As a modern day human being, there's no feeling more discouraging than your emails going completely unanswered. What you thought was a clear, concise and articulate formulation of words has simply slipped into the deep, dark abyss of internet memes, celebrity GIFs and COVID-19 updates.
You check your "Sent" folder.
All seems to be fine.
You hit “Refresh”. Nothing changes.
Just a few minutes pass and then you realize it: You've become a victim of the ever so frustrating "ignore-that-email-syndrome" (trademark coming soon).
Don’t take it personally. This kind of thing happens to the best of us.
Sometimes it’s because your email holds no weight to its receiver. It poses no questions that need answering or text captivating enough to beckon the reader to respond. Sometimes your email floats into the receiver’s inbox at the exact time another five messages come rushing in and priority pushes you to the bottom of the list. The result is the same: Your email is left collecting virtual dust and you’re stuck searching for creative ways that you can say “Hey, I’m waiting for your reply” without sounding needy or annoying... or both.
When it all boils down, there are an array of techniques that professionals across all industries are using in order to create meaningful messages that cut through the clutter and connect with their readers.
Below, we’ll take a look into why a great email strategy is so essential for success, the importance of the follow-up, as well as some tips and tricks to aid you in writing. Lastly, we’ll provide you with some scenario-based templates to help you get started.
Why a strong email strategy is so important for success
01. It’s creative in its design
The email space, if I can offer a visual metaphor, can be described as being in a crowded club and trying to get the attention of the celebrity who just happens to be minding their own business in the VIP section. Chances are, from pick-up lines to dance moves, everyone is contending for a moment of that person’s attention. However, similar to a well-crafted email, those that receive the sought-after attention are those that bare an extra spark of imagination, creativity and resourcefulness.
02. It’s popular in its approach
By 2022, an average of 347 billion emails will be sent every day in the world, and there will be 244 million email users in the US alone (Statista). These figures aren’t just astonishing because they’re massive, they also validate email’s significance in the 21st century –– it’s popular, it’s necessary, and my god, there’s no stopping it.
03. It’s effective in its delivery
Compared to alternative approaches, email offers unparalleled reach and exposure, with “engagement rates as high as 22.86%, compared to Facebook’s 0.6%” (Optinmonster). In fact, as a channel for digital transaction and social networking, email is noted as one of, if not the, most effective line of communication methods available. Senders utilizing email as an avenue for more than just general communication have found that it provides more effective organic growth and measurable business engagement statistics, such as a higher click-through rate (CTR) and an increase in subscriptions and sales.
However, email is a complex microcosm of pings and pop-ups that is often contingent on a strong, well-researched strategy. In order to keep your name relevant and your audience engaged, few approaches are as effective but difficult to master as the follow-up email.
Why bother following up?
Channeling the club visual from above, a follow-up email is the digital equivalent of mustering up the courage to politely tap the shoulder of the celebrity who has ignored your advances all night. While the act is uncomfortable and can annoy the recipient, it can also yield some serious results when done strategically.
Of course, our immediate instincts tell us that when someone goes unresponsive, they’re not interested, and they’re certainly not going to be happy if we reach out to them again. However, data shows that this is not the case when it comes to a well-crafted email.
From an analytical perspective, one study taken by Iko-System saw that, while first emails gathered an average 18% response rate, second and third follow-up emails were receiving response rates as high as 14% and 12%, respectively.
In fact, it doesn’t matter if it’s your first or your tenth, you can utilize this guide at any stage of your communication process to start increasing your response rate, expanding your reach, and gaining the confidence to give that shoulder another tap.
How to write a follow-up email in 10 easy steps:
01. Determine the goal
So you just wrapped up your meeting, interview, or sales pitch and now it’s time to write your follow-up email. Before getting started, it’s important to determine the purpose of the message you plan to send. Doing so will help you re-clarify your objectives and deliver more effective calls-to-action (CTAs), which have a greater chance in getting your reader engaged enough to respond. With these objectives in mind, you can start thinking about how to achieve them via email.
02. Create a captivating subject line
Follow-up emails have the power to convert leads into sales, maximize business development, and foster old/new relationships. However, it is often the opening line that charms and captivates the reader into carrying on with this interaction.
