt if they’re happened to be opening it up on a phone that has them save it offline to their phone and it opens and looks and feels like an app. So that’s we called an app.
[00:09:24] DJ: So what’s the name of that product?
[00:09:27] NG: That is Sticky Albums. That is now part of our Sticky Folios set of tools. Sticky Folios now does a long list of one-page marketing tactics, like wedding websites, or mini-session sales pages and all these different landing page templates, and the most popular successful one is the Sticky Album, and that’s kind of what got the whole thing started for us.
[00:09:50] DJ: Sure. So fast-forwarding, you have Sticky Albums and then you realize this need, and the distinction you already covered, which is this product that you built was great for getting people referrals. But then the question mark was how did they get the booking? Because, like you said, a referral doesn’t equal booking. So why email?
[00:10:14] NG: Yeah, totally. I think now it makes so much sense in hindsight that I was kind of just doing my best. It was like, “Okay, we’re getting people referrals. Now what?” and wed make all these really good landing pages. So now they can send the referrals to all of these cool different places, in wedding websites, or helping them get all these other great referrals and impressions and they’re capturing leads, but they don’t know what to do with the lead, like, “Okay, Nate, which tool should be use? How do I sell it at MailChimp? Why do I use this one? What do I write?”
So Sticky Folios was like the first step to closing that gap, like helping them capture and have like a website. We have some basic website templates too, but it still wasn’t complete. Like an amazing website, or a marketing site, or a landing page, they all do something – The most important job of all of them is to capture the lead. So we got that figured out two years ago.
But like I say, we just kept getting people frustrated with the final piece of, “Okay, they still aren’t booking clients.” I think that the standard is a contact form, right? Contact us if you’d like to schedule a session, and there’s still a huge gap. When somebody’s visiting any of your online spaces and you offer – You jump to, “Hey, would you like to book a session?” What I like to talk about is the best online marketers, they create online spaces and interactions that feel and mimic the best marketer we do in person.
So here, let’s do it offline example. You meet somebody for the first time at a coffee shop, or a friend, or dinner party, or wherever it might be and they say, “Hey, what do you do?” and you tell them you’re photographer and we specialize in this, that and the other. They’re like, “Oh wow! That’s so cool. I got a friend that’s getting married,” or “We’re actually engaged. That’s really amazing.” You’d never in a million years would end that first conversation with, “Oh okay, cool. What is your budget? What is your date? Where are you booked, and let’s sign here? Do you want to book me as your wedding photographer right now?” You would never do that, but our websites do it all the time.
So I’ve been – We’re trying to help photographers break it down and make it simpler. It’s like we start with the most basic online and now we got to learn how to be a little bit more savvy and smooth and just genuine with our online interactions.
So, back to this point, many of us have had contact forms, but you get thousands of visitors a week or a month with nobody filling out the contact form, because the only people that will ever fill out a contact form are people who have already decided, number one, that they want to hire a professional photographer. Number two, they most likely already have decided they want to hire you, and that is an enormous job. Getting your website to do all of that lifting is almost impossible, because you have to take them so far to show them that you know what you’re doing and that they can trust you and your pricing and all of these.
So instead of just asking for their information – Or another big mistake I see a lot with the advent of so many studio management tools out there, people ask these – Their context forms will be like 30 questions, right? That’s good to know and I know it’s so powerful to know that information about your clients. But, again, you would never ask that many questions when you first met somebody, and your website’s job is to make this amazing first impression and to make sure that when somebody’s there for the first three minutes of getting to know you, that they don’t disappear forever.
So instead of asking 30 questions, you can ask those 30 questions later, but you want to make sure you at least get an email, and the way you do that is by offering something first. You give. The best people in the market when – Your best friends are people that like make a first impression and give you something you care about. So that’s what Sticky Email lets you do, and it kind of closes that gap so that you offer a free seven tip or a 10 tip email course about a thing your potential client cares about.
[00:14:34] DJ: Yeah, and I appreciate you going through all of that, because it very much is like relationship building. Now that this digital world has existed for as long as it has existed, there’s a certain level I think of market sophistication, right? So people kind of are getting used to the normal marketing tactics. So like you said, I think it’s even more important to take all the best practices that we would employ offline and take those all online.
