For any of us who have had the dubious fortune to be single in the Tinder age (and no knocking it, I met my boyfriend on Bumble), we’ll be intimately acquainted with the art of ghosting. We’ve probably been ghosted and we’ve probably gone ahead and ignored someone who wasn’t a great fit, thinking it was kinder than telling them we just aren’t all that into them. But what happens when your leads do the same? What happens when time and time again, you excitedly reply to an enquiry only to hear nothing back? In this post, I’ll talk about why you’re being ghosted and how to get more replies and more conversions, so you end up making more bank.
So, why are you being ghosted by your leads? What can you do to get more replies to enquiries?
1. Don’t get attached to the outcome
I know, if it has been a ghost town in your inbox for weeks, you’re likely to be buzzing when an enquiry comes in. You’re probably also going to be hanging all your hopes on this one person – thinking, “I need this,” “please book,” “argh…is this email response good enough? Let me slave over it for 10 hours!”
I’m a great believer in good old-fashioned practical strategy, but I’m also a big believer in how we think and feel creating our results.
Have you ever noticed how once you reach your target number of clients for the month/year, when you’re distracted by something else more important happening, that all of a sudden everyone just seems to be replying to your emails, the enquiries are rolling in and booking without you feeling panicked, or desperate, in fact it feels effortless?
I don’t think that’s a coincidence because…
- We look for things that support our thinking (so if our thinking is, “everyone is ghosting me,” we’re going to focus on every moment that passes without a response
- We come off mega desperate when we’re panicked and feel like we need this booking
- We don’t notice the ghosters when we’re busy and flying high – in fact, we accept it’s part of the process and that not everyone is a great fit
2. Track & monitor
As a wedding photographer, there’s a burgeoning online community of fellow photographers and there is a whole lot of, “oh no, it’s such a slow year…must be Brexit…” “everyone is ghosting me, my price must be too high,” “no one is even enquiring.” And do you know what? It’s hella easy to jump on that panic train with them. In fact, I have done it a lot…I’ve read those things and then started to spiral.
This is where tracking comes in super handy – whether it’s a straight-forward spreadsheet or a fancy CMS system, tracking your leads, the conversion rate, when they come in, how often and where you usually are at this point in the year is SO helpful.
What I’ve learned from doing this myself is that my bookings have started to come in later as the wedding industry has changed – where 8 years ago, I’d be fully booked 2 years out, I now consistently get enquiries for weddings only a few months away. This means, no more panic – I know where I usually am at any one point and can get some much needed perspective.
This will also help you figure out:
- Where your enquiries come from
- How often they respond to you
- At what point in the process they tend to drop off and ghost you
- Their reasons for not booking (if they provide them)
- The time between initial enquiry and booking
- The value of each booking and where the most profitable leads come from
3. Is your website busted?
How pre-sold are your enquiries when they land in your inbox? Are they sending you really motivated messages, full of personal info? Are they clearly excited about your services? Or are they lukewarm, one-liners, maybe they’re just price shopping or tyre-kicking?
Let’s dig in…
How strong is your branding? Is is clearly aimed at your ideal client? Will they instantly understand what kind of business you are? Does it feel like you’re built just for them?
How clear is your messaging? Is it clear what you do, who you do it for and why you’re the best at it? Does your website draw them in and have them racing for the contact form?
Is your offer irresistible? Are you solving exactly the problem that’s keeping them awake at night? Does it feel like your offer is custom-made for them?
Basically, are people excited about contacting you? And more importantly, are they eagerly checking their emails for a reply?
If you’re a commodity, something to be ticked off a list or a number to be shoved into a spreadsheet, then when you don’t meet their criteria, they’ll likely just discard your email…because they never really felt connected to you. If they can’t wait to hear back from you, even if you’re mega out of their budget, they’re much more likely to reply.
4. Be consistent
OK, so, back in the day, I wrote really formally. I’ve always loved writing and grammar was a big deal for me, I liked putting in long words for the sake of it and writing emails that were little masterpieces.
And then I realised what I do is not formal at all, what I do is about creating real, human connection. I would rock up to a meeting in jeans and have a casual chat, where I over-shared about my personal life, G&T in hand. The girl who turned up at meetings was not the same girl writing the personality-less emails.
Time for a change.
Does your response to your enquiries:
- Match the tone of your marketing – your website, your social media posts, etc.
- Match the way you talk to your clients in person/on the phone
- Fit the industry you work in
- Set the scene for the type of relationship you want with your clients
5. Follow up
To follow up or not to follow up?
Personally, I’ve tried it both ways – are you following up or desperately chasing? Are you making offers to discount because you’re freaking out? Does your follow up add value?
This might be controversial…I tend not to follow up. But, I’m in a position where so many of my enquiries convert that it’s not necessary (I’m genuinely not agonising over their lack of response, so a follow up isn’t on my radar).
