Email follow-up is one of the most effective and underperformed aspects of email marketing. Doing follow-up effectively is hard, and it’s becoming harder.

You must have noticed that email marketing has become a highly competitive field in the past few years.

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.

Why should I follow up an email?

Here’s something interesting: nearly half of all sales are made by the person who reaches out to a lead first. And if you respond within five minutes (the new norm for successful sales practices), you can guarantee that that “first responder” will be you. If you’re not following up, you are leaving money on the table.

A good follow up is key to closing a sale via email, so how is it that 48% of salespeople never bother with it?. If you fall into this demographic, you’re making your work harder than it is. Often times takes more than one initial email to close the deal.

The importance of follow up emails

Top 9 reasons why most email follow-ups are never answered (and what you can do to avoid it)

What can go wrong with my email outreach? A lot. Your recipient might have never received your email, or they have opened it and decided to answer it later (a moment which may never come), or archived it without actually reading it or maybe they just don’t like you.

1. People are busy and forget you

You may think your email is the most important thing in the world, but let’s face it: your leads probably don’t. They might open your email and leave it in their inbox to deal with later or never open it because their inbox is flooded with hundreds of more pressing emails.

2. Your has gone to spam

Sadly, a large chunk of emails sent from legitimate businesses ends up in the spam folder- see how to avoid this here. This may be no fault of your own: each email client has different levels of sensitivity to what triggers a spam filter.

It might be a word you used in your subject line or the fact that your email is coming from a generic email address like Gmail rather than a business email address.

The best thing to do if you worry people aren’t seeing your emails because they’re being rerouted to Spam is to send a follow-up email. If you refer to the first email (“I wanted to make sure you received my first email”) and the recipient didn’t get it, she’ll let you know and you can start the dialogue again.

Also if she replies to say she didn’t get the first email, take note and keep records of how many emails are getting sent to Spam. You might try a different email marketing platform that is recognized by more email clients or don’t CC multiple people with the same email.

3. People are more likely to respond to a second email

Sometimes all it takes to get people to take the action you want (sign up for a demo, make a purchase) is to light a fire under them. A second (and sometimes third and fourth) email can do that. 

Studies show that email campaigns with 4-7 emails per sequence got three times the responses of campaigns that had only 1-3 emails. This applies to both personalized emails you send individually as well as automated emails you send your subscriber list. 

4. The recipient might be unhappy with you

Let’s say you’ve already closed the deal. You’re happy, and you assume the customer is, too. But unless you follow up after the sale, you won’t really know what her experience with your brand was.

If she had a bad experience, she might leave a nasty review on Yelp or complain about your brand on social media. You may not find out until it’s too late.

On the other hand, if you make a point to follow up after a sale, you can get valuable insight into your customers’ sentiment. If there is an issue (which she wouldn’t have reached out to you on her own to complain about), you can rectify it before it becomes a PR nightmare.

5. Your email has been deleted

Don’t take it personally: the average person deletes about 48% of the emails they receive. Some of these emails are bound to be ones that are useful to the recipient, but that just got bundled away with the rest of the deleted emails.

6. Your first email was sent at the wrong time

How much time do you spend thinking about when to send your emails? Likely you just send them when you write them. But sending them at the wrong time might mean fewer people open them.

Consider how you feel about the huge pile of emails waiting for you on Monday morning. Aren’t you more likely to not read and just delete any that don’t seem to have immediate value?

While it may vary depending on what industry you’re in, most businesses find success emailing prospects between 8-10 am or 3-4 pm. Test out your email timing and look at open rates to find the sweet spot for you.

follow up email sending times

7. Your email was perceived as a template (therefore considered spam by your recipient)

We’re all guilty of using email templates from time to time, and while they can be useful when you have a lot of people to reach, they can get in the way of closing a big deal if they feel too impersonal.

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

why personalizing your email is essential for writing a good email follow up

That’s why it’s important to follow up in this situation. Even if your first email was a template that you customized for the recipient, your second email should be a personal note from you.

Go beyond just using the lead’s name, though. Make a reference to something specific and personal to show that you’re really paying attention (“When we spoke on the phone, you mentioned your son’s tennis match. How did it go?”)

