It’s easy to put off writing a follow-up email.
You might assume if someone hasn’t responded to your initial email that they’re not interested.
But, these days inboxes are crowded places. Given that the average open rate for B2B emails hovered at 21.3%, you may need to be persistent to get recipients to open and respond to your email.
People often forget to reply to an initial email, no matter its contents. Sometimes a well-crafted follow-up is all that’s needed to jog someone’s memory so they reply to your message.
1. Know the goal of your email
Prior to sending out any follow-ups, define what you’re hoping to achieve with your message. Knowing your goal helps you craft an email to get you the kind of response you want.
Do you want to close a sale? Book a meeting? Get feedback on your interview performance?
Each impacts how you’ll follow up—and when.
Here are some outreach email examples and how to approach them with a follow-up:
- Asking for feedback after an interview or meeting: Ask a direct question to request feedback, after reflecting on what a positive time you had.
- Getting payment on an overdue invoice: Clarify the due date of the invoice, before asking for them to confirm an expected payment date.
- Booking a client call or demo: Set the scene with a note about how you met, then follow-up with a calendar link and ask for them to book in a slot.
- Getting an update on a piece of work you’ve assigned: Ask how they are getting on, then request an update on when you can expect the work to be finished.
- Encouraging a lead to sign a contract: Reflect on how your initial meeting or demo went. Then, write a compelling call to action to encourage them to sign on the dotted line.
2. Be clear and direct
Don’t be tempted to opt for fluffy language like ‘just’ or ‘checking in’ when sending a follow-up email. With your goal in mind, use language that’s clear and direct. This helps your recipient understand the context, tone, and motivation behind your email.
The messaging inside your follow-up should always sound polite and professional. You know your target audience best, but as a general rule, it’s best to keep small-talk or humor out of the message.
You don’t want an overwhelming wall of text to greet your recipient; it’ll make them less likely to respond. Write a maximum of 3-4 sentences and get to the point quickly, as Devin Pickell, Growth Marketer at Nextiva, explains:
“There are circumstances in which an email would need to be long, but when following up, keep it short and sweet. People’s inboxes are more full now than ever with remote work. Get to the point.”
It’s best to make one single request in your follow-ups so you don’t bombard your recipient with information. That way, the receiver will clearly understand what’s expected of them and what they should do next.
For example: if you’re following up on an unpaid invoice you need to be clear about the facts—that it’s overdue and you expect payment ASAP. Outline this along with any penalties for not paying within a reasonable timeframe.
If you’re following up after a sales email, be clear that this is an email to confirm their interest (or not) in what you’re selling. Give them a way to express this interest either by talking to you further, or a way out to say they’re no longer interested and you can move on to other prospects.
Erik Wright explains what this looks like for New Horizon Home Buyers:
“I got a lead from a guy who wanted to sell his house. I talked to him once on the phone and then every time I reached out to him after that, no response.
On the third attempt, I decided to try to make him chase me so I sent an email with the subject line: “Have you decided not to sell your house?”
In the body of the email I wrote a short message, “Hi just wanted to check in again. I don’t want to keep bugging you if you decided not to sell. If you are still interested let me know and we can set up a time to see the property and talk more.” I got a response the very next day. He was still interested in selling, he’d just been busy, etc.
The key is to appeal to the motivation to the other person. If they see you as needing them, then they can put off responding and not think about it. If they see themselves as needing you and it feels like you might be backing away, then they have more motivation to respond.”
3. Include a call to action
Make it really clear for your recipient what you’re expecting them to do with a strong CTA.
Don’t leave your email up to interpretation. Avoid vague language like “can I get an update on this?” or “what did you think?”
You want your follow-up email to drive results or give you the exact information you need.
Let’s put that into practice. If you want your recipient to schedule a virtual meeting with you, try something like: “Want to discuss this further? Book a call with me at a time that’s convenient to you” and link your bookable calendar.
If you want an update on a request you’ve made, be clear about the information you want to receive back. For example: “can you confirm the expected delivery date of X?” or “can you provide me with the product list, costs, and expected timescales for Y?”
4. Write a compelling email subject line
Before your recipient even reads your carefully crafted email, you’ll need to encourage them to open it with a compelling subject line. It’s the first thing your recipient will notice when your follow-up email arrives in their inbox.
A good email subject line is personalized. One report found that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to get opened.
Alternatively, if your follow-up ties in with your original email, you could respond to the most recent message in the thread. That way, you won’t need to spend time thinking about a catchy subject line.