As a word of advice, I would focus on the body of the email first, and then come back and write the subject line. This way you’ll have fleshed out the entirety of your message and I’ll have done my job in teaching you the very same writing tip that your 5th grade teacher taught you for writing an essay: Write the intro last.
Now, let’s quickly go into what defines an adequate subject line, and don’t be afraid to A/B test your ideas:
Keep it short and sweet: Or as Michael Scott would say, K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Even in the wake of a pandemic, the attention span isn’t quite like it used to be. Keep your subject line to a 30-60 character limit and you might increase your open rates by as much as 50% (Yes Marketing).
Capitalization kills: When has writing entirely in caps lock ever helped anyone? Unless you’re inexplicably screaming at the reader, there’s nothing to be said in all caps unless it’s “THROW ME AWAY!” This goes for exclamation points as well. Tone is hard enough to convey and even harder to interpret when done negligently. Having said that, brands, businesses and interview candidates have largely adopted title cases in their subject lines, making them completely acceptable.
Numbers are your friend: With the average attention span of a human being being roughly 8 seconds (Microsoft), site owners are tasked with finding ways to catch the user’s eye in as little time possible. By using various devices like numbered lists, readers arrive at a site and quickly learn that in as few as X amount of steps, they will get all the information they came for. This type of content generation is often used by blogs (like your favorite writing blog) and alternative news channels like Buzzfeed and Vice.
Use actionable phrases: Sentences like “You won’t want to miss this” and “Only smart people do this” are effective because they play on the reader’s inability to manage their FOMO (fear of missing out). After all, if only smart people do this thing, how can I be sure I’m smart unless I do that thing!? In the end, it all becomes rather enticing to the user who just found out he/she does do that smart thing by putting on underwear before putting on pants.
03. Fine-tune your opener
For the average person, the day is long and the inbox is constantly under bombardment by department stores, subscriptions services and salesmen who always seem to just be checking in. While keeping it personal and friendly, be sure to help your readers by providing a little context about why you’re reaching out. You could be referencing a previous email or interaction, or express that you were told to reach out by a colleague. Whatever the case, the opener is a great opportunity to demonstrate your worth by tailoring the message to the reader and providing them with valuable information that will make them want to click “Reply”.
04. Clearly state your purpose
If you’re about to send an email that could be a stand-in as a fourth installment to The Lord of the Rings, just shut down your devices, cancel your subscriptions, and quit digital communication forever. Seriously, there’s nothing more unbearable than a message that doesn’t know how to end. Keep it brief and focus on clearly stating your purpose early on to avoid boring your readers to death with redundancy and long-windedness.
05. Add your signature
If you haven’t already done so, it’s really important to set up an email signature containing your first and last name, email, phone number, and any other social media handles you think are relevant. Some people go so far to put a quote in their signature. I wouldn’t recommend this simply because no matter how inspirational a quote might seem, it can’t possibly apply to every single occasion, and you certainly don’t want to wrap up your condolences email with a quote by Michael Jordan.
06. Check your spelling
Especially when it comes to post-interview and sales meeting emails, the last thing you want is to be rejected based on carelessness in your messages. Make sure to always double check your work before clicking send. After all, its frustrating tryng 2 read e-maiols tht hav bad spellinbg. It shows n unparallellled lak of professnalism, xperience nd kare.
07. Watch your sending frequency
“How long should I wait before following up?” The short answer is: a little, but not too long. While this is partially based on scenario, it’s always suggested to wait two to three days before sending a follow-up. After all, the last thing you want is to come off as bothersome and irritating because you can’t manage to wait a little before letting your readers know you’re still waiting on that reply.
By contrast, if you’re writing a post-interview follow-up email, it’s always good to send one the same or next day that you had your interview. This will show your interest levels are high while keeping your name and professionalism fresh in the interviewer’s mind.
08. Send yourself a test email
This is especially important if you’re sending an email via a mobile device - which I don’t recommend - considering the formatting is always a gamble. Regardless, sending yourself a test email before sending out the final version will reduce the likelihood of missing a spelling or grammatical error, and enable you to see what the user will see when they receive your email.
