Follow Up Email - The Guide to Writing Effective Follow Up Emails in 2020

May 5, 2020

So you’ve been working on sales prospecting and have found a customer who you think is just one step away from converting. Or maybe you are this close to wrapping a deal. Maybe you simply want some more information from a potential buyer. In all three of these cases — and many other instances — your next step is to follow up on the potential customer/deal/buyer.

You can, of course, call them. But the most commonly used means of business communication in the modern world is the email. This means that chances are, you’re going to be sending a follow-up email.

One that starts with “Just checking in on…” or “Wanted to know if…” or something similar. Nothing wrong with that, but they are overused and ineffective. Seeing as how you probably want your follow up emails to bring you actual results, that’s not good. In this guide, we’ll take a look at writing a follow up email that actually catches your recipients’ eyes and accomplishes your overall goal.

The 4 Key Steps To Writing An Effective Follow Up Email

There are four important steps to writing an effective follow up email.

  1. Craft Subject Line
  2. Establish Objective
  3. Provide Context
  4. Express Purpose

Now, let’s go through each step.

Establish Objective

You’ve interacted with your prospect. Maybe you’ve met them for lunch or talked to them over the phone or just exchanged emails. Now, you’re sending a follow up email to talk about…

To talk about what, exactly?

See, in business, almost every action you take must have a meaning. A purpose. If you’re running around like a headless chicken, your business probably won’t last too long. As such, when you are sending out a follow up email, it is imperative that you have an established objective. What are you trying to achieve?

Knowing what you want to achieve is the foundation to being able to incorporate the right call-to-action. You need your recipient to get back to you. Only then can you make progress on your ultimate end goal — selling a product, converting a lead, whatever it is. You need to give cause for your recipient to get back as fast as they can.

Usually, there are four different reasons why you might be sending a follow up email.

  1. You need more information
  2. You want to set up a meeting
  3. You want to catch up
  4. You want to thank them

You need more information

Hindsight is 20/20. It can just so happen that sometimes, after you talk to someone, you forgot to ask them about a certain something or you need extra information so that you can go about helping them out.

In this case, you’re going to want to send a follow up email to ask for that bit of extra information. So when you’re writing the email, you need to clearly state the piece of information that you are looking for. Whether it is more info about their business, their needs, or just a status update on your current deal, by outlining it clearly, you’ll make things easier for both sides.

You want to set up a meeting

Sometimes you need to sit down and talk to someone, face to face. Or maybe set up a video call. There are plenty of reasons why you might want to do this. You want to pitch a product or a service, ask them for help, discuss something in-depth, or get feedback. Whatever the reason, you can’t just jump to the meeting, so you have to send a follow up email to set the meeting up.

In this case, you need to establish your objective and state what you want the meeting for, how it can help them, and most importantly when you would prefer to have the meeting.

You want to catch up

You’ve been progressing well with a potential lead, but haven’t been in touch with them in a while. No worries, it happens. If you want to pick it back up and continue guiding them down the path to becoming a customer, you need to catch up with them. Or perhaps there is some new big news that you need to discuss, like their business expanding or them releasing a new product or whatever.

Whatever the case is, your email should reflect what you want to catch up on. If they’ve expanded, perhaps you want to know if they want anything more from you. If you’ve been out of touch, maybe you just want to know how things have been progressing. Either way, you want to avoid being vague and express to your recipient that you care about them and want to learn more.

You want to thank them

This is a bit different than the other reasons why you might want to follow up in that you won’t usually expect an immediate reply. However, once you’ve achieved a certain goal or objective, sending a follow up email thanking your customers will help you improve your brand’s image.

Gratitude is something that people will always remember and if and when they have need for your products or services, they’ll want to get in touch with you. They might even refer you to their colleagues, friends, or peers. All of this is very good for you.

You’ll want to send thank you emails in a variety of scenarios. Some of them include:

  • When you have closed a deal.
  • When they have provided you with the information you’ve asked for.
  • When they give you a referral.
  • When they have written a positive review of your business.
  • When they give you their time.

When you figure out what the main objective of the follow-up email is, the rest is easy. Everything will fall into place and you will know exactly how you should structure the email and what kind of call to action you need to include in your email. As we’ve already stated, having a clear call-to-action will mean that your recipient will be more likely to respond and you’ll get what you want. It might be another meeting, more information, or maybe even a sale.

Once you know the objective of your follow up email, you can get to work on one of the most undervalued but critical parts of all emails. The subject line.

Craft Subject Line

The right subject line can boost your email’s open rate. And you want to increase your open rates. So, before you start writing your email, take the time to craft a subject line that will help outline the content of your email.

There are many ways you can boost the effectiveness of your follow up email’s subject line. Some of those include:

  • Adding a touch of personalization.
  • Using words that have been proven to increase open rates.
  • Removing words that reduce open rates.
  • Including concrete numbers.
  • Keeping the subject line within a certain length.

Research and read more to find out ways to increase your subject line’s effectiveness and use them when you are sending follow up emails.

