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Case Study | Jan 15
Jessica Malnik on December 19, 2019 (last modified on July 19, 2020) • 40 minute read
Sending follow-up emails can be uncomfortable.
Many don’t send them at all. That’s a mistake.
The follow-up can also be abused and come across as spammy and inauthentic.
However, while leads and prospects never owe you a response, there are some techniques that can stack the odds in your favor without coming across as entitled, rude, annoying, or spammy.
Whether you are following up with a sales prospect, a current customer, a journalist, or someone else, we reached out to 98 people to share their favorite tips for following up, including:
Before we dive into the tips, there’s a lot of debate on and offline about how often you should follow up with someone before you give up.
Some people think you should only send one follow-up email, and others believe in sending as many as needed to get a response.
According to our research and the people we surveyed, the general consensus we found was three follow-up emails.
James Meincke of CloserIQ encourages people to get clear on the purpose of your follow-up email.
“Whatever your specific purpose is, you need to keep it in the forefront of your mind while you write the email,” says Meincke. ”Your email is a persuasive piece of writing designed to elicit an action. Depending on the situation, you may even want to ask the prospect outright to perform the action.”
Maksym Babych of SpdLoad adds it is all about who you are following up with and the desired goal of the follow-up.
Babych shares three examples.
While copying and pasting copy from a template can save you time, many people mentioned this approach doesn’t work.
Doug Stewart of Appleton Creative says, “Be personal! Do not use a script. Do not use filler language. Do not be stale!”
Stewart adds, “Make sure your message is crafted to meet the needs of the individual on the other end. If you want to engage with humans, speak to them like you are one, too. Don’t be a robot and focus on communicating a custom-crafted message.”
“Seriously, anyone can spot that your email is a template nowadays,” adds Adam Hempenstall of Better Proposals. “Just pick up on a detail from the last time you talked with the lead. Mention the meeting you had, what you discussed, the date you talked, etc. Be specific enough so they can see it’s not a canned template.”
Alexander Porter of Search It Local says, “In my role, I’ve found follow up emails can actually have higher open rates than introductory emails. I find this to be due to ‘template blindness.’
Porter continued, “I’ve found people often dismiss these introductory emails, no matter how well written they are. If that’s the case for you, don’t be discouraged. Your job is to send then a follow up that shows your lead just how authentic you are. Take this chance to poke fun at yourself. Add some character. And personalize your email by referencing work from the lead you’re trying to develop a relationship with. Don’t do this in passing. People can smell faux pleasantries a digital mile away. Take the time to really read a blog post or research a lead. And comment on their contribution in earnest.
Hugh Beaulac of MC2 says, “Before writing a follow-up, walk a mile in the recipient’s shoes – just think about the reasons why the person hasn’t replied to your email. Once you show the recipient that you know how swamped with the work he or she is, you make it easier to build a personal connection and therefore encourage the person to reply to your email.”
Eric Anderson of QuotesAdvisor adds, Ask yourself questions like “How are they feeling? What is the purpose of my following up? Are they having a good experience?” That way, you’ll be crafting a follow-up campaign for customers and not for you!”
One of the most effective ways to practice empathy and generate more responses is to add personal touches to each email you send.
“Reference the context to your previous conversation,” Evan Donahue of JMJ Phillip says. “Citing something personal in your email from your past conversation can be a very powerful tactic in getting someone to respond. The only way to ensure this is to make sure you’re building a strong rapport with your contact during your first call.”
Dmitry Chervonyi of Belkins adds, “Great follow-up is about personalization. You must analyze each prospect’s business and find the way how you can help them.”
“Make it personal, write copy that connects back to the previous email(s),” says Tim Watson of Zettasphere. “Further build trust, remove anxiety to action, and add urgency.”
Hardik Gohil of Simform likes to personalize the subject line, “When it comes to a follow-up email, personalization is the key. Hence, I’d suggest focusing on personalized subject lines to boost the response rate.”