One thing that we often see people do with their websites is they put a link to the contact form, front and center on their homepage. So like you said, that’s like meeting somebody for the first time and saying, “Hey, let’s go. Let’s do this.” Meeting somebody for something, like, “Hey, let’s get married,” and there’s a certain level of nurturing that has to happen between somebody meeting you and somebody trusting you enough to give you money to perform a service. So I want to know specifically why email and how does email get us there.
[00:15:36] DJ: Yeah, great question. I think that email is still where people want to communicate with small businesses. With this huge rise in text messaging and Facebook Messenger and all of these other platforms, that’s where we want to talk to like our friends I think. That’s where I talk to my friends. I want to talk to small businesses, and if I’m hiring a painter, or a contractor, or a lawn care provider, I want to – Our generation and younger, we don’t want to wait, call somebody and leave a message. That’s just never going to happen, right?
I don’t even want to call somebody. I would much rather find an email address and start the relationship that way, and it’s where – Because it’s asynchronous, everybody has an email address. Yes, our inboxes are incredibly full, but that problem is it’s also solving itself. If we look at the Gmail promotions tab and there’s all of these different filters, people still – Because it’s the thing that will be here forever with email, in order to create any social media account, what do you need? An email address, right?
[00:16:40] DJ: And you can sign in to so many apps with Google, with your Google login credentials, right?
[00:16:44] NG: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Totally. So I just think it’s where people still are. It’s where they want to communicate. So that’s all about the consumer side, right? Now let’s talk about why email as a business owner, as I’ve grown my own business. Again, I take lessons I’ve learned and I want to share them with photographers.
Email is, if you talk to any good business owner, people don’t really worry about their revenue. They worry about how many email leads they’re getting, because the email lead, email addresses are the greatest predictor of future success and it’s all about the email. Because you can automate, you can nurture and you can run your business, and if things are slow, we’ve all heard the great stories where during your slow seasons, if you have an email address, you can run a promotion. You can say, “Hey guys, I’ve got limited session openings this week. Click here to save half off or to get an extra bonus,” or “It’s the holidays. Don’t forget to schedule your holiday card session before this date to save 20% on your holiday cards.”
You can’t do that if you don’t have a list, if you don’t have email addresses of people to send them to. So those are some of the quick reasons why email – I’ll come back to my favorite one of all, is the automation piece now. I think everybody’s kind of understood that the old school newsletter style, because you can do that with anything, “Hey, I got a list of my old subscribers somewhere, my old customer. I can just send my bulk email,” but it’s the inquiring client. That’s that first impression. Like how can we get more visitors on your website turn into leads? So it’s offering them something, offering them email tip and then not having to worry about responding.
When I was first starting my business, my photography business, I would have all of the alerts go crazy over my phone and everywhere, right? I knew that I had to reply within minutes, otherwise I would lose that client to go maybe find somebody else, right? So when you have auto responder sequence set up, you can rest easy knowing that the first impression you make is a great one and you’re sending them your best content right away within seconds of them entering their email address. So does that answer why email?
[00:19:04] DJ: No. Yeah, absolutely. This is something that we’ve written about on our blog before. I think if I talked to the friends of mine who I think are the best marketers, they’re all going to say that their most valuable asset is their email list. It’s not – There are various social media channels. It’s their email list. So a big following on a social media channel, sure, maybe to a certain extent is a predictor revenue, maybe. But, like you said, I think the best predictor of revenue is a well-nurtured email list, and I’m sure we’re going to get into what that means nurturing an email list for sure.
But unlike a social media following, when you blast something on Facebook, you blast something out on Instagram, not everybody sees it. With email, provided that you’re following best practices, you’re most likely in their inbox. They’ve subscribed to your email list. So they said, “Yes. I want to hear from you.” So they’re much more likely to take action.
One thing I think, and especially we work with a lot of wedding professionals. So I think when people think email or list building, they think newsletter. Almost a lot of times, I think the two terms are used synonymously when they’re not necessarily the same thing. They don’t connotate in the same thing.
So can you talk to us about the difference, in the practice is that you’re preaching about as opposed to what people think of as a typical newsletter.