Of course, there is nothing saying that you have to stick with the first subject line you come up with. Once you’ve figured out the rest of the content of the email — especially the main body — you can always return to the subject line and refine it further. Ultimately, all that matters is that you have an eye-catching subject line that will let your recipients know the contents of the email and make them want to open it.

Provide Context

The thing about emails is that you receive a lot of it. So, it’s not all that difficult to assume that your recipients are also probably receiving a lot of emails.

Knowing all that, it is imperative that you provide the recipient with context. Include some personal identification, or remind your recipient of the last time you were in contact. This is especially important if you are sending a follow-up email after your first meeting, but it is equally important in case you don’t have a close relationship with your recipient, or if it’s been a long while since you were last in touch.

Providing context and building your email on that foundation will make it easier for your contacts to understand who you are, the purpose of your email, and will give them more reason to follow up. The lack of context can more often than not lead to confusion and that is just not something you want.

Potential ways to open an email while providing context include:

  • I was working on [topic]...
  • We met last month at [place]...
  • [Friend/Peer] suggested that I contact you…
  • When we last spoke, we spoke of [topic]...
  • On the topic of [topic]...
  • Regarding the email, I sent last month about [topic]...

Of course, depending on your specific reason for reaching out and history with the contact, this can vary. All that matters is you provide clear context to your follow up emails so that your recipients are clued into who you are and why you might be emailing that, which leads us perfectly into…

Express Purpose

Everything comes down to this. You know why you are sending your email, you have the subject line that indicates the content of your email, and you have provided context. Now you have to clearly express the purpose of your follow up email.

The key to this is not beating around the bush. Be straightforward and let your contact know exactly what you want with them. This will ensure that your follow up email doesn’t come off as spam, untrustworthy, vague, or otherwise confusing.

For example, you don’t want to say: “I want to talk to you about your issues.” What you do want to say is: “I’d like to arrange for a meeting to discuss the issues you have been facing with your accounting software and how we can help.” Being this specific will make sure that your contacts don’t feel like they’re wasting their time with you. More importantly, they’ll know what you want to talk about and how you might be able to help them. This, in turn, makes it more likely that you get a positive response from them.

Let’s look at a few ways you can clearly express your purpose:

  • I would like to meet up on the [date] to discuss how [your company] can help you with your digital marketing problems...
  • If you would like to join me at [event], you will find that it will be helpful for what you do at [company]...
  • As we previously discussed, you can find the download link for [software] at [website], where you can use [code] for a personal discount…
  • I want to know more about how your sales team is set up at [company] so that I know exactly how to help you with [topic]...

The perfect subject line, a well-defined objective, the right context, a clearly expressed purpose… Once you have all of these, what you have in your hands will be a meticulously crafted follow up email. All you have to do now is send it.

Sending Your Follow Up Email

How hard is it to send a follow-up email? I mean, if you have the email typed out, all that remains is for you to press the “Send” button and then… Done. Right?

So what exactly is there to discuss about sending your follow up emails?

As with most everything else in business, there are certain factors relevant to sending your email that can ensure that you get the best results. The most important one of them all is timing.

The Best Day and Time to Send Follow Up Emails

Whether you are conducting an email marketing campaign or sending a follow-up email, empirical data provides evidence that there is a perfect time to send emails.

Data gathered by different sources show that the best day for…

  • ...highest email open rates is Thursday.
  • ...highest click-through rate is Tuesday.
  • …lowest unsubscribe rates are Monday/Sunday.
  • ...lowest bounce rates is Monday.

Further, data from both Intercom and HubSpot are in agreement that the best time to send emails is around 10 am to 2 pm, except on Sundays when the peak time is around 9 pm.

What does all of this data mean?

Simply that by taking advantage of these peak days and peak times, you can make sure that the chances of your email being seen and opened are increased. That will mean that — as long as your email is well crafted — the chances of you receiving a positive reply are increased. You want all of that.

But there is another factor to consider. Due to the nature of a follow-up email being… well, a follow-up email, there is the important question of how long after an event do you send it?

That depends on why you are following up.

  • If you are thanking your contact after a successful meeting or a sale or any other positive event, within 24 hours.
  • If you have submitted important documents or have another urgent reason, within 48 hours.
  • If you are following up on a meeting request, a lack of response, or confirming something relevant to a previous email, within 1-2 weeks.
  • If you are just touching base or reconnecting with a contact and want to know more about their business/personal life, about every 3 months.

Of course, all of this is subject to change based on the unique nature of your business. But that’s about all there is to consider when you are sending follow up emails. Well done!

Send A Better Follow Up Email With OneMoreLead

When utilized correctly, follow up emails have a lot of power. They can convert a lead into a paying customer, bring in new business, improve relationships with potential customers, and close deals. Once you get over the hurdle of crafting a follow-up email that your recipients want to open and respond to, you’re more or less golden.

But to send a follow-up email, you must first have contacts you can follow up with. That’s where OneMoreLead comes in. With OneMoreLead’s database of over 40 million contacts over all kinds of industries, you can find the perfect prospects for your product or service. Create your free account today and get started.

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Steven L

Over the last decade Steven has helped small businesses leverage tools that help increase leads, prospects, and sales.

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