Proven and Effective Manual on How to Write a Follow-Up Email

Vladislav Podolyako
Sep 08, 2022
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The power of effective email marketing and proper cold outreach can't be underrated. Yet, for an unknown reason, a fair share of dedicated marketers assume that if an initial message gets no response, that is not precisely the right direction to push further. At the same time, recent research proves that as many as 2% of all the recipients react to the primary message sent by the company and carry on until they seal the deal.

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You may rightfully wonder about the remaining 98%. What about them? πŸ’‘ The answer is quite simple – at least half of your potential customers are waiting for a follow-up email.

It is natural to assume that if someone does not respond to your email, they are surely uninterested in whatever you offer. However, if you are involved in the sales field and wish your brand to flourish and succeed, that would be a poor email marketing strategy. You need to learn how to write a follow-up email, when to send it and when to call the deal a lost cause. Our industry experts know how to achieve that with the least time and effort spent in the process and are willing to share!

The notion of follow-up email explained

πŸ€” What is a follow-up email? This is the primary question to figure out if you want to master the art of effective email creation. Usually, it is nothing more than a subsequent email to a potential customer to gather more information on the existing user experience to improve it as you proceed down the sales funnel. You can send it as a friendly reminder for a client to move on with your services, or you can inquire how the free trial is going. Various programs can help you automate the process so that it suits your requirements and hits the prospect's inbox at the moment when you need it to.

Do follow-up emails matter?

There is a list of points that a successful follow-up email can trigger and improve your sales process tremendously. Folderly experts usually point out 4 primary reasons why follow-up emails are essential. They are the following:

  • better conversion;
  • improved trust;
  • filtered user base;
  • automated email marketing.

Let's discuss these points in further detail πŸ”.

Increased conversion

Countless reasons may result in your marketing effort going past the prospect's attention. People receive hundreds of emails daily, and it is possible that your message simply gets lost in the swarm of incoming propositions. To ensure that something like that does not happen to your campaign, you should be ready to add more value to it and initiate additional send-outs. Improved conversion depends on well-composed follow-up emails directly.

Enhanced trust

One can't underestimate the value of cold emails ❄️, but a single cold email can't ensure that you will be trusted. Even if the recipient spots your message, you need more than that to establish a lasting bond. A skillfully-crafted follow-up email will help the users notice how much work you put into the process. Thus, a client-centered approach improves trust rates and increases the chances of fruitful cooperation.

Filtered audience

No matter how relevant content you share, you should realize that some people won't convert despite all the effort. Thus, sorting those who count on free offers from the beginning is essential. Upon initiating the follow-up campaign, you will be able to track who is still interested in your products and services and who isn't.

Automated email marketing

While you may want to put some time and dedication into the creation of a success-oriented follow-up copy, you don't need to monitor the user list and manually send those out. The variety of automation tools available on the market makes the process twice as simple and effortless. βœ”οΈ All it takes is to pre-define a sequence, and the system will send those follow-ups once a person triggers one of the particular settings.

Primary sales follow-up email templates

To tune up your follow-up strategy, you should be able to distinguish between the most common types of follow-up emails.

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Free trial option

It is not a secret 🀫 that many marketing companies are willing to provide a free trial offer so that their clients can test the tool before committing to it. In most cases, the users feel satisfied with the free offer and need a slight push in the right direction towards buying the service. That is where an effective follow-up email comes in useful. You can use the opportunity to give the user base a better idea of what you can achieve with the paid version. It's a good idea to inquire about clients' experiences, share specific details on how their results can be improved, and so on.

Lead magnet opt-in

Despite the field your company represents, the chances are that your target audience may decide to share their emails in exchange for a valuable freebie. Thus, the introduction of a double-opt-in is something that most modern brands sign up for. Yet, in some cases, the potential subscribers miss the second step of the opt-in, which is used to confirm the subscription. Once you figure out that a client hasn't completed the process, you can initiate a follow-up to remind them to finalize the subscription. Reminding users about potential perks they can gain after following through with the process is a good practice.

Product sale variant

A successful marketing campaign aims at making single-time clients come back for more, which is where practical follow-ups are helpful. In this case, you are not trying to make up for the previous email that could have been missed. Your goal is to notify the customer about the upcoming sale 🚨 and suggest some valuable items to add to their last purchase. Such follow-up emails can pile up as long as you have something to top the sold items with.

Why do some marketers dismiss the follow-up email strategy?

Even if you are new to the industry, you can't but notice the range of opportunities that a perfect follow-up email can bring into play. Yet, some people are easily discouraged, and if a lead does not interact with your cold email, they itch to call it a cold deal immediately. In fact, the field experts point out three main reasons why some marketers refrain from following up. We will mention all of them, so you get out of the doubtful loop. What is more, we will show you the most effective ways to change your thinking so that the follow-up business model drives your sales up in no time!