Brittany Hardy of Empty Desk Solutions says, “When writing a follow-up email, we believe it’s super important to make sure that the recipient feels that their time has been and will continue to be valued. Too often, we see bulk-type follow-up emails where it’s obvious that the sender didn’t take any time themselves to learn about what the conversation has been about to date, and that the message wasn’t personalized much. The other key factor is to give something of value (for free if you can!) so that you aren’t always asking for a sale. If you don’t create the relationship, then you won’t be able to ask for the sale anyways, simple.”
Karoline Kujawa of ClearPivot adds, “Include personalized tokens in the body of the email and in the subject line. If it’s informal, use emojis. Try not to have full paragraphs and try to break the text up into singular lines, so it’s not one block of huge text that might be boring to read.”
Lisamarie Monaco of InsuranceForBurial adds, “Be sure to include your client’s needs and wants along with a photo of you, your contact information and a brief bio of you or your company. Make your client feel special, personalize it with their name. Make it unique, and perhaps depending on the nature of your business, add a little humor.”
“The follow up is an opportunity to shine with a little more sprinkled onto the meeting (or call),” says Stephanie Johnson of The Skyline Agency. “End it with being sure to concretely state your goals, such as wanting another meeting and asking their schedule to follow up. You want to build a relationship, not just close one pitch.”
Uku Tomikas of Messente Communications says, “The worst follow-ups are the ones that try to take the initial approach and expand on it massively or just repeat what was said before.”
Tomikas adds, “The first follow-up should be short and sweet, along the lines of “Did you get my last email?” and if you wish to add value, do it on the second and third follow-ups, but make sure you do your research and understand what would really interest the lead or create actual value for them. There is nothing worse than just spamming potential customers with random ebooks. You think someone might like it because you like it. Do the research, deliver a clear message, and make sure you make it personal.”
“Take steps to personalize every email you send,” says Meincke. “Start off by addressing the recipient by name—a simple step, but one that too many sales representatives don’t take. Remind them who you are, where you met, and of any previous conversations, you’ve had. Be specific. Instead of saying that you talked “last week,” say “Thursday afternoon.” Your CRM will be helpful in helping you to recall these details.
To show prospects that it isn’t just a copy-and-paste email, reference specific issues pertinent to what they’ve said. Answer any questions that came up during the conversation thoroughly, and offer to provide further assistance.”
Editor’s Note: Check out our Hubspot CRM dashboard template to get a high-level overview of your sales pipeline as well as insights into the last interaction with each lead.
Omar Fonseca of Medicare Plan Finder says, “Most consumers will not even open emails from unknown people/companies unless it is somehow personalized to them (name, content, images, offers, etc). Especially if your first emails are cold in nature, you will want to ensure you are personalizing all follow-ups to increase the likelihood of receiving a response. In order to know who you are talking to, you must do research on LinkedIn or the company website to find out more information about who it is you are reaching out to. Connect the dots and personalize the content of the email for the person receiving it. You want your follow-up email and value alignment to match in a way that makes the consumer the focal point of your story. Focus on why you would make a good partner to help the consumer and how you can be the solution to their needs!”
Whitney Blankenship of Omnisend encourages people to, ”remember that the person on the other side is a human being and play to that. If you can create a personalized, human connection, you’ll increase the chance that they’ll respond.”
Blakenship adds, “Be creative. People are fielding a ton of emails in their inboxes. Stand out by saying something they aren’t expecting (within reason). If it works with your brand, go for humor. Those are the emails I tend to respond to because they show thought.”
Bernard May of National Positions adds, “Make sure that you are using first names and referencing prospect-specific subjects such as their company name or touchpoints related to your previous conversations. Make sure to close with an action point or call-to-action like proposing a meeting time or asking a question. If you don’t propose any kind of specific action, the likelihood of the follow-up going nowhere will skyrocket.”
Rachita Sharma of Girl Power Talk focuses on customizing the first paragraph.
“Consider mentioning specific points about the person or their company that you seek to learn more about,” says Sharma. “You may also benefit from including helpful points on your background, such as educational articles, interviews, or videos.”
