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The Beginner’s Guide to Crafting a Follow-up Email That Gets Replies

I know the frustration.

You send out one of the greatest, most brilliant emails you’ve ever written to someone you’re sure could be your future client… only to get no response.

“What could have gone wrong with this campaign?” you wonder, as you watch your email dashboard stats flatline.

As disheartening as it is, you should know you’re not alone; it happens all the time.

Standing out from the crowd and getting someone’s attention with a cold email is tough, even for the experts. For beginners, it’s nearly impossible.

So what’s the solution?

While there is no miraculous formula for writing a cold email that gets responses, there is one way you can cut through all the noise and get replies, fast.

The magic is actually in the follow-up emails.

If you continue to reach out and add value in your follow-up emails, you’ll be successful.

But before jumping in, let’s see why you should follow up in the first place.

Why You Should Continue Sending Value-Packed Follow-up Emails, While Others Just Give Up

I’m sure you’ve heard this stat: Email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter.

But most people receive hundreds of emails a day – and the chances of your outreach email getting buried or outright deleted are pretty damn high. That’s where follow-up emails can help you get noticed.

According to Yesware, you have a 21% chance of getting a reply to your second email if the first goes unanswered. It’s not because follow-up emails annoy people; it’s because follow-up emails can fill the void your first outreach email may have created.

For example, let’s say you’ve sent an outreach email as part of a link building campaign. In your first email, you’ve tried to create a connection by adding value, and your recipient replied by saying ‘Thanks.’

Now, how do you ask them to build a link? Of course, you can ask them directly for a link, filling the call-to-action gap your first outreach email left.

That’s just one example. Your follow-up email can also:

  • Add value
  • Build trust
  • Educate
  • Entertain
  • Inspire someone to take action

Which is why, as Yesware discovered, it takes an average of five cold call attempts to close a sale, yet 70% of salespeople give up after they don’t get a reply to the first email.

At this point, you may be asking yourself how you can write these value-packed emails. Read on and I’ll show you how to craft follow-up emails that get noticed.

A Typical Follow-up Email That Gets Ignored

The internet is filled with plenty of follow-up email templates. But most likely, they aren’t going to deliver the results you expect.

So what are these typical follow-up emails? They usually sound like this:

Hi [Name],

I didn’t hear back from you last week when I was looking for the appropriate person managing the content marketing of [Business Name]. If it makes sense to talk, let me know how your calendar looks. If not, who is the appropriate person?

Thanks

Hey [Name], how’s it going? Can we schedule some time to talk this week?

Cheers 🙂

[Name], is the below of any interest to you?

But here’s the thing – they will never work for you. Why?

Because “Follow-up” Doesn’t Mean Bombarding Someone with Emails

Let’ say you’re sending a cold sales outreach email. In your first email, you’ve tried to build trust by showing your past work and adding some social proof.

But the prospect didn’t respond.

So you search for a “sales follow-up email template,” and find this amazing template that you think will instantly increase your reply ratio.

It reads something like this:

Hey [Name]

I didn’t hear back from you. Just wondering, did I do something wrong?

I know you’re super interested in increasing the conversion rate of your sales page. Let me know.

Talk soon.

But as expected, it also will not get a reply.

Here’s why:

Reason #1: You continued sending more follow-up emails.

Yes, I know I stated it earlier: the study by Yesware said it takes an average of five attempts to close a sale. But that doesn’t mean you should bombard people with follow-up emails.

It can really tick people off:

Reason #2: Your follow-up email is all about you.

The world revolves around me. Me, me, me. My favorite person: Me.

I don’t want email from you. I don’t want junk mail from you. I want me-mail.

– Seth Godin

If you’re not showing the recipient how your email can benefit them, instead of you, you’re doing it wrong.

Want an example of the wrong kind of message to send? Take this one from GetResponse:

The email is filled with grammatical errors; plus, it’s all about them, not about what they can do for the recipient.

Reason #3: Your follow-up email didn’t close the gap.

Okay, this one’s a bit more advanced.

As I’ve said earlier, with your follow-up email, you need to close all the gaps as soon as possible. But by using a templated email you’ve created more gaps, which makes it harder for you to win that deal.

Now, let me give you an example of a great follow-up email.

Example of A Great Follow-up Email

One day, I was reaching out to a potential client for my content marketing services. I sent a great outreach email:

It was a great email. But unfortunately, the person didn’t respond. So what did I do?

I went back and sent this fantastic follow-up email packed with more value and more social proof.

And … within minutes I got a response.

Do you see what happened there?

Instead of saying, “Can we talk next week?” I sent the outline of a real blog post. I did the actual work and I closed the deal.