Being too pushy

All the marketing reps are told over and over that being too pushy is the safest way to scare your clients away. While the assumption is valid to the point, there are always loopholes to keep in mind. Let's depict a situation when you have had a brief phone call or a quick chat with the prospect. You later send them an email, and the other end remains silent πŸ”‡.

It is natural to give the person a day or two to simmer and arrive at a positive conclusion. Yet, after a couple more days, you feel like a follow-up should be sent, but the voice in your head says that you will be pushing too hard if you do so. You're not just another desperate sales rep after all, are you?

How do you deal with such a case?

In fact, the solution to this problem is always right there on the surface. Think about it this way – being too pushy is when you send a follow-up a few hours after the initial message.

Sending a follow-up reminder after two or three days is perfectly normal and is undoubtedly a field-specific routine. It is your professional responsibility.

Forgetting to write the follow-up email

You're only a human, after all, so no worries. It's happened to all of us – we've planned to do something, got distracted, and now it is too late.

What can you do to solve the matter?

The answer is yet again very simple – set reminders πŸ””. These days countless devices and tools can help you prioritize and improve the workflow. Should you consider a prospect a potential customer of yours, you can flag the email as important and remind yourself to send a follow-up email in a day or two.

You don't need a follow-up

No matter how it may sound, some marketers safely assume that they have crafted a perfect initial email copy, and the recipient is bound to reach out to them after reading it. However, even the best subject line, the well-researched and concise email body, and the most enticing call-to-action can backfire. It may simply slip the recipient's memory to respond, and you will be waiting in vain.

How do you solve the issue?

The best thing to do is to remain the skilled professional you are and write a follow-up email just in case. When you notice that the person is not getting back to you, it takes as much as a few clicks to fix that.

When do you send the first follow-up email?

πŸ• One of the most critical aspects of writing a follow-up email concerns the proper timing.

There is no one-for-all follow-up schedule for sending follow-up emails to stick to.

It takes a proper look at the open-rate stats to determine when your emails get the most attention. It may be the early afternoon for one company, while other businesses profit most from the evening correspondence. Should the statistical data be too confusing and the open scores are anything but hour-specific, you can try different approaches and figure out which part of the day works out best for you.

How to write a follow-up email: practical steps

With so much theoretical knowledge, you may wonder how you can compose success-programmed sales follow-up email templates. According to recent research, there are a few effective steps to take πŸ‘£ to achieve the desired results. They are the following:

  • determining the objective;
  • opening with context;
  • stating the purpose clearly;
  • composing a professional subject line;
  • sending the follow-up message.

Start with an objective

Once you target an email recipient with a follow-up email, it means that you have interacted previously, and the chances are that you can proceed and close the deal in the future. That is why it is critical to establish the primary goal of why you are reaching out to the prospect. You need to visualize it clearly as to what the recipient's response should be, or rather what is the response or reaction that you prefer.

The moment you see your objective clearly, you can center all the effort on a strong call-to-action part which will trigger the prospect's desire to get back to you. The end goal that you aim at may vary. However, you should write it down clearly and craft it to perfection before you push the Send button, whether it is a stronger bond establishment, upcoming sale, effective conversion, or anything else that you have in mind.

If you are new to the field, it helps to point out four primary objective types that modern marketers pursue. πŸ‘‰ They are the following:

  1. Information clarified.
  2. Meeting request.
  3. Catching-up.
  4. Thank-you objective.
  1. It happens that after you have had an initial discussion with a potential client, you suddenly realize that you've missed some essential aspects in your previous email. Whether these are some contact details, pain points, deal updates, or anything else – you can figure out the missing piece by directly asking the person about it. Such a follow-up email will ensure that both the seller and the potential buyer remain on the same page, and there is not even the tiniest space for misunderstanding.

  2. A few marketing deals can be closed without an in-person meeting with the decision-maker. Sometimes, you need another meeting to agree on some additional deal elements.πŸ“ Writing a follow-up email is the safest route to solve any underlying issues and proceed with the sale. All it takes is to state directly what the meeting will be about and when you would like to have it. To make it as customer-oriented as possible, you can insert a calendar link so the client can fit you in their busy schedules.

  3. Time does not stand still; while some companies go out of business, others succeed and expand their horizons. Should you hear some news on the past connection broadening their sphere of interest, you may want to remind them about what you offer. Sometimes, a startup can't afford the services that a growing enterprise can, and a timely follow-up letter will help you succeed with a deal of a lifetime.