Andrea Moxham of Horseshoe + Co. says, “Use video! It doesn’t get much more personal than sending a video in your follow-up email. It doesn’t need to be perfectly edited or filmed in a studio. In fact, your lead will appreciate the realness of your video if it’s filmed with your smartphone while you’re out walking your dog (for example). It shows that you care about connecting with him/her, and it’s not just a routine task where you sat down to follow up with all your leads that have gone dark.”
People will decide whether or not to open your email based on the from name, subject line, and preview text. If you are sending a cold email, this means that your subject line has to do twice the work if you want someone to open it.
Todd Friedman of The Kiraly Group likes to say, “The email subject line and first 2 sentences must be stronger than garlic!”
Friedman adds, “You must grab attention! So any kind of statement that will arouse curiosity. A great example of this; when we were selling a B2B lead generation/ follow up automation system, the email subject line read, “24/7 sales team that never asks for vacation.” Another example for a subject line is put the prospect’s name in, but have it as a statement, leave the questions for the main body of the email.”
Lee Savery of Ricemedia adds, “Sum up your reason for contacting them again and create a sense of urgency too by using words such as quick or tomorrow.”
Holly Zink of The Powerline Group encourages people to write the full email first.
“When constructing a follow-up email, write your email body prior to writing your subject line,” says Zink. “You may write your email and realize you including in it more than you initially thought. Then, you can pull inspiration from your email to create an eye-catching subject line.”
Bethany Spence of Exposure Ninja says, “Follow-up in the same thread. This is an obvious yet crucial step when writing a follow-up email. If you follow up in the original thread, the email will arrive flagged as important (especially if the person has responded to you before).”
Diana Bolboaca of Bannersnack adds, “Make sure to always include the previous emails in the follow-ups, so the receiver has all the essential information below. By doing this, you’ll manage to keep the follow-up copy short and concise, and you wouldn’t have to replicate the same message in a slightly different 400-word text.”
Daniela Andreevska of Mashvisor agrees, “It’s best to keep you follow-up emails short, always with a copy of the original email (as well as any previous follow-up emails) available at the end. There is no need to waste the time of your leads by repeating the exact same information that you already included in your original email. Just refer to why you are contacting them again and prompt them to get back to you.”
“Always respond to the initial email, so the recipient knows what email you’re referring to,” says Stuart Leung of Breazy. “Since the email is included, it’s important to address that you wanted to check back in and ask if they have any questions regarding your previous email.”
This was the number one tip from all of the people we reached out to.
Cierra Flythe of BoardActive says, “Overly lengthy or generic follow-ups have the same effect as a brick wall for communication. Personalize the email content and cut to the chase. Provide a quick review of the initial meeting results. Give them a direct line to what happens next, and include the hows and whys of how that directly affects them.”
Mandy Menaker of ClassPass adds, “Follow-up emails should be quick and to the point. Use your first follow-up email to help bump your original message to the top of the recipient’s inbox. In your second follow-up email, reframe the original question, and include new data or a fresh perspective to help reinforce the value proposition of what you’re asking. Think of each email as a fresh way to share the benefit of working together.”
“For my first round of follow-ups, I like to keep it light,” Haley Anhut of Clean Origin says. “Imagine all of the times you’ve opened an email and forgot to respond. There’s a chance that the person just needs a gentle reminder to reply. I usually just drop a note along the lines of “just wanted to get this to the top of your inbox!” and include a reminder of what exactly your goal with that individual is. Maybe “Let me know if you’re interested in chatting” or “I’d love to jump on a call to talk about a partnership.”
Tung Dao of Mageplaza adds, “All the heavy lifting has to be done in the first email already, a follow up is just a reminder, nothing more.”
Ryan Boutin of Zeal Media Inc says, “I try and keep emails short, but refer to the original email without being too pushy. I always try to use a CTA to garner a response. Because I don’t want to annoy or interrupt business owners, I typically prefer email over other methods as it allows them to reply as they have time. My cold emails always provide value. No one is opening an email from a stranger unless there’s something in it for them.”
Alex Ratynski of Ratynski Digital says, “Clearly, state your purpose for emailing them and don’t wait numerous days to follow up after a meeting, call or interview.”