5. Time it carefully
Consider the amount of time between your initial contact and your follow-up email.
The ideal timing of a follow-up message depends on when you sent your previous email, and what you hope to achieve with your message. Think about your goal, and also respect your recipient’s time and schedule.
If you’re following up after an interview, leave it a day or two. Your interviewer will likely want to reflect before they provide any updates.
If you want to arrange a meeting or demo, you can leave it as long as a week or so between follow-ups.
Follow-ups chasing late payments should be sent at least 24 hours after the payment due date. Don’t leave any late payment follow-ups too late. You don’t want clients or customers to think that you don’t take late payments seriously.
Take care not to bombard prospects with multiple sales email follow-ups that are sent one after the other. Instead, send each email outwith a gap of 5-7 days, depending on the stage of the deal.
As for the day you send your follow-up email, aim to send it on a Tuesday around 10am. Studies have found that Tuesday morning is the best time for sending emails, with Thursday coming in second.
(If you plan on sending multiple follow-up emails, you could try A/B testing at different times of the week.)
6. Don’t be afraid to follow up again
It’s estimated that 70% of people just send a single follow-up email.
That first follow-up email tends to get a 30% response rate. However, 14% of people open the fourth follow-up in a sequence. Even the 10th email in the sequence got a 7% response rate:
Sending a further follow-up message is another opportunity to close that deal, make that sale, or get the response you wanted. It’s a chance to test a different subject line, make your message more concise, or try a different approach.
Even if you don’t receive the positive response you’d hoped for, always leave the door open for future contact. While your prospect may not feel ready yet, they may reach out in the future when they need your product or service.
Omiete Charles-Davies explains how they do this for One Doctor:
“When I send outreach emails to other website owners or when pitching stuff, I send two follow-up emails spaced out 3 days apart. I found this to be the sweet spot for getting replies. Many people may be too busy to respond to your email after the first try but two follow-ups make you feel noticed without being too pushy.
The follow-up emails basically ask them if they saw your initial email. The last follow up tells them you won’t bother them again if they don’t respond.”
7. Be available after you send your follow-up email
Your job isn’t over once you’ve sent the follow-up email.
Research has found that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. If your lead is ready to buy after your follow-up email, make sure you’re around to help them do just that.
This doesn’t just apply to sales reps, either. If you’re requesting an update on a project, your team member might want to schedule a quick call rather than email. It helps to stick around an hour to hook-in the people who open your follow-up straight away.
7 follow-up email templates to provoke a response
Are you ready to send a follow-up message to an email you’re still waiting for a response to?
Below are seven follow-up email templates you can use for a variety of situations.
But remember: when emailing people, personalization is key. The templates are great, but the best follow-ups are personalized to match the context of your own conversation. Take some time to customize each.
After an interview
Ever feel like you aced a job interview but you haven’t heard back from the recruiter yet? Playing the waiting game is tough. It’s only normal to want an update on the hiring process. A follow-up email can speed up that waiting game.
Hiring managers often interview several candidates, so make sure to be specific about your interview date and job role in your interview follow-up email.
Restate your desire to work with the team and your interest in the role. Remind them of any relevant skills or experiences that you discussed in your interview or job application.
Being courteous goes a long way, so don’t forget to say thank you and how much you appreciate the manager’s time.
Here’s how to politely follow-up after a job interview:
It was a pleasure to interview with you for the role of [position] on [day]. Your team immediately made me feel welcome, and I’d love the opportunity to work with such an intelligent, thoughtful group of people.
In the interview, you talked about how [skill or approach] is so important to [company name]. That’s a feeling that I share too, and I’ve actively supported this at previous companies by [activity, task, or contribution].
Please let me know if you’d appreciate any additional information or references from me.
After a sales email
Did you know that 48% of salespeople never send a follow-up email?
That’s a lot of potential sales going unclaimed—especially when you consider that 60% of customers say no four times before saying yes.
Whether you’re following up on a cold email or a personal interaction, blanket follow-ups may look spammy to receivers.
Sales professionals should keep their sales follow-up emails personalized to the prospect.
Every time you make contact with a prospect, add some value to your offering. Perhaps you have a fresh case study to share, a new feature to offer, or some social proof in the form of a testimonial.
Always make a reference to their company and industry type, too. Your follow-up email should show how your company can help them solve specific pain points and drive results.
Here’s how to send a short follow-up email to a potential customer:
I emailed you last week about [company name]’s commitment to helping companies like yours achieve [X].
