For some of us, follow up emails make us cringe. And it is not the fact that we have to write an email, it is the fact that have to send this email because of the receiver’s non-response.
However, follow up emails are not all that bad. We just need to have the patience to wait for the other party’s response even if it feels uncomfortable.
A common mistake for ecommerce marketing managers is to stop at the first follow-up email. Usually, they’ll send a proposal email and one follow-up email. And they stop there. They immediately assume that the other party is not interested because of their non-response.
In reality, the other party may be considering your offer. He or she may not be ready to act on it right away. He or she may be busy or he or she may be tackling another project. But if you give regular reminders of your offer in regular intervals. You just might get a reply.
In fact, a study from Iko System found out that people tend to not respond to the first email. According to the study, people often respond not to the third or fourth email but to the sixth email. Response rates are high on the first email and it goes down in the second, third, fourth and fifth. What is surprising is that it shoots up on the sixth email. The study recorded a whopping response rate of 27% on the sixth email. From there, response rate did not go down to the way it did before. It just hovered over 17%.
Another study is that of Yesware. In this study, they found a downward trend in replies to follow up emails. First, they had a 30% response rate to the first email and this went down to 7% on the 10th email. Although there was a downward trend, it is surprising to see that they continue to get replies on the 10th email.
What does this mean for your business?
This shows that you should not give up with your first follow-up email. Non-response to the first follow-up email doesn’t necessarily mean that the prospect is not interested. They need more emails to push them to the direction that you want them to go.
Also, this means that more emails are better. Marketers often fear bombarding their prospects with emails. They are often afraid that this might annoy them. When really, it does quite the opposite. Instead of annoying ads, they see these as reminders. The more reminders you send, the higher their likelihood to act on it.
With this knowledge, you can now stop being afraid of the dreaded non-response. After all, your prospects may be busy and you caught them at a bad time. Sending multiple emails will ensure that you cover all bases and even establish familiarity with your prospect to get them to finally reply.
Today, you’ll learn how to create follow up emails. But more than writing them, you’ll also learn when is the best time to send them. If you have not written a follow up email before. Don’t worry. There will be several follow up email templates in each section.
How to Create a Follow Up Email
Follow up emails are not created the same. While there are several templates that you can use, you still need to customize the templates according to your goals and needs.
Here is my short 5-step guide to creating your follow up email.
STEP 1: Know Your Goal
Your email is highly dependent on your goal. Do you want to gather information? Do you want them to arrange a meeting with you? Do you want the other party to buy from you? Do you want to know their feedback the article you sent them? Do you want their feedback on your proposal? You need to define why you are sending the follow up email in the first place. State the action that you want the client to do.
Here are some examples of goals.
Need for Information
This is the follow up email if you want to gather information from a person or to know the status of a project, deal or ongoing assignment. This is quite common for remote projects and jobs.
Request for Meeting
This can be more than just for selling products or services. It can also be used to share ideas or expertise or gather one’s feedback. It may also be good for establishing new connections especially in your industry.
Networks should be nurtured. With this, you should ensure that you connect with your networks on a regular basis. You can talk to them about your company and invite them to share some ideas. It will strengthen your connection.
Saying Thank You
This is a good email to send after an event or if a connection did you a favor. This may also be a good email to send if your connection had just agreed to meet with you.
As you can see, there are different types of goals. What you choose will determine the type of follow up email that you should create.
STEP 2: Establish Familiarity
Letters or emails from friends get higher response rates. Why? It’s because of familiarity.
Even if you are not close with your prospect, you’ll want to open your email by reminding them who you are and what you do. Tell them about your business and what your mission is.
If you have met in a meeting or conference, remind them of that. Or you can mention some similar friends that you may have.
Here’s how you can write it.
My name is [name] and I am a [position] in [company]. You have met me at the [conference] and I am wondering if you have received my other email about [topic].”
So that’s an example of a good opening line.
Here are other examples.
Last time we spoke...
We met last week at the [Event].
I was inspired after you spoke at the [Event].
Our friend, [Friend Name] refer you to me.
As you can see. All of these are designed to establish familiarity. Be sure to include this at the beginning of your emails. This way, they’ll show up on the email preview - right before your prospects see the entire email.
