In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to write a follow-up email, and some of the most important elements of any follow-up email.
Ready? Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
- Why Send a Follow-up Email?
- 6 Essentials for How to Send a Follow-up Email After No Response
- 6 Best Practices for Your Follow-up Email Subject Line
- How to Close a Follow-up Email
- Follow-up Email Examples
Why Send a Follow-up Email?
About 80 percent of prospects will say “no” 4 times before they ultimately say “yes.” Yet 92 percent of salespeople will give up before their 5th attempt.
Also consider this; the average response rate for a sequence of 1 to 3 emails is a measly 9 percent. The response rate for 4 to 7 emails in sequence? A much better 27 percent—triple the initial rate.
Would you send a couple extra emails to triple your response rate? Of course you would. You just need a bit of research, practice, and experimentation to make your follow-up emails work.
6 Essentials for How to Send a Follow-up Email After No Response
For the purposes of this article, follow-up emails are sales emails sent after an initial sales email (or several) has failed to generate a response.
We’ll get into some specific strategies, including how to time your emails and how to draft subject lines, but for now, it’s important to review the most important components of a successful follow-up email strategy:
1. Get the timing right.
Should you wait a day? A week? What’s the protocol? Too fast and you’ll annoy your prospect, but too slow and you’ll lose their interest and recognition.
According to a study from Yesware, 91.24 percent of email messages are opened the same day they are received. Only 1.68 percent of emails are opened 1 day later, and it doesn’t get better from there. Similarly, 89.74 percent of responses come the same day the original message is sent, with 3.06 percent of replies coming the next day.
In other words, if people are going to open your email and/or reply, they’re going to respond within a day.
As a salesperson, you know that fast responses and follow-ups are, for the most part, a good thing. You’ll want to respond as quickly as possible to keep your momentum strong.
So if people will reliably respond within a day of getting your first message, or not at all, you can feel secure sending your first follow-up just 2 business days after the initial message.
From there, you’ll want to space your emails out a little further. If someone ignores 2 of your emails, it’s a good sign they aren’t champing at the bit to reply to you. If you keep sending follow-ups in short order, you’ll be more likely to annoy your prospect than win them over. Accordingly, wait an additional 3-5 days before sending your second follow-up (email number 3).
Email number 4 should wait even longer, perhaps a week, and so on. After sending several messages, try not to follow up more frequently than once a month.
So, here’s a good pace for sending follow-up emails:
- First follow-up: 2 business days
- Second follow-up: 3-5 business days
- Third follow-up: 5-7 business days
- Fourth follow-up: 2-4 weeks
- Fifth follow-up (and beyond): 1 month
2. Provide value.
Some people simply aren’t replying because they don’t find what you’re offering to be valuable. They don’t see the value in your content, or they don’t want to waste time talking to you.
With each follow-up email, you should work on increasing the perceived value to your customers; sweeten the pot with a deeper discount, a freebie, or some kind of promise or guarantee.
Here are a few ways to increase the overall value of your follow-up emails, and these are just a few of the most important:
- The deal. The core deal can be improved in a way that makes it more attractive or less costly for the prospect. For example, you could decrease the price of your offer, or include more with the package you’re offering. You could also reduce your ask, such as requesting a 15-minute meeting rather than attendance of a 1-hour webinar.
- Content. You can also sweeten the pot by offering better content somehow. For example, you might include a free whitepaper download if you originally asked for user action in exchange for nothing. Content is a relatively low investment that can instantly make your offer more attractive and your message more engaging.
- Reader-centric writing. Work on adjusting your follow-up emails to be more reader-centric; avoid “I” statements and talking about your company. Instead, focus on the reader’s needs. How is this going to benefit them? Why are they going to be happy after responding to your email?
- Urgency. Though urgency can’t directly increase the logical or mathematical value of your email, it can increase the costs of not taking action; a ticking clock means there’s a penalty for procrastinating. Imply that your offer is changing or disappearing in a fixed amount of time and you’ll likely encourage faster and more consistent action.
For more ideas, see our guide to value selling.
3. Be polite.
Aggressive salespeople aren’t typically successful, especially via email. Getting impatient is only going to work against you. Remain polite, high-level, and positive at all times.
