8 tips for sending prospecting follow-up emails
Many people shy away from follow-up emails out of fear that they waste the recipient’s time or come across as annoying. In reality, 80% of prospects say yes only after the 5th follow-up email, and with 70% of unanswered emails never followed up, it’s easy to imagine the opportunities lost.
Look at it this way: you wouldn’t close a book after the first chapter, so don’t send an email without expecting the need to follow up. But the way you approach it is crucial and if you’ve ever been prospected in the wrong way (we’re talking multiple emails in one day, phone calls, needy voicemails – yes it does happen) then you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Here are our tips on how to write a prospecting follow-up email effectively and respectfully.
1. Plan ahead
Step one is always the initial email and you can find out more on how to write a prospecting email that get results in our blog here.
You don’t want to be repeating yourself in each follow-up email, so plan ahead. Decide how many follow-ups you want to send, and plan what you want to say for each. If you’re following up with multiple people, ensure you have a document with details for each written out. You still want these emails to feel personal.
If, for example, you’re trying to sell a product and have not heard back from the client, your first follow-up email could simply be asking if they saw your email, and the other follow-up emails could add more information about your product or service.
The final follow-up should be a ‘break-up’ email. You need to make sure you don’t repeat information, and don’t run out of information.
2. Three formats
The following formats will not suit every follow-up situation, but they can act as a good guide for what to include.
- Sent with the view that they forgot to reply to the initial email
- Forwarding the initial email is an easy method
- Politely ask if they have seen the email, and include a call to action
- Focus on how you can help them (rather than a focus of selling)
- Mention the benefits for them and how you can aid them
- Include a call to action
- After a decided number of follow-ups, a break-up email is polite.
- Tell them you’re open to hearing from them, but that this is the last email you will send.
- If they still want to engage, they will now.
3. Time it right
Appreciating that the recipient probably has a busy schedule is polite, so timing the follow up email well is vital. A general rule is to send the first follow-up email two or three days after the initial one. This may seem soon, but a vast majority of people open emails on the same day they receive them, and often will take action and reply the same day too.
Two or three days is respectful of their time, but still soon enough after the initial email that they will remember it.
The more follow-up emails you send, the more you should space them out – you don’t want to come across as too keen and become an annoyance.
- Send the second follow-up five to six days after the first follow-up.
- For further follow-up emails, add another two to three days onto the time scale.
It’s also good to consider what day of the week, and time of day, you are emailing, as this could be having an effect on the results. This depends entirely on who you’re emailing (B2B or B2C), and the product or service you are offering them, so it may be wise to do research specific to your target industry.
4. Subject line
Although the subject line matters more for the initial email, it is still important for follow-ups. Because of the nature of a follow-up email, you want a subject line that’s going to encourage them to open it, whilst also being focused and to-the-point. This will depend on your situation, but you can afford to be more specific than the initial email, particularly if you have been in contact with them already.
Some good examples are:
- Are you going to [event]?
- More information on [product/service]
- Next steps?
Questions work well in follow-up email subject lines, particularly if you didn’t receive a response from your first email, as they hint to something the recipient may be missing out on.
5. Context, value, call to action
These three things are what you should always put in a follow-up email (or any email, really!).
Context, such as mentioning your previous email or phone call, or briefly explaining your company, will help the recipient recall you. If you skip this step and wait a week until your next email, they may have forgotten who you are and what you want.
Next, explain what your value is. What are you offering, and how could it help them? The key here is to focus on helping them, rather than completing a sale or any other ulterior motive. If you want a phone call, explain why they won’t be wasting their time. Evoking emotion or intrigue here could be an added tactic to get a response.
Call to action
Finally, add a call to action and be specific. If you want a call with them, ask if they’re free on a specific day and time. If you want to send them a demo or more information, ask for a simple response such as replying ‘yes’ to the email. Make it as easy as possible for them to reply; typing a word versus an essay will certainly be a part of their decision making.
Although this is a general format, make each section concise and short, as no one wants to receive a wall of text. A shorter email is more likely to be read and replied to than a long one.
6. Put yourself in their shoes
A simple tip, but definitely an effective one: put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. Obviously you don’t know all the details so you will need to use your imagination, but it can be a really powerful exercise. It can add more personal touches to your email or flag up any phrases that don’t work.
Look out for these:
- Whether the subject line catches your eye in your inbox
- How much of the subject line and email is previewed before you click on it (but keep in mind this will change for each computer)
- How well the email flows, and whether it reads well
- If appropriate, does your personality come through well enough – you don’t want to sound automated
- Whether the added value is actually beneficial
- How easy it is to reply, and how much you would need to think about the reply.
Keep a list of the amendments you make for future reference.
7. Keep it personalised
Don’t forget to keep up the personalisation for follow-up emails. Mention something they have previously spoken about, or do some research and find some relevant information to tactfully place in the email.
Depending on your relationship to the recipient, you could start to be a bit more informal here. Having an opinion on something they have done or an event you both attended could help the relationship and fuel further interactions. If you are visiting their city, you could ask for a restaurant recommendation, or if you live in the same city, a quick comment on a local event shows you’re human and will likely inspire a response.
At Outbase, we understand that you’re not always going to have the time and resources to write personlised emails in this way. That’s why we offer an email template writing service so you can use your time to focus on the bigger picture. Find out more on how we can help you to write personalised B2B emails tailored to your audience.
8. Keep following up
Although many people think you should only follow up three or four times, really there is no limit. Obviously, respect the fact that they may have lost interest, and certainly don’t keep following up forever, but if you feel like there’s a lot of potential, don’t give up too easily.
You won’t be their top priority, and accepting that will almost definitely help the process. But being passionate will also help the process. Don’t be afraid to vocalise your feelings if you think the partnership could be great . As long as you are polite and genuine, it’s more likely to help rather than hinder. It also makes you even more human, and we all know that will increase chances of a reply.
Follow-ups are long and tedious, especially when you have an ever-growing list of follow-ups to send, but they are so worth it. You won’t win them all, but your chances of winning some skyrocket with follow-up emails. Combined with our other emailing tips, you’ll be an email prospecting pro in no time.
Find out more on how you can increase your sales and grow your ROI with Outbase and sign up today.