Written by Tom Piamenta
How To Write a Follow Up Email
Our Guide On How To Write A Follow Up Emails
We’ve all been there. You see someone you like, a lot. You prepare yourself, put on your best clothes and even have a good hair day. Hell yeah! You inhale deeply and gather up your nerves and you ask them out on a date.
And… they say Yes! Woo hoo!
Is this glorious outcome enough, or do you think it makes sense to pick up the phone and schedule a time and place? If you really think hearing the “Yes” was enough and you can skip the actual date, and if you think this is the perfect time to … never contact them again, this post is not for you.
If, on the other hand, you DO get the importance of following up, why not apply this flawless logic to email?
It doesn’t matter what email you just sent – a request to schedule a meeting, a cold email to a potential client, an offer to an existing customer or a simple question you send to a colleague, your best course of action is to send a follow up email if you don’t hear back from them.
Why should I follow up?
What can go wrong? 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.
If they never received it, resending it with a new subject line can pass the barrier that prevented it from arriving last time.
If they decided to answer it later, the follow up email is the perfect reminder to get back to you, as well as a proof of the importance you put into that email.
If they simply archived it, chances are now higher that they will open it. Since seeing your name will now “ring a bell” as opposed to the first interaction they got from you.
And what if they simply don’t like you? I don’t know, send them chocolates or something. A follow up email won’t help here.
In any case, sending an email followup is a potent way to increase the odds of you getting the result you want.
How should I do that?
The answer to this is divided into two parts: 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 (WiseStamp, hello?) 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 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 loss 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:
- Labels: if you use Gmail, the 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 followup. 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.
- Spreadsheet: 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.
- 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 followup emails, but it requires an external plugin that might charge you for it. I have a sweetspot for Boomerang but Nudgemail should do a good job here.
- 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
Since you’ve been exquisitely awesome and read all of it, here’s a PRO tip you should definitely consider using – the power of CC.
The power of what? Yes, that’s not a typo, if you want better response rates, add someone in the CC field. That way the recipient of the email will fill more obligated to respond (especially if the CC’d person is higher ranking). If this is combined with a followup email using all of the above ideas, I’d guess that this meeting is pretty much scheduled….don’t forget to wear something nice!