[00:20:28] NG: Yeah, really good stuff. I love that we’re going really into the weeds here. This I think going to be really helpful. I think that, traditionally, newsletter email marketing was kind of the early frontier. That’s been around for probably 20 years now. Let’s talk about what that is and what it isn’t. So a newsletter means that you have a form on your website that lets people opt in, say, “Yes, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter,” and we’ve seen those for decades now, “Hey, would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?”
I’m going to talk about some of the negatives as we talk about what it is. The first negative is that’s just old school and nobody really opts in to just a newsletter anymore. They need more. Nobody says, “I’m going to wake up today and go subscribe to newsletters.” No. You need a reason to get on to somebody’s list. What are you going to send me? I need you to earn my trust before I give you my email, right?
[00:21:21] DJ: I think when you say you just join my newsletter, you’re basically – It’s like saying, “Hey, can I just send you mail? Can I fill your inbox in the morning?”
[00:21:29] NG: Exactly. Can I spam you whenever I like and need some business? No. Nobody likes that, and they’re not going to do it. Okay. So then the other part for you as running an email, how do you want to send a newsletter? Meaning, send one email to hundreds or thousands of people at like a click of a button? What are you going to send in it? If you are just talking about yourself, if you are just asking for business and is always just, “We all get them. They end up the spam folder,” if all you’re doing is asking for, “Hey, save 50% off.” You’re not giving any value.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, is all about, in any marketing, you’ve got to give value, value. You got to give experience sharing, free training, free education, wisdom, talk about what they care about and then, only then, do you earn the right and the permission to ask for their business.
So where photographers, I know a lot that have succeeded, but I know most that failed with newsletter marketing, because it meant that you had to sit down and write every week or every month consistently. A lot of people would try, they would just send a blog post. Every blog post they made of just pictures. They’d send that to their whole list. Nobody cares about that.
So you’d wear out your list and when you’d watch your open rates, means when you send 100 emails, how many people actually open it? You’re going to watch your open rates just plummet if all you’re doing is talking about yourself and just sending a list of pictures. Where instead, some of the best ones, Heather Donlin, early days, she does amazing travel photography in Florida. So it was always destination people coming to see her, but she would always keep people active on her email list by sending travel, like amazing travel destinations, travel tips. She knew that people will come to her city once a year. So she would keep them clued in to all of the cool restaurants and travel destinations inner-city. That is a kick ass newsletter that people will open, people will click on, and then once in a while when you offer a special, they’re going respond to it.
That sounds great, but I think you should also hear that takes a lot of work and a lot of photographers don’t have the discipline or time to write all of that content, right? They don’t like writing. I’m the same way. I don’t like sitting down and writing all of that stuff either.
So, okay, that is a newsletter. That’s been around for a while. I think it still works, but it just takes a lot more time to get the return. I liken it to like SEO optimization. Again, it’s another strategy that is hard for photographers, because you don’t get the return on it for like months to come, right?
[00:24:18] DJ: Yeah, I think it’s hard, and not just photographers, but just anybody, because, like you said, the return isn’t instantaneous. It takes consistency. There’s things that happen behind the scenes that you can’t necessarily see. I think that’s a good comparison. I also think, especially when it comes to photography and specifically wedding professionals, one of the issues is you don’t have forever to nurture them, right? If you’re just sending this weekly email and it doesn’t really have, even if it’s a good content, if it doesn’t really have a point to it, if it’s not getting get you a client within that narrow time frame that you have to get that client, because once they get married, they’re no longer a viable client anymore, right?
[00:25:01] NG: So let’s talk about the other part, the other part of nurturing. Yeah, yeah. Totally. So on one end of the spectrum is newsletter. Let’s go all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum, or something on the opposite end I would say is an email out of office auto responder. Everybody knows what that is. If you’re going out of office and you want – As soon as somebody sends you an email you quickly – The system automatically replies back with a predefined prewritten email. Really powerful, right?
You can take it a few steps farther, and MailChimp has some of these features too, but this is where Sticky Email really exceeds. The process of as soon as somebody subscribes, instead of them having to wait for a week or a month to get your next newsletter, in the next couple days, first they get – The first email is a great tip email, and then they skip a day and they get another email and then you skip a day and they get another email.