8. Your subject line was perceived as irrelevant or uninteresting

Subject lines are important hugely customers. If you didn’t get a response from your first email, it might be because the subject line didn’t do its job. It’s probably the most important component of your emails.

More than 30% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based only on the subject line. And 47% of them say that subject lines are the primary reason for them to open an email.

why subjectline is important for successful email follow up

Hone your email openings by applying our tips from our post on writing email subject lines.

Your email subject line can also put your email in the Spam folder if you use all caps or words like “free” or “buy.”

9. You sent the first email to the wrong person

It happens a lot: you find a point of contact online (or else you pull from a database that’s who knows how old) and you send an email only for it to go into a black hole.

Most companies will set up an autoresponder letting you know that this person is no longer at the company and referring you to the right person. But that doesn’t always happen.

If you aren’t sure that your contact is up to date, go to LinkedIn and look that person up to see if he still holds the same role at the same company. If not, search his title and company to see who has it now.

You can also call the company operator to ask. Just don’t send your email to the generic company address and always verify emails to keep the deliverability on a high level.

How to improve your follow up emails

It is extremely important to know who you are targeting in order to adjust your follow-up email correctly. When finalizing your follow-up email make sure you have added value factors by including additional documents, linked references to social proof, and positive reinforcement (cognitive dissonance). Let’s go into these points in depth.

1. know who you are targeting

Before sending that follow-up e-mail it is important to first understand who you are targeting, as different audiences require different approaches. Differentiating and rearranging the context of the e-mail according to your customer will help you deliver a clear message and attain the main goal of the e-mail.

When addressing business e-mails, there are two types of business-customers relationships you should be familiar with – B2C and B2C.

If you are targeting B2C

When targeting B2C customers, it’s very important to make sure the sale is more personalized. Usually, the decision-making process is based on emotions, so thinking about your clients’ motivational interests that will help you better understand your customer’s needs and desires.

Since you are dealing with the end consumers you already know that their decision-making pattern tends to be quite rapid. Try to focus on how your services can improve or enhance their daily lifestyle.

If you are targeting B2B

When targeting B2B, It requires a well-thought-out plan, execution, and time management. In many cases, you might be dealing with multiple professionals who are trained and well educated. You want to make sure that everything is throughout properly, including data and research.

The decision-making process for B2B may take a lot longer. There is a great amount of consideration in the decision making process. Thus, this is why it’s very important to make sure your follow-up email is concrete and concise.

2. Provide unique value

This is the part where all the magic is done! A follow-up email is the best opportunity to show your clients that you are listening to there needs and that you have the best solution for them.

There are 3 main key factors that you can use when writing a follow-up- email. First, provide your client with valuable data such as conditions and unanswered questions. Second, include references that demonstrate social proof from past clients. Third, the use of cognitive dissonance to get them on your team. These key factors will help build trust and increase your value.

5 main key way to provide added value when writing a follow-up- email

I) The data follow up

A follow-up email is the best opportunity to share any additional information that was not discussed, How? Let’s say you just finished a business meeting. During the meeting pay attention, If your client asked you about a subject of interest such as a basketball take note of it. After the meeting, gather all the relevant documents in regards to basketball. In the follow-up, e-mail, include the response to the question as well as other information regarding the subject. This personal touch will make your client feel that you care.

II) The social proof factor

Another way you can add value and create trust is to provide your client with social proof. Social proof can be described as the reasons why people mimic each other, if others behave in a certain way, it must be the correct behavior. Social proof can be represented by providing clients with references, past clients testimonial pages, supportive articles and publications in the media.

If your potential client doesn’t ask for any references during the meeting, a follow-up email is a good opportunity to send a link to your testimonial page. This may eliminate a great percentage of their doubts. The use of social proof in a follow-up email can only help increase your chances of closing the deal.

how to use reviews when writing email follow ups
III) Support their decision making

Lastly, the use of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a term used in social psychology that refers to the mental conflict that one goes through during a decision making process.

