8 Follow Up Email Best Practices to Increase Replies
With the right approach, a great follow up email can get you more responses than you could ever imagine.
Let’s think back for a moment: when was the last time you sent someone an email and couldn’t WAIT to get a response? Maybe you refreshed your inbox more times than you would have liked to admit.
You know what I’m talking about. One day passes by. Then two. Then three. You check your email a few more times just to make sure you didn’t miss their response.
But you were really hoping to get a reply, and it left you wondering what happened. Was it something you said? Did they secretly hate the font you used in your signature?
Here’s the thing: responses don’t always come from 1st touch emails.
Sometimes the timing just isn’t right. So you figure either they’re not interested, or something came up and they just forgot to reply.
Say they did genuinely forget to respond. If you don’t send a follow-up email, how will you ever know what really happened? How will you know the truth?!
The answer is follow up emails.
OK, OK, before you roll your eyes and say, “What do you mean? Follow ups don’t work!”, hear me out for a minute.
Data shows that following up really does lead to more responses. After we analyzed 1.7 million emails sent out by our users, something crazy stuck out: 55% of email responses came from a follow up email.
Take this pro advice from Steli Efti, CEO of Close:
“Unless you’re a psychic, stop assuming you know why other people behave the way they do.”
“If a prospect doesn’t reply, maybe it’s because they’re not interested. Maybe they’re busy. Maybe they’ve got 300 emails to go through and didn’t even notice yours. Maybe they meant to reply and got distracted by a phone call. There are hundreds of potential reasons why prospects don’t respond.”
“I get emails from people every single day telling me that they closed a deal because they followed my advice on following up. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the power of the follow up.”
“You’re not where you could be if you’re not on top of your follow up game.”
1. Think about them, not you.
It might sound silly at first, but think about the person you’re emailing and how they’ll actually react to your follow-up when they receive it.
Seriously — imagine them sitting down at their cluttered desk, working on a project that’s due the next day and opening up that follow-up email of yours.
Do they likely have 50 more follow-up emails from other companies in their inbox?
What do you think is on their mind — and how can you help them out?
It’s no coincidence that people who can sell like crazy are also highly empathetic. So let go of your expectations and focus on what you can do for them instead.
2. Earn their time. Don’t assume it’s yours.
One of the #1 mistakes people make when sending follow ups is assuming they’ve earned someone’s time when they haven’t put in the work.
Just like any other relationship, trust has to be earned. You can’t skip straight to scheduling the call before they’ve even agreed. It just doesn’t happen.
“Reminder” emails like these can be pretty presumptuous. If a prospect hasn’t indicated they’re interested, why would they get on a call on Thursday?
Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
3. Be creative. Think outside the box.
Go beyond the bland, traditional follow-up messages that are used by SO many.
You know the ones I’m talking about. You’ve seen tons of them in your inbox over the past year.
One quick question for you: When you check your email, how often do you find a follow-up email that makes you laugh?
Or one that is memorable at all, for that matter? My guess is not very often.
Funny works. Sure, there are some people out there who hate funny. But you can’t please everyone. Have fun with it. Best case scenario: adding a touch of funny will humanize your email and make it more relatable.
Bottom line: If your follow-up message stands out from the rest (and has some personality), it’ll get more attention than a bland “Just checking to see if you received my last email” message.
4. Be VERY clear. Avoid vagueness like the plague.
Vagueness is your worst enemy.
While at first it may seem like a good idea to send a follow up that says “just making sure you saw this” with the original email stacked below, it’s better to aim for something much more clear.
Chances are, they won’t even remember what you’d originally emailed them, and they won’t have the time to click the previous message.
5. Would YOU reply to your follow-up email?
Before you put the finishing touches on your follow-up email, read it.
Then ask yourself: Would YOU reply to that follow-up email? Honestly?
Don’t BS yourself here — if you do, it’ll only come back to haunt you later. Be brutally honest.
If you wouldn’t reply to a message like that if it hit your own inbox, then scrap it and start over.
6. Add value again and again.
Since you’re a genius and always add value in your 1st touch emails, doesn’t it make sense to continue?
You can continue to add value in a number of ways: By sharing something interesting you learned that’s relevant to them, or sending them an interesting article that relates to their industry.
One year I was at Dreamforce and after the event, my inbox was inundated with sales emails. And I sort of came to expect them. You know, emails that looked like they were written by robots.
One person I met, though, sent an email with a link to an awesome, totally relevant article. It wasn’t like they picked just any article, either — it was awesome. It really stood out and started a conversation.
Adding value to your follow-up email shows whoever you’re emailing that you want to genuinely help them out. It’s the opposite of being salesy (which is what you want).
7. Don’t give off a spammy vibe
Are your follow ups spammy? No, not unless you make ’em spam.
You’d be surprised how many totally awesome, non-sketchy people send spam-esque emails on a regular basis.
Do you think spammers look in the mirror and think, “Oh, yeah, I’m a total spammer. Nice.” ?
That’s because when people send spammy-looking emails, they often don’t know it.
Which means you might be doing the VERY SAME THING!
Here’s are some questions to ask yourself before sending your next one:
-Are you offering genuine value?
-Is your message relatable?
-Do you sound like a robot?
8. Just reach out (fearlessly)!
Why do people skip follow ups and miss out on great responses? Fear.
Fear of being annoying, fear of rejection… the list goes on.
There will always be someone who doesn’t like one of your follow-up emails, but think about all the successful follow-up emails you’d be throwing out the window if you decided to let that one person bother you.
Mark Rosneck from Resonance Promotions pointed out that people tend to “horrible-ize” or think of the worst case scenario: “It’s usually just the opposite which is why, in general, it’s so important to follow up.”
Over to you: What’s the best follow-up email you’ve ever received?
Do you remember an awesome follow-up email? Share your thoughts and tactics in the comments below!
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