So in the first like 14 days of being on your list, when they are the most likely to open your email, to their most curious, the most eager, the most likely to book you, you’re sending them like 10 emails while that lead, while that potential client is really warm and interested. That is what wherein lies the power of what is now called sequence marketing, or nurturing sequences.
[00:26:25] DJ: Okay. I want to back up a little bit. So we’re talking a sequences now, where somebody’s going to get email on specific days. So like you had mentioned it could be – So they get email right away when they subscribe and then maybe they get email two days later, then one seven days later, and these emails – Can you explain to us what they’re doing? Why would somebody subscribe to one of these? Can we back up and talk about like how do I get somebody to subscribe and then what do I send them? Most importantly too, how does that lead to booking the client?
[00:26:58] NG: Really good stuff. Okay, so the best email onboarding or nurturing sequences are, again, writing about things your target market cares about. So I think most of your listeners are on the wedding space. So let’s start there. We’ve got some prewritten ones about how to choose seven tips to choosing the right wedding photographer for you. Seven tips to getting engagement photos that you’re going to be proud of. Seven tips to choosing the right wedding venues or the right wedding vendors in your city. Things like that where you’re targeting somebody who’s engaged, who’s in that decision process, something they care about, right? Seven tips to your makeup on your wedding day, or whatever it might be.
We also have some for anybody listening like in photography, family portrait space. A really popular one is to do 10 tips for how to take better pictures with your smartphone. So it’s all about you’re not going to have every single visitor say, “Yes, I want it,” but it is filtering for the people for your exact target market who cares about that thing you’re going to teach them.
[00:28:08] DJ: Yup. So for instance, if you’re talking about seven tips for engagement photos you feel proud of, somebody who’s not engaged is not very interested in that, or somebody maybe who’s going to get engaged might be, somebody engaged might be somebody who’s married already wouldn’t be interested in that. So you’re really targeting the people that you want to book.
Then in addition to that, it sounds like you’re providing value for somebody who might not be ready to use your contact form on your website to reach out for more information about your specific services, but they are really interested in making sure their engagement is photos look good. So now you’re getting their email and you’re able to do a follow-up with them, or in other words, and we been using this term a lot, nurture them.
So take us through this nurturing sequence. So you mentioned you send them email day one. Again, this can vary. Different people are going to do this differently, but I guess the question I’m getting at is, in your example, you had mentioned, “Okay, email day one,” then two days later they get another one, and then three days later they get another one. Should we be worried about sending them too many emails?
[00:29:18] NG: This is really good. God, you have so many good questions. It’s like helping organize my thoughts.
[00:29:21] DJ: I do love email marketing.
[00:29:23] NG: It’s so cool, man. I love it. So I think the first thing I want to go back to is the difference of why a sequence of emails. Many of you might have seen or probably opted into like an e-book, a download. Some great photographers will do a PDF what to wear a guide or a venue guide or something like that that is a one-time offer.
So if somebody has done that, I think that is amazing. That is like so light years better than doing nothing. But now let’s talk about the difference between offering a PDF download and a series of 7 to 10 emails, and it all comes down to permission. Permission marketing is coined by Seth Godin. He coined it over 10 years ago, and it’s really what’s led to all of these GDPR stuff and that where you have to be really, really explicit. What I’m to do with your email and why I want it.
Again, it just comes down to treating people online the same way you would in person. If somebody gives you their business card, you’re not going to like just make a bunch of copies and share it with people. You’re not going to be a jerk about it and you want to be upfront with people with what you want to do with their email.
Okay, so back to the PDF. Number one, it only earns you permission.
[00:30:43] DJ: To send them that PDF. Sure.
[00:30:44] NG: To send them one PDF. That’s it. Because I was like, “Yeah, I want that PDF,” and then it all happened to us. We’ve opted in to get that PDF or that whitepaper and then all of a sudden we’re on their list and we’re getting emails every day, like, “No, dude. I just wanted the download. I didn’t want your emails.” So that is what we’re helping photographers not do.
The other benefit – So when you offer an email sequence, in your form you’re saying, “Hey, would you like our free email crash course? Our seven day email crash course on how to choose a better photographer for you?” You’re catching their attention with something they care about, and then they go, “Oh. Well, yeah. This is an email course. Of course, I have to give you my email.”