Jessica Ruane of Beekeeper adds, “People are extremely busy these days, so they don’t have time to read through a lot of fluff. Therefore, I think it’s important to be direct. Simply ask if they’ve had a chance to read the previous email, and if they require any additional information. See it as a quick “poke” that will serve as a reminder, but won’t take them away from their busy day for long.
“Keep it short, to the point, sprinkle in a little content and collateral if it is relevant, and remember that there is a line between making sure you’re staying top of the prospect’s mind and over-sending, and it’s important not to cross it,” adds Joe Brannen of SmartBug Media.
In fact, Stan Tan of Selby’s likes to keep his follow-up emails under three sentences.
“Make it short and straight to the point,” Tan says. “You don’t need to ask about the weather or ask about their day. Just remind them of what you are following out about.”
Alice Bedward of Flyparks adds, “Focus on the goal of the message – whether you’re asking for someone’s time, a favor, or posing a question. Just make sure you get straight to the point by explaining why you are emailing, providing context, and emphasizing the call to action.”
Bedward continues, “Ensure that your follow-up is direct and clear, and your recipient will appreciate that you respect their time.”
“Cozy up to brevity and edit ruthlessly,” adds Porter. “Focus on ‘you’ language, and refrain from talking about yourself everywhere possible.”
Apostolis Lianos of ContactPigeon says, “I’ve seen casual approach converting best vs. a more formal tone. So, try combining this with a short (above the fold) email pitching, and you will get the desired results.”
Alex Cleanthous of Web Profits adds, “In general, we always try to write an email like we’re emailing a friend by keeping it conversational. We also find that referencing their competitors (in any way) always gets the best response or talking about some of the successes/experiences you’ve achieved since your last email. But the most important thing is to make sure that your outreach strategy is right, because no amount of follow up is going to work if your targeting is not right, or the message is not what they want to hear about.”
“I try to keep my emails in a conversational tone,” Travis Price, a licensed insurance agent, says. “I work with seniors that get thousands of calls and pieces of mail per year. So maintaining a relationship by remembering topics you’ve previously talked to them that are important is paramount.”
Jamie-Lee Kay of The Other Straw says, “Open with relevance. Each day, the average office worker receives 121 emails. If there’s no context or relevance in the email, why would they open it or even reply to it? It’s important to include a personal context, some common interest or connection.”
“Highlight the usefulness of your service/product in a way that’s tailored to the unique individual,” says Leslie Kiel of Effortless Insurance. “If the recipient knows you considered them specifically and their specific wants and needs, they’ll feel taken care of.”
Daniel Benyo of ROI Foundry adds, “Follow-ups usually work great because the context is already established in some way with the lead, even if this only means that the saw your previous email in their inbox but haven’t got to opening it yet. Value this context and build on it, so you can really find that sale in the follow-up.”
“Instead of following up because you want an answer, follow up from a position of help and support,” says Lizzie Dunn of Fundera. “Ask contacts if there’s anything you can do for them on your end, and encourage them to reach out if they have any questions, needs, or other concerns.”
In fact, this can be as simple as summarizing any previous discussions.
Tandee Salter of Tandee Salter Unlimited, LLC adds, “When writing follow-up emails summarize the discussion and ask if your prospect has any additional questions they would like to ask. Also, be sure to include any proposals or other information that was asked for during the call.”
One of the best ways to make sure your email is helpful and relevant is to focus on the main benefits for them, not YOU.
David Zeff of Exceed.ai says, “Make sure that it is relevant to the subject matter last discussed, has some grounding in the reason for why you are contacting the person now and suggests a benefit of them responding to you.”
Nikola Roza of Nikola Roza SEO Writing adds, “Reiterate the benefits for them if they do what you propose within the body of your email.”
Another way to be helpful is to provide a quick win in the first few lines of your follow-up email.