  4. It is vital to realize that a compelling follow-up message may not provide immediate value. βœ‰οΈ A follow-up may be an email after no response to show your gratitude and appreciation for the previous cooperation or any other type of engagement. Such an approach ensures that you leave a positive impression on the prospect, and they will keep that in mind the moment the need for your services arises.
  • A thank-you follow-up letter comes of great use after.
  • You've been provided a referral.
  • You have been assisted with a social proof creation. It may be a blog article, review, or a recent case study that a third party has helped you.
  • You have closed a deal.
  • You have corresponded with a company rep but haven't finalized the purchase yet.

Proceed to the opening with context

Writing a follow-up email may be much more intricate than you have expected since people receive hundreds of emails a day. Thus, your initial goal is to emphasize your potential connection with the reader. A personal touch is precisely what you should base the context around. If the recipient remembers you, moving your interaction to another level will be twice as easy.

In case it is your primary follow-up message, you should be much more cautious and precise. ✍️ Here are some opening lines that the experts advise to use:

  • I've listened to your speech at …, and I was so inspired that…
  • We've met last month at the…
  • The last time we spoke, we discussed the …
  • Our mutual connection … suggested that I reach out to you on the subject of…

A strong opening line has much to do with your future success, so you shouldn't treat it lightly.

Clearly stated purpose

Sending a follow-up email is not a mere reminder of your previous interaction. You should also notify the reader about the purpose that you pursue. Since a follow-up message can't go on for paragraphs, you must be as direct and concise as possible. The less spammy your message looks – the better.

As long as you don't sound too unspecific, the reader will feel that you value their time, which will help them realize why you are reaching out to them precisely. Such an approach ensures that you kill two birds with one stone – you attract the attention, and you indicate what type of response would be the one you seek.

How do you define the purpose well?

A few standard practices to add to the routine will help you communicate the purpose well. They are the following:

  • I want you to attend our next seminar since I think you will find it helpful based on the services you provide.
  • I have found the right specialist to help you with the previously discussed issue.
  • I would appreciate it if you shared some more details on your current project since it seems we work in the same industry.

You can get as creative with your purpose lines as the field you represent allows it. ☝️ However, you should eliminate all signs of vagueness before you press the Send button.

Strong subject line

Another aspect your follow-up success usually depends on is the subject line. Dull subject lines can compromise the whole campaign, no matter how surprising it sounds.

If the reader isn't intrigued by what you offer from the beginning, the chances they will read the letter are slim.

Should you decide to rock your subject lines, you should leave it for the end. After you finalize your email copy, you know what the message is all about and what the strongest point is.

To help you craft the best subject lines, we have some practical tips that you can apply to the process:

  • Be precise – using different statistical data such as numbers and times will improve the open rate in no time.
  • Be urgent – the experts advise you to use the word "tomorrow" as often as you can to stress the urgency of your offer. According to recent research, emails are opened 10 times as often compared to the "tomorrow" - less.
  • Be unique – cutting on the subject line would be an uncommon practice, and the approach can increase the open rates. ❗️ However, the approach does not work for all industries and businesses. To determine if that is your golden ticket, you can test follow-up campaigns with and without the subject line and compare the stats.

When to press the Send button

After you are done with your follow-up email template, you may sit and admire your work for a while, but that isn't enough. You should be clear on when to send the composed letter. You don't want to be too late, but being too rushed wouldn't be the best approach either.

How long should I wait to send a follow-up email?

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The industry specialists point out four main time frames that you can adopt. They are the following:

  • 24 hours – the first string in your follow-up email sequence may be the Thank-you email. It's best to be sent after you have interacted with the prospect through a meeting, conference, sale, or another related occasion.
  • 48 hours – if you have recently shared some valuable information or documentation with the person, you can't wait for weeks to get their response. That is why a friendly reminder within 48 hours after the initial message should serve the purpose well.
  • 1-2 weeks – you can wait a week or two if you are not pressed for time. Such follow-ups usually concern meeting requests and some issues that you need feedback on.
  • 3 months – getting back to your past connections is a good policy to keep updated on what has changed recently and whether the prospect needs your services yet.

