How to write a follow up email
You’ve met with your prospect, chatted with them over the phone, or exchanged information over email — now, it’s time to send your follow-up email. Before you begin crafting your email, you must identify and clarify the end goal, or objective, of your message.
This way, you can incorporate a strong call-to-action (CTA) that makes your recipient want to get back to you so you can achieve your end goal (whether that’s a conversion, sale, building a stronger relationship with your recipient, etc.).
You might ask for your recipient to clarify a piece of information about their business and/ or pain points, get a status update on a deal you’re working with them on, or determine whether or not you made a sale. By clearly stating your need for the specific information you’re looking to obtain, you’ll provide them with clear directions on how they can respond to you in an efficient manner for both parties.
Whether it’s to pick their brain, pitch a product or idea, ask for assistance, or receive feedback, there’s a chance you’re writing your follow-up email to request another meeting or conversation. In your email, you should provide detail about what you’re looking to discuss in the meeting, and why the discussion will be of value for your recipient (know how you can help your recipient).
If you haven’t spoken to a connection in a while, hear big news about them or their company, or learn they’ve achieved a major accomplishment, you’ll probably want to catch up with them and get the details directly from them about what happened. After all, these situations might change their need for assistance from you and your business.
For example, maybe their business has recently expanded and they’re finally in a place where they can afford your support or need your services now more than ever. That’s why catching up through a follow-up email can be so useful. Be sure to state what it is you’re hoping to catch up on specifically in your email to avoid a vague, or even lazy, sounding message — show your recipients how much you care about whatever it is you want to review with them.
Saying “thank you” goes a long way. Although this type of follow-up doesn’t always warrant an immediate response, it leaves your recipients with a positive feeling about you and your brand. Showing gratitude is professional and it’s something people remember down the road — they might need to do business with you again in the future or refer you to a friend, colleague, or someone else in the industry.
As you can see, once you’ve determined the objective of your follow-up email, you can begin writing your note with a clear purpose. This way you can incorporate your CTA in a way that’s obvious and easy for your recipients to understand and act on. This includes responding with the information you’ve requested, scheduling a meeting time with you, catching up on what’s happened in their life — whether it’s businesses or personal — since you last spoke, or simply reading and acknowledging your thank you note.
By identifying and stating your objective in your follow-up email, you’ll be able to provide your recipients with a professional-sounding message and CTA that gives them some type immediate value (depending on your specific objective) and a way to act on it.
Let’s take a look at a follow-up email template with a clear objective so you can get a better idea of how to state your purpose and include a CTA for your recipients. This specific template falls under the “meeting request” category, but feel free to tailor this template to your specific goal and recipient.
If you would like to learn how other companies are dealing with challenges like yours, I would be happy to schedule a call. We could also talk a bit more about your challenges and determine whether or not I might be able to offer some help.
Mistakes made in polite follow-up emails and what to do instead
There are three common mistakes often made when writing polite follow-up emails. Let’s talk about each of these mistakes so you can avoid them when writing a polite follow-up email and what to do instead.
Using “follow-up” in the email subject line
When writing a polite follow-up email, most people tend to naturally use “follow-up” in the subject line. While this email is a follow-up, that subject line doesn’t add any value and will likely be ignored. It can also cause the reader to feel like you’re pointing blame because you didn’t answer, which doesn’t make the reader feel very good or interested in reading your email.
Instead, write a subject line that’s relevant to the topic or purpose of the email. To do this, ask yourself what the email is about or what you want them to do. Continue reading for polite follow-up email subject line examples.
Starting with “just following up” and not adding value
Another common mistake made when writing a polite follow-up email is starting with “just following up” and sending an email that doesn’t add any value. People are busy and don’t have time to read an email that they have to decipher the meaning of or what action is required.
Instead, when writing your polite follow-up email, focus on adding value. For example, give them options, share how you can help them solve their problem or what you can do for them, or add more details or context.
Not including a call to action
Instead, when writing a polite follow-up email, be clear about what you want the person to do after reading your email. Do you want them to reply? Call you back? Fill out a form? Be clear and specific so they know what you want them to do. You can do this while still being polite. Keep reading to see the polite follow-up email samples and learn how to incorporate this into your follow-up emails.
