INSIGHT: Digital marketing for a photography business

PictureMe won multiple commercial contracts after a 300% increase in year on year website traffic from my SME digital marketing consulting

Digital marketing for sme photographer in Australia
Summary

Digital marketing for a photography business to get more leads

A NEW wordpress website & SEO
"Paul provided objective analysis of the market, my position and the gap opportunity. Very thorough, exceptional value...I secured contracts for retail store photography and 2-3 Santa photography centres this Christmas"
Terry Rogan review of Paul D'Ambra Marketing Consultant in Sydney
TERRY ROGAN
DIRECTOR - PICTUREME SYDNEY

In November 2020 I was contracted to provide a photography business, PictureMe, with digital marketing consulting to explore ways they could generate more leads to grow their customer base & win new service contracts. This small business already had a website that had been custom built by an agency using WordPress, although they weren’t sure what volume of website visitors they were getting & if it was generating many leads at all. The site was custom built and had very little flexibility other than changing headings or basic text. They had tried social media advertising, eMail marketing, video marketing and local  area promotions but nothing really worked well & they wanted to generate more leads, especially for their commercial offerings, tours and courses they sold.

 

 

Understanding how your website is performing can give any business owner critical information to understand how their funnel of potential leads is being developed & grown over time. A digital marketing consultant can conduct a digital audit to help summarise historical performance and make suggestions for improvements. For any photography business, focussing on digital marketing makes a lot of sense considering that is how nearly every person begins searching for a new business to use unless they are given a referral.

 

 

So it meant for this digital marketing project I was engaged as a freelance marketing consultant to audit their current online performance, then build a new website with suitable SEO development and copywriting to not only help the business get found online, but convert more visitors into leads. This 3 month project ultimately led to a 300%+ increase in website visitors and multiple new contracts secured. 

CUSTOM WEBSITE
TRANSFER

NEW WORDPRESS WEBSITE DESIGN

WEBSITE SEO DEVELOPMENT

BRAND USP
UPDATES

GOOGLE MY BUSINESS OPTIMISATION

WEBSITE SEO
COPYWRITING

What was the digital marketing brief for this photography business?

Establish how the business was generating leads.
The first step was to determine if the existing website was generating high levels of website traffic and leads. 

Unfortunately it wasn’t. 

The Google Analytics reporting showing just 546 visitors to the site between January and October in 2020. So a deeper online audit was needed to work out why the visitor numbers were so low & what people were doing when they did visit the site. Understanding how a photography business is generating its leads can help to make informed decisions on changing marketing strategy when both online and offline activities are considered.

 

Determine what digital marketing could be done to improve the situation.
The business owner wanted this project to focus on making improvements on the digital marketing aspects of their business strategy. They were content with their existing client base, referrals and offline marketing activities. So the focus turned to finding incremental opportunities to increase the volume of online visitors discovering their brand to then generate more leads. 

 

One of the primary income streams for this photography business is selling courses and tours to learn how to use a camera. As demonstrated in the Google Trends data, from as far back as 2004 there has been significant growth in people wanting to learn how to do things or ‘what the best ‘something’ is – which includes products, courses, methods etc 

These very simple consumer insights provide evidence as to the potential opportunities available & also proved that their current website was not getting traffic for these types of relevant searches that could generate new customers.

What did this photography business need to do to get more leads?

THEIR WEBSITE NEEDED TO GENERATE MORE TRAFFIC

From January to October the site had just over 500 visitors, although most of this came from 'Direct' or 'Social Media' sources with just 7% from 'Organic Search' locations. What this indicated immediately was most visitors already knew the brand or were clicking on links in eMails being sent or shared via social media profiles.

The lack of organic search traffic meant people weren't finding PictureMe for the services they offered or even discovering the brand. So as a business owner it meant they were relying mainly on referrals or existing customers.

IMPROVE THEIR KEYWORD SEARCH POSITIONS & BREADTH

The lack of organic search traffic was a result of the website not being search engine optimised, therefore it was no surprise to see that Google Search Console was reporting very little search volume or breadth of terms. The site wasn't being found online for anything other than the brand name. It meant it wasn't getting found for any of the services it offered.

THE BUSINESS NEEDED TO SHOWCASE THEIR POINT OF DIFFERENCE & UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITIONS

This is an aspect that hundreds of businesses in Australia have a hard time doing properly, especially when it comes to digital marketing execution. PictureMe had some great points of difference and unique selling propositions but they weren't being presented clearly on their website pages.

So even with 500+ people visiting the site it wasn't converting them into leads or enquiries, so this is where strong website design and copywriting becomes very important to get right. Obviously for a photography high quality images also become important too.

THE WEBSITE WAS HARD TO UPDATE OR MAKE CHANGES

The owner wanted to be able to make changes to their website, although it was built using WordPress using a custom made layout that restricted the sections that could be changed. On one hand it made it easy to change text, but difficult to do anything else without going back to the agency to get changes made.

What was the digital marketing scope of work for this contract?