Trending follow-up email practices

Practical follow-up email templates aren't the only important aspects of your follow-up campaign if you aim high. βœ… There are a few effective practices to help you spike the score of the implemented strategy. They are the following:

  • Process automation – introducing the automation software into the follow-up process will help you keep up with all the directions to push on time. The most reliable systems will initiate follow-up sequences based on the pre-set preferences, which you focus on other vital aspects of the marketing strategy.
  • List segmentation – you can't send the same follow-up email to all the prospects on your list. Segmentation tools will help you craft more personal letters and the best sequences to generate positive results.
  • Test the frequency – coming up with the perfect sending frequency can be more challenging than you think, but the best rate would be the descending one. Every other follow-up letter should come a little later than the previous one so that you don't seem too desperate.
  • Ask for feedback – the best way to motivate a user to get back to you would be to ask them for feedback. Even if it is negative feedback, you will still have your open rates high and learn what should be worked on in your product or service. Such an approach shows that you care, and it will help you build trust with the user base.
  • Work on the relevance – it is challenging to sell something that people don't need at the moment. That is why it is advised to monitor your clients attentively to see their needs and preferences shift so that they need your services.

Common mistakes to avoid when writing follow-up email examples

At times, the most polite follow-up email can do you more harm than good. If you don't want your hand-crafted follow-ups to go to waste πŸ—‘, it is advised to keep away from making the following mistakes.

Examples of follow-up emails that may fail

#1. "Follow-up" subject line

There is something incredibly natural in adding the "follow-up" phrase to the subject line. However, you shouldn't be misled by the feeling. Such a subject line does not carry any value proposition, so it won't trigger the interest that you count on.

#2. "Just following-up" introduction

If you indicate that you are just trying to follow up, you may leave the reader wondering what you are about to catch up on. People are incredibly busy these days. Thus, stating clearly the purpose of your email is the best way to make your copy noticed.

#3. Leaving the CTA out

You should clearly show what you would prefer the recipient to do next rather than leave it hanging in the air. At times, people should be pointed in the right direction, and a well-composed CTA will help you succeed with the goal.

Expert-tested tips on writing a follow-up email

In some cases, a minor detail can disrupt the whole marketing campaign. πŸ’ͺ Luckily, it's all been done before and what you should do is adopt the pieces of advice that the field experts are willing to share with you.

  • Test your subject lines. The variant that brought you skyrocketing open rates in the previous email may not be that effective tomorrow.
  • Use a specific date when you would like the prospect to get back to you. You can always use a calendar link to show that you are open to other dates too. You serve the client – not otherwise.
  • Add popular media to your letters. These days, useful videos are all the rage in the industry.
  • There is rarely too much personalization when it comes to follow-up messages. The prospects will value the time and effort you put into researching them.
  • Try not to apologize in your letters unless it is necessary.
  • Try different company tiers until you reach the right person, the decision-maker.

How many follow-up emails should I send?

When you start to brood upon the best time for sending follow-up emails, another related question may pop into your head. Aside from the perfect template and suitable timing, you need to know how many of those you have to send. There are a few simple rules that will point you in the right direction:

Don't send without a reason

One of the most common reasons modern marketers come up with is to initiate a follow-up email after no response. While it is natural to wonder why the prospect hasn't engaged with you yet, there is more to that that makes a follow-up letter a success. We are talking about additional value here.

The rule is simple – send an email when you have a reason.

You can issue four additional letters if you have four reasons to present to the recipient. However, if you have an apparent reason for only one message – don't push it over the edge and stick to a single follow-up.

Consider your outreach campaign

πŸ’₯ The best way to determine how many follow-ups to send would be to evaluate your outreach campaign. Should it be a link-building campaign – a single letter is usually enough. However, with sales, things differ dramatically, and the number of emails to send may vary depending on whether there is use in pushing the deal or it is a cold case.

Base the follow-up campaign on the target audience

Your target audience is one of the most critical rules to keep in mind when working on your follow-up strategy. Should you be working on cold leads, you need to send an email thread one after another to warm the readers up πŸ”₯. While this may seem an annoying approach, you should keep in mind that your audience requires time to learn as much as possible about your services before they commit.

In summary, there is no one-for-all quantity of follow-up messages to exchange with your user base. You should personalize your outreach and find the balance between pushing too hard and remaining inactive. Once you hit the spot, you will watch your rates skyrocket!

Final words

Building a successful follow-up campaign isn't the simplest task of all. It takes research and attention to write the copy that increases the open rates and improves conversion. Besides, each unanswered email can make you feel like you are wasting your time. Yet, the moment every well-crafted final email starts to pay off, you will set all the desperate thoughts aside. Moreover, with our professional and backed by experience follow-up guide, you will master the art of effective follow-up correspondence in no time!

Vladislav Podolyako
Vladislav Podolyako
Founder & CEO
Vlad’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed him to successfully mentor a diverse group of business owners, entrepreneurs in growing their companies. A recognized expert in the areas of transforming organizational culture and leadership development, B2B Sales, Marketing, spent more than 10 years building technology products, with a background in communication networks and electronic device engineering.

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