The Ultimate Guide To Write Follow Up Email That Gets A Response

Do you feel uncomfortable at the thought of following up to an email? Maybe you want to:

- circle back on a meeting request
- check on the status of a job application
- remind your boss of something important to you
- partner up with a blogger/influencer

If following up doesn’t come natural to you, you’re not alone. In fact, 70% of salespeople give up if they don’t receive a reply to their first email. Now if that’s the case with thick-skinned sales folk, it’s not going to be any better for others.

It’s natural to feel that when someone hasn’t replied, they’re not interested so we shouldn’t bother them again. But consider this:

Multitasking and deadlines are part and parcel of any work environment today. So depending on their schedule, it is possible that the recipient of your cold email outreach may forget to notice or respond.

Inboxes get jammed up quickly and distractions are plenty. People are busy and many even assume that if someone hasn’t followed up on their email, maybe it wasn’t that important and they can let it slide.

So it’s essential to follow up several times when your cold email doesn’t get a response. Follow up is where meetings are scheduled and deals are sealed. It's the only way to put yourself back in the minds of target prospects.

In this guide, we’ll talk about how to write a follow up email and answer common questions like when’s the right time to send another message. Here’s all you need to know.

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    The Right Way To Follow Up

    Even after so many years of research and development in the field of email outreach, it's a shame that so many follow up emails are so bland.

    Most follow ups are written with the intention of “just checking in” or “following up.” Nothing wrong with that but the problem is they don't add any value to a conversation gone cold.

    The senders perceive follow ups as just a mundane activity to strike off from their to do lists. What they don’t see realize is that each followup is another opportunity to get their prospects to act with a new approach.

    By following up the right way, you can not just remind your prospects of your previous email, but also create a sense of urgency, clarify your offer, and show your value.

    You absolutely must learn to write follow-up emails in a way that matters to prospects. It's a skill that will cost you some time but pay for itself a thousand times over.

    In this guide, I have covered all the aspects about follow-up emails – from setting on a concrete strategy to unique approaches to samples you can modify for specific scenarios. Let's begin.

    When To Follow Up

    Depending on your particular situation, you want to send your follow-up at an appropriate time to give your email the best chance of being opened.

    Majority of emails are opened and replied to on the same day. That means you can assume that if someone hasn’t replied to you within 24 hours, you’ll most likely need to follow up.

    However, it’s considered bad etiquette to follow up on an email on the 2nd or 3rd day. So the ideal wait time is about 3 days for the first follow up. You can then extend the wait by a few days for each follow up email.

    For example, your first follow up could be on day 4 (4 days apart), 2nd follow up on day 9 (5 days apart), 3rd follow up on day day 15 (6 days apart) and 4th follow up on day 22 (7 days apart).

    In addition, here are some situation-based practices to keep in mind:

    • Within 24 Hours: If you want to thank a prospect after a meeting, interview or other occasions, you can follow within a day.
    • Within 48 Hours: Applies when you have submitted some important documentation (like a job application or another type of submission form).
    • Within 1-2 Weeks: Ideal if you haven’t got response to a meeting request or regarding a job offer.
    • Every 3 Months: Use this for leads gone cold or catch up with a past connection. Check if anything has changed or if there’s a new development in their work and priorities.
    • If you are pitching a story or article to a blogger or journalist, you should check a publication’s guidelines (if available) to check if there are any rules on when you should follow up.

    It’s okay to follow up for up to 4-5 times, but don’t go beyond that or you’ll risk coming across as spammy or desperate.

    Where To Follow Up

    Another component that has a major impact on your success with follow ups is not confining yourself to just email.

    Of course, another email is great but if you know your prospect is an active user of a social media platform like Twitter or LinkedIn, then by all means include it in your follow up sequence.

    If you can talk to them on the phone, or will have a chance to meet them at an event, then leverage that as well to cover all the bases. Mix the various mediums in your follow up sequence.

    If you know a prospect is active on LinkedIn for example, then your first follow up can be sent via LinkedIn message, 2nd via email, 3rd via LinkedIn and 4th via email.

    Different people have different preferences on how they want to be contacted. By following an omni-channel approach, you are more likely to get a response.

    Follow Up Subject Line

    Subject line of your follow up emails is as important as it was for your first email. When it comes to follow up emails, don’t forget to experiment with different subject lines. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

    • Use specific numbers and times. Emails with subject lines with the word "Quick" get opened less than those without.
    • Use the word “tomorrow” to create a sense of urgency. Emails with the word "tomorrow" get more opens than those without.
    • Experiment with not having a subject line. For some businesses and events, not having a subject line sometimes gets a better open rate.

    Our next steps

    X options to get started

    Know this about [topic of interest]?

    Before I go … a few free resources

    Should I stop reaching out?

    Looks like our timing is off

    This is my final email

    Let’s revisit this at a better time

    [name], am I off base?

    Last [company] follow-up

    Are you still interested in [solving X challenge]?

    Is X still a priority for you?

    Permission to reach out later?

    Hit me back with a number

    I’m emailing again because…

    Am I bugging you yet?

    Is it time to part ways?

    Any questions Jack?

    Should I stay or should I go?

    Open With Context

    Your prospect may likely not remember all the information in your previous email. So instead of having to make them look at the email again, make it easy for them to remember.

    By providing context around your initial communication, you will help jog their memory, so it’s easier to make sense of your email.

