After writing a great follow-up email, you probably feel all pumped up. It has all the points you needed to cover, and you then confidently press the ‘send’ button. But how often have you sent a great follow-up email only to get silence as a response?
Been there, done that, right?
No one likes to be ignored. You wouldn’t be sending a follow-up email if it wasn’t important, would you?
You could be writing about the next big thing in your organization, connecting with an influencer, or communicating with a candidate. Whatever it might be, you need a follow-up email that is bound to get a response.
Luckily, writing excellent follow-up emails that get responses is easier than it sounds. With a few valuable tips, you can learn the art of sending follow-up emails without any conjecture.
In this article, we will cover the common mistakes that people make when sending a follow-up email and samples of successful follow-up emails.
Now, let’s navigate through the good, the bad, and the extra of follow-up emails.
Mistakes to avoid while writing a polite follow-up email
There are six typical mistakes that people make while drafting polite follow-up emails.
1. Using “follow-up” in the subject line of the email
When sending a polite follow-up email, most people use “follow-up” in the subject line. Although this email is a follow-up, this subject line might be ignored. It may also make the reader feel like you’re pointing the finger because they haven’t responded, which will in turn leave your email unopened.
Instead, draft a relevant subject line with clear intent and purpose. To do this, put yourself in the receiver’s shoes and come up with a subject line that you wouldn’t be able to resist so they won’t be able to resist it too.
2. Beginning with “just follow-up” and not adding personal value
Another rookie mistake when writing a polite follow-up email is merely following-up without adding value. People are busy and don’t have time to decode and decipher emails. So, be clear, concise, and ensure your email is of value to the receiver.
The more valuable and personalized your follow-up email is, the more likely you’ll get a response. Studies are done as early as 2013 have shown that personalized emails get higher open and click rates.
Personalized touches make people feel you value them, rather than sending them an automated email and checking it off your list of tasks.
You can personalize your follow-up emails by using merge tags.
Merge tags are variables used to alter a specific section of an email for each prospect, lead, or client. One of the popular tactics used by marketing and sales departments is to include their customer’s first name at the start of your email follow-up.
We’ve all probably heard our name in a noisy crowd and immediately turned in response, right? Calling on our names gets us to pay more attention.
Use this to your advantage. Merge tags can also include compliments, context like where you met them or how their business has inspired you, etc.
3. Not including a call to action (CTA)
Another common mistake when writing a polite follow-up email is failing to include a CTA
When writing a follow-up email, you would usually have an objective. Is it to set a meeting? Finalize a sale or maybe fill up a form? Be clear and precise, so your recipients know what you expect from them. This will simplify the follow-up process.
Here are some effective ways to include a CTA in your follow-up email
- Have only one or two CTAs. Too many CTAs will confuse the prospect and defeat the purpose of your follow-up email.
- Make sure your CTA is mutually beneficial. This way, there is a higher chance they will respond.
Don’t ask the prospect to decide on meeting instead, you could say
“Would you be available for a quick 10-minute call next week? I’m available from 2 pm to 6 pm.”
4. Your emails are too wordy
Your email recipients are often busy and don’t have the time or the inclination to read long emails. This means that your emails need to be short and concise.
In the Harvard Business Review, David Silverman said, “Books are read, business documents are scanned.”
Always keep your emails short and brief. Don’t ask for too much or go on and on in your follow-up emails.
5. Not leveraging social proof
Is your organization getting rave reviews and testimonials?
Are market leaders recommending your products or services?
If yes, that’s great but chances are, your prospects will be unaware.
So use this knowledge to your benefit. Social proof can add value to your follow-up emails; this is no place to be modest.
You want to remind your prospects that you’re worth their time by offering social evidence that they can’t refuse.
The five best types of social proof that companies can include in their follow-up emails are:
- Customers – Testimonials, case studies, customer reviews
- Experts – Evidence from experts or thought leaders in your line of work.
- Celebrities/ Influencers – Celebrities or Influencers who have used your products and services and have vouched for them
- Crowds- Groups of people who provide credibility, e.g., X number of people are using the product or service
- Certifications – A certification that shows that you’re a legitimate or reputable organization (“FDA approved”).
Using these social proofs in your follow-up email will surely add more credibility to your organization.
6. You don’t sound human
And lastly, your emails might not sound human. Ready-made email templates are great; we agree. They save a lot of time and effort, but they also make you sound robotic and predictable.
A quirky subject line could be what it takes to improve your click and open rates.
Using creative subject lines in your follow-up emails is a perfect way to get the prospect to respond, for example, “Knock, know, are you there?”.
Make sure that the language you use is not rude, tacky, or offensive.
Keep in mind that certain businesses may require more professional subject lines, and you should modify them based on your requirements.
Now that we’ve covered the mistakes, aka the bad, let’s move on the right way (the good) to write an email follow-up.
Polite follow-up email samples
Here are six polite follow-up email samples for different situations, along with hints and ideas that you can use while composing your email.
Scenario 1: Following up after a meeting
We meet so many people each day that it is easy to forget who is who, so it would be great to include an intro that triggers their memory.
Show them how you can add value by giving them a solution to a problem. Then end with a call to action to let them know what you expect them to do.
Scenario 2: Following up after introduction (e.g., referral)
In this case, make sure to let them know who referred you to them and how you can help them. Focus on the value you can add and attach credibility sources, such as your social media pages or your website portfolio. Make sure to end by including a call to action.
Scenario 3: After a conference or networking event
In this scenario, you probably want to send a follow-up email to someone you met at a conference or event reiterate how your services and products can help them.
Include where you met them in your email as this will jog their memory and offer more context and, as always stated, add value by showing them how your product and service are beneficial to them.
Scenario 4: Following up on a previous email, awaiting a reply
Make sure the follow-up email is brief. Check if they’ve looked at the stuff you sent them and if they have any queries to clarify. Then wrap up the email by including a clear call to action.
Scenario 5: Following up after asking someone to do something and not getting a response
Whenever you write a follow-up email, keep it brief. And in this scenario be respectful about asking if they have had a look rather than blaming them or finding out why you’ haven’t received it yet. No response can be annoying, but blaming them will not get you the response you want. Instead, add value by stating the urgency and importance. And finish with a call to action so that they know what you want them to do and why it’s important.
Scenario 6: Following-up after no response from the last email
When you’ve followed up, haven’t gotten a response yet, be brief and remind them why, while making it easy for them to respond and offering them options. Finish with a call to action to let them know what you want them to do.
Now that we’ve covered the good, the bad, and the extra, we hope you find these effective follow-up email samples useful when sending your polite follow-up emails.
With these tips, the receiver will no longer be able to ignore your emails. The key thing to bear in mind when sending a polite follow-up email is to be concise, focus on being valuable, and have a call to action. If you follow these instructions, you will stop wasting your time composing follow-ups that don’t get responses and start getting answers.