The other frustration with PDF is when you catch their attention with a PDF download, there’s this subconscious or conscious frustration that’s like, “Dude, yes, I want it, but technically you don’t need my email address to give it to me. Just give me a download link right here on your website so I can read it. Why are you getting my email? I don’t want to give it to you. You haven’t earned that yet.” So catching their attention with the right thing has them more likely to give you their email address, because they’re like, “Oh, yeah, yeah. It’s an email course, and they’re going to break it up into seven friendly tips. Okay, cool.”
So now you’ve earned the permission to send them 7 to 10 emails instead of just one. Then you break up – In the email, you just break it down into short simple tips. The other benefit when you do it this way is people actually read your emails the same way people just scan websites and don’t read them anymore. When you give them a PDF ebook, we’ve all done this to ourselves, it sits on your hard drive and you forget about it. You don’t actually go through and read it. You skim it once and forget about it. But when you take that same content that could be in a book and you break it up into tiny bite-size, like two-minute paragraphs, they’re going to read it and go, “Oh, that’s awesome. This is helpful.” The next one comes and they go, “Hey, that last one he sent me was really helpful. I’m going to open and I’m going to read this next one.”
Just breaking the content that they care about in the small steps, and now the final magical piece that I know you can ask next is, “Okay, now what about the booking? How do you ask for their business?” What I’ve learned works well and what is inside of our templates already is you just gradually get more direct. So email one is like, “Hey, thanks, purely a gift. Here’s our first tip. If you have any questions, just hit reply and we’re standing by,” right? Nothing about your booking, nothing about pricing. None of that, unless they’ve asked for pricing and your form includes it, but then naturally it’s like – Then the second, third, fourth email and you can go, “Hey, I hope these –” You end at the bottom of the email, you say, “Hey, I hope these tips have been valuable. By the way, if I can answer any questions you have about planning your wedding, just hit reply. I’d love to jump on a phone call. Here is a link to schedule a consult. Here’s a link to our latest portfolio, then here’s a link to our investment guide. Let me just hit reply.”
When I was listing to all of those calls, the action, I would never put all of those in one, those are just ideas. Ideas for –
[00:33:55] DJ: But they’re possibilities for an email. Yup.
[00:33:57] NG: Exactly. Long story shorter, you just gradually start getting more direct with offering the business or asking for the business. By the time you get to emails 9 and 10 you can say, “Hey, I really hope this guide was helpful. Click here to share with a friend that you think might appreciate it and we’d love to know if you’re interested in sitting down and talking about your engagement photos. Click here to schedule a phone call,” and just being really direct with, or, “Hey, we’ve got limited spots left in 2018. If you’re considering working with us, we’d love to know so we can get you are available dates.”
What’s so great about that is once that stuff is built and written, i runs on autopilot automatically. You don’t have to remember where somebody’s at in this nurturing sequence. It’s all stuff we many of you have done your whole career just in your head, but it’s too hard to keep track of as you start getting busier and busier. It just has to be automated.
[00:34:53] DJ: Yeah, I think the value of this again is that you’re meeting people where they’re at. You’re probably still going to have a contact form on your website. So people who – Maybe they’ve known you. They followed you for a while. They’re ready to reach out and get prices. Those people can still do so. These are for maybe the majority of people who come to your website because they’re looking for a photographer, but they’re just not quite sure yet. So they’re not quite ready to commit or take that action of reaching out and saying, “Hey, can I check out your prices. I’m interested in talking you about you shooting my wedding or shooting my session or whatever it may be.”
The other thing too, and this is especially when we got into email marketings. I think it’s a fear that people just have to get over is like, “Oh, I’m going to send them too many emails. So I’m not going to send them really at all,” and then they go back, they default back to this newsletter type mindset where it’s just like something that I do once a month.
But the point is, is that when somebody reaches out, they’re excited in that moment to get whatever value you’re offering for them. So as long as you’re offering them value upfront, they most likely want to hear from you again. Again, there’re all sorts of best practices there. At any point, people can unsubscribe from your list and you should make it easy people to be able to unsubscribe and get off your list should they no longer want to receive emails or whatever it may be.