Courtney Van Dyne of Laire Group says, “Make your point and make it valuable! In other words, your follow-up emails should be easy to unpack and helpful to the reader. If you find yourself in the middle of a lengthy follow-up email, stop. Don’t let your key deliverables get lost in a sea of paragraphs. Address one known critical issue and provide a resource that will lead to the solution. Make your follow-up short, sweet, and easy for your reader to take action on. Chances are, once you’ve helped them solve one key issue, they’ll begin to trust your solutions and rely on you for more.”
This is almost too obvious to include, but it is easy to overlook.
“Remind the person right away why you are following up with them, but the key is to focus on what is important to them,” says Bill Ferris of Decor Interiors. “Go above and beyond to include information that is helpful to them, even if it means providing resources or references that potentially take them to other businesses. Authenticity and a good reputation are critical to long term success, whether you’re an online business or brick-and-mortar. Whether your objective is a sale, information, or a favor, people are more apt to respond when they see that you’re not just about yourself.”
Zack Gallinger of Talent Hero Media says, “I’ve found that the most effective way of ensuring that people eventually respond to your follow-up emails is to ensure that they know they are coming. When I write my initial email and any follow-up emails, I will let the person know exactly when to expect the next email. I find that setting expectations ensures that people are receptive to hearing from you after your initial email.”
Jarie Bolander of The Daily MBA adds, “Have a natural follow up point in the email like “I’ll follow up in a week or so if I don’t hear from you.” That way, you have permission to follow up, and you also did something you said you would do.”
Andrea Loubier of Mailbird says, “I like to schedule a follow-up email. It can be very short and sweet, asking if any further information is required. Depending on how you’ve set up your email campaign, you can set this to happen automatically, which can ensure that every potential lead is followed up on as efficiently as possible.”
Editor’s Note: If you use Outreach for your follow-up sales emails, check out our dashboard to uncover key insights about your prospecting efforts.
Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers says, “When writing a follow-up email, you don’t want to be too “salesy,” You want to provide insightful and actionable content to your recipients. Give them a few useful tips and always finish with a CTA (Call-to-Action). I recommend your CTA to be a question, so it will entice people to answer your email and start a conversation.”
Ben Arndt of DUNK Basketball adds, “Keep it friendly and brief, without any sales overtones. People dislike being sold to and prefer coming to their own decision as to whether a purchase is beneficial.
Ardnt shares an example of one of his follow-up emails.
“Hey John, Just a quick follow-up to check that you receive our previous email and if we may be able to help you further. Thank you, Ben.”
Phil Forbes of Packhelp says, “Use humor! If you’re emailing another marketer and asking for something, add a little spice and a few laughs.”
Forbes adds that cracking a joke can help your email get noticed in someone’s busy inbox, such as this example:
Did you get the email I sent you the other day? I sent my favorite carrier pigeon Steve at the same time I sent the email; I’m wondering if he’s made it to you as well.’ Let me know if you prefer to do this via smoke signal or morse code.”
Daniel Heuer of Corkscrew Agency agrees.
“Make it funny and/or valuable if you can,” says Heuer. “If they’ve ignored you once, they’re probably busy or not that interested. If you can give them something for free or a discount that always helps, and the humor should make you irresistible to your lead – “I have to work with this guy!”
Corina Burri of Ofri says, “If possible, I try to add some regional context. Like, I’ve seen you are based in “City A,” last year we had XY jobs from your city.”
Andrus Purde of Outfunnel adds, “Start by asking: what’s the one email only YOU can write? What about your background, knowledge, positioning, product, or company is unique enough to be used as content or creative execution of the email?”
Max of ResumeLab says, “When you follow-up with a lead, make sure you’re giving them tangible, extra value—something you didn’t give in the original email. For example, if it’s a guest post, tell the person you’ll promote the piece on your social media, or feature it in your newsletter if they decide to run it. Bottom line: Whatever you do, make sure you provide the lead with tangible, extra value. Otherwise, your follow-up emails will have the same impact as a fly on the windshield.”
Hendrik de Vries of Mingle Media Marketing agrees, “Always provide value (something useful to the person you’re emailing) in every email that is also relevant.”
