Everything you’ve done so far in this course was aimed at generating quality leads who you can then turn into paying clients.
By quality leads, I’m referring to your ideal clients—people who naturally resonate with who you are, why you do what you do, and who love the experience they’ll get from working with you.
To encourage these people to make themselves known to you, they’re offered something of interest in exchange for their email address—your lead magnet.
But the lead magnet isn’t just a piece of content created purely to be used as “bait”.
You crafted your lead magnet specifically to attract your ideal clients by providing valuable information they can use to make a more informed decision about who to hire as their photographer.
It’s also designed to accentuate their growing trust in you.
Your website has signup forms where they can opt-in to your email list to have your lead magnet sent to them.
And, once they sign up, your welcome email automatically sends them a link to where they can download the lead magnet from your website.
All good so far, right?
As you already know, the one single purpose of your lead magnet is to generate interest and (more importantly) to inspire action.
Not Everyone Is An Action-Taker
Yes, you will no doubt see people sign up for your lead magnet, and it’s great to watch your email list grow.
However, the hard truth is that your lead magnet probably won’t get them to take the action you want them to all by itself.
Is this because your lead magnet is ineffective, or not good enough?
No, not at all.
In fact, a small percentage of your new subscribers will be swayed by your lead magnet alone, and then go on to become a client, which is great.
But this will account for only a tiny fraction of the people who join your email list.
It’s important not to let this fact get you down—every marketer I know, including myself, faces this same exact challenge.
The issue is simple.
Not everyone will be an action-taker.
The Four Stages Of The Client’s Journey
One fact easily overlooked by many photographers trying to get clients, especially those new to the business, is that people don’t wake up in a morning and instantly decide to hire a photographer.
It’s important to remember that most of your new leads (email subscribers) have just seen your photography for the first time.
Although they might be looking for a photographer, they’re still what we call “cold traffic”. They have no real idea of who you are, or a deep appreciation for the hundreds of unique qualities about you that we’ve already talked about in this course.
When someone does decide to hire you, it’s usually not because of a spontaneous or impulsive decision.
What it does mean is that they’ve reached the fourth stage in their client journey, one that started when the idea first occurred to them, and then went through at least 3 distinct phases.
Therefore, when you see photographers with a basic website and no lead generation system, they tend to have the “zero-clients” problem.
But, even with a lead generation system in place, you can end up in the same situation if you fail to understand your client’s journey.
There are four important stages to this process.
I’ve named each stage based on their behavior or intent:
- First-time visitors…
- Familiar lookers…
- Excited prospects…
Stage 1: First-Time Visitors
First-time visitors have never seen you or your work before and they make up most of your website visitors.
If you look at your website analytics, you’ll notice that most of your traffic is categorized as “new visits”.
With that in mind, when was the first time you made a purchase from a website you’d never seen before?
Think about some of the things that went through your mind. For example, who runs the site, are they trustworthy, who else has bought from them, are there any testimonials or reviews? Can I get this elsewhere?
These questions go through your prospect’s head while she’s trying to evaluate the photography and decide whether she likes it enough to take the next step.
She may sign up to get your lead magnet at this stage but, with few exceptions, she won’t hire you—even after receiving your welcome email.
In other words, she knows she needs a photographer at some point soon, but she’s not yet ready to decide.
Not only might she not be ready from a decision-making viewpoint, the timing may not be right for her, either.
You therefore need something to keep her interested until the time is right.
Stage 2: Familiar Lookers
In contrast to new visitors, “familiar lookers” are your returning visits; people who’ve seen your work before, hopefully recently.
They’re familiar with what you do and the layout of your website, so they have a better feel of whether your work might be right for them.
However, she may not trust you enough yet to feel comfortable about talking to you in person.
Worse still, people are highly susceptible to distractions, both on your website and from elsewhere.
The chances of her taking the next step on the road to becoming a client depends on how well your lead magnet captures her attention, keeps her interest, and inspires her to connect emotionally with you and your work.
Even the best lead magnet in the world can’t always manage that.
But here’s the thing.
Your potential clients can spend a long time in this stage—anywhere from days to weeks, or even months.
The question is, what will you do in the meantime to keep you on her radar?
Stage 3: Shoppers
This is the stage where things get more interesting because your potential client is more serious about deciding who to hire.
But she’s not quite there yet.
If she still remembers who you are, a client in the shopping stage may return to your website with the intent of finding out more information, especially anything that can help her justify the decision to hire you in her own mind.
The key phrase here is, “…if she still remembers you…”
Stage 4: Excited Prospects
The final stage is where your lead decides to take the next step.
She picks up the phone to get in touch with you to talk in person about the possibility of working with you.
At this point, your lead generation system has completed its goal, and your booking and sales system takes over to turn them into a paying client.
Why You Need Follow-Up Emails
As you can see by now, something else is needed to keep your prospects moving through those all-important first 3 stages of the client journey.
You can’t simply send her the lead magnet and then sit back and wait for her to take the next step.
In fact, most of the people who ask for your lead magnet simply won’t read it.
Many of them won’t download it in the first place, and the ones who do will squirrel it away in some dark corner of their hard drive, never to touch it again.
Therefore, how can your leads fully understand the benefits of working with you, or learn the information you share with them, if they don’t actually read your lead magnet?
The answer, of course, is a well-planned out sequence of follow-up emails.
As you saw from the four stages of the client journey, you can’t rely on her to remember who you are when the time is right because significant time may have passed since she first received your lead magnet.
But, if you communicate with her in a way that builds on the relationship you started when she asked for your lead magnet, you have a much higher chance of being on her mind when she does need to decide.
As you can probably guess, most photographers (even those who have an email list) have no clearly-defined follow-up email sequence.
This often leads to the “random newsletter” problem where the photographer sends out a newsletter sporadically, eventually running out of ideas.
Or it ends up in the “sales-only” email problem where the only time an email is sent out is when the photographer has a special promotion happening of some kind.
Or, in most cases, we end up with no communication at all.
In all those cases, when the prospect reaches the point where she’s ready to hire someone, it’s back to square one for the photographer because the relationship has gone cold.
Hence the need for an effective follow-up email sequence.
But, this can’t be a random collection of emails or a set of sales letters.
Instead, you must have a plan, which is the topic of our next lesson…