To help market my photography business in 2010, I decided to try an e-mail database and distribution service called Adbase. This post shares my reasons for choosing a service like Adbase (there are similar ones out there, such as Agency Access), along with my initial experiences. In future posts, I plan to share the results of my e-mail marketing program.
Prior to this year, I had created my own e-mail lists of potential clients by researching publications and ad agencies. This was “free” — but ultimately very time consuming. I decided it would be better to spend more time shooting and less time building lists from scratch.
Benefits and Reservations
I saw four main benefits in an e-mail list service:
- it would save me time on researching potential clients;
- it would provide a larger list of potential clients than I could possibly create on my own;
- it would make it easier to create and send marketing e-mails and print promos; and
- it would provide more up-to-date, accurate lists than I could maintain.
But I also saw two potential drawbacks in such a service:
- I did not want to join the ranks of e-mail spammers; and
- I was concerned about the costs.
After researching Adbase, I became less worried about being considered a spammer, because the company only sends e-mails to willing contacts, and the e-mails are relevant to the jobs of the recipients. I thought about it and realized that I did not mind advertisers e-mailing me, as long as their content was related to photography.
As for my second reservation, Adbase provided the best deal of the services I reviewed: a one-year contract with 6,000 e-mails and access to all their North American contacts for $99 a month — a price I was able to reduce with my ASMP discount. Of course, I’ll just have to wait and see if I generate a return that justifies Adbase’s prices.
Getting Set Up
The initial setup for Adbase took much longer than I would have liked. The very fact that Adbase offers a voluminous database of potential clients (over 32,000 for photographers) makes it time consuming to create a well-targeted list.
While I suppose I could just send an e-mail to everyone, that would be more expensive to do, guaranteed to produce spam, and would result in lower click-through and e-mail open rates. In other words, I’d get a lower return on my investment — and tick a lot of people off in the process.
To create well-targeted lists, I had to choose from a variety of options, including geographic region, industry type (advertising, editorial, etc), job position, what types of promos the contacts want to receive, and more. Then, once I had a base list, I had to refine it further by looking at each contact and removing redundancies or contacts I did not want to work for. Finally, I had to add my personal contacts that were not in the Adbase system.
All told, I’ve spent eight hours on this process so far, and I’m not quite finished yet. I’ve developed seven lists, four for e-mail and three for printed promos. I made a regional and a national list and then subdivided these lists based on types of photography (food, travel, lifestyle, etc.).
For me, the most time-consuming part of list building was deleting companies that I did not believe would be a good fit for my work. This is because it required visiting lots of company Web sites to learn what they were about and what they were looking for.
I assume that now that my lists are largely set up, I won’t need to spend nearly as much time on Adbase — that my main activities will be creating e-mails and choosing which lists to send them to. Stay tuned.