Whether it’s with a sense of excitement or dread, sending out the occasional follow-up email is an aspect of adulting most of us simply can’t avoid. And what we’re looking to get out of these messages most of the time is—at the very least—a response.
It seems straightforward, right? But the art of sending a follow-up that actually inspires the recipient to take the time to read AND respond? Now that can be tricky.
Let’s ensure your next follow-up is a success. Keep reading for everything you need to know to craft a follow-up email that warrants a response.
When to Send a Follow-Up Email
When you send a follow-up email will be unique to your individual situation. However, there are a couple of general guidelines to consider when sending your message so that it remains relevant and has the best chance of being opened.
HubSpot recommends the following timeframes for sending follow-up emails:
How to Write a Follow-Up Email
1. Identify Your Primary Objective
Before putting your fingers to the keyboard, the first step of writing a follow-up email is to determine the objective of your message.
What’s the end goal you’re looking to achieve from sending this email?
Take a second to ask yourself, are you trying to…
Regardless of what your goal ends up being, this step is necessary to allow you to craft a strong follow-up and include a specific call-to-action (CTA).
2. Provide Context
Discounts and deals, order confirmations, bill payment reminders, and those random messages from Grandma checking in—we are constantly bombarded with emails.
And if your inbox is anything like mine, it’s not hard to find one of many of those messages that make you stop and think—“wait, who is this sender??”
If you’re nodding along, you probably already know that step #2 to writing a follow-up email is critical: provide context around who you are and how they know you. This is especially important if it’s been a while since your most recent interaction or if you don’t have a very close relationship with this person.
Don’t leave any room for confusion that will deter your recipient from responding. Provide context early on in your email by emphasizing your initial conversations or interactions to jog their memory.
Here are a few solid openers you can test out in your follow-up emails:
Quick Tip: Include the subject line of your initial email in your opener to make it easy for your recipient to go back and locate that first message.
3. Make the Purpose Clear
After providing context to refresh your recipient’s memory, move straight into making the purpose of this communication clear.
This portion of the email should be direct and straightforward. Remind the recipient of what you mentioned wanting/needing from the last email or letting them know if that want/need has since changed.
Quick Tip: If this is a follow-up email aiming to make a sale, keep the focus on the recipient here and reframe any statements using “I” to address the benefit or relevancy to them. You might be tempted to throw in an “I think” or “I believe” statement here, but I promise, it’ll be much more effective to keep the reader believing this is all about them.
Here’s an example:
Rather than including: “I think my/our [product or service] could really help you accomplish [benefit]. I would love to hop on a quick call to chat about [opportunity].”
Try something like: “Your [aspect of their business or life] would really benefit from [purpose of product or service]. Would you like to hop on a quick call to chat about this opportunity?”
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This story was originally published on April 20, 2020, and has since been updated.