But I’m glad that you dove in and took us through each of those steps, and it feels much more like a relationship, right? I mean, handshake, when somebody lands on your website, “Hey, let’s meet up again,” when somebody subscribes to your list. Then just that gradual building of the relationship through those emails to a harder sell or a harder ask rather and saying, “Hey, I’m available, or I might be available for your wedding and I’d love to talk to you about it more.”
Instead of having to nurture somebody or going the newsletter route where you may or may not be nurturing somebody by sending them one email a month, you’re hitting them in that golden timeframe of that, I don’t know how – Maybe a month where they’re thinking about, “Who am I going to hire to shoot my session?”
[00:36:58] NG: Exactly.
[00:37:00] DJ: Again, really, really enjoyed that you walked us through that.
[00:37:03] NG: It’s fun. You did really good questions, man. I haven’t walked through it in such as – I think I felt like I understand it better just by having you guide me through it way. That’s really good.
[00:37:12] DJ: Well, one thing that I really loved about, and I got an opportunity to jump into Sticky Email and take a look at the things that are in there. One thing that I really appreciated, and I saw one of my friends, the Harris Company, Mikaela Jade specifically, has – If you go into Sticky Email and you choose your niche, so whether it’s weddings or not. I know we talked about weddings a lot. The reason that I brought up weddings, just for people listening out there, because not everybody is a wedding professional that listens to this show, but I think weddings are a unique scenario and that the timeframe in which you can nurture somebody is much shorter than in a lot of other niches.
So I guess by starting with weddings, I was hoping to make clear that even somebody, and even a wedding professional could have powerful results from this. Think about how much more powerful could be for somebody who doesn’t quite have that same timeframe in nurturing somebody.
But back to what I was saying was when you jumped in and you choose your niche, you get a selection of templates to choose from and you can go in and edit those and customize those templates however you like, but I think it’s awesome that they’re there. I think Mikaela [inaudible 00:38:17] a series of seven emails maybe and you go in there and you can see exactly how she corresponds with her potential clients, and then you can go in and put your own twist on that. But at least you see kind of how it’s done. It just makes it super easy to get started.
[00:38:32] NG: I think there’s no harder thing is a creative as sitting in front of a blank screen, right? The same goes, like it’s infinitely easier to be an editor than an author. So what were seeing work really well, there’s like this – A part of building email marketing is there’s a lot of like pieces that need to come together. They all used to be in different tools. Now they’re in one, like the forms, popup forms, the [inaudible 00:38:56] intent, it’s all included all the way into the emails that go out and the prewritten things all in one spot, but that used to get people hung up with like what do I write? Now you can go live right away.
You guys can sign up for our free trial, and within a matter of hours, you can have the form live on your site sending the first draft of your email sequence, and it’s getting like full-circle where it’s like, “It’s done. It’s published. It’s alive.” It’s going to motivate you to come back in the next couple of days or the next week to make your emails better. You can add additional links, add additional calls to action, add your own stories, add your own personality, but you don’t have to wait to make it live, because you have a really good starting point.
[00:39:45] DJ: I think that’s one of the great differences of Sticky Email compared to maybe some of the other mailing list platforms out there, is that when you get on, it’s made for you, and specifically for photographers. But regardless of what niche you’re in, there are sequences that you can plug and play right away. I thought that was such a great idea, because like you said, the hardest thing to do is to get in there and then set it up and then try to figure out, “Okay, so I wrote this email. Now I need to write four or five more. How many days should I space out in between? What are the kinds of things that I should be saying? When should I be selling? When should I not be selling?” Those are the kinds of things that are outlined I think well in Sticky Email.
Before we wrap up here, I do want to talk about some results that people are seeing, or even what strategies that people are employing that are doing it really well. I think I could go back in time, and we don’t shoot nearly as much anymore, our focus is design and branding everything that you find at daveyandkrista.com. But if I could go back in time, I would do a couple of things as a photographer. One would be taking the advantage of email marketing as we’re talking about it today, just because it is such a powerful tool. Then on the flipside of that, and I won’t go into this so much, especially around print and album sales. I feel like there’s such an opportunity there.