We’re delighted to have helped clients achieve an [X%] increase in [deliverable] using our tried-and-tested method, and would love to create similar results for you
If you’re interested in hearing more about how everything works, I’m more than happy to talk to you. Please schedule a call through my calendar at [link] at a time that’s convenient for you
I look forward to hearing from you.
After a late invoice
Chasing an unpaid invoice? Sometimes invoices simply slip through the cracks and don’t get paid.
Send a polite follow-up message to see if they received your first email and if they need any more details, attaching the invoice that’s overdue. Make sure clients know that they can contact you with any questions they may have about payment.
Here’s how to send that late payment follow-up email:
Our records show that our invoice #[number] remains unpaid.
This invoice was due for payment on [date], which means it’s now overdue. Please make payment against this invoice as soon as possible. [*As per our contract, a late fee of X% will be applied onto unpaid invoices if payment is not received by [date].
If you need to discuss this further, you can reach me at [phone number] or [email address].
*Only use this sentence if you have a contract that states you have grounds to charge late fees.
After you’ve made a request
Waiting on documents can be frustrating; it may hold you back from completing the next step of a project.
Maybe you’ve requested an update on a project, or you’re waiting for some important documents to come through. Hold the receiver accountable by explaining that you need certain paperwork to continue.
In your follow-up email, define timescales along with any firm deadlines to avoid any misunderstandings or delays. Make it easy for clients to ask questions by including your contact information.
Here’s a template to get the information you need:
I sent over some paperwork about [project] for you to look over and sign on [date].
Without this signed paperwork, we can’t proceed with [project] on time. This would create delays across the project and impact our timescales.
Please sign and return the paperwork by [time] on [date]. If you’d like to discuss further before signing, I’m available to take your call at [phone number].
After an initial meeting or demo
Your first meeting or product demo went well, and now you want to close the deal. Make the follow-up email brief and easy to understand.
Highlight all the main points discussed in your meeting, and why your offering is a good fit for them. This transactional email should clearly outline the next steps—be that jumping on a call, signing a contract, or entering their credit card information.
But remember: once you’ve sent out this follow-up email, be available to answer any remaining questions.
Here’s how to send a polite follow-up email to people who’ve booked a product demo with you:
Thank you so much for your time on [day] when we walked through the demo of [product name] and how it’s great for [task].
After talking about your goals of [goal] and [goal], we think this could be a useful tool to help you achieve them. As we discussed in the demo, our [new feature] launches on [date] that’ll also help streamline your [process].
Looking at your requirements, our [plan name] plan looks like the best fit. If you’d like to move forward, drop me a line at [phone number] or reply to this email and I’ll personally handle the sign-up process for you.
After an intro
Someone’s introduced you to a contact of theirs, but you haven’t heard anything since.
Send a simple nudge to remind the receiver of who you are, why you’re connecting, and who introduced you both. You can even convince them to respond to your LinkedIn connection request.
Provide some details on your experience and how you might be able to help.Include details on the next steps, whether that’s a phone call or meeting so the person has a clear idea of what to do next.
Finally, remove further obstacles by including a direct link to your call booking platform.
Here’s how to send a friendly follow-up email to get things moving:
It was great to be introduced to you via [introducer’s name] and hear all about your work on [project].
[introducer’s name] mentioned you’re looking for a [role] to help you [outcome]. I’m a [role] with [X ]years’ experience in [industry], and happy to chat further to see if we can work together to achieve [goal].
Please feel free to email me at [email address] or call [phone number] any time.
After you’ve already sent a follow-up email
You still may not have a response after your first follow-up email. So, send secondary follow-ups that contain details on your previous conversations. That way, your receiver won’t need to remember information or go through past email threads.
For example: If you’ve already agreed to a timeline for a certain project, remind them of this. Don’t be afraid to hold them accountable.
Since this isn’t your first follow-up email, it should have concrete goals.
Here’s a short template to give them another nudge:
I sent you an email on [date] to request an update about [project].
Could you confirm the updated timescale for [project] by [time] on [date] please? That way, we can move forward and start [thing you’re waiting to do].
Send a follow-up email that effectively generates responses
As you can see, there’s more to just sending an email to check in with prospects, clients, and hiring managers. Effective follow-up messages combine good timing, clear language choice, and direct calls to action.
Use the templates and best practices above to inspire your follow-up emails. Then, tweak and test your follow-ups to see which ones receive the most positive responses.
The best part? You can automate your follow-up messages inside ManyChat.
Simply send your first email, and automatically have a preformatted follow-up message ready to go if they don’t respond within a certain timeframe.