“The top tip I can give is that you should never send those basic “I just wanted to follow up with you regarding my last email” follow-up emails, adds Marius Kiniulis of MARKINBLOG.com. “Instead, you should give them an offer they couldn’t resist in the follow-up email.”
Maria Henyk of Readdle likes to remind people why she is emailing them.
“Briefly list all the important information in your follow up, so a recipient doesn’t have to go back to your previous message,” says Henyk. “To get a higher response rate, it’s also important to include a clear CTA in your email. Instead of writing “Wondering if you had a chance to look at …”, it’s better to explicitly ask if a person is interested in collaboration, ready to answer a few questions, willing to participate in an event, etc.”
Mary Clare Bland of Bespoke Digital Solutions adds, “I always include a piece of information that answers a question they have or addresses a particular pain point. For example, the last follow-up I wrote was to someone that had a custom made CMS made by a developer in India. He had spent a lot of money on it, but it wasn’t even working properly. He was considering switching to a WordPress site. He also mentioned that he wanted to improve the SEO of the site. In my follow-up, I sent him a chart showing how WordPress dominates Google SERP results.”
Anna O’Toole of Logic Street Scene says, “When sending a follow-up email, timing is important. Ensure you have given them enough time to have responded, but don’t leave it so long that the receiver may have no recognition of the original email.”
O’Toole emphasized. “Another important thing about time is to think about the time of day that you send an email. Often at the start of the week, employees will go through their inbox, so sending first thing on a Monday morning can be a good time to catch their eye. Likewise, sending late at the end of the week, it may get lost and forgotten. Consider times when your inbox is a jumble of unchecked emails, and when you find you spend most time checking them and send follow-ups around that.”
On the other hand, Carmine Mastropierro of Mastro Commerce swears by sending emails in the middle of the week and either before 9am or after 5pm.
“My best tip for writing a follow-up email begins with emailing at the correct time to land at the top of a lead’s inbox,” says Mastropierro. “Avoid Monday as people will have bigger priorities at the beginning of the week and Fridays since most are leaving the office. Furthermore, emailing before 9:00 am and past 5:00 pm ensures that you will be one of the first messages they see. Timing aside, ensure that every follow-up provides value and is tailored toward the specific lead’s company and name.”
“Follow-up at the right time,” says Megan Mosley of Referral Rock. “You don’t want to be too pushy, and you don’t want to come off as being desperate either. So give people some time, the lead should be given enough time to shuffle through their inbox, sort their opinions, and make a decision. If you follow-up a day later, they might not have even had the chance to see your email. So give it a little time. The right time can also be something that they do that triggers you to respond. For example, if someone refers you, writes a review, or mentions you online, follow-up (as you’re obviously fresh in their mind).”
Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles adds, “Be courteous, be to the point and don’t hassle people. Leave sufficient time between the initial email and the follow-up. When you do follow-up, be polite and get straight to the point. Don’t waffle. And ensure you leave a couple of open-ended questions. A great trick we’ve used is to provide some research on an issue facing your target’s website. A bit like a doctor identifying an illness but not prescribing the cure unless they reply and request it. It’s a great way to get a two-way conversation going.”
Ethan Doss of Brainsell says, “Avoid ever “following-up” for its own sake, especially after the first email. Craft each email to bring more value and information. Have a reason to be sending these emails, other than “following up” or “checking in.”
Martin of Shufti Pro agrees. “The best tip is to maintain the spark in the conversations. Of course, it feels like you’re talking to thin air, but often you get something out of those emails.”
Carl Silverberg of Iunu adds, “Move forward instead of restating everything you said in the previous email. Assume they never saw it or read it, so be sure to provide something, a news clip, a piece of information, or an idea that is new.”
“A good follow-up should offer something new to the prospect in every email (at least in the initial follow-ups), without being too verbose,” says Jeswanth Padooru of SmartReach.io. “It is always recommended that there is context to the earlier emails, preferably by sending in emails the same thread. Always make sure if the prospect you intend to send emails to actually requires your product or service.”