Back in the day, I just thought to myself, “Why would anybody want to buy prints? They could just download them,” and that’s just not the case. I think you’re doing people a service. Mikaela Jade, she does a really good job of educating people about this by encouraging people to buy prints, because otherwise they don’t get printed. Anyways, we’re not talking about print sales here.
[00:41:23] NG: So tempting. I‘ve got to so much I could share there too.
[00:41:26] DJ: Yeah, and because I think the people that are doing print sales really well. They’ve built and nurtured an email list. But in the same thing with portrait sessions and mini sessions especially, the people that I see that are selling out mini sessions like that with no difficulty just by emailing their list. Then often they’re in the great place of, “Okay, now I can open up another date,” because like I said, they sold out like that, and those are the people that have built email lists instead of hoping that people see your businesses Facebook post about the available mini sessions this fall or whatever.
So I was long-winded there, but can you talk a little bit about maybe some of the results that people are seen or the things that people are doing effectively here? That’s how we’ll wrap up.
[00:42:14] NG: Cool. Just with Sticky Email alone, we’ve got hundreds of photographers that have already gotten set up and live right away. Just getting the form live on their site and collecting leads, and we’ve got dozens already that are getting – That those leads are turning into clients. One specific customer here in the Twin Cities, he really helped me inspire this idea and was one of our first users. He collected 300 email addresses in three months in the boudoir space and they turned those 300 leads into 22 clients and that was more – He hadn’t had 300 leads in three years, right? Now he got them in three months. So when you add the exit intent popup combined with like a really meaningful offer, that’s where you’re going to see so much more of your traffic take action.
[00:43:04] DJ: This is sort of a ninja move here, right? But what is an exit intent offer? Can you explain to people what that is? If you’ve been online, you’ve experienced it. So you might not know what it is, but you’ve experience it.
[00:43:15] NG: Exactly. When somebody’s on your page and when their mouse goes to roll off the window, we detect that on your website, and then as soon as that happens or right before it happens, we throw up a modal, where it’s just a quick form where you can add copy that says something like, “Hey, before you leave, we’d love for you to grab our free email course on blah-blah-blah,” right?
It’s right before somebody leaves. It’s just an amazing chance where somebody’s like they’ve been on your site, they’ve liked your work and they’re going to do something else. Right before you leave, you could say, “Hey, wait a second. I want to give you this thing.” Many of you have seen it I think done poorly, like clothing sites or something like that, it’s like, “Hey, before you leave, we want to save half off.” I’m sure it works.
[00:43:59] DJ: Because that’s still an offer. I mean, that’s still – You’re still try to take in that instance.
[00:44:05] NG: The reality is it works very well. What is illegal and what Google will punish you for is as soon as somebody gets to your site, you show a popup. That’s annoying. That’s an interruption. It doesn’t jive with how people want to consume content, but the exit intent seems to be working really, really, really well. If there’s time, I can wrap up with one of my favorite kind of ninja follow-ups. What to include in the sequence? It ties into increase print sales.
[00:44:33] DJ: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s do it.
[00:44:34] NG: Sound cool? All right. So I’ve done a couple of other podcast, the full hour, so I’ll go really fast on just this thing. There’s a free screen recording tool called Loom, useloom.com. I’m not affiliated. I just love them. I use it every day. I made one today to help Davey –
[00:44:52] DJ: And I signed up. I didn’t realize that it’s free. I have some other screen recording tools. I guess point being is it is awesome. I didn’t realize it was free. I signed up.
[00:45:01] NG: Awesome. Very cool. Okay. So I use it in every part of my business, answering questions, making a great first impression, but here’s a ninja thing you can do. The first time you sign up for it, go get your pricing guide, and I think the first thing everybody should do who’s listing to this should take their pricing, whatever format it’s in today and like cut it in half. I promise you, you’re sending more than you need to inquiring clients.
Yes, save the full pricing for when you meet them in person for the first time, but a first-time inquiring customer does not need to know all of your printing materials, like all of your sizes, all of your album materials, all of your prices, because they’re not going to attach any value to that document, So don’t send it to them. Okay, that’s the first step.
Second step is once you have this simplified version, you turn on Loom, turn on your web cam, turn on your mic, record your desktop and you walk through in like three or four minutes, you go, “Hey, Nate Grahek. Ty thank you so much for inquiring. I know that choosing a wedding photographer is really hard. We love working with our couples not only to archive the day. We specialize in outdoor wedding.” Say something about what’s special about you, but then you also say, “But what we really like doing is creating archival quality prints and albums, and I’m going to walk you through what are our clients love working with us. You see, here is what albums look like. Here’s how they’re different and special. Here’s what our canvases are like, and this is why they’re different than just what you can get online.”
Again, you’re having a conversation with them as if you would in person, and that it is you can have them get that automatically. So within seconds of somebody Googling wedding photographer in your city, they find your website, they’re kind of got their blinders on. They go, “I just want pricing.” They find the form on your site. They opt in to your form and instantly that form redirects to this video introduction walking them through your pricing, and that happens automatically now. So you make this – Is it is good doing it in person? Of course not, but is it like light years better than your competition or doing nothing? Yes.
So that’s my bonus tip. I love it I love using video to make a good impression and to communicate so much more and to let your personality shine through too. It saves a ton of time, and every time that video goes out, think about how much time that’s saving you. Instead of having to respond manually to those inquiries, you just send a video response back, and then the call to action at the end of that video is, “Hey, I know this is a lot. Here’s a link to the actual online pricing guide. You can review it however you want. I hope you like these tips. Just hit reply to this email if you have any questions. I can’t wait to get to know you more, because photographers are doing that tactic that are totally crushing it right now. Finding ways to use technology to give you time back in your day.
[00:48:06] DJ: And we talked about this in other episodes as well, just the power of video and how it builds trust a lot more quickly than email, because, again, it’s not as good as in person, but you can see the person, you can hear them. I think, inherently, that builds trust. Something that’s not as scalable as what you’re talking about, but I hear is effective, people responding to inquiries with a quick Loom video, saying, “Hey, I’m so and so. I’m really excited that you inquired. Here’s where you can find all the information that you’re looking for. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to set up a consult,” and it’s as simple as that. Right away you’re doing something that probably your competition isn’t doing and something that builds trust.
But we’ve talked about so much today and I’m pretty excited about it. I think people are going to get a lot out of this with, whether you’re a wedding professional, or a photographer, or not, I think email marketing is something that can be a powerful marketing tool in your toolkit. So I hope people get a lot out of what they heard today. If people want to sign up for Sticky Email specifically, where can they go?
[00:49:08] NG: They could go to go to stickyemail.com. If you go stickyemail.com/start, you can try it for free. You could get your first sequence, your first form and you can get a live on your site today. So it’s stickyemail.com/start.
[00:49:23] DJ: For those people who they don’t quite love technology as much as we do, one, I’ll say the actual onboarding process is super easy. Very much streamlined, very much like click this button to do the next thing that you need to do. But about the forms, how easy is it to get a form on your website?
[00:49:40] NG: Yeah. They work, of course, on all of our sites, on Sticky Folios and Sticky Albums, but they work great on Wix, Squarespace, ShowIt, WordPress. We’ve got a video training for all of the main big website tools. We show you exactly how to – You don’t have to know code at all. We just say copy and paste this snippet and log in to your system wherever you host your website, and we’ll show you exactly where to hit paste and publish and it’s live.
[00:50:09] DJ: Awesome. Yeah. So I know a lot of people are like, “Okay, maybe I can do.”
Cool. Well, thank you so much. Where can people find out more about you?
[00:50:16] NG: On firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me an email if you like this episode. I love getting feedback and sneak in my email address personally right at the end of the episode. I’ve got a training on that video strategy we talked about, a free training that includes a free script, like a video script. So if you’re not sure what to say when you’re on camera, I’ve got a script you can use.
[00:50:37] DJ: That’s awesome, and I’m sure – I would be surprised if people are going to reach out about that. So thank you so much for joining me.
[00:50:42] NG: Davey, thank you again. It was honor to be here, man. Cheers.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:50:48] DJ: Thanks for tuning in to the Brands that Book Show. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review in iTunes. For show notes and other resources, head on over to daveyandkrista.com.
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