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- 35-50% of sales go to the first-responding vendor.
- Following up within an hour increases your chances of success by 7x.
- The average professional spends 50% of their workday on email.
4. Try something new.
Some salespeople follow up with a messaging model very similar to their first email; they basically repeat the same strategy and hope for the best. This is counterproductive, as it’s clear the strategy doesn’t work the first time around. Instead, experiment with something new.
Try a different subject line, a different body message, a different offer, or a different call-to-action. Change something, or you’ll be doomed to repeat the same mistakes.
5. Be direct.
The more emails someone receives from you, the less patient they’re going to be with your messages. It’s important to be as direct as possible, especially in your 3rd, 4th, and subsequent messages.
6. Add context.
Initial emails tend to be vague and alluring, but with subsequent follow-ups, you’ll need to be clearer. Give people the context for your message and your products, and try to be increasingly unambiguous.
6 Best Practices for Your Follow-up Email Subject Line
The secret to getting your follow-up email opened, and therefore the gateway to all your other follow-up email goals, is writing an effective subject line. I’ve written an exhaustive guide on writing the perfect sales email subject line, so make sure you read it if you haven’t yet.
I’ll recap some of the high points here, and explain why they’re especially important to follow-up emails. Your follow-up email subject lines should be:
- Concise. The shorter, the better. Some prospects will stop reading after just a few words. Make those words count.
- Differentiated. If a prospect reads a subject line similar to one they’ve seen from another company, they’re going to roll their eyes.
- Relevant to your audience. Could you use this subject line for anybody in the world? If so, you’re not catering to your specific target market well enough. What makes this email message relevant to them?
- Useful or valuable. Provide some information or an appeal that is useful or valuable. What will your prospect have to gain by opening this follow-up?
- Friendly and approachable. People are more likely to respond to an email that comes from a friendly person than one that comes from a cold corporation.
- Tied to an action. Ideally, your subject line will also motivate some kind of action. Sometimes, simple is the best approach; for example, “chat later this week?”
How to Close a Follow-up Email
Your follow-up email needs a strong closer if it’s going to be optimally effective.
There should be a powerful call-to-action near the end of your message, as well as an invitation for further discourse. For example, “let me know if you have any questions” or “I look forward to hearing from you!”
In addition, it’s important to make sure you’ve included ample personal information that prospects can use to reach out to you in their communication medium of choice. Some people may be interested in your offer, but may not want to respond directly via email; accordingly, you should include your name, title, phone number, physical address, social links, and more.
Follow-up Email Examples
Let’s close this guide with some examples of valuable follow-up emails.
Be sure to check out my guide, 21 Sales Email Follow-Up Templates That Work, for more robust and numerous examples, but here are a few unique examples for this guide:
Subject: Time to chat?
I sent you an email a couple of days ago, but didn’t see a response from you. I was hoping we could get on the phone for a quick chat—do you have 15 minutes this week? Let me know if you’re available this Thursday.
Subject: Need more info on [subject]?
Hope you’re doing well! Lots of professionals in the [industry] industry tend to struggle with [subject]. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, just for you. If you’re hesitant to make a decision or if you just don’t know where to start, this guide can provide you with the direction you need.
Check it out here [link]
Hope to hear from you soon![signature]
Subject: Overloaded inbox?
I sent you a message earlier this week, but I can guess it got lost in the clutter. No worries!
I was hoping we could spend a few minutes on the phone this week to discuss your needs—when are you available? We’ve got a limited-time special on our best-selling product, and I want to make sure you have time to take advantage of it.
Looking forward to our conversation,[signature]
Now that you’ve learned all the secrets for how to write a follow-up email, be sure to optimize how you start your emails by checking out my guide on how to start an email.
Next, it’s time to learn more about the success rate of your follow-up email strategy. For this, you’ll need a tool to give you detailed insights. Take EmailAnalytics for example; with a click, you can integrate EmailAnalytics with your email account and start crunching data associated with your account.
You can quickly visualize how often you send and receive emails, analyze your top senders and recipients, and even measure metrics like your average email response time.
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Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before selling it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.