Clint Thompson of DigiHype Media Inc. adds, “New information could be any items or ideas that you may now have that was not discussed during your first meeting. Don’t divulge all of the new information in your email, but certainly give a high-level teaser on the new info and how it would make what you previously proposed even more important. This information could be about an additional product or service that you offer, trending information in the market place regarding their line of work and could directly affect their business, or maybe even some competitor information that you may have come across online that could be affecting their business.”
“If there has been an expressed interest (opened email, clicked-through), then we usually follow-up with an email that has two major components: a benefits statement and a sense of urgency,” says Richard Williamson of HealthLynked. ““We reinforce the benefits of the product–why do YOU need it–and then the urgency–why you need it NOW. Sometimes we have a time-sensitive offer, so that’s easy. “Buy now and get 15% off.” But, we also can make urgency on the client-side when there is none on ours. “Your competitors are getting ahead in your market area…how are you going to make up ground on them?” or, a little different, “We have an opening in our training webinar…call me today, and I can hold that spot for you so you can get started quicker.”
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is beating around the bush and putting extra work on the recipient to decode and respond to the message.
Laura Gariepy of Every Day by the Lake says, “Keep it short, be complimentary, and make the ask directly. This respects the recipient’s time gets them in a good mood, and puts your offer front and center for them to evaluate. Your ultimate goal is to make a sale. However, your sub-goal is to get a response. Make it easy for them to give you a yes or no. Then, you can decide how to proceed.”
Another mistake is to go into a follow-up email with preconceived assumptions.
James Pollard of The Advisor Coach says, “never assume anything. A lot of people write emails that are full of assumptions, especially the assumption that their prospect “needs” whatever they are selling. A much better approach is to make it clear that all you want to do is see if it makes sense to work together or see if there is a good fit.”
Blake Smith of Central Coast SEO says, “My favorite tip for a follow-up email is simply letting the recipient know that their reply is meaningful. If I can explain that their response is going to help me learn from our engagement and improve how I communicate, I find that they will generally take the time to reply.”
Smith shares an example below.
Hi first name,
I have two important questions for you, since you’re considering me as your new SEO agency
1. Do you have enough information to make a decision?
2. (if No) What other information would be more helpful?
Your feedback will be highly valued and appreciated
Corey Haines of Hey Marketers adds, “Only include a single call to action, and make sure it’s ultra-specific and clear what you’re asking for. Too many follow-up emails give vague CTAs like “circling back” or “do you have time to talk?” Be specific about what you’re asking for, communicate what’s in it for them, and only give a single CTA.”
“Follow up emails should be clean and concise with an incentive to take your desired action (ex: a coupon offer),” adds Farheen Gill.
One of the simplest and most effective CTAs is to pose a question at the end of your follow-up email.
Paul Katzoff of White Canyon says, “Keep it low key, low pressure, cordial/jovial and always ask a question.”
For example, Steve Foley of Bulk Memory Cards likes to bait the hook by asking a question that will make it easy to bring up his product or service.
“Asking a question is a communicative volley that will put the ball back in your court,” says Foley. “It provides you the opportunity to reiterate how your product or service will save them money or help them use time more efficiently.”
Others prefer to ask a simple yes or no question.
Billy Attar of Exceed.ai says, “Ask for the lead’s opinion on the topic. Make sure to word it so that they’re more comfortable saying yes than no.
For example, “I would love to get your opinion on it as an expert in the field. Is this something you would be open to?”
This makes them more likely to reply and start a conversation, which is your opening to move things forward.”
Perry Nalevka of Penguin Strategies prefers the opposite approach and goes straight for a “No” response.
“Make it a short question that they will want to answer “no,” says Nalevka. “Chris Voss in his book Splitting The Difference recommends something along the lines of:”
I understand that you have decided to not move forward on this project.
Thanks for your time, and I’ll stay in touch.
“Usually this will elicit a very quick result in them getting back to you saying No and then the reason for the delay.”
John Hill of Adapted Growth says, “If I am following up on an earlier email, I will send one short email and try to keep it light. If that doesn’t get them engaged, I will call them to try and catch them on the phone. The phone is better than email because you have control over the tone. We lose that when we send emails.”
