How to Write An Effective Follow Up Email

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.

Follow Up Email

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:

  1. Keep the followup short
  2. Make the initial context easy for the reader to find
  3. 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:

Hi Nucky,

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:

Follow Up Email

 

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.

Schedule It

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.

Time Interval

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 : )

[ois skin=”Cold Email Skin”]

 

First time reader and interested in business development? Here’s a section with more business development posts I’ve written.

Published by

Scott

Scott Britton

23 thoughts on “How to Write An Effective Follow Up Email”

      1. Looks like it has been updated in the last few months since I posted. I only posted because of the fact there were so many little errors.

  1. So what happens when they do not respond to that?? It is probably more effective to try and reach them on the phone? Also if you use “are you free?” it creates the notion of them being able to say no? Is it better to leave it open yet direct…as in “I will give you a call which day is better Monday or Tuesday?” even though they can still say no, they are probably less likely as it is more direct?

    1. I call if they don’t respond to that. If they don’t get back to me then I try to go through someone else or get their attention in a creative way over email after a bit of time has passed.

  2. Great post Scott.

    “We both know Mike.”

    What I also do is to LInkedIn them and find out who in my network also knows this person and mention that person’s name. For example “Looks like you are also know a good friend of mine, Mike. We went to college together.” Of course, ideally only mention a person you know and can vouch for you.

    This method is likely to make the message “warm” instead of “cold.”

    James
    http://huisjames.wordpress.com

    1. Great call James. This is a good idea to throw this in the follow up. You could even make it more casual by saying something like…”I totally forgot to bring up that I noticed you know [X,Y]

  3. Thanks! I tried this today and out of 12 emails i got a response within like an hour from 3 people! 25% isn’t bad!

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