You worked hard crafting the perfect pitch, brainstormed intriguing subject lines, and calculated the best time to hit “send”—and still received no response to your email.
But don’t despair just yet! There’s still another tool you can use to get the answers you need, and that tool is a well-written follow-up email.
Why You Should Follow Up
Many of us might shudder at the thought of sending a follow-up email, since your first email was essentially ignored for whatever reason—so wouldn’t it be kind of rude to keep bugging someone who’s apparently not interested?
In reality, however, follow-up emails can be quite effective, with response rates up to 40% higher compared to those of the original emails.
There are a number of possible reasons why you may want to write a follow-up email. These include:
- To inquire about a recent job interview
- To check the status of a payment
- To check the status of a project or task
- To push the sale of a product
- Your last message requesting information didn’t get a response
- Something has changed since your last communication
You can increase your chances of getting a response in each of these cases by learning how to write a follow-up email.
How to Write a Follow Up Email
Below are 5 steps that will help you write an effective follow-up email that actually gets the responses you need.
1. Determine Your Goal
In order to establish (or reiterate) a clear call-to-action, you need to have a clear objective in mind before starting your email.
What exactly is the goal of your contact with this person? Do you need them to provide information? Confirmation? A response to an offer or a question you’ve previously sent them?
Don’t beat around the bush when it comes to stating what you need. If you need additional information, specify exactly what you’re looking for so that person can quickly and easily provide that info for you. If they’re unsure of what you need or want them to do next, they’ll be more likely to
By having a clear objective in your mind, you’ll be better able to communicate the importance of your follow-up with your email’s recipient, and the more clear the urgency is to them, the more likely they will be to respond to your email ASAP.
2. Start with Context
Like we said, with so many different messages being sent around every day—from texts to emails to Slacks—it’s not always easy to keep track of which ones need a response, or to even remember what each one was about.
That’s why your follow-up email should open with some context, to gently remind the recipient of the circumstances under which you last spoke/wrote to each other.
You might remind them that you were interviewed last Monday, or that you sent them an email a few days ago to offer some of your products or services.
Whatever the case, providing some context around your last communication will help to jog their memory and make it easier for them to understand the rest of your email, and hopefully they’ll be able to provide the information you’re looking for this time.
Here are some examples of ways your follow-up email can provide helpful context:
- I’m reaching out in regard to my previous email that I sent a few weeks ago about [topic]…
- Our mutual friend [name] suggested I reach out to you…
- When we last met, you suggested I contact you again within a few months regarding [topic]…
- We met [time period] at [location/event] and I just wanted to follow up regarding [topic]…
3. State Your Purpose
Once you’ve provided some context to remind your recipient of exactly who the heck you are, it’s time to state your email’s purpose.
Being up front about what you’re looking for will make you seem more trustworthy and genuine. (Of course, there’s such a thing as being too honest—you wouldn’t want to open with “I really need to make a sale!!!”).
Rather, your purpose should be specific and transparent. Don’t just say you’d like to meet up for a lunch or schedule a phone call; instead, tell them what you’d like to discuss, so they know what to expect and won’t feel like you’re trying to be slick.
Here are some examples of how you might express the purpose of your follow-up:
- I’d love to meet you for a coffee so we can finish the conversation we started at the conference last week…
- As we discussed previously, here is the link to our software that I think could be of great value to your audience…
- It would be great to chat more with you about [topic], because I’m currently working on [relevant project]…
4. Use a Smart Subject Line
While the content of your message is important, your subject line can play a critical role in how your email is received. There are several tips you can consider when crafting a compelling subject:
- Create a sense of urgency: Research shows that emails that include the word “tomorrow” in the subject line had open rates 10% higher than those without. Using this word creates a sense of urgency (especially in sales) that can appeal to a reader’s fear of missing out.
- Use concrete figures: Be precise about any dates, times, or other numerical figures if you choose to include them in your subject line.
Examples of Effective Subject Lines:
- 4 Reasons Why You Should Update Your
- Our Special Offer Ends Tomorrow
5. Send Your Follow-Up Email
Now that your follow-up email is written, it’s time to think about the best times to actually follow up and send your message.
Depending on your situation, the appropriate waiting period may vary, as well as the frequency with which you should follow up.
For example, if you’re following up after a job interview (and you’re the candidate), you can follow up as early as 24 hours later to thank the interviewer for the opportunity.
Here are a few more examples of follow-up time frames that might work for you:
- Within 24 hours: to say “thank you” for an interview, meeting, or other special occasion.
- Within 48 hours: if your reason for following up is fairly urgent, or if you’ve submitted something important and want to confirm it’s been received promptly.
- Within 1–2 weeks: To confirm receipt of a previously sent message; to follow up on a request for a meeting or call; to check the status of a job application if you haven’t heard anything after 1–2 weeks.
- Every 3 months: To check in with important connections and maintain a solid relationship.
Follow-Up Email Template
Below is a sample follow-up email that you can use as a template to create your own customized message.
I hope you’ve been having a great week!
I just wanted to check in and see what your team thought of my suggestions, as I haven’t heard from you since our last meeting.
Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.
All the best,[Your Name]
How Do You Politely Ask for a Status Update?
Sometimes, you may want to ask for a status update, whether for a work project or maybe an order you’ve placed.
Getting the information you need in a polite way is actually pretty easy. You just need to combine a firm nudge with an understanding tone.
Although the “just checking in” email is pretty common, the phrase itself isn’t really necessary. Just come right out and ask for whatever update you’re looking for.
For example, if you want an update on a certain project from one of your employees, you might say something like:
“I’d love to hear how things are going with the [project/task you’re asking about]. Could you please give me a quick status update by the end of today?”
In this way, you’ve indicated that the request is time-sensitive, but in a friendly way that won’t alarm the recipient (which could lead them to procrastinate in their response even more).
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!