That’s not a one-off. Using that same approach, I’ve written guest posts for sites like CMI, Kissmetrics, and Jeff Bullas.

This is what you need to do. If the person is not interested, then you should go one step further to win that deal.

That’s what Sol Orwell does with his emails.

How to Craft a Follow-up Email That Gets Replies Fast

As I mentioned above, you can’t send the same type of follow-up email to everyone.

Sometimes, you have to provide value, show social proof, and add some context. In other situations, you can get what you want just by asking. It just depends on how you assess the situation.

But in general, these are the five elements of a high-converting follow-up email:

1. The Subject Line (quickly explain what the recipient can expect from your email)
2. The Context

  1. When was the last conversation you had with that person?
  2. What was it about?
  3. Is there anything you can reference?

3. Added Value (show you’re willing to do the work)
4. Social Proof (adding influence)
5. The Call-to-Action (the exact thing you want the person to do)

Now, lee how you can use these elements to create the perfect follow-up email.

1. Ensure Your Subject Line is Doing its Job

The aim of your subject line is to get the recipient to open the email. What’s the best way to do that?

If you have a previous email thread with that person, then reply within that thread. It’s the easiest way to stand out in their inbox.

However, if you’ve never connected with that person by email, then you need to write an enticing subject line. Come up with at least one unique hook. Look at how you can help that person.

Or, you can add context (more on that below) to your subject line; for example: “Great to meet you at …… [Event]”

2. Try Adding a Bit of Context

Beyond the subject line, adding context to your emails makes them fun, engaging, and, most importantly, useful to the recipient.

Think about how you could do this. Have you had any interaction with that person in the past? Is there anything you can reference, such as a Twitter chat?

When you add context, you build a personal connection with the recipient. Then it’s super easy to convert them.

If you haven’t had any conversation with that person, then you can create a sort of context. Take a look at the person’s tweets, for example. All My Tweets is a great tool that can instantly pull all the tweets from a certain account, and list them in a single page. Then it’s just a matter of searching for specific keywords and finding the person’s frustrations or problems – and your follow-up email, of course, should offer a solution to those frustrations or problems.

Jason Zook secured 75% of the 2,000 deals he’s landed over the years through follow-up emails. He did this by adding context and making his emails more personalized.

3. Do Work Upfront to Add Value

What is the problem you are solving?

That’s the question you should answer before sending the follow-up email. Instead of asking for links, promoting your product, or pitching your services, think, “What value am I offering to that person?”

As I mentioned above, I created an outline for a prospect and shared it with him. This definitely offered value to that prospect and solved a problem – and helped me close the deal.

So take some time to figure out the problem your prospect has and aim to solve it with your follow-up email.

4. Use Social Proof to Make it More Appealing

Social proof is an extremely powerful tool. Over 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase, and nearly 63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews.

That means social proof is the #1 factor people take into consideration. And that’s the reason you need to have social proof in your outreach emails.

Here’s an example.

Tim Soulo loves using social proof to quickly gain credibility. He used social proof with this outreach email:

What are some other kinds of social proof you can use in your follow-up emails?

  1. Case studies of brands you’ve worked with
  2. Results you’ve achieved
  3. Previews of the content you’ve published online

5. Add a call-to-action

Finally, your follow-up email should always include a call-to-action.

You don’t need to play with words here. A quick ask will be enough: “Let’s talk about it – a short Skype will do. Are you available this Friday?”

Most of the time, you’d like to get your prospect to take any one of these actions:

  • Connect with you on the phone
  • Add a link
  • Share your content
  • Chat with you

So what is it that you want from the person?

Add it to your email. You won’t get if you don’t ask.

Follow-up Email Templates

So, now you know what constitutes a great follow-up email – but how do you create one? Here are some templates that may be helpful to get you started.

Remember, there are two types of follow-ups:

  1. A follow-up email to a person you already know
  2. A follow-up email to a person you have never had any communication with in the past

Of course, it’s easier to follow up with the person you already know.

A simple follow-up email with a little bit of context would be enough:

Hey [First Name],

How are you doing?

Last time we spoke, you were really interested in increasing your retention rate.

Are you still figuring out a solution?

If so, I’ve just published a great article which I think could solve your problem.

Check it out: [Article URL]

Talk soon,

[Your Name]

But you can’t use this email for a person you don’t know, as you won’t know what their unique problems are.

That’s where these follow-up templates come in. They can help you get a response super-fast. While I would never recommend you to use an email template verbatim, I don’t see a single reason why you can’t use them as a starting point.

