So, you’ve got your website up online. You’ve got your account active. You’re pulling all the strings to bring in the traffic. And then bam.
When I started out, I looked at every single inquiry as a potential shoot. I was always SO excited to finally have gotten the attention of one potential client. Every e-mail got me full with excitement.
Unfortunately, my excitement was only followed up with disappointing silence.
Yup, ghosted. And devastation. Confusion. All kind of feels. After a few ghosted inquiries, I was determined to figure out how to get people to respond back.
After a ton of tests, research and playing around with responses of different kinds, I systematized a few key strategies to get people to respond to inquiries.
Eagerness gets the best of us, and we overshare. We want to share how much we love photography, how excited we are to hear from them, and then we share boat loads of information in our first response.
Couples are inundated with new information from different directions when they’re planning their wedding. We don’t want to be lost in the weeds of this, by making a long e-mail they skip over. The same thing applies to folks inquiring about family photos or portraits, they’ve got busy lives.
So, what does this mean for our response?
A recent Litmus Email Analytic revealed that the average time spent reading an e-mail was 11.1 seconds. Granted, your e-mail is something they WANT to read because they’re expecting a response. But this study still reveals that attention is a currency this day and age, and we want to value every second we have by making the first few words and seconds count.
In other words, keep your first inquiry response short, yet engaging. I’ve found that a 5-7 sentence response has been the sweet spot for me.
In the previous point, I mentioned that 5-7 sentences seem to be sweet spot. And separating 5-7 sentences into multiple paragraphs feel ridiculous. But this helps people maintain their attention and continue reading.
Copywriters suggest that short blocks of text are easily skimmed, so breaking some paragraphs into one to two sentences helps the speed reader actually read through your e-mail.
For example, I have one section that congratulates and says thanks. The next section is my availability. The next section is my pricing, then my final paragraph is an invitation to a consultation.
Whatever 5-7 sentences you write out should earn its place and attention in the e-mail. Anything extra should be saved in the consultation. Of course you want to share about your experience, the special features you offer and learn more about them. But doing this ALL in an e-mail is overwhelming.
So, cover the basics. You want to write an e-mail that is personal so you can connect with the potential client. Next, you want to share something that attracts interest, whether that’s your limited spots, a base price (and not yet listing the rest of the prices), a special that’s going on, or your availability.
Finally, you want to open curiosity. This is SUPER important because you want them to stay engaged with you and ask for more. How do you do that? That’s the next point.
Typically, clients may have an inbox of inquiry responses or may be awaiting responses. Not only should you be the quickest to respond, but you should have next steps ready.
Some folks are afraid to add a call to action because they don’t want to put any pressure on anyone. But calls to action are more like invitations. They either respond or they don’t. Having the call to action helps guide the potential client to the next, logical course of action.
I’ve tried three different ways to do calls to action and found one that worked best. I tried the passive approach: “If you’re available, let’s schedule a coffee date.” I also tried the very direct approach, “Just hit reply and let me know a date works best for you.” But I’ve found the best results by simply asking, “Would you like to schedule a consultation to chat more about how my services may fit what you’re looking for?”
The open-ended question isn’t pushy, and it’s not indirect. It’s an invitation to continue the conversation.
We live in an accelerated culture, thanks to laptops, mobile devices, smart watches and all kinds of ways to connect with the world. There have been several surveys asking customers how quickly they expect a response from customer service. Some studies have said 2 minutes, some say within 4 hours, some say within 10 hours. Whatever the survey, it’s clear that a response is expected within 24 hours.
For some people, especially folks that don’t do photography as a full-time job, this might feel ridiculous. So, if you can’t respond within 24 hours, have an auto-reply acknowledging the e-mail saying you’ll respond within a certain time. Then, fulfill that response! Auto-responses and quick e-mails earn SO much trust with potential clients.
So, what are some action steps you can take?
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