    Begin with acknowledging that you’re following up on a previous email and give a reference to what it was about. Make sure it’s easy for the prospect to know who you are and what you're following up about. You don’t want to confuse the prospect you're looking to collaborate with.

    We met last week at the [Name of Event or Location]. I’m writing to follow-up on my email. I didn’t hear back from anyone on the team.

    I wanted to make sure you saw my earlier message I sent last [day] about [topic of previous email]. I see you’re too busy to reply at the moment. I hate pushy salespeople, at the same time I’d hate to think I gave up on trying to help.

    I wanted to bump this up in your inbox and see what you thought about [topic of previous email]. I understand your position, but I wouldn’t follow up with you if I didn’t strongly think that X can help Y solve [problem] by [benefit].

    I have tried to get in touch with you to see if there is a mutual fit between our company’s expertise and your goals around X.

    I didn’t hear back from you last week when I was looking for the appropriate person managing X. Last time we spoke about... [Topic]

    Last we spoke, you requested that I get in touch in a few months to discuss how X can help you achieve Y. Have you given any additional consideration to my offer? I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have. What does your schedule look like this week?

    Recap Previous Email & CTA

    If needed, briefly recap information from your previous email, along with your ask. If your previous ask was vague, try to make it more specific this time.

    For example, don’t say, “I’d like to hop on a call to chat about what you do.” Instead, say, “I’d like to hop on a callto learn more about how you consistently reach your sales targets as I’ve been struggling with the same.”

    Knowing what is expected of them makes prospects more comfortable. In addition, they’ll feel that you know what you want and won’t waste their time.

    Moreover, sharing useful tips, social proof, interesting statistics or any other relevant resource is also a good practice.

    I want to invite you to X, I think you'll find it helpful for what you do at Y.

    As we discussed, here is the X I think could help you with Y.

    It would be great to hear more about X as I'm working on something similar at Y.

    Thank you so much for X. I really enjoyed and appreciate learning more about your experience with Y. You mentioned that your team is looking for X. I happen to know a Y that would be a great fit. Can I make an intro?

    You want to appear as a trusted expert, not just a sales guy pushing to close. However, it’s important to be short and to the point. It’s better not to add more details into the conversation if they don’t add any special value.

    Qualify & Soften Your Ask

    Because they didn’t respond to your previous email, you should consider how you can make it easier for them than before. You need to make it worth their while.

    If you asked for scheduling a call, maybe this time you can suggest a specific time and date, or ask them how they would like to proceed.

    I realize that you must be getting hundreds of emails each day similar to mine. Is X a priority for you?

    Would it be okay for me to reach out next week to share those ideas with you?

    Are you the right person to talk to about this? If I’m in the wrong place, could you point me in the right direction?

    Would it make sense to invest 5-10 minutes to determine if there is a mutual fit? If not, who do you recommend I talk to?

    If you are not interested or there is another person you would like me to follow up with, please let me know.

    Usually when I don't hear back, it means this isn't a priority for your company at the moment. Am I correct in assuming this?

    Wanted to see what your team thought of my suggestions… Let me know if I can help at all.

    Let me know if you want me to jump on a call so I can walk you through what we do.

    Just reply ‘yes’ if you’d be interested in getting some more information and I’ll send a couple of short docs over.

    I have a few more ideas around {{improving X}}. Let me know if you’re interested in hearing them.

    If it makes sense to talk, let me know how your calendar looks. If not, who is the appropriate person for me to talk to?

    The Last Follow Up

    Sometimes you don’t hear from a prospect at all, after several follow ups. So it doesn’t make sense to keep at it. But instead of just giving up, it’s better to send one final breakup email to see if it wakes them up.

    It’s not literally a break-up email, since your aim is not to be dramatic or make them feel guilty. Just acknowledge that this may not be the right moment, and try to help in any other way if possible. You can share a useful resource for example.

    You want to exit on a helpful note and in a way that the channel remains open. A prospect should feel comfortable in reaching out to you if they change their mind.

    Are you still interested in X? If you still are, what do you recommend as next steps? If not, do I have permission to close your file?

    I’ve reached out to you a few times now, to see if we could chat about [your company], and why I think our [your tool] would be a good fit for your team.

    Typically if I don’t hear back from someone for 30 days, it means they’re either really busy or just not interested.

    If you’re not interested, please let me know and I’ll promptly close your tab in our CRM to never bother you with {{company}} sales emails again.

    1 – “Sorry, I was really swamped but I’m still interested…”

    0 – “Please close my tab, I’m not interested…”

    I wanted to reach out to you one last time regarding X. If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll assume that the timing isn’t right and I won’t contact you again. If I can be of assistance, you can always reply to the message and I’ll be more than happy to help you.

    If you aren’t interested, I'll stop sending messages. But if you’re still interested, what do you recommend as a next step?

    Could you please just hit me back with a number 1-2-3 that best describes your response?

    1 Please leave me alone!

    2 Too busy, email me again in a month, please.

    3 I’ll write you back in a week.


    So there you go. Use these tips and examples as a starting point for your follow-up emails. Now when you don’t hear back from a prospect, don’t give up.

    Give them all the opportunity to be able to notice you and give a response. This guide will help you create your own follow-up templates and test their performance.

    Did I miss anything? Did you try these examples? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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