Once you know which template you want to use, edit and personalize it to make sure it fits with your situation and reflects your personality.

Template for Link Building

How do you approach link building?

Most times, you send an email which contains a link to an outdated article or a broken link, and then tell the site owner you’ve published a fresh, updated article, which could be a great addition to their content. Right?

But most of the time, that’s not enough to generate a response.

If your email is met with deafening silence, here’s a follow-up email template that can help you:

Hey [First Name],

I know you’re busy managing your business. And removing a broken link is something that may take too much of your precious time.

But still, here’s why you should remove bad links from your content:

  1. According to Moz, if you have a 404 error you’re losing out on a huge chance to get your content ranked.
  2. BlizzardPress recently removed all of their 404 errors, and almost instantly climbed up 1713 spots.
  3. It won’t take much of your time. I have a spreadsheet that includes all the broken links. It will make the process 100 times easier for you.

I would love to share the spreadsheet with you and help you with this process.

Talk soon,

[Your Name]

Template for Sales Outreach

Let’s say you’re a freelance designer and pitched a client for your design services.

In your outreach email, you listed all the companies you’ve helped in the past, plus you’ve also shared an idea about how you can help them with their branding.

While there are other ways to get on their radar, magic can happen with this follow-up email.

Hey [First Name],

A few days ago I shared a design idea with you. Did you like it?

To illustrate how effective it can be, I’ve gone ahead and taken the time to create a wireframe for your website. It’s designed around the core value of your business. I’ve had a lot of experience with projects like this, including [Previous Client’s] [Project or Asset].

I have a very solid foundation in communicating the creative identity of a brand through [Project Deliverable], and I’m looking forward to helping [Company Name] deliver even more unique value to the industry.

Let me know when you have a moment to chat this week.

Thanks,
[Your Name]

Template for Guest Post

How do you secure a guest post on a bigger publication?

Normally, you do this by writing a great outreach email which will contain every important element: introduction, headline ideas for the guest post, and links to your previously published content.

But sometimes, even all that isn’t enough. In those cases, you can use this follow-up email that will instantly make you look like a great writer.

Hi [First Name],

I sent you some headline ideas last week. Have you had a chance to look at them?

I’m really excited to write for [Website Name], so I outlined the first headline this morning.

See it here: [Outline Link]

What do you think of it?

Let me know if you’d like me to add/remove something.

Cheers,

[Your Name]

How to Master Sending Follow-up Emails

So you’ve written an awesome follow-up email, but when should you send it?

Here is my suggested timing for sending your follow-up email:

  1. For sales outreach: after 24 hours
  2. For link building and guest posts: after 48 hours
  3. To catch up with a connection: once a month

In short, there is no hard-and-fast rule for sending a follow-up email. It’s usually always safe to send a follow-up email after 48 hours, as the person has had enough time to consider your email.

However, if you’re reaching out to the busy CEO of a big enterprise, give them more time – maybe 4-7 days, before you send your first follow-up.

You also need to know how many times to follow up with a prospect.

If you’re reaching out to a completely cold lead, I wouldn’t recommend sending more than two follow-up emails. However, if you’ve already had some kind of interaction with that person, you can send as many follow-ups as it takes to get a response.

Stop Waiting and Start Doing

Having a steady stream of clients and promoters for your brand sounds great, but most of the time, it doesn’t happen to people like you and me; we need to hustle and find our prospects.

You probably thought that getting no response from your outreach email was a legitimate reason to procrastinate. Hopefully, reading this post has changed your mind. Now you know that follow-up emails can help you get those crucial replies. And I’ve just handed you a proven strategy for building your business with follow-up emails.

So, no more excuses. Start today and reach out to all the people you’ve tried contacting in the past, but didn’t get any response from. You have nothing to lose – and everything to gain.

Have you found any good techniques for sending follow-up emails that get replies? What do you plan to try next? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below:

Comments

4 Comments

max peters

great article. I put cold emails to another level, making a personal video for the person I’m trying to contact, explaining and actually showing how I can help their businesses.

Tudor Mateescu

Great article but how can you automate that with mailshake?All this emails are very personal and direct. I don’t see how can I scale this. Writing a 7000 words article for a specfic job and sending a link with this is something that is one on one aproach… I’m interested in a one on many aproach.

Sujan Patel

Tudor,

Check out the templates towards the end of the article. You can also use text replacements (http://docs.mailshake.com/article/77-how-do-i-use-text-replacements) to send customize your emails so that the part of the email is relevant to the individual while still doing it at large scale.

Arga Fingerspot

Very clear article! I think my company should start thinking about getting the right tools to do this. Still have a lot to fix here and there.


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