Ellen Sluder of Ringboost adds, “My best tip for writing a follow-up email is to call first, leave a voicemail and then write the follow-up email referencing the voicemail.”
David Silverman of Solution Loans agrees, “Make a phone call first! If you are waiting on someone getting back to you, it could be that they have been too busy drowning under a sea of email. I will always call them first to see if they answer and if they don’t, the opening line of the email always references the fact that I tried to call them and couldn’t get through. The fact that you then have two touch points with someone seems to convince them to be more likely to reach back out.”
“Consider multiple touchpoints, including social media, phone calls, and handwritten correspondence,” says Sameer Somal of Blue Ocean Global Tech says. “When you show those who you seek to build a relationship with that you genuinely care about them as people, they are more likely to respond. This can be accomplished through referencing a past voice message or recent LinkedIn connection, and then including customized observations about their experience and related questions about where they provide the most value.”
Brendan Hufford of SEO for the Rest of Us says, “Touch base with the person outside of email. Maybe email isn’t their jam, but if you’ve touched base with them on Instagram, sharing their work, given them a retweet, etc, then it lends context to the correspondence, and that context is crucial.”
Alex Panagis of ScaleMath says, “Since your first email obviously didn’t interest them enough to respond (or they were just busy at the time), if you’re going to show up in their inbox again – and risk annoying them – make sure it’s worth it and make sure you’re not risking your reputation so pivot. You’ve tried one angle, and it didn’t work, it’s not over. It’s just getting started. You can get replies from anyone if you strike the right chord, you just have to be willing to find it and provide them with value.”
Fay Dworetsky of Dijy says, “I’ve found that putting on just a drop of guilt works wonders. Saying something like “Hey, I was hoping for your response, but it never came :(“ gives the recipient an emotional nudge to respond.
“Timing is perhaps the most important aspect when it comes to nurturing a lead,” Angela Ash of Flow SEO adds, “You’ll want to wait at least one week, so as not to appear pushy. However, anything later than that could be too late for the recipient to even recall the first email. Plus, if they didn’t receive or open the first email for whatever reason, a week shouldn’t set you back too badly.”
Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls says, “Be pleasantly persistent and remind them if you have a contact in common who mentioned the person to you I start the email with a subject line of “XYZ suggested we connect” so that even if they do not recognize my name in their inbox XYZ should ring a bell. If you saw them speak at a conference or read an article, they wrote you can tailor the subject line to that such as “Loved your piece on ____ in HuffPo!” or “Great talk at the conference this week!”
Sacha Ferrandi of Source Capital says, “If you have sent a few follow-up emails and heard nothing back, it is time to ask them if you should stop trying to reach them. It might be the case that they have no time, but it is possible that they haven’t responded simply because they are not the correct person to be emailing. Clearing this up will stop you from wasting your time and theirs.
Elisa Doucette of Craft Your Content adds, “My last-ditch email (after 1-2 “no replies”) is usually “Wanted to see if you were still interested in this?” It’s a more delicate way of saying, “Hey, this offer is coming off the table soon, so are we gonna dance or what?”
Chris Biscuiti of Minuteman Press International says, “As someone who has worked as an Editor and as a PR Rep, I would say the best tip for writing a follow-up email is to be upfront and honest about why you are following up.”
Forster Perelsztejn of Prospect.io says, “Don’t think in terms of follow-up. Instead, think in terms of the journey, Think about what your prospect should hear next in order to move the sales process forward. Following-up is from your point of view; you need to center your approach around your prospect.”
David Haar of Hubbard Radio Phoenix + 2060 Digital adds, “When writing a follow-up email, I always like to accomplish three things.
Providing value throughout the entire sales process is incredibly valuable, and the follow-up email is a really easy point in the process to do just that!”
Nina Krol of Zety says, “If you’re writing a follow-up email, you need to be ready to play the long game. A lead might receive dozens of emails like yours per day. This means that you’ve got to keep your follow-ups coming and keep refining them so they that remain relevant.”
In sum, the best follow-up emails put the focus on the recipient, not you. It needs to be short, relevant, and helpful.
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