A happy customer is a return customer. Your clients chose you over others because they know you can meet their specific needs, but your job is much more than simply creating a few good photos: You need to deliver a quality experience from the first contact through to getting those prints into their hands.
Make a Great First Impression: What will your visitors see? That's up to you!
Melissa Crane, SmugMug Certified Customizer from New Skin Media: “Organization is a key factor here. You have to keep your clients in mind and lay things out in such a way that your site is visually appealing and easy to navigate."
All websites have some basic common elements: a landing page, header, footer and content box(es) on each page, and a way to click from page to page. You can change all of these elements using customization on your SmugMug Power and Pro sites.
In addition to the above, you should include:
Contact Information (a MUST!)
Homepage Description and Meta Keywords
You can also spice it up with:
A Slideshow or Video
Your Most Recent Upload
A Search Box
... or any of the many different features that you can show or hide on your SmugMug homepage with a click.
Don't Hide Your Email Address
Fill the SmugMug Bio box with a friendly welcome message, your name, and your email address. You want this info up front and center, displayed on your homepage.
Create an About Me page and link it from your navigation bar. You can add a photo and an informative description on the Profile page in your account settings, and create your 'about' page quickly and easily.
SmugMug Business pros also get a Contact Email address to fill in in their Account Settings. When they click the "Contact" link in your footer, we'll pop up a simple (but impressive) contact request form. Bonus: Your email address is never exposed.
Make Your Site Neat and Tidy
Use Galleries and Categories: While galleries are the building blocks of your site, they can be categorized into higher level folders called Categories. Your SmugMug gallery hierarchy can be up to 3 levels deep, and looks like this:
Category -> Subcategory -> Gallery -> Photos
“SmugMug’s gallery hierarchy really fits into the way I organize my shows by venue, show date and rider,” says Lehner. “If someone organizes his workflow in that manner from the start, equestrian or not, he can help his customers quickly find their images once they land on SmugMug.” Lehner makes the most of SmugMug’s website and gallery customizability. “It’s the simplest way I know to let people get right to what they are looking for–pictures of themselves,” Mark Lehner, Hoofclix
Build a Navigation Bar: A row of links at the top of every page. Best used when you link to specific galleries or even Categories on your site.
Breadcrumbs! These links at the top of each gallery easy take your viewers back to the Category or to your homepage. Nothing's worse than a digital dead-end.
The bottom line: Using SmugMug as your portfolio, for client proofing and for your shopping cart creates a smooth customer experience.
Prevent Analysis Paralysis
Get organized. The first step for providing a great customer experience on your SmugMug site is to organize your photos in a meaningful and easy-to-navigate way, as covered above.
Don't just dump. Your viewer will have an easier time browsing their wedding photos if you take the time to organize them into galleries rather than showing them one gallery with all 1200 photos.
SmugMug Smart Galleries can be a real timesaver. Create your galleries and set Rules based on keywords, then go ahead and upload all of your photos into a single Unlisted holding gallery. The Smart Gallery will automagically pull in photos that match your rules based on your keywords!
Take this one step further by making use of Events and Favorites, so that the customers can pick and choose their favorite photos. The favorites are put into a separate gallery that both you and your customer can see, providing a great way to dialogue about their choices.
Andi Grant: Calling SmugMug’s Events feature “a dream come true,” Grant explains that she uses the tool in a number of ways to streamline her business. “Before, after my brides chose their favorite images, I’d have to go in manually and download each file. That was such a pain. Now I go into an event, download all and the client has a separate folder to work with for her event.”
Limit choices. Don’t overwhelm the viewer. Cull your shoot down to the best of the best. Limit the products that you sell as well - price only those that best suit your photos' and your clients' needs. Be ruthless.
Khara Plicanic, a wedding photographer from Lincoln, Nebraska decided it was time to get her life under control and bring simplicity to the business for both her and her clients. She was inspired by Barry Schwartz and the concepts presented in his book “The Paradox of Choice.” He says that more choices do not equal freedom, but paralysis and dissatisfaction. By using the “less is more” philosophy, she moved from a tiered product offering and began offering one package for everyone – full coverage of the wedding day.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Giving clients incentive to buy sooner than later can make all the difference. Try these options:
Limited time discounts immediately after the event. With SmugMug you can easily create a Coupon good for only a few days, to get them buying while their memories are fresh.
Seasonal or special event discounts. Encourage customers to avoid the Christmas rush by having a special deal available only in September.
Take galleries off line (make them unlisted or change the password) after a certain date. Just make sure potential customers know this deadline, so they know exactly how long they have.
Creating a friendly, simple experience keeps visitors on your site: clear, organized navigation, easy-to-find galleries and a simple list of products they can buy. Try it and keep your bounce rate down and your sale rate up.