Once the digital audit was provided to the business owner it was easy for them to make a decision on the scope of work required and making the necessary changes. Work was approved to begin building a new website using WordPress that was to be based on Elementor to ensure the owner could make their own changes. This was complimented with new copywriting and a website page layout that would make each selling proposition clear and presented well for visitors on desktop or mobile phone. 

This photography business had a wide range of service offerings that needed to be presented in their own unique way. This included a mix of services, courses and tours.

What results were achieved for this photography business?

The new website for this business was launched early December 2020 at a time when Australia was still dealing with pandemic living conditions & international travel into Australia was still severely restricted. This made it even more important for this business to be found for its other local services instead of relying on their tours or courses that were mainly filled by tourists or overseas visitors. 

 

Within a few months the business owner was fielding enquiries which turned into new commercial contracts including new opportunities for commercial photography, event coverage, Santa event photography & retail shopping centre support. By the middle of 2021 there was a 300% improvement to website traffic vs the previous year which provided the business owner the perfect platform to grow with.

300% IMPROVEMENT IN WEBSITE VISITOR TRAFFIC GROWTH

Once all the revised pages were indexed by Google the website visitor volumes began to improve. From March to July in 2021 the business enjoyed a 390%+ improvement on the previous year with nearly 2,000 page views generated & 61% of visitors from within Australia.

New customers were discovering PictureMe for the very first time with every critical website engagement factory showing significant improvement. This meant the information, navigation, page structure & layout was well received by consumers.

Digital marketing for SME business by Paul D'Ambra marketing consultant year on year traffic volume growth

THE HIGHEST ORGANIC SEARCH VOLUME IN MORE THAN 12 MONTHS

All the SEO development work that went into the new website was focussed around having a clearer page structure, wording and headings to suit specific search phrases. Using competitor and local keyword research the findings were incorporated into URL naming, headings, text and image naming to suit the specific focus areas for this SME. Even though trading conditions were not favourable the SEO updates meant the site was getting recognised for more than 200 different search phrases.

This meant the business was getting found for the services, courses and tours it offered, not just the brand name of the business. So for the first time the owner was able to start competing for people doing local searches & begin to build brand awareness by reaching new potential customers..

RELEVANT KEYWORD SEARCH PHRASE RESULTS

The other important result was the brand getting found for relevant keyword search phrases. So as illustrated below the business lost their position on search for 'Wildlife photography courses" which was ok because the focus of their courses was in other areas.

This would mean more relevant traffic visiting the site & a higher chance of converting those visitors into actual new customers. It is a good example of quality over quantity.

Digital marketing for SME business by Paul D'Ambra marketing consultant improving organic search rankings

ORGANIC SEARCH WEBSITE TRAFFIC OVER 50% OF VOLUME

All of these changes meant that organic search traffic went from less than 4% of previous visitor volume to over 50% of all traffic to the site. Best of all, visitors from organic search are spending more than 3 minutes on average on the site which proves they are highly engaged, quality visitors.

This helps reduce the need for the business to rely on other methods to find leads like local advertising, referrals etc.

NEW SEARCH RANKING POSITIONS FOR VIDEOS

Work was done to present their videos on the website with the appropriate set up to be identified for online search using video schema markup. This helped to achieve video search results placing the brand amongst competitors for the first time.

COMPETING WITH BIGGER, ESTABLISHED BRANDS

For the first time this photography business was able to compete online with more established brands and businesses in their service sectors. While the positions are not guaranteed to be maintained, it provided an example of what is possible with the right focus & execution. If done correctly the business can rely on organic search to secure new clients and grow revenues.

Digital marketing for SME business by Paul D'Ambra marketing consultant for first page of Google search results

IMPROVED BRAND PRESENTATION

The revised website design has helped improve the brand presentation of this business. The major change focussed on presenting a very clean layout that celebrated the photography being generated by the owner & tour participants. Each page was set up to focus on key selling points as the priority with improved navigation and usability.

Digital marketing for SME business by Paul D'Ambra marketing consultant comparison of old vs new website

MOBILE FRIENDLY WEBSITE DESIGN

One of the big areas of improvement was the website's functionality on mobile phones, passing the Google Mobile-Friendly Test and scoring about 70/100 for the Google PageSpeed Insights Test.

Digital marketing for SME business by Paul D'Ambra marketing consultant to create a mobile friendly new website design

LEAD GENERATING WEBSITE FUNCTIONALITY

The focus for the website was to make it easy for people to book online via the FareHarbour service so the structure & layout of the site wasn't constructed to funnel people into lead generation forms. Nonetheless, the website had a contact form with leads tracked and measured.

Digital marketing for SME business by Paul D'Ambra marketing consultant generating new leads

How else could a photography business improve their digital marketing?

  • The new WordPress based website gives the owner a great platform to build on over time and to make their own adjustments using the Elementor Page Building application. If this is done correctly it can contribute to continued growth of the site. There is a risk that changes may remove the elements that generated results in the first place.
 
