I spend a lot of time talking to my coaching clients, and friends in the industry, about email templates. What they are and what they are not. Especially because I absolutely love them and they really save my sanity during the busiest parts of the wedding year! And I recently wrote an article for the WeddingWire EDU Pro Blog entitled, “Why Email Templates Are Awesome” – so you can read lots more of my thoughts there.
But as I prep my talking points for my presentation at Wedding MBA, and as I share in there the thoughts of many of the couples I surveyed as I created that presentation, I keep coming back to this important topic. Plus, as I’m in the midst of switching business management systems for my officiant business, I’m also in the middle of editing all of my templates as I move them over.
So, I thought it was essential to make clear what templates are and aren’t, and how they do not equal automated emails.
Templates DO save you a crazy amount of time by preparing content that you send regularly or often. And they DO usually save you on errors or omissions by having everything you might want to say ready to be used. They are NOT something that you should just “hit send” on, without editing or personalizing to fit that couple, that wedding, that situation, etc. And they do NOT have to be used exactly as is to still be useful as a template. The only automated email in my entire process is an invoice reminder, and receipts once they’ve paid, of course. Everything else coming from me goes out intentionally and with thought.
Let me give you three examples of where my email templates save me both time and potential issues:
Inquiries: We know that responding to incoming inquiries or leads quickly is very important (heck, according to that survey I’ll be sharing from, some folks aren’t even responding to couples at all!). I am not of the belief that you need to be the very first to respond in order to get that booking, but it sure helps to be first or somewhat quickly, as you’re on their mind when they are inquiring, no? Couples definitely expect you to respond within 24 hours. Well, having templates ready with both the answers to the questions couples typically ask when they inquire (such as: are you available, how much will it cost, what are your services/offerings/packages), and the information that I always want to share (including: please read my reviews, here – as I know my reviews often sell me – and here are the next steps), lets me answer quickly, accurately (with less chance of spelling errors too, as I’m not creating it all fresh in that very moment), and with attention on personalizing it vs creating it. What do I mean by that? I personalize my email to include anything they’ve told me already in their inquiry. I comment on their venue, on however they said they found me, especially if it came from a fellow wedding pro, and anything they put in the comment area about what they want. They want to feel heard and feel like they will matter to you when working together – and starting with a template, which already has the key points covered, lets me add the specific personalization for them and their wedding before still sending it quite quickly. First impressions matter!
Final Reminders: This is a huge time saver and problem avoider for me. About two weeks before the wedding, I send a “final reminders” email to my couples, with all sorts of key information that I either want to confirm (like start time or who they’ve chosen are their witnesses), or want to convey (like what time I’ll be there based on that start time or bring your marriage license to the wedding!!), or want prepped (like any ceremony ritual items they need to bring and have set up). And there is no doubt that this email template has gotten longer over the years as things it never would have occurred to me to have to include clearly did need to be. I mean, really, who doesn’t think to bring their marriage license to their wedding? About a dozen of my past couples have had to send someone home or the hotel to get it… Who doesn’t tell the officiant that they moved their ceremony start time? Way too many for comfort. So, I created that template to include any possible information I could want to tell a couple, and then I remove everything not relevant to that particular couple, personalizing and editing it for their wedding. But it’s much easier to remove info and edit info than it is to create from scratch. So, I have prep and set-up info for all of the different rituals they might have chosen, and then delete out everything other than what their ceremony includes, plus different intros based on whether they have a wedding planner or not, etc.
Assignments: This is also a huge time saver for me, and ensures I send everything I need to. All of my couples do the same two assignments for me. The results of those are what makes their ceremony different and allows me to make the ceremony theirs. But they all start with the same homework. So, those homework emails are all prepped and ready to be sent when their wedding hits that point in their customer journey, and then edited based on anything we already talked about in their initial meeting with me or in previous emails.
Having these email templates, and more, all prepped and ready allows me to spend my time and effort on the things that my couples really hire me for – crafting and delivering a customized ceremony that properly celebrates what they share – and less on the things that are just needed to run a professional and smooth business. And P.S. The latter is noticed and ultimately valued by my couples too, even if that wasn’t why they picked me initially.
If I can help you to create or edit or streamline your email templates, or any other part of your customer experience, let me know!