Whether it’s after a great first date or after a new photography inquiry, getting ghosted feels pretty dang crappy. And if you’ve invested any amount of time and emotion into someone? Oof! Being left on read stings! It can also be very bewildering. There’s good news, though! Your “ghost rate” is actually something YOU have a degree of control over! Not total control obviously, because sometimes ghosts just gonna ghost. But if you notice your ghost rate is creeping uncomfortably high and you want to bring it down, there’s one place to start your work: your inquiry response email!
The inquiry response email is more than just one of the five essential email templates you should have ready to go for your business. It’s actually THE most important and least understood piece of marketing for most photographers. It’s the first time a potential client is interacting with you one-on-one and it can make or break a booking in a snap. Even if they already really liked you!
But there is a lot of advice out there (a lot of really misguided advice, tbh) on how to create great inquiry response emails. So, it’s no surprise you feel a bit confused while trying to write yours. Today, let’s cut through all that noise and talk about what will ACTUALLY improve your inquiry response email, delight potential clients, and drive down that ghost rate.
So, let’s find out: are you making any of these major inquiry response email mistakes?
1. You’re not speaking to them human to human
If you’ve noticed you’re not getting the enthusiastic response you’d like to see from your inquiry response email, it’s possible that your tone is the culprit. If you had just come from an engaging website that promises the world, and the first time you spoke with the person delivering the service they came off as distant, robotic, or uninvested, why would you want to keep the conversation going?
If your email is all business and doesn’t have that extra little spark of personalization showing you really did read their inquiry, it can be a serious turn-off. Remember: your potential client is likely sending inquiries to lots of different photographers. And if their first interaction with you leaves a bad taste in their mouth, they have plenty of other options!
This doesn’t mean you can’t use a template though! In fact, you really should!
Just make sure you bring your personality into the template and connect with them on a human level. I also recommend leaving a few blanks you can fill in based on what they’ve shared in their inquiry. Want to learn more about how to do this well? Check out my inquiry form builder freebie to start asking better questions on your contact page! It’ll make all the difference in that inquiry response email!
2. You’re not giving them the information they need.
If you’re not sharing anything new in your inquiry response email, why even have one? Why not just let them choose a date from a scheduler and book that consultation call right away? If you’re sending an email, there should be a purpose. And that purpose should be to share information they can’t find on your website!
First of all, sharing whether or not you deliver the service they are requesting and if you’re available on their desired date is essential! Your potential client doesn’t want to jump into a big guessing game with you. They want certainty. They want to be assured that, should they decide to book you, you’ll be there for them.
This is also where cohesion between your inquiry form and inquiry response email come into play. If a potential client has taken the time to express their vision for their session to you (psst…if you’re not asking for this, you should start!), you should take the time to affirm that vision, telling them that YOU are most equipped to bring it to life.
But when it comes to sharing information, we’re walking a crazy fine line! When you start adding things to your inquiry response email you also run the risk of making mistake number three…
3. You’re overwhelming them with too much information.
I know people are about to get way down deep in their feelings about this one, but I can promise you: information overload is just as detrimental as missing information. While your potential client doesn’t have time to play 20 questions with you to get the information they need, they also don’t have time to read a ten-paragraph email, comb through three additional galleries, and try to make sense of a twenty-page pricing guide. It’s just. Too. Much!
I realize that pricing guides are very in vogue at the moment—they can even be extremely helpful—but if shared at the wrong moment, they can be a cause for ghosting. And not for the reason you think!
What happens in pricing guides? Well, in most cases the photographer breaks down every possible package, a la carte add-on, and extended service available. But…what the heck are they supposed to do with all that information!? They don’t know how many hours of coverage they need on their wedding day because they’ve never done this before! They don’t yet realize the benefit of a parent album, second shooter, or client closet. It’s all just noise until YOU step in to explain it all.
And what happens when we get overwhelmed? We shut down. We click that sweet, sweet escape button and try again later…if we remember to, that is.
Instead, what if you shared your pricing guide, extra galleries, and what have you in your consultation call reminder email? What if you told them you’d go through it WITH them during the call instead of expecting them to make sense of it for themselves? Now, that’s what I call service! And you’ve just eliminated so many distractions from your inquiry response email. Without all that extra business, you’re already far less likely to make mistake number four!
4. You’re not sharing one clear, simple call to action.
What is the goal of your inquiry response email? For most photographers, it’s to get them on the phone, on video, or into a coffee shop for a consultation. That’s the single most important next step in transforming them from “potential client” to “client!” So, why not put all your focus on achieving that goal?
Sometimes potential clients open an email, read it, have every intention of booking you, and then…..don’t do anything. That’s probably because they didn’t know what to do! Are you telling them exactly what step to take next? Your email should end with a clear action item so you can move them down the funnel to book.
Remember, your process may seem crystal clear to you, but your clients have never gone through it before. That’s why it’s essential that you tell them exactly what you want them to do at every step in the process.
It’s also vital to make it as simple as possible for them to execute the next step. This is why I recommend all photographers use a booking platform either through their CRM (Dubsado, Honeybook, etc.) or a standalone calendar platform (Calendly) to book calls. You can set your availability and all they have to do is go in and choose a time. No “I’m free these days, what about you?” back and forth emails. Just a couple of clicks and a check in the box!
5. You’re not following up!
In a recent Instagram post, Cassie Schmidt (one of my go-to business coaches!) shared an eye-popping stat: 80% of leads are lost through lack of follow-up! Hella yikes! That means some of the ghosty ghosts you’re upset about actually wanted to work with you! They just got distracted, forgot to return, and someone else snapped them up while you were tapping your toes.
People forget stuff. And whether they’re planning a wedding, wrangling littles, or getting ready for the birth of their child, the people you work with are some of the busiest, distracted people on the planet! So, instead of getting upset when they ghost you, assume you’re going to be forgotten the first (maybe even second!) time you contact them. Then, build fixes into your workflow!
Write a couple of short-and-sweet follow-up emails, and automate them into your booking workflow. And it doesn’t have to be fancy! It just has to be enough to jog their memory and get photography back on the brain. At a minimum, I’d recommend sending one to two days after their initial inquiry. Then, two days after that send a second follow-up email sharing that you’re checking in “one final time” to push them toward making a move.
But don’t forget! These emails should still have your trusty call to action at the end!
TL;DR: How to write an effective inquiry response email
If you want to cut down on the number of potential clients who ghost you after receiving your inquiry response email, start by:
- Speaking to them human to human
- Giving them the important information they need
- Sharing only immediately relevant information to avoid overwhelming them
- Clearly asking them to take a single next step
- Following up at least twice if you don’t hear back
By making these five changes to your inquiry response email, you’ll be well on your way to reducing your ghost rate and connecting more effectively with clients-to-be!