STEP 3: State Why You Are Emailing Them
Once you have captured your prospect’s attention by introducing yourself, you don’t want to take up their time by explaining your company in detail. Instead, state why you are emailing them and why you chose to email them instead of other people.
Here’s an example.
My name is [name] and I am a [position] in [company]. You have met me at the [conference] and I am wondering if you have received my other email about [topic].
I am writing to know if you like to talk about [niche]. I saw that you have a blog called [blogname] and I specifically like your post entitled “[blogposttitle]”. I think it was [opinion].”
As you can see, the goal of this email is to set a meeting. It establishes familiarity through the introduction. It also specified why the email is going to that person. It is because of their unique characteristics.
For some people, they love to jump to the product in this area. But I don’t prefer that. I choose to establish rapport with the prospect before asking for a sale. Sometimes, I just give advice for free. And then I can ask them to follow up by giving them my website email. Often, they will go to my website and become instantly interested in my product because I’ve helped them. Call it the Golden Rule. But people just love to return favors especially if you did it for them without expecting anything in return.
STEP 4: State What You Want the Prospect to Do
In this section, marketers often pass the ball to the prospect. They do this by asking them when is the best time to meet them or by letting them decide how to meet. The problem is that this adds an area of confusion for the prospect. Often, the prospect will dismiss the idea of meeting you just because of this detail.
With this, you should do the specification yourself. State the day and time that you like to meet. Open your schedule and tell them the other days that you are free. This way, they can just choose from your selection and schedule the meeting right away.
So instead of “Tell me when is your available time”, say “I’m free from 8am to 5pm from Mondays to Fridays. When is your available time to meet?”
Or if you’re familiar with the schedule of the prospect, you can simply state it this way: “Can we meet Friday, 5pm? If not, please suggest a schedule.”
Since the day and time is set, everything seems clear. The decision is no longer on the shoulders of your prospect and they can say when they are free.
STEP 5: Pass the Ball on Closing
I noted that you should never pass the ball to the prospect in the call-to-action area. But you should do that in the closing area. Here’s why.
Marketers often close their emails by stating “Thank you” or “Regards”. But that is such a general closing statement that people often ignore it.
Instead, you should choose a closing statement that keeps the prospect hanging.
Use statements like “What do you think?”, “Please advise” or “Looking forward to hearing from you”. This shows that you are waiting for the prospect’s action.
BONUS: Be Creative with Your Headlines
We often see the words "Just checking-in…” on follow up emails. Don’t do that. It’s boring and your prospect doesn’t want to open this type of email. Instead, state what you’re following up with. Be creative. If you have met the person before, share a common experience like “The roast beef the other day was good” or “I had so much fun sharing ideas with you at the [event].” Don’t box yourself with the “Just Checking-in…” nonsense. Connect to your prospect as you would to a friend.
When Should You Send a Follow Up Email
Writing a follow up email is one thing but sending it is another. It is easy to get confused with this part that some people dismiss the idea of following up just because it is uncomfortable.
The first question that you should ask is ‘How long does your prospect take to read an email?’.
The answer to that is 1 day. Emails are personal. People open their emails every day. Even if they don’t read everything, they skim through them. So if they see something, they will read it. They may not act on it right away, but they will read it on the same day.
If they feel the need to reply, they will often do it right away. The trend is also 1 day when it comes to email replies.
Now that you know that, you may be wondering if you should just wait 1 day to send follow up emails. Truth be told, there is no right or wrong answer on the number of days that you should wait. Close.io suggests the following interval.
1st Follow Up - The Day After
2nd Follow Up - 3 Days After
3rd Follow Up - 7 Days After
4th Follow Up - 14 Days After
5th Follow Up - 30 Days After
6th Follow Up - 60 Days After
Now these are just suggestions. Others like to send follow up emails every 3-5 days. The way you should do this depends on your niche and how receptive your market is to your emails.
So that’s how you write and send follow up emails. It doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. Armed with the right knowledge, you now know that non-response is normal. Just send another email. Prospects never reply on the first email anyway so don’t be bothered about it. You’ll never know if your prospect will finally reply unless you follow up.