As a professional photographer who understands the importance of clear client communication, you may already use a few email templates.
You know the kind: ‘Thanks for getting in touch. I’d be delighted to arrange a chat at a mutually convenient time.’ Or how about: ‘The big day is getting closer! So I thought it would be helpful to confirm a few details.’
But you could feel limited by your current system. Perhaps your set-up is sounding a little too much like a robot stuck in a Groundhog Day of stilted, formulaic replies?
Or maybe you don’t use any templates and spend increasing amounts of time churning out individual emails to clients, saying more or less the same thing?
Here we’re going to explore some of the email template tools available to photographers. And how the very best can deliver a highly personalised, automated and slick experience for both you and your clients.
How Does an Email Template Tool Help?
For photographers who spend a lot of time emailing clients and saying the same thing, email templates add a useful layer of automation.
While they should never fully replace the human element of a conversation, the time-saving power of email template tools is indisputable. And they also deliver some supercharged extras.
They’re particularly beneficial for wedding, portrait and newborn photographers whose service follows the same path for each shoot. From your initial response to a post-project thank you, using templates can ensure no stage is missed, maximising efficiency and professionalism.
When you have a set of carefully considered templates in place, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ve covered off all the essentials. No more hastily replying to a client query and forgetting to mention that one crucial piece of information. No more ambiguity from a confusingly phrased piece of advice. And of course, no more accidental typos.
A good way to look at email template tools is as the foundation of your client communication strategy, not the finished product. The trick is to use automation without it looking like automation: a message that comes across as insincere, irrelevant or overly scripted will stand out like a sore thumb.
Automatically tailoring these templates to the client’s unique circumstances is the key to avoiding the dreaded robotic response. If a client inadvertently receives one of these, it won’t do your relationship any favours.
Email template tools simplify, streamline, set up expectations and cement that all-important rapport.
But which one should your photography business use?
Using templates in Gmail
If you use Gmail as your email platform, then the Gmail templates feature allows you to set up a bank of different templates.
For example, you could set up templates to respond to an initial website enquiry about the booking process, another one to send a gentle reminder to sign the contract etc.
While this saves times, the personalisation options are limited. For example, if you want to alter the template to include the client’s name and reflect the details of their session, this needs to be done manually. Which, of course, adds time back on and leaves you open to mistakes.
Using Your Email Signature
Another option is to use different email signatures to share different messages with clients. You can pre-write template signatures to share commonly requested information and then select which one to use when replying to an email.
This approach is free but clearly limited. It doesn’t allow any sort of automatic personalisation or for multiple templates to be used at once. Plus it’s potentially a messy strategy, prone to errors and subsequently client frustration.
Using the TextExpander App
Another email template option is an app called TextExpander which takes short snippets and expands them into full paragraphs.
For example, instead of typing out ‘I look forward to hearing from you’, you set up a snippet code such as ‘lkfwd’ and type those letters in instead.
A handy tool for writing out quick responses to simple questions, it can also include some more personalised variables that you’re prompted to fill out manually.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to remember the exact snippet codes you’ve saved.
When it comes to deciding which email template tool to choose, the best of all worlds is to use software specifically designed for professional photographers.
Light Blue, for example, includes email template functionality tailored to how you arrange a shoot and liaise with clients.
Because everything about individual shoots, including emails, is kept in one place, you can easily access templates from exactly where you’re managing the client relationship. These templates can be sent from your own email account and will automatically include precise information about the client and the session.
Powerful and versatile, they deliver just the kind of personalised attention to detail that bypasses the robotic and makes a template look less like a template.
You can also schedule them to be sent automatically at the right time, boosting efficiency and reducing admin time while keeping clients fully informed. And you can use snippets to add more detail or answer specific questions.
So if you’re drowning in a sea of repetitive replies, a specialist email template tool could be just the life raft your photography business needs.