You’ve done it! They inquired. They scheduled a consultation call. They seemed excited by what you offer, and they told you they were ready to book! Then, you send them their beautifully customized proposal, aaaaand…crickets. Nothing. Nada. Silence. For whatever reason, they never reply and you add them to the ever-growing list of ghosty-ghost could-have-beens you’ll never get to work with. But does it have to be this way? I don’t think so! The secret lies in a mythical, magical tool called the Follow-Up Email.
If there’s one thing photographers always seem to forget about their clients it’s that they are SUPER busy people. In fact, they are often busier when they interact with you than they ordinarily would be!
Think of the things that spur clients to seek out photographers: wedding planning, baby growing, baby birthing, holiday preparation, impending graduation, or a business rebrand. These are all extremely time-consuming, stressful, exhausting events! And while you and I know that photography is extremely important, it’s just one of many things on a lengthy to-do list for a potential client. Therefore, the likelihood that a potential client will simply forget to reply to an email or finalize a booking is actually crazy high!
That’s the first step toward having a healthier perspective on booking and the clients you serve—recognizing that, even when it doesn’t seem like it, a potential client isn’t trying to disregard, offend, or ghost you. They’re. Just. Overwhelmed.
The second step is to recognize the obvious (yet often overlooked) fact that they wouldn’t have inquired with you if they weren’t interested in working with you! They need whatcha got, and they like whatcha do.
So, where does this leave you, the ghosted photographer? Well, in a pretty great spot actually!
These two facts mean that you’re dealing with a person who more than likely wants to work with you; they just forgot or got too distracted to take the next step. That’s a heck of a lot better than dealing with a jerkface who just inquired to waste your time and skip off into the sunset! It also means that resentment is definitely not the answer when communication goes silent. Instead, consider what YOU can do!
That’s right—while it may feel like sending the final, info-packed email is the time to dust off your hands at the end of a workflow, it’s really not.
Believe it or not, I don’t believe a booking workflow is finished without TWO follow-up emails!
Now, you may be thinking, “Um, my friend. Who has the time to chase down every lead and send them not just one but TWO follow-up emails?!” And I agree with you! That’s why having well-written, PRE-written email templates ready to go (probably even scheduled) is the gift that keeps on giving. Without having to do any additional work, you can turn a lost lead into a booking!
But how? How can you send effective follow-up emails that don’t feel pushy, annoying, or cringe? Let’s break it down.
1. Choose your follow-up email timing wisely
The first step to sending a great set of follow-up emails is to send them at the right time. Send them too soon and you seem overeager and like you’re trying to rush a potential client into a decision. Wait too long and they’ll have already booked with someone else! So, what’s the sweet spot?
Timing is an art, for sure, so adjust this as you see fit, but I recommend sending your first follow-up email two full days after sending the inquiry response email, sharing the proposal, or hosting the consultation. They’ll have had time to digest the information you’ve shared, but it will still be fresh in their minds. Then, if you still don’t hear from them, send your second follow-up two days after that. This way, your final email will arrive well before they’ve had the chance to forget you. This serves the purpose of motivating them to book, for sure, but it also tells you that if they don’t reply to your second email, they’re really, truly not interested in taking the conversation further.
I’d also recommend making a note of people who don’t reply to either follow-up email in case they circle back much later. Unless they share a reason for their silence, this may be an indication that they aren’t very engaged in the process and that may mean they are a non-ideal client you’d rather not work with anyway!
I can count on two fingers the number of clients who have gone radio silent and circled back later who didn’t become clients I wish I’d never booked. More often than not, they actually end up ghosting me AGAIN part way through the booking process! So, don’t feel bad saying no if you feel you should.
2. Acknowledge their busy-ness
If we understand that most potential clients vanish because they’re just so busy, let’s make it clear to them that we know that in the follow-up email! Realizing that you’ve forgotten someone or something can be embarrassing, particularly for people who are ordinarily conscientious. They may feel awkward for taking up your time and forgetting to reward you for it. They may also feel defensive if you imply they aren’t operating on your timeline.
So, let’s sidestep those bad feelings by extending a little grace.
Acknowledging how challenging this season of life they’re in must be and how well they’re likely managing it is a kindness that can go a long way—especially if they feel no one else is recognizing how much they’re currently juggling.
Instead of opening your email with pressure to respond, begin with an acknowledgment that they’re probably very busy, so you wanted to scoot this to the top of their inbox in case it had slipped their mind. Striking the right tone is essential in an effective follow-up email, and this simple shift in perspective can make all the difference.
3. Keep it brief
Nothing makes less sense than recognizing how busy someone is…and then launching into a ten-paragraph tirade! If you want to instigate action, don’t send an email that feels like work to read. I recommend keeping your first follow-up email to no more than five sentences, and your send to just two! The simpler it is for a client to digest what you’re saying, the more likely it is that they’ll feel tugged to act!
4. Include a simple, clear call-to-action
If you want this very busy potential client to make moves, you have to make it as easy as possible for them to do so! Don’t tell them to dig back through their emails to find your proposal, booking link, or your consultation call scheduler. Just reshare it here! And don’t clutter up the email with more galleries, pricing lists, or brochures. At this point, those are nothing but distractions. If they want more, they’ll ask for it! Otherwise, just share the next step in the process.
5. Don’t forget an engaging subject line
Even the best follow-up email ever does no good if it goes unread! So, make sure you write email subject lines that draw in your potential client. But don’t get so fancy with it that they won’t know what the email is all about. Let them know that this is a follow-up email, but in a way that fits your brand voice. Feel free to be playful, elegant, or laid-back to really speak to your ideal client, even in the subject line!
6. Let them know when they’ve reached the end of the road
When you’re writing your final follow-up email to a potential client, tell them! I know this seems weird, but a simple “I wanted to reach out to you one final time” can spur action unlike anything else. The immediacy and visceral finality of it indicate that it’s decision time. So, while they might have ordinarily dilly-dallied for weeks, this feeling that the conversation is ending generally inspires response—whether it’s to book, let you know they’re going another direction, or just ask for a little more time. No matter the action, at least it’s better than indefinite ghosting!
Sure, some people will ignore this email, too. If there’s one thing some people are good at, it’s ignoring their email! But at least you will have done everything YOU could to convert that lead.
Finally, letting them know that this is the last email gives you permission to let them go, too. After sharing that you aren’t going to be getting in touch further, you won’t be left wondering if you should just send one more email a month from now. And anything that gives even a little more peace of mind is a win in my book!
So, what do you think? Ready to give a couple of follow-up emails a try? Well, if you’re a member of my email list, keep your eyes peeled on your email inbox because I’m going to be sharing a few more tips about writing great follow-up emails there! And if you’re not a member yet? Join now so you don’t miss out!