The art of prospecting truly lies in getting past the gatekeeper. After all, without the opportunity to face your prospect and pitch them properly, even the best sales pitches are worthless.
On sales calls, that gatekeeper is typically a receptionist or assistant. However, when email prospecting, the gatekeeper is the prospect themselves. And like most of us, they’re receiving an avalanche of email each day that can’t possibly all be read and responded to.
The result is that they end up scanning subject lines and skimming the first sentence or two to assess worthiness, interest, and urgency. As a marketer, knowing that everyone is skimming and scanning leaves you no choice but to up your subject line writing game so you can stand out from the crowd.
Mastering the art of the follow-up email subject line and remaining persistent will pay dividends in the long run. In fact, follow-up emails achieve greater response rates than initial emails. One study showed an 18% response rate to the first email sent, 13% to the fourth sent, and an impressive 27% to the sixth email sent.
To help your follow-up emails rise to the top, here are 8 follow-up email subject lines you can use to push past all the noise in the inbox and start more conversations.
Follow-Up Email Subject Lines for Every Situation
1. “Next steps”
Following up from a call or meeting.
Why it works: It’s short, conversational, and to the point. People are inherently curious and often can’t resist learning what those next steps are. It also works well as a tactic to re-engage prospects that may have gone cold.
Yesware compared the reply rate of “Next steps” as a follow-up email subject line to their average reply rate and found it can achieve up to a 70.5% open rate and a 49.6% reply rate. They found that subject line especially useful as a direct follow-up to leaving voicemails with another short sentence about “trying your line” to show added commitment and persistence.
2. “I forgot to mention…”
A solid choice if you didn’t receive a reply to your first email.
Why it works: It showcases that you’re human and made a mistake. Often, people forget that there’s a person on the other side of the message. Showing a more natural side of yourself can help create a better first impression, one that doesn’t come off as salesy but rather genuinely earnest. It shows you’re prone to mistakes just like everyone else.
It’s best to pair this with some sort of provocative statement, useful content, or anything the recipient might find valuable. In the body, you could tell them about an event you’re co-hosting that they’re invited to, or share an exclusive piece of content that can help them achieve their goals or overcome a particular pain point.
3. “Pleasure chatting with you, [prospect name]”
You made a connection and want to stay on their radar.
Why it works: It reminds them you aren’t a complete stranger while showing sincerity. A bit of gratitude makes you more memorable. It also makes sense to add the recipient’s name here for added personalization. As Josh Slone at LeadFuze says, “The more you personalize your subject line, the more benefits you can reap. Good contact data is key.”
Good contact data stems from asking the right questions on your first engagement and doing some initial research to find common ground, possible pain points, and other areas you can use to create a connection or draw their interest.
4. “Just left you a voicemail”
Ideal for an omni-channel strategy.
Why it works: It shows this isn’t your first touchpoint and indicates that you’re serious. It also shows you aren’t just a spammer who should be ignored. While sending 20 emails over a two-week span would be considered spam, the omni-channel approach demonstrated with this subject line shows that you’re seeking a genuine connection and are going to be respectfully persistent.
5. “Let’s take another look”
Great line to use if they asked you to circle back later.
Why it works: If someone gave you the go-ahead to contact them in the future, then this subject line conveys that you’ve talked to them before while still sounding conversational and friendly. It’s always best to come to the conversation with new information and something of value for them.
It’s also a great alternative to overused subject lines such as “Checking in” or “Touching base,” which have zero value. Not only do they come off as wasteful and inconsiderate of the prospect’s time, they simply don’t work. In fact, “Touching base” was found to fail 50% of the time. Bottom line: you should always have a reason for following up.
6. “Tuesday meeting at 10:00”
An eye-catching and candid approach to following up.
Why it works: The ultimate goal of a follow-up email is typically a call or meeting, so why not throw a “Hail Mary” and ask for one? If they haven’t responded by now, then there’s a good chance the emails aren’t being opened, so this added urgency could grab their attention enough to read your email.
An approach like this exudes confidence and can be especially useful as a follow-up email subject line. Similar to the powerful sales approach of assuming the sale, assuming the meeting can also catch the prospect off-guard. It’s easy to dismiss someone asking for a potential meeting sometime soon, but when someone asks you for a meeting at a specific date and time, the typical response is to check your calendar.
7. “Can you help me with this?”
Works well if you genuinely need their help.
Why it works: People inherently want to be helpful even if they’re busy. Dan Vanrenen, the Managing Director of Taskeater, believes that when it comes to writing compelling subject lines, you should “write a subject line that encourages them to respond and clearly signals your interest in what they have to say.”
That request for aid and empathy shows you’re following up not just for the sale, but for their advice or direction. To be clear, this subject line only works if your request is sincere and you’re likely to follow their direction or advice. As a follow-up, you can position the email towards not being able to reach the right person at the company who deals with [relevant position or area where your product would be beneficial].
8. “Getting tired of salespeople who don’t give up?”
Clever, attention-grabbing, and an easy win for opens if you follow through properly.
Why it works: Honesty is attractive, and being candid can often elicit a response and start the conversation off on the right foot. While I wouldn’t lead with a subject line like this, it can work wonders after 4-5 failed touchpoints, so long as you follow up properly in the body.
In the body, you can say something along the lines of:
“Me too. Which is why I pledge to stop contacting you if you aren’t interested 🙂
Just let me know if you [see, deal] with any of these common pain points people in your [role, industry] typically do:
- Issue or pain point 1
- Issue or pain point 2
- Issue or pain point 3”
Email Subject Line Best Practices Recap
Every sales and marketing channel comes with its own set of challenges, so as you experiment with the 8 follow-up email subject lines above, keep the following subject line best practices in mind:
Sound natural and conversational. Subject lines that are overly sales-driven or come on too strong are off-putting and are easily ignored or marked as spam, while having a friendly, conversational tone that shows you’re human will seem genuine and likely elicit a response.
Be brief. Because 56% of people open their email on mobile, lengthy subject lines will get cut off. The sweet spot is six to ten words, but less than five works well also.
Personalize by adding the subject’s name. This is shown to boost open rates. You can also experiment with adding the company name or mentioning a mutual connection or shared experience you found during your research.
With the sheer volume of email out there, learning to master the follow-up email is a must. Getting past the noise in the inbox is no easy feat, so knowing how to write effective follow-up email subject lines is crucial.
Now that you’ve got the best follow-up email subject lines at your disposal, the only thing left to do is start using them. Remember, the key to making your follow-up email subject lines irresistible is to speak directly to the prospect’s needs, pain points, and desires. You’ve got to pique their interest with emotion-provoking language and personalization, and by sounding natural and human instead of salesly and robotic.
Do you have any favorite follow-up email subject lines to add to this list? Share yours in the comments below: