The follow-up email is an important practice that often gets neglected in the business world. Making sure to maintain the connection you’ve made with a client or employer, whether existing or prospective, is essential to ensuring productivity and continued forward progress in the workplace.
But when is the appropriate time to send a follow-up email? How should it be written and what kind of language should you use? How many follow-up emails is too many? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you with how to write a follow-up email that is both successful in its objective and engaging to its recipient.
How to write a follow-up email: When to send
When you send your follow-up email depends on the subject of the email. Are you sending the email to a client? A lead? A prospective employer? To whom you are sending the email plays a large part in when it should be sent. Because chances are, depending on the recipient of the email, the email will likely have a different purpose or objective.
Once you have identified the recipient of your follow-up email, you should next determine what you are looking to accomplish by sending it. Is it a thank you email? Are you looking for a status update? Are you trying to close a sale?
Thank you emails can be sent almost any time following a meeting, interview, sales call, or any other situation you feel would benefit a thank you message. Typically though, if you’re sending a thank you email, you want to send it within a day or so of the event you are providing thanks for. Any later than that, you may run the risk of it being no longer relevant.
If you’re looking to ask for an update on a particular task, application, or to check whether a correspondence has been received, the general rule would be to wait a week or two before sending your follow-up email. However, depending on the urgency of the matter (e.g. a deadline for receiving applications) you may want to send your follow-up email sooner than that just to be safe.
In the case, you’re just looking to catch up with a client or lead and there are no outstanding tasks that were expected to be accomplished, a general rule of thumb is to send them a follow-up email every few months. This keeps you top of their mind, especially if it is a client you are looking to upsell or renew. You want to be sure they think of you when they’re ready.
How to write a follow-up email: Composing the email
Now that you know when you should be sending your follow-up email, we can get into the nitty-gritty of how to actually write one.
It is important to make sure that each part of your follow-up email is interesting and makes the recipient want to reply. We will focus on the two main parts of the email: the subject line and the body.
Subject lines are key
Your subject line is the first thing your email recipient will see before they even consider opening the email. A good subject line gives the reader an idea as to the purpose of the email, while also giving them a good reason to open it.
Be concise when you’re writing a subject line. You want to be sure that the entirety of it fits within the limits of your recipient’s email client and it is not cut off. Clear language also helps to ensure that you are conveying a sense of timeliness (e.g. “Meet tomorrow” instead of “meet sometime this week”). You don’t want to give them a reason to put off opening your email until they get a spare moment, so a clear a specific subject line helps mitigate this.
You may want to hold off creating your subject line until after you write out your follow-up email, however, this is a matter of personal preference. Sometimes it’s easier to come up with a relevant subject line once you know what you are trying to get across to your reader.
Content is crucial
The body of your follow-up email is where you need to think about the intended goal you wish to achieve by sending it.
Are you looking to nurture a new or existing relationship with a client or prospect? Are you looking to reconnect with an opportunity that has fallen by the wayside? Are you looking to close a deal after a meeting?
Once you have identified what you wish to achieve by sending your follow-up email, you are able to better determine the appropriate tone and language to use.
For example, you wouldn’t necessarily wish to appear overly casual in an email to a potential client (unless that is your brand). Generally though, in this case, you probably want to come across as capable and professional so as to instill trust and confidence and close the deal.
And as with your subject line creation, you should try to be as concise as possible. No one is looking for flowery prose or irrelevant anecdotes in what should just be a simple follow-up email. Specificity and clarity is always the name of the game.
How to write a follow-up email: How many?
Once we have our follow-up email created and sent, that’s it, right?
While it ultimately depends on the goal of your follow-up email, you may end up sending two or three – or even four or five! – follow-up emails before you get a response or achieve your objective.
Let’s say you are following up after a good meeting to say thank you to your contact. If a simple “thank you” is all you’re wanting to achieve, then this would be an example of a case where you might not need to do any extra legwork by way of additional follow-up emails. However, if you are trying to make a sale or create an ongoing relationship with that contact, then you may need a little persistence to make sure you keep them on the hook, so to speak.
Follow-up emails can serve to keep your organization or company top of mind with your contacts, ensuring that it is you they think of whenever they have need of a service or product you may be able to provide.
So, how many emails should you send to be persistent but not clingy?
Try setting up a series of touchpoint emails with varied content to be sent out to contacts automatically, once every few days to begin with (as needed and as appropriate), and then slowing down to about once a month or so, and potentially stopping once a contact replies or you otherwise achieve your goal with them. This process can be aided with an automation platform (such as SimplyCast’s SimplyCast 360 tool) that allows you to determine the intervals after which you send your emails and sends them out automatically without you having to remember to do it yourself at the appropriate time.
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If you found this post useful, be sure to check out How to Write a Marketing Email!