As a business mentor who also has a busy family and two successful businesses, I often get asked where I find the time to get it done. My answer is always the same, work smart, not hard. Recently I was surprised to learn how many of my photography colleagues aren’t using the tools built-in to their email service to streamline the influx of emails. So today, I am sharing how I use canned responses with a twist to save time when responding to email inquiries for everything from pricing, availability, to what to wear for a session.
First, let me preface these instructions by saying that I use Gmail for all of my email needs, so these directions are specifically for that interface. However, I know that outlook and yahoo mail have similar functions if you are a Microsoft or Ymail user.
So, you’re probably asking, “why canned responses? Won’t they sound… canned?” the answer to this is, not if you personalize them. I used canned responses as a template for my emails. The truth is, I pretty much say the same thing for every wedding inquiry, so instead of typing that each time I get an email, I use a canned response, personalize it for that specific injury and hit send. Canned responses, or auto signatures aren’t meant to replace you, just help you move through your email tasks quickly by doing the repetitive work for you.
Step 1: Start by opening your inbox (we’ll talk about how to use folders to stay organized another time)
Step 2: Access your email settings and click on settings
Step 3: From the settings menu click on labs (there is TONS of fun here, lots for a future post, for now, just click Labs
Step 4: Look for the Canned Responses app under Enable Labs. Click Enable to turn on the magic.
Step 5: Click on Compose so you can develop your canned responses. Type your canned responses just like you want them to appear in your reply. I start with Hi XXX, (where XXX always indicated an area that needs to be personalized)
Step 6: Once you done with your first response, click on the arrow next to the trashcan in the bottom menu of your message and click on Canned Responses then click on New Canned Response. A window will open for you to name the response you have just made. To save it, click OK
I have responses for Wedding Inquires, Wedding Inquiries I’m not available for but want to refer to a friend, Pricing Inquiries, What to Wear (with links to my what to wear blog posts and Pinterest board), and more. You can make as many responses as you need, and you only have to start at the previous step to add more.
Step 7: Using your Responses | Now that you have your most frequently used replies saved as canned responses, it’s very easy to use them. When you are ready to reply to an email using one of your responses, just click reply as usual and click on the magical ‘lil arrow next to the trash can again and select Canned Responses again. A list of your saved responses will come up and just pick the one you want to insert under the insert list. Don’t forget to personalize any blank fields.
Viola! you have just streamlined your email workflow and gained some precious time back!! Don’t just sit there, go get a latte to celebrate! You’ve got time!!