09. Automate your follow-ups
Manually staying on top of a potential 1,000+ client list could get pretty challenging. Especially when all your recipients are in different stages of the communication process. If you reach a certain volume of receivers, try deploying an email marketing tool to automate your follow-ups.
In the case of the post-interview follow-up, try writing your message right after the interview but setting the automation to run later on in the day. This way, the content stays fresh in your head and you won’t have to worry about waiting for the perfect time to send your email.
10. Review the results
Arguably the greatest advancement that has ever happened to marketing is the limitless capability of analyzing user data. With this information, companies are able to test-drive their content to see what works and tweak what doesn’t. This is also a valuable piece of advice if you’re in the interview process. Your goal is to get your interviewer to respond organically and positively. If it hasn’t worked in the past, analyze your mistakes and fix them –– take the time to understand who you’re writing to.
A simple recall to the conversation you had previously is usually enough to strike a response.
Let’s now take a look at some scenario-based follow-up emails examples:
10 follow-up emails templates
MARKETING / SALES / LEAD GENERATION EMAIL TEMPLATES
01. The post-meeting follow-up email
You met with your potential clients and left the room assured that you’ve just initiated a process that will end in a deal/sale. Yet, here you are, waiting on a response a week later. Sometimes they’re just caught up in their own responsibilities and forget to respond, other times they need a little more of a push–– your best option is to give them a quick nudge or reminder:
Thanks again for taking the time to meet with me on <day of meeting>.
I really enjoyed learning more about <company name>, some of your daily pain points using <system/framework>, and how < company name> can potentially be of assistance.
I just want to clarify that:
Point 1: <link to article or data report showing positive benefit from your service/product>
Point 2: <link to article or data report showing positive benefit from your service/product>
Point 3: <link to article or data report showing positive benefit from your service/product>
Should you have any additional questions or concerns about our <service/product>, please do not hesitate to reach out.
All the best,
02. The post-voicemail follow-up email
This is one of the most common approaches done by sales, recruiters, marketing departments and beyond. Fully effective when sent with little duration in between, this follow-up email makes the reader understand that you won’t go away quietly:
Following up on my recent voicemail. I’d love to find an opportunity to speak with you about <explain the purpose>, and how <company name> might be able to help you.
In my message, I mentioned that I’d try to reach out on <day & time>, but feel free to touch base with me whenever you have the time. You can reach me at <phone number>.
03. The post-client demo follow-up email
Offering free or exclusive demos to potential clients can really help generate some engagement. However, just because someone tries out your free services doesn’t mean that they plan to invest their time, money and resources into moving forward with you. During this stage of the process, it’s essential that you keep the clients warm by sending additional follow-ups:
You were using <service or company name> for no more than a few minutes then suddenly you were gone...
What happened? Did you get distracted? Did you get eaten by a bear? Please let me know you’re safe and sound so I can help you get your <company’s service> started again.
Want to chat? Reply to this email and let me know what’s been going on. Or if you just got sidetracked, you can always pick up right where you left off by jumping back into <link to site>.
All the best,
04. The post-event follow-up email
Chances are, if you’re in sales, marketing or any other core business product or service team, you’ll find yourself at various trade shows, networking events and conferences that are overflowing with potential clients and information. If you’re wise, you’ll utilize this time to speak with industry professionals about your offer and start meaningful connections with them. This really acts as the engagement of the sales process, where the first step is introduction and the last step is closing a deal. Of course, the second step is the follow-up –– which (ideally) should happen the very next day:
Hi <first name>,
I’m so glad we finally got the opportunity to meet at <event>.
Per your recommendation, I checked out <company site> and love your perspective on cross-functional performance and cost reduction strategies. Have you tried using the <suggestion>?
We use the very same model on our team at <company name> and it’s been extremely successful.
If you’ve got the time, let’s jump on a quick call to talk about where <company name> can start helping you achieve your goals. When are you available?
05. The post-follow-up, follow-up email
Typically, this is when you haven’t garnered any responses from your previous emails, and this is one of your last-ditch attempts at gaining some organic engagement. Most of the time, professionals will get resourceful, flex the humor muscle and try to do whatever they can to humanize the interaction, proverbially shorten the distance between you, and ask you again if you’re interested in continuing in the conversation. Other proven approaches are to include valuable information about your company, such as metrics and article links, in order to re-instill value and get the ball rolling again:
Hi <name> ,
Following up on my last email regarding our <service/product>. Did you get the information you were looking for?