 
 
  • Create a digital marketing plan that is split into;

    • Social media marketing – the business has existing Facebook and Instagram social media profiles, so the new website could be promoted by sharing links or paid advertising options. Examples from tours, courses or services being provided could be shared to help people learn more about what they offer.

       

    • Local area marketing – in the absence of doing letterbox drops or local newspaper advertising, the other way to reach people in the local area is to use Google My Business. The business profile was given an update & by using Google My Business posts you can share photos, videos & other updates which can help with local search results.
 
 
    • Content marketing – the focus on this project was to get the new website created and running prior to Christmas. The opportunity for the SME is to create content around all the topics related to their services, tours and courses. This could be anything from photography tips to information about travel. If crafted correctly it can help attract new visitors to the website to help with brand awareness & creating new customers.
 
 
    • Search engine marketing (SEM) – to fast track results the business could use Google Search Advertising to focus on specific business offerings to generate new customers & compliment the traffic coming to the brand from other sources. This can broaden the funnel of prospects coming into the business.
 
 
    • Search engine optimisation (SEO) – even though a lot of SEO development was done to build the site, all the new data & behaviour of visitors can be used to continue search engine optimisation efforts. This could be anything from adjusting headings/text, creating new Tour packages or identifying opportunities by analysing competitor activities.
 
 
    • Video marketing – the business had already begun creating videos to promote their offerings, so these efforts could be continued to attract new customers, especially younger ones who love to consume video content.
 
 
    • Email marketing – it is always important to market to your existing customers and fortunately the business had a solid database they could send eMails to. If executed correctly eMail marketing can deliver higher interaction rates compared to other mediums, not surprising as they are your current customers. It is important though to consider relevance and timing to ensure people don’t unsubscribe.
 
 
  • Each business should also carefully consider what digital marketing they attempt to do themselves. Some elements may seem straight forward but if not done correctly, can deliver no real value. On the flip side, many businesses may have every intention of being proactive to manage their activities but then end up getting too busy to be able to. Both scenarios are very common but produce a similar result which is little to no valuable growth.
 
 
  • Every business should also carefully check what companies it engages with or what changes are made to their website. In this project there were changes made to the external booking services used on the site. This had an adverse effect on website performance as can be seen in the comparison below (read about it in more detail here )

    Quite often the 3rd party companies will simply follow instructions and not necessarily disclose any potential implications. While the website still functions, Google uses mobile usability as a ranking factor, so while the functionality may have been improved for users, it may have created other issues for the SME.

 
Digital marketing for SME business by Paul D'Ambra marketing consultant Google PageSpeed high score on mobile
Google PageSpeed low score on mobile after changing the website

What other forms of marketing should a photographer consider?

So many business owners forget about the most basic of marketing principles, the 4P’s. Marketing professionals or business owners can argue for hours over the definition of that or whether other elements are more important to consider in 2022, but you have to get the marketing fundamentals right to have any chance of long term success.

In really simple terms you can break it up into these areas. Digital marketing forms part of your execution methodology but other aspects can be considered too.

 

 

Product/Service – In the case of this photography business everything is service based so this ‘P’ relates to that, although they could sell printed products from photos they take if they wanted to diversify their revenue streams. Coming back to their range of services, opportunities can be uncovered through looking at the search data to see what other types of tours or classes people are looking for. This can broaden offerings or fill a niche not being offered by competitors.

 

 

Price – There is no right or wrong when it comes to pricing depending on your strategy & goals. Obviously seasonal offers, discounts to existing clients etc are all the typical methods to attract more sales. Although you can also go the other way and create unique, premium experiences that attract a different clientele.

 

Place – If the photographer had a studio then its location may become quite important in terms of street frontage, foot traffic etc. Although in this case it is a mobile service so considering the areas covered or locations of tours becomes critical. Meanwhile where you generate awareness for the business also falls into ‘place’ meaning where is your business being seen by potential customers e.g billboards, local newspaper, letterbox drop, social media ads etc

 

Promotion – This is a broad topic & starts with small things like staff uniforms, vehicle signage all the way to what activity is in the market every week / month / quarter. It could be advertising, public relations or even content creation – these days there are so many different ways to promote your brand.

 

The most important (and hardest) aspect is to take a step back and look at whether the current volume of clients is enough, where are they getting generated from & if needed, what actions to put in place to find more. Unless you have an established business you can’t expect one action to generate the result you need so for example posting to social media alone won’t be enough if your audience isn’t growing (and keep in mind less than 10% of an audience sees your content anyway)

 

I see too many business owners forgetting about the basics, getting caught up running the business rather then having time put aside to think about growing it.

Paul D'Ambra

Paul D'Ambra

I love to re-energise businesses by injecting energy into their marketing using data-driven consumer insights. I’ve motivated start-ups, small business owners and six-figure corporate brands to deliver incredible marketing impact.

Whether you are a start-up or existing business, you may find yourself stuck and unsure how to execute to achieve your goals. Is your business in need of an overhaul? Maybe you need help managing workflows? Are you struggling to understand the value of your business and the direction it needs to grow & flourish?

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