The Community Table Discusses Email Blasts. Part 2, The Main Course.

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Welcome to our 8th series of posts where we share the results from our conversations held directly with community leaders about top of mind photo-industry issues. Community Table was formed from the collective efforts of Matt Nycz and Kate Chase of Brite Productions and Heather Elder and Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Represents with the idea that there is nothing more powerful in our industry than education.

And speaking of powerful, if you were to do an internet search today for “Email Blasts”, you could find yourself easily overwhelmed and yet still not get much in the way of insightful information to help you know how to send more relevant messages to advertising’s best and brightest recipients. Generic results range from what is the definition of one — a single sending of many electronic messages to many people at the same time.  Or 5-tips for your next one. Or how to send powerful emails. Or how to send low-cost to a few or to millions. Or common rookie mistakes.  Or how to be the best with Email. Or 10 Golden Rules for Email Blasts. And that’s just some from page 1.

Recognizing that this topic can be confusing for not just senders but also receivers, we thought it was a good subject for The Community Table.  And for this particular subject we reached out to our friends and marketing colleagues from Agency Access.  And since they’ve been discussing just this for years now, they were more than happy to take a participating seat at the table. 

So on a warm and windy LA-day in November, we welcomed some of LA’s best creative buyers to talk with us; and over lunch we had a rousing and productive conversation around what they’ve learned, what they like and what they dislike and what they do with their many an electronic messages.

And in addition to the four blog posts, all of the information gleaned from The Community Table has been consolidated by Agency Access in a well-summarized Photographer’s Guide to Email Promotion. Download it here.

As a reminder, each Conversation Starter was directed to one person with a general discussion ensuing.  Rather than sharing the entire conversation, we included the original question and then the quotes and notes that were most relevant.  Please note, often times the person leading the conversation spoke most often.

Participating Buyers:

Jason Lau, Art Buyer / Content Producer 180LA

Lisa Lee, Group Executive Art Producer CP+B

Chrissy Borgatta Luizzi, Senior Art Producer, Innocean

Jennifer Lamping, Manager of Art Production, RPA

Lisa Matthews, Manager of Art Production, Team One

Jessica Mirolla, Art / Content Producer, The Garage Team Mazda

Andrea Rosenfeld, Senior Art Producer, David & Goliath

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer

Deb Grisham, Freelance Art Producer

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QUESTION

Approximately, can you tell us how many email promos you receive every day?  And, of those, how many would you say are relevant to you?

Lisa Lee, Crispin Porter + Bogusky

The past couple of years it has culled down a lot. It used to be that every Tuesday you would wake up to 100’s of e-promos.  Now it is more like 1-10 per day.  It is not as overwhelming as it used to be.

In regards to relevance, that is a hard question to answer.  It depends on the day, the mood, the project. Everything can be considered relevant if you are trying to stay in touch with everything.  If I had to answer about relevancy for our clients and creatives; maybe 1-3.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

What about the level of photography in terms of the spectrum of experience?  How many of the emails do you get a day are from photographers that are of the caliber you would actually higher.  And, how many are from photographers that are wishful and hopeful?

Lisa Lee, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky

I would say most of them are hopeful.  But it is still good to see who is out there.  For the most part I feel like people who are really utilizing e-promos are people trying to make connections rather than those that have connections already.

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

Backing up to something you said earlier about how you used to receive so many more emailers?  Do you know why that would be?

Lisa Lee, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky

When I said a few years ago, I meant about ten years ago when it first started. Everyone was using them and going crazy with it.  We would get a ton of emails.  And sometimes they would come on certain days and all at once so I would not be able to get to them all so would just delete them.  Now, I feel like it is more curated and thoughtful.

Jennifer Perlmutter, Agency Access

You mentioned direct mail and it makes me wonder how many of you have a place to actually put things up on the wall?

Response

5 of 5 hands went up, everyone laughed and said, “A little wall.”

Jessica Mirolla, Garage Team Mazda

I do something called “stealth decorating” where I take promos and then decorate someone’s cubicle if they don’t have time to do it themselves.

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer

I still think people like to pin things on their walls, especially in corporate America, where if you didn’t have stuff up on your wall it would just be really boring.  These promos really help!

Heather Elder/Heather Elder Represents

How come people don’t do that with their e-promos on their social media walls?  Is that being too sales-y?

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer

I’ll do it.  If I am really inspired by it, I will do that.

Lisa Lee, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky

We have a department blog where we share e-promos. 

Jen Lamping, RPA

We have an Instagram page where we post things too.

Kate Chase, Brite Productions

Does anyone have a contrary thought to Lisa’s?  Are your email blasts dwindling?

Andrea Rosenfeld, David & Goliath

Well, mine aren’t dwindling, I am getting a lot more.  I knew that we were going to be doing this so I kept track over the last three weeks and I receive about 35 per day.  That is a lot to manage.

Some of those go to my spam folder.  I don’t set that up, they just go there.

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer

Email blasts are one of those things that you can save to review when you are slow.  And, those days you are crazy, you don’t feel badly when you can’t get to it.  And, when I do, it is very easy to either click or delete.  Because of that I don’t find them annoying.  And, if I am busy and I miss one, it is ok, because next month it will come again.

I do want to be that person that knows who is out there.  I don’t want the creatives to come to me and reference a photographer that I don’t know.  I should know!

Angee Murray, Agency Access

Since you are freelance Rob, does the email catch up with you?

Rob Beckon, Freelance Art Producer

No and I kind of wish it did.  I always thought if I was at an agency for a long time people would find me and I would get a ton more emails but I don’t.  I even give out my gmail account too which I know a lot of producers don’t.

Angee Murray, Agency Access

It would be interesting to have a place for freelancers to view the images on the website.

Jennifer Perlmutter, Agency Access

I also happen to know that Lisa is not in our database any longer so that may be why she is receiving less emails.  And, it makes me wonder about when people unsubscribe.  Do they think they are unsubscribing to the one photographer or to the entire database? For some people that gets confusing and they don’t know which they are doing and it could keep them from receiving relevant imagery.

Jason Lau, 180LA

I personally find them un-engaging.  I find the work sometimes feeling the same.  Give me something that is interactive, maybe more than one image, something that is more design centric rather than from a template.  The engagement is just not there.  “OK I see a still life on black.”  Is that interesting enough to click through?  Not usually.  So, choose your most interesting imagery.

For me, a designed layout is what engages me.  I tend to click through to GoSee a lot.  So, with normal email blasts, unless it is relevant to me, I don’t click on it.  I delete it.

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Angee Murray, Agency Access

What would grab your attention?

Jason Lau, 180LA

Something different like maybe a gif or something that is funny. I tend to be more picky.

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents

I can appreciate that.  You literally have one second to engage someone in one visual space.  And because of that, people tend to choose that one heroic image.  And, by nature, because of the limited space available in the email space, the design feels like a template.  There are restrictions.

Jason Lau, 180LA

Ok, so if there are restrictions, then use that space wisely.  Do what Facebook does and create a grid of images within that rectangle. Tell me more about yourself in that one instance. 

When I was at Team One I was bombarded and I would save them to look at later.  But then I would get busy and not have the time.  So, unless it really engaged me at that moment, I didn’t have the time to click through. It is rare.  Emails just don’t engage me all that much.

Kate Chase, Brite Productions

Did they used to?  The feeling bombarded is a tough feeling, where did that come from?

Jason Lau, 180LA

There are always analytics you can review to ask, “What is the right time to push something out?  Which day should I send something?”

Since clicking through will be subjective for everyone, maybe consider using analytics available on the backend of previous blasts to investigate timing for future blasts.

Angee Murray, Agency Access

How do you feel about subject lines?

Jason Lau, 180LA

I think they are important, the more meta information included the better, i.e., lifestyle or still life – that is helpful.

Jason Lau, 180LA

If it is witty, it catches my attention and makes me want to look more. My email program prevents me from downloading images immediately so I have to choose to download.  If there is something funny, I will stop and take the time to see what the reveal will be if I allow the download.

I purposely looked today at all of the emails I received.  And, I would say that if I received 15, at least 6 stopped me to look further, which is not bad.  But it was a word that hooked me in. 

Andrea Rosenfeld, David & Goliath

I agree that I like clever, not gimmicky.  And I also agree with Jason that we get too much email and it becomes white noise. Most of the time I put them in another folder to look at later.

Because of that I tend to look at rep emails instead of the photographers individual email promos.  It used to be that I received so much mail but now it is email.  I like when I receive the mail now.  Direct mail gets more of my attention.

Jennifer Lamping, RPA

If it is personalized, it makes a difference to me. If someone takes the time to write a genuine note with personal attention, I am more inclined to respond or look. 

Lisa Matthews, Team One

Do reps or photographers have control over what times are sent?

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents

Yes, when we send it we can choose the date and the time it gets sent.

Lisa Matthews, Team One

When I come in first thing in the morning, I glance through and anything that is internal, I look at first.  Everything else gets pushed aside until later.  Maybe if you staggered them and you had them come later in the day, people may have more time to review them.

Jason Lau, 180LA

Maybe lunch time is good, no one is emailing me then.  This goes back to analytics.  Is there a way to review who opens the blast when?

Amanda Sosa Stone, Agency Access

We used to track that and then word got out that Tuesday was the day and everyone sent them on Tuesdays. Sorry Lisa! Over the years we have tried to educate our members about the best times to schedule their campaigns. That being said, depending on who artists are using for their ESP (Email Service Provider), throttling may come into play as a method to help increase deliverability. This just means that delivery times can sometimes be slightly unpredictable. 

Heather Elder, Heather Elder Represents

Understanding that challenges exist, it would still be nice to be able to schedule a blast at 1:00 pm and know that wherever in the world I sent it, it arrived at that time.  Now, I send one to go out at 10:00 am PST and it arrives in NY at 1:00 EST.  It is hard to find that middle space.

Thanks for reading The Main Course Part 1. We hope this has been of value. Tune in on Tuesday, February 16th for our third installment where we’ll discuss what buyers think are valuable about email blasts and what they think is invaluable as well as viewing blasts on mobile or desktop device preferences.

And to see previous Community Tables posts from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Chicago and Minneapolis, link here.

Image Credit and thanks to:  Sara Tollefson Photography and Digital Fusion.



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