I know you were only looking for <specific service/product>, but I thought I’d share how companies like yours have found success with <company name>. Here are just a few examples:
Link 1: 350k annual savings by using <company name> vs <competitor>
Link 2: 300% increase in retention after system redesign
Link 3: 200% increase in overall quote-view to purchase rate after switching to <company name>
Would you be open for a quick 10-minute call to chat about the initiatives going on in your company, and how <company name> can potentially help?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
06. The post-decline of service email
In your career there’s going to be plenty of turndowns. This is important for career growth. Getting knocked down always is. However, if a client, candidate, or lead takes the time to respectfully but repeatedly decline your services/offers, there’s only so much you can do besides schedule another email for the following week (or two) to reach out again. When that time comes, you can say:
Last we spoke you had mentioned that because of <reason they weren’t interested>, you were no longer interested in <company name> or the services/products we provide.
Well, I haven’t heard from you in a while and I wanted to see if anything has changed on your end regarding your business needs.
Feel free to reach out to me here, or call me at: <phone number>.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
JOB SEARCH EMAIL TEMPLATES
07. The post-interview follow-up email
Interview follow-up emails are a great way to instill additional value, clear up any concerns and make last minute remarks about your conversation. This is also a really good time to respectfully thank the interviewer for their time:
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me regarding the <role title> opportunity on <interview date>.
It was truly a pleasure learning about you, the <department name> team, and your approach when it comes to <conversational highlight>.
I feel that my experience at <current company> aligns well with the responsibilities of the <role title> position and if given the opportunity, I would love to continue the interview process.
Should you have any questions or concerns about my candidacy, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Looking forward, <Your name>
08. The post-interview follow-up, follow-up email
Most will agree, the interview process is highly strenuous and often filled with close calls, eagerness, excitement and sometimes, disappointment. There can be times when you leave an interview feeling confident that you’re one step closer to receiving an offer. You go home, send your post interview follow-up, and await the fireworks in the form of an offer letter. Which doesn’t come. In fact, three days go by and nothing ever comes. At this point, it’s time to send an additional email. (I should note that, if after two emails the hiring manager does not respond to you, cut your losses and move on):
I hope you’re having a great week.
I recently interviewed for the <job title> opportunity on <interview date>, and you mentioned your team would be finalizing a hiring decision this week.
Should you need any additional information from me, please do not hesitate to reach out.
I look forward to hearing from you.
09. The email to decline an offer
It could be the money, the location, brand perception, or any number of reasons, sometimes you just have to say no to a job offer. It’s never pleasant and most of the time you wish it could be avoidable, but knowing how to appropriately say you’re not interested is just as important as any other occasion. Simply put, you don’t want to burn any bridges and you never know when you might run into that person later on in life:
Hope this message finds you well.
I wanted to extend my thanks for giving me the opportunity to interview for the <role title> position with <company name>. The recruiting process was stress-free and efficient and only reaffirmed to me how great <company name> really is.
Unfortunately, I am unable to accept the offer due to <reason you cannot accept>.
Should anything change on my end I'll happily reach back out. Thanks again for your time and consideration.
All the best, <Your name>
10. The email to accept an offer
If you’re a perfect fit for the role, and manage to prove you’re better than any other candidate in contention, you might be lucky enough to receive an offer letter at the end of the interview process. Although this means that you’ve technically reached the finish line and you’re officially sought-after by the company, it doesn’t mean that your writing articulation and professionalism should waver. Should you receive an offer, try saying something like this:
Thank you for the offer of <job title> at <company name>. I am delighted to say that I formally accept the offer, and I am thrilled to join the team on <start date>.
If there is any additional information you need prior to then, please do not hesitate to let me know. Once again, thank you very much for the opportunity, and I look forward to working with you.
Jason Wien, ADI Writer at Wix
Born in Florida, raised in New Jersey, schooled in New York, and currently based in Tel Aviv. Jason is a former Tech Recruiter but left all that behind for good weather, dog beaches and words like sababa and shawarma.