The road to a successful cold email campaign is hard. One of the trickiest obstacles to overcome is deciding on follow-up email samples to use after you get no response.
So you’ve built a B2B email list and started sending out your cold emails. Some people immediately return a reply, and some don’t.
How to approach writing a follow-up email that doesn’t suck?
Be fun or professional?
Should you follow up on your emails at all?
Let’s state the obvious first: yep, you should follow up
People on your B2B email list often won’t reply to the first message you send them, but that doesn’t make them a case closed.
It can happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe they were too busy for email on that day. Maybe they saw your message but forgot to reply. Maybe they were out of office (and didn’t set up an out of office message).
Maybe the pile of their unanswered emails got so out of hand that the single thought of opening Gmail makes them tremble with existential dread.
And maybe they are just not interested in your product — but even then you can turn naysayers around with a great follow-up.
(Just make sure that you’re using a proper email pattern and verify your email addresses to eliminate the chance your messages are being sent into the void. Also, track your emails so you can better understand the reason for no reply. No opens can mean a totally different thing from opening and not replying.)
Some recent studies have shown that if your first email remains unanswered, there’s still a 1-in-4 chance that a prospect replies to a follow-up. But according to Yesware, more than 70% of cold email campaigns stop after the first email.
Which means that if you’re not sending follow-up emails, you’re losing a sizable chunk of your business.
Still not convinced?
In 2014, Jason Zook of IWearYourShirt fame took a long hard look on over 2,000 deals he made via email and realized that more than 75% of them were made thanks to a follow-up email.
Let’s go over this again: there’s already a decent chance people will reply to your follow-ups, there’s an even better chance to close a deal after they reply, and most of your competition doesn’t do it.
The need to follow up on cold emails is indisputable.
But the proper way to do it? Not so much.
36 chambers of writing a great follow-up email
References to semi-obscure kung fu movies aside, writing a proper follow-up email requires utilizing the same tactics that you should use when writing an initial email.
Your email follow-up should be:
And most importantly, it should offer something of value.
Sound easy? You won’t believe how many people still send a follow-up wrong.
For example, here’s a message that I’ve received a couple of months back.
Would you care to answer it?
Probably not. I certainly didn’t. This message is harsh, it shames your prospect for being too busy with their own life and it doesn’t include their name or the name of the company that they are working for (which means that it’s probably a template).
This kind of a follow-up isn’t just a waste of the sender’s time — it actively wastes the prospect’s time, and that’s even worse.
If this looks similar to your approach to follow-ups… just stop sending them. And read on.
Let’s discuss in detail what makes a proper sales follow-up.
Should your follow-up stay in the same email thread?
There are two ways to send a follow-up:
- Send an email in the existing thread
- Send it as a new message
Some sales reps and marketers over-rely on the second approach, preferring to send each follow-up email as a separate message.
Although this method has its benefits (you have a better chance to capture the prospect’s attention) it can quickly become annoying. A separate follow-up email means that your prospect will have a harder time understanding what the message is about and which one they actually need to answer.
However, if you already sent several follow-up emails and still got no reply, trying one last time to get your prospect to reply isn’t a bad idea. Just make sure to start a new email thread only once.
Rethinking your approach to email subject lines is a good idea as well. Chances are that the reason your recipient isn’t replying is because of a bland subject line of the original message. It’s too easy to lose track of a message that’s titled ‘Hello’.
Coming up with an engaging subject line isn’t hard. If you’re not sure where to start, read our guide to cold email subject lines and find a tip that will work for you.
A great follow-up is short
Nobody has the time to read through their email inbox.
If a person has already read your first email and decided not to reply, and you still make them read another huge message… Yeah, it won’t win you any new clients.
Besides, keep in mind the reason why you send a follow-up email in the first place — it’s not to sell your prospect on your product all over again, it’s to remind them about that initial message they didn’t reply to.
It puts the most important information — time of the previous email — right at the very beginning of the message. It will help your prospect remember the reason for the follow-up email and the context of the original message.
This follow-up email sample runs just three sentences long (36 words to be exact). But it sounds enthusiastic and gives the recipient all the necessary information to remember why you’re following up in the first place. It’s pretty great.
Your follow-up email is personal — and fun
To return to that abysmal follow-up example that I mentioned a couple of paragraphs earlier — it’s actually pretty easy to mend its robotic, unnatural tone.
Just by mentioning the name of your prospect, their company and something that they actually did since the last time you’ve contacted them will work wonders for your follow-up strategy.
Context matters, by the way. A message that tells me ‘great job on your latest blog post’ can be speaking about an article I’ve done in 2014.
A follow-up email like this instantly tells me that the sender cares about who I am and what I do and that I should probably reward their approach with a reply.
Follow-up emails can be annoying by their very nature, so don’t be afraid to recognize that in a fun way.
Include a decision shortcut in your follow-up message
The previous follow-up email sample is great for another reason, it offers the recipient a shortcut to take. Let’s talk about that.
Having a shortcut to a quick reply (instead of a regular call-to-action) is a great strategy to utilize in your follow-up emails.
Here’s what it means.
People usually won’t reply to your message for one of two reasons:
- They are too busy
- They are not interested
When you write a follow-up, your main goal should be to understand which reason is the right one. Even if the reply is a brisk “Don’t message me again”, it’s a valid outcome. You can now spend that energy elsewhere.
So make it as simple as possible for people to reply by basically including their reply in your template.
Ending with a question about the direction of the company will prompt your prospect to reply with a concrete yes or no: ‘yes, we decided on another strategy’, ‘no, we still want in’.
Offer something of value
Sometimes receiving a response will take up a few weeks. In that case, don’t be afraid to include something new in your next follow-up.
Maybe you published a new blog post on a relevant topic — or even released a new feature. Use it as a way to quietly shame your prospect into replying without being too aggressive about it.
Just be sure not to come off as too needy (which means not explaining to a prospect for the fifth time in a row that you have a free trial).
Writing a great follow-up email isn’t easy. Sometimes the urge to call it a day after the initial email is strong. Resist it!
Hopefully, some of the tips and examples above will be enough to improve your follow-ups. Just remember the most important thing about cold emails — you’re messaging real human beings and you should always respect their time.
Have a tip of your own? Share it in the comments!