For Example: Let’s say a meeting went excellent, the client is very happy and the deal is sold. It is still very important to send a follow-up email just to check-in. They may not have asked you to send them any additional information.

However, sending them a catch-up email of everything discussed in the meeting will give them a sense of positive reinforcement. This will tame any negative thoughts that may have occurred after the meeting. This use of cognitive dissonance will leave a good taste lingering. It will not only show professionalism, but it will also convey that you have their best interest at heart.

IV) Show Appreciation

A follow-up email is the best way to show potential clients the excitement you have to start working with them. By adding a sentence like “looking forward to getting things started” will leave a good taste in their mouth. Enthusiasm is a great way to show them that you are ready to get your hand dirty.

“I want to thank you for the opportunity to earn your business, and I look forward to working with you. I’ll be in touch next week to schedule a time for our next meeting.”

V) Prime your readers for a follow-up with a good sign off

When you sign off you initial email be sure to prime your readers for the follow-up email by addressing this intention in your email ending. You could end your email with something like “Think about my offer and we’ll talk again soon”. Choosing the best sign off in terms of wording and emotional tone can have a significant influence on your follow-up email response rate.

3. Keep a short average response time

A very important factor in sending follow-up email is timing. Those who are considering doing business with you have high expectations. The timing is everything, the longer you wait to follow- up, the higher the risk. According to statistics the average response time to emails in the field of business is up to 24/h, Take into consideration that this is just the average.

The recommended time for a follow-up email would be as quick as possible. From the time you left your client to the morning after they are baking. During the baking period is useful to send them positive reinforcement that will most probably increase the likelihood of the sale. Sending the follow-up email within the time range will reinsure your clients and strengthen ties. Keep into consideration that as technology advances the response time will change accordingly.

DO’s and DON’Ts when writing email follow ups

Improving your chances of getting an answer relies on 2 factors: Style and Mechanism.

What do we mean by Style?

  • DO NOT send the follow up as an addition to the original email. If it got ignored once…
  • DO send it as a new email (new subject line) or as a reply to a previous interaction where the recipient answered.
  • DO NOT write a whiny email saying “why didn’t you get back to me :(”.
  • DO write something light and non imposing, like “just wanted to make sure you received my email”.
  • DO NOT leave it open ended or without a definite call to action
  • DO include something specific you want them to do “please choose the best time for you, Mon at 10am or Tue at noon”
  • DO NOT waste the sign off of your email. It’s a valuable real estate.
  • DO leverage the sign off to say something like “Looking forward to hearing from you” or even combine it with relevant email signature that shares, for example, a link to schedule a meeting with you or that shares your portfolio (e.g. for a cold call email)

What was the other one? Mechanism?

If you send a few emails, you can probably remember who didn’t answer and simply shoot them an email 2-3 days later. (sooner is too pushy, later might lose the “familiarity” effect we discussed earlier).

If, however, your inbox is on the hectic side, you might wanna use technology. Here are a few ideas you can deploy:


if you use Gmail, then you may have heard that Gmail labels are very effective, easy to use, and free. You can create a label called “followup” and label the emails you sent that need a follow-up. Then, simply click the label in Gmail, and all the emails labeled “followup” will appear. You will easily see if they have been replied to or not. Follow up on the ones you need and remove the label from those who were replied.

Email reminders:

there are cool plugins that can popup the emails you want to be reminded of. You just set up the reminder and they will take care of the rest. This is arguably the easiest way to deal with follow-up emails, but it requires an external plugin that might charge you for it. I have a sweet spot for Boomerang but Nudgemail should do a good job here.


an easy way to manage such a task is using a spreadsheet. Whether you use Excel or Google Docs (which I can’t recommend enough) a tracking mechanism is easy to setup and use. In one column write the email address you sent it to, on the other the date. Now you can go daily and see the ones that needs handling.

Bonus points

email Tracking: We all heard of Email tracking. This allows you to know if your recipient actually opened your email or not. There are a few services that allow email tracking, most of which are CRM solutions (who can also help with the reminders). We recommend Streak for a beautiful CRM right inside your Gmail, Salesforce which is probably the best CRM out there and many others


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.