Email is one of the most convenient and simplest ways to follow up with prospective customers after an initial offer. It allows businesses to connect with leads directly, providing an excellent chance to attract their attention and persuade them to convert. That’s why email is so effective; in fact, 59 percent of digital marketers claim that it generates the most return on investment (ROI) for their business, according to 2018 Email Marketing Industry report. It even outperformed such widely used digital marketing channels as social media and display ads. And what’s equally important in your email campaigns is email follow-up. 

You need to make sure your follow-up emails are as effective as your initial outreach. Of course, a lack of response from a lead after initial contact is disappointing, but if you’re having a hard time getting a reply after multiple follow-up emails, then you may want to check whether you’re doing it right. Let’s review the five most common email follow-up mistakes that may be preventing you from converting more leads into customers.

Mistake #1: Leaving the Lead Uninterested with a Boring Subject Line

You don’t have to have a background in email marketing to know how important subject lines are. They’re the first thing that a recipient sees, so making them as compelling and enticing as possible is a must. People receive a lot of business emails these days, so it’s safe to assume that inboxes of your leads are packed with messages from many businesses, including your competitors.

In fact, Radicati Group suggests that businesses around the world send about 281 billion emails to their leads and customers daily. This is a lot of competition, obviously, but it’s going to get even more competitive, as the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will grow to about 333 billion by the end of 2022.

Subject lines are important to customers as well. In fact, 47 percent of them say that subject lines are the primary reason for them to open an email.

To make the long story short, one reason why your follow-up emails fail to generate responses could be generic subject lines like “Hi, I’m just Reaching out Again to ask…” To maximize the chance that your leads notice them in their overfilled inboxes, you would have to try these techniques.

  • Describe the benefits to the recipients to convince them to open the email, e.g. Great News! We Have the Information You Need!
  • Ask them a Question, e.g. Do You Still Need More Information? We Have The Data that Can Help You to Increase Open Rates. Interested?
  • Put specific details, e.g. A Strategy That’ll Help You to Get 12,345 Visitors Per Month
  • Include the name of the recipient to personalize it, e.g. Dan, You Can Reduce Your Shipping Costs by 20 Per cent.

Mistake #2: You Provide Irrelevant Content

This is a common mistake among businesses that fail to segment their subscribers and identify their content preferences, needs, and interests. As a result, they send their subscribers content that may find irrelevant, and this is a recipe for disaster because there’s a great chance that many people will unsubscribe.

In fact, 39 percent of businesses report that “almost none” of their emails are personalized, according to 2018 Email Marketing Industry report. This means that they may not provide relevant content based on recipients’ needs and preferences.

To avoid making irrelevant offers to your leads in your follow-up emails, you need to study them and their content needs. There are multiple ways to go about this.

First, you can create content personas that are representations of your ideal customers that include their interests and needs that your business can help to meet. These personas can assist you in creating more relevant content by identifying areas of knowledge and ideas for content topics and offers.

Second, if you collect data from people who subscribe to your newsletter etc. you can use it to create more relevant content. For example, many websites require such data as names, interests, and content preferences, and this data could be used to segment subscribers and determine their preferences, which, in turn, is a good first step to create relevant business offers.

Let’s consider an example. The below email comes from a well-known digital marketing company CoSchedule whose target audience is digital marketers. It has a complete marketing campaign template that allows you to create a campaign from planning to execution, which is obviously an interesting offer to digital marketers who work with them very often.

Mistake #3: Failing to Send a “Need More Options” Email

Many subscribers won’t be ready to buy after browsing your website or even chatting with your customer support representatives through a live chat. If they leave without making a purchase, giving them additional product recommendations may be a great way to persuade them to return and buy.

“If a lead asked you about a product you’re selling, chances are they’re interested in buying it but need some time to think about it, so they leave without completing the purchase,” the CEO of PickWriters, a review site of top translation companies, explains. “Many businesses make mistakes by letting them go so easily because one of the reasons they do so is a lack of encouragement.”

To help them make the right decision, you can – and should – send them an email with more options, ideas, and recommendations. It could go be critical for convincing them to return and could have a text like this one:

Hi [name],

Thanks for visiting our online store!

I had a look at the products you viewed and I found more dresses that you may like:

Please check them out here [link here]

Hope that you’ll find an awesome dress for your anniversary!

If you have any questions please feel free to message me right away – I’ll be happy to assist you.



This email is an important part of nurturing your leads because it delivers them more content. Whether you’re sending tips, how-to’s, or product suggestions, you can keep your list of leads engaged and open rates high.

Remember: most of your subscribers won’t be ready to buy right away, so it’s your responsibility to demonstrate that your business is worth dealing with and provide that much-needed additional encouragement.

Mistake #4: Failing to Include a Clear CTA

The purpose of follow-up emails is to persuade to act, and CTAs are critical here because they are essentially instructions that help subscribers land on a campaign page on your website. That’s why failing to include a CTA that stands out and clearly describes what needs to be done by the recipient is a big mistake that can dramatically reduce the chance of getting a response from follow-up emails.

Let’s see an example of a strong CTA. The below image is a post-sale email from a well-known fashion retailer Rue La La that:

  • Stands out from the rest of the message
  • Is action-oriented

This email is a part of a strong post-sale campaign implemented by the brand that includes regular coupons like the one above. It’s a great marketing move because it gives a recipient a monetary reason to come back to the site and shop more.

Rue La La regularly sends out these post-sale emails providing a wide variety of discounts three times a day. This constant flow of offers and discounts keeps the brand on top of a recipient’s mind at all times.

Another good example of a CTA button in a post-sale follow-up email comes from Accor Hotels. It follows the same design principles as employed by Rue La La. First, it clearly stands out from the rest of the email thanks to a different color and lets the subscriber know what’ll happen when they click on it.

Mistake #5: Sending at the Wrong Time

Email marketing is a science and an art that involves studying trends and behaviors to define the best times to send emails. For example, the aforementioned Super Office report suggested that the best times for sending cold emails were Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, based on open rates.

While this information could work for cold emails, the situation is a little bit different with follow-ups. For example, you don’t send an order follow-up email based on this data because it should be sent one day after the order was made.

Next, a follow-up message sharing product recommendations and ideas to a customer who chatted with customer service but left without purchasing should be sent right away.

In other words, the best time to send follow-up emails is unique for each type of email, so your business shouldn’t make a mistake by ignoring unique circumstances that define their success.

For example, the following email is sent to a customer two days after they made a reservation with Accor Hotels to provide them with practical travel tips and additional services offered by the company in the selected destination.

So, pay attention to the type of interaction you’ve had with a customer. For example, if you want to thank your customer for making a purchase or attending an event you’ve organized, it’s best to follow up within 24 hours. By doing so, you demonstrate your appreciation of their business as well as interest to stay connected.

However, if you want to follow up after an unanswered proposal or requests and remind customers about upcoming events, do so a week or two before your offer becomes irrelevant.

Time to Follow Up

Learning how to generate maximum responses using follow-up emails may seem complex but it’s something that you need to do to advance your business. Remember, you need to give your customers a great reason so they return to your website and complete a purchase. By applying the tips described in this article and taking some extra steps to personalize emails and make them as compelling as possible, you can increase the effectiveness of your follow-up emails.

Oh, and one last thing: there will a wide variety of reasons why your subscribers won’t respond, so don’t take anything personally. Follow up a few times, and if they remain silent, move on.

Kristin Savage is a freelance writer who covers the latest achievements in media and technology that help grow readership and reach new audiences.


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