Random Email Inquiries
First post here...
Anyway, as web designers or SEOers or whatever you do, you probably get a few or lots of emails inquiring about work, services, pricing. For me the amount that actually turn into paying customers is pretty darn low. A lot of these emails are only a couple sentences long and for all I know it is just another design firm checking my prices or someone just browsing but not ready to buy.
So what do you guys do with emails that come in? I suppose if your a web only business you take them more seriously but most my work is local, word of mouth stuff, but I am really trying to branch out more. So if you have some advice on converting these inquiries into something more...
I'm torn between spending some time trying to make a sales pitch to these people, or just throw out a quick response, or should I ask to speak to them over the phone, have them fill out a questionnaire, or just have some generic template email I have prepared.
What do you guys do when you get inquiries about work? Do you only really bother with the ones that look legitimate or do you really try to make a sale with all of them. I don't have an assistant to deal with email so my time is somewhat limited.
Personally, I'm a horrible salesmen, which sadly is 90% of this business. Plenty of ****** designers have more work than they can handle because they are good with people and can make a sale. But I'm trying to get better and could use your advice if you have any.
Oh yah. Also, how do you guys handle replies if you don't hear back from the person. Do you have an autoresponce type email you send out after a week, or do something else?
I recommend replying to every inquiry. Like you say, some may be fake, but surely many are legit. In your initial reply you could ask them for more information about their project, this would allow you to not only get an understanding of all their needs, opening a dialog is also a way to determine how serious the inquiry is. I would avoid just replying with a generic template, a personal reply is much more likely to convert into a sale. Definitely do follow up with each prospect, it shows that earning their business is important to you.
Yah I don't ignore any of them. Just trying to get some pointers and see if anyone does anything unique to win the client over. Seems like some sort of special email template or discount, or some perk might be a good idea. Or maybe send a PDF or a link to a special page highlighting some of the services they're after.
I don't know just trying to get some discussion going.
If more than a generic inquiry then I will answer the question(s), but I will not discuss pricing in email unless it is someone I already trust. For generic inquiries I have a boiler-plate email template I've set up and have a folder that when I move into a specific email folder I wrote a little script that will automatically parse all messages in that folder, apply the template with the users name that directs them to my website, services pages, and a opt-in email page with a welcoming message that thanks them for their interest. In this way I don't need to spend any time fielding the same generic questions over and over and I concentrate my efforts on the hotter leads.
If your wondering, I use the swiftmailer library (swiftmailer.org) to parse the emails and to send them stuttered so that I don't get into being labelled a spammer problems. I also include their message in the reply so they know that this was not unsolicited. The only time this is not the case is where someone has sent a spoofed email but I have a number of inline hardware devices that boots most of these.
You need to market yourself. Make sure that you have a link to good examples of your work that you are proud to show. Ensure you have a three to four sentence block of text that highlights your strengths and why they should use you; one should address remote customers and why it will work to do business with you. Also make sure you have your desired contact information and given that people may not be local provide a 800 or 888 toll free number or a skype handle so they can contact you without costing them anything.
Hope this little bit helps :)
What ServerStorm is a smart approach and the way to follow. If they do choose to opt-in, then every 2-3 months, they will receive a nice little reminder saying that "I exist".
This could be a little note about a recent success in one of your jobs but I normally don't like direct promotion so it is normally a few paragraphs about good practices... so they know that I know my stuff and they are educated enough not to ask me "spam these 200,000 people" :p
I only discuss pricing when they're serious about it.
a personal reply is much more likely to convert into a sale. Definitely do follow up with each prospect, it shows that earning their business is important to you.