Not following up quickly
Instead of waiting 10+ days to follow up, consider sending a reminder sooner like 3 days. This ensures the recipient still has the topic and request fresh in their mind. If you wait too long, there is a chance they’ve already forgotten about your call to action and the steps you asked them to take. As an example, if you were a real estate agent, you know time is crucial! So it’s best to only wait a couple of days and send a polite and gentle reminder to either respond with a timeline or an assurance that the task was completed.
8 Polite follow-up email samples
Following up after meeting at a networking event
It was great meeting you at [name of event]! It was really interesting hearing about [something they mentioned they’re struggling with.]. I’d love to help you [problem you can solve] so you can [benefit they want to achieve].
Tip: Include an intro that triggers their memory. Include how you can add value by offering something that they want/need or solving a problem they have. Then finish with a call to action letting them know what you want them to do.
Following up after being introduced (ex. referral)
[Name of referrer] mentioned you’re looking for [a problem you can solve or service you can offer]. I’d love to chat about [problem they’re looking to solve] and how I can help you [benefit they want to get].
Tip: When following up in this scenario, be sure to let them know who referred you to them and what you can do for them. Focus on the value you can add and adding credibility such as your social media accounts or website portfolio. Be sure to finish by including a call to action for next steps.
Following up after a meeting or call to move to next steps in doing business together
It was great meeting you the other day and chatting about [something they mentioned they care about]. I’d love to get started on working on [project or deal you’re working towards] so you can [benefit they want].
Tip: Include something personal and give them context about who you are. People are often so busy that just seeing your name in their inbox may not be enough to remind them of who you are. Focus on adding value by reiterating a problem you can solve for them or benefit/goal you can help them achieve. Finish with a call to action telling them what you need them to do and why it’s important.
Following up after sending something that requires action and waiting to hear back
Tip: Keep the follow-up email brief. Ask if they’ve looked over the thing you sent them and if they have any questions to confirm they’ve received it and understand what’s needed. Finish by including a call to action about what you want them to do.
Following up after sending an invoice and haven’t received payment
Tip: Be brief but direct. Ask a question instead of pointing out the obvious that you haven’t received payment, for example asking to confirm they’ve received it and whether or not they have questions about it. Finish with a call to action telling them what you want them to do.
Following up after sending an estimate/quote
Have you had a chance to look over the quote I sent you [date you send the quote] for [project you’re working on]? Would love to get started on [project or service you’re providing] so you can [benefit they want].
Tip: Be brief and ask a question instead of saying you’re just following up on the invoice. Remind them of the value you can add or problem you can solve to emphasize what’s in it for them. Finish with a call to action by being clear on what they should do next.
Following up after asking someone to do something and no response
Have you had a chance to [work you’ve asked them to do]? Once I get [work you’ve asked them to do] then I can [next steps and benefit that they care about].
Tip: Be brief. Be polite by asking if they’ve looked it over rather than accuse or point out that you haven’t received it yet. Add value by giving them context for the urgency if needed or urgency about the next steps. Finish with a call to action so they know what you want them to do and why it’s important.
Following up after no response from the last email
Tip: When you’ve followed up and had no previous response, be brief and ask them why, while making it easy for them to answer by giving them options. Finish with a call to action letting them know what you want them to do.
Hopefully, you find these polite follow-up email samples helpful when writing your own follow-up emails. The main things to keep in mind when writing a polite follow-up email is to be brief, focus on adding value, and include a call to action. If you follow these tips you can avoid wasted time sending follow-ups that don’t get responses and start getting answers!
Last Thoughts on Follow-Up Emails
There are various scenarios in which you could use email marketing without a follow-up strategy and still get replies. You could, but why would you? The follow-up is a huge part of what makes email the king of customer acquisition and retention. Following the steps above can help give you the best shot at getting prospect replies.
How many follow-up emails should I send?
There is no magic number of follow-ups that will get your foot in the door with a prospect. However, it’s generally considered that more than five follow-ups is the bare minimum you should do, and up to around 10-12 in total.
How long should I wait to send a follow up email?
The problem with follow-ups is that you don’t want to follow up too soon, nor do you want to follow up too late. Sales professionals differ in terms of their ideal duration number, ranging anywhere from three days to a week or two. An effective strategy should center around your specific sales cycle – starting with a couple days between touchpoints before extending to longer durations (1-2 weeks) in the subsequent follow-ups.
Can I automate my follow-ups?
Where can I find examples of follow-up emails?