The exception is if some new information that’s useful for them comes up – for example, I would often do this as a photographer if I had just worked at their venue or published a blog relevant to their plans – then I’d be following up with added value.
My general feeling about following up though is that I hate being chased…while I’m a bit more likely to respond and say, “thanks but no thanks,” it never pushes me to make a decision in their favour. In fact, it often makes me wonder why they’re so desperate for my business.
Ask yourself…”if I had more than enough clients, would I be following up?” if the answer is still yes, go forth, add value. If the answer is no and you’re only doing it because panic has set in, I would avoid it.
Saving pricing until the end because I know you’re all thinking, “argh, I’m too expensive,” when you don’t hear back from people. Before you send another, “oh actually, I can work with your budget,” email to chase people up, step away from the keyboard.
Is it price? Sure, maybe.
Are your prices on your website? Now, to be honest, I can go either way with this – over the 8 years I’ve run my photography business I’ve tried both, having specific prices online, having no price at all, having a “starting from…”, having an average spend.
What have I learned? I’m going to write a blog post about just this actually because it’s something I get asked so much. But, honestly, it’s not made much difference to my overall number of bookings.
What I would say is that with no pricing on your website you’ll get more enquiries, they might even seem excited about you, but, they may be well out of your price range – I’ve had enquiries where the couple had budgeted half what I charge, which is a big void to try to bridge.
There are also likely times where you charge less than people anticipated, they’ll want to get the absolute best and assume you’re not the best if you’re way under budget.
For me, as my admin load grew and grew, I chose to include an average spend on my website. Why? Because I didn’t want to deal with enquiries from people not in a position to buy from me. This will also be helpful if the ghosting is getting you down – if you’re bummed out hearing “you’re out of budget,” or hearing nothing at all, having an indication of pricing on your website may well help cut out a lot of enquiries that were never your people.
7. Think fast
I’m going to preface this by saying – as small business owners, we put way too much pressure on ourselves. This kind of advice is what leads to us obsessively checking our emails in the evenings and weekends and dropping whatever we’re doing because we’ve been told that millenials love a fast response.
That said, of course, you should be aiming to respond as quickly as possible.
If your enquiries are getting lost in the jumble of emails, think about setting up a rule that files them away somewhere visible, or list your contact form emails as VIP so you get immediate alerts for them.
If admin is just so abhorrent to you, think about getting a VA to deal with the initial enquiry phase.
If you’re frequently out of the office, or like to respond to emails in blocks, set up an atuo-responder that lets people know when you’ll be in touch.
8. Integrity – are you a ghoster?
Real talk, do you ghost people? Do you send out a load of messages and then only reply to the ones you’re interested in? If someone is out of your price range do you leave their email languishing in your inbox unanswered?
There is no science to this at all, but, be the change you want to see. Stop ghosting people, start sending quick, “no thanks,” responses. We can’t control other peoples behaviour, but we can reflect on ours. If we find rejecting someone too awkward to bear, it’s no wonder our tribe do the same. Be upfront and hopefully others will follow suit.
9. Get more enquiries
OK, strictly speaking this isn’t going to stop people from ghosting you, but, it’ll make it sting a whole lot less if they do.
Get more eyes on your business with killer SEO, get your messaging and branding down so they can’t wait to contact you once they see it.
I’m not going to say that business is a numbers game…because I think you should be putting off more people than you attract, but, more enquiries, from ideal clients is going to mean you have a higher number of conversions…and that means you’ll hardly even register the ghosting.
Bonus, when you get more enquiries, you’ll come off way less desperate and likely close more of them anyway.
It’s unlikely we’re going to change the world and stop ghosting altogether, but we can definitely stop being the ghostee quite so often.
Start by getting more eyes onto your website with amazing SEO, then have a website that gets them so excited they’re eagerly awaiting your response. When that response lands, it’s going to be full of personality and perfectly in line with all your other marketing, so they’ll feel even more of a connection to you.
And most importantly, don’t freak out…don’t start thinking the world is ending and you need to half your prices, don’t start pestering them every hour they haven’t responded and don’t be obsessed with whether or not they’ll reply. Just be normal, be decent to other people by not ghosting them and give value in your interactions with potential clients.
Let’s start converting more leads
Are you ready to start getting bombarded with leads? Are you ready to convert more of them? Are you keeping everything crossed that your next lead is from your absolute ideal client but you know it’s not all that likely?
Why not sign up for my SEO Power Hour? It’s only £99 and it’ll be the best hour you spend on business growth all year. We’ll dig into the quick wins, the current issues and an action plan to get you to page 1 of Google, get the eyes of your dream clients right on your website, ready to buy…so that by the time your email lands in their inbox they’ll be handing over the cash, not sending you straight to the trash folder.