One of the biggest fallacies I see amongst professionals who write cold emails is their failure to follow up. Knowing how to write an effective follow up email effectively is probably the easiest way to increase your response rate if you aren’t already doing it.
Make It Easy
The optimal way to follow up to an unanswered email is by replying to the first one you sent. This practice allows you to:
- Keep the followup short
- Make the initial context easy for the reader to find
- Emphasize that they have not responded to you
By initially following up on a separate thread, you’re putting an onus on the reader. Often they didn’t read or forgot the initial email. As a result, when they receive your follow-up, they have to dig through their inbox to find the original for context. This is work. Again, the easier you make things, the more likely you’ll achieve an optimal outcome.
My follow up email primarily serves to reference the original. Again, this keeps it short and reminds the reader that I have not heard from them. Here is an example script I use all the time:
I just wanted to circle back on my email below re: getting you a comments widget for your site. Are you free for a quick call on Monday or Tuesday?
In action with the reply all:
My initial email should provide Nucky all the bait he needs to get back to me. The follow up email is mainly about giving him a gentle nudge to encourage a response. Note* sometimes it can be effective to sprinkle in some additional bait within the follow up. In this case, I might craft a second sentence like:
Across similar size partners, we’re seeing an average increase of 1 minute on site with the addition of our widget.
The best way to make sure you follow up, is to schedule it during or immediately after you send an email. There’s a few tools that you can use to do this that are far superior than your calendar.
FollowUp.cc and Boomerang are my favorite. FollowUp.cc allows you to create reminders by specifying the time interval you’d like to be reminded to follow up within the BCC field. If I entered OneWeek@followup.cc, I’d receive a reminder a week later to follow up on that email. Boomerang has similar capabilities within the gmail web client.
The time interval between the initial email and the follow up really depends upon where you are in the lifecycle of a relationship or deal. For an initial cold email, following up within 4-7 days is ideal. I don’t like to wait any longer than a week. However, if I’m a bit deeper in the deal funnel, I’ll likely space out follow up emails so I don’t seem too pushy (I often have a soft sale). It really comes down to a feel thing.
Though this post may seem targeted at business development and sales professionals, following up effectively is something that can dramatically improve anyone’s lives. Here’s a few situations where following up might help you achieve what you’re after:
- You asked someone for help
- The job application process
- Reaching out to an organization for more information
- A pending invitation to something
One thing business development has taught me is that you never get anything you don’t ask for. What few realize is sometimes you have to ask twice : )
First time reader and interested in business development? Here’s a section with more business development posts I’ve written.