How to Write a Follow-Up Email

Updated October 18, 2019

Some of us dread following up with the contacts we’ve collected. We gather phone numbers, names, email addresses, and business locations in order to build rapport, but nothing will happen with those leads unless you follow up with them.

This can be difficult since we don’t want to hear “no”; we might feel we lack the right message that will make an impact. However, email happens to be the perfect way to bring leads to a sure “yes.”

Follow-ups only work when you have a email list of subscribers and have given them a clear look at what you can provide. Being tactful and prompt will then help you stay top of mind.

These are warm leads that you’ve interacted with recently, so this is a good time to believe in yourself and the solution you have for them.

At a glance: How to write an email that wins a response back

  • Know when to follow up. Your first step is to be prompt. Don’t bother, panic, or worry your leads, but make your follow-up timely and relevant.
  • Create an ideal strategy. We have the largest effects on people’s lives when we put thought into our actions. Being strategic allows you to stay a few steps ahead of your leads with thoughtful planning.
  • Make your main points clear. The most beneficial tactic email marketers have is preparation. Influential marketers spend time crafting each email, and you have to do likewise.
  • Polish and revise until it’s perfect. A perfect follow-up email takes time to write. Be patient; write your full message, but make sure it’s free of mistakes.

When should you send a follow-up email?

It’s good to have ambition, but you don’t want people to view your business as aggressive. However, if you never reach out to your leads, you’ll miss out on converting them into customers.

Ideally, you want to send follow-up messages after your prospects have done something very specific. It’s these interactions that make follow-up emails so unique. Welcome messages, for example, should bring fresh, new minds into a sales funnel.

Based on the actions your leads take, a follow-up email continues the conversation in an ongoing relationship you’ve already established. Being sensitive to your audience’s needs is key.

1. After a few days

The longest you should ever wait to send a follow-up email is a few days. There are many distractions to the modern consumer, and it’s important to get a message to them while your last interaction is still fresh in their minds.

Taking action within a few days ensures you’re actively doing your part to turn leads into customers. They've had at least one interaction with your business at this point, so sending a follow-up email is your opportunity to further involve them in your brand at a time when they might be receptive.

Study your tracking software and analytics. Delay your message if you see this lead actively engaged in your content, but send the follow-up email immediately if they are drifting away.

2. When leads have failed to complete an action

Sometimes leads put items from your online store into their virtual shopping carts, but they fail to purchase them. This is an example of someone taking an action but not completing it.

Consider automating your follow-up email in these cases; be considerate of why they haven’t finished what they started.

This is an opportunity to find out if there’s something dissatisfying about your offer. Ask questions to find out how they feel. The specific action they haven’t completed dictates how soon you should respond to them. Just don’t wait any longer than a few days.

3. When replying to their signups, messages, and purchases

Sending a thank-you message when someone has completed an action is important. This is the time to show them your appreciation and keep your relationship healthy and positive.

If you’re like any business professional, you had to push and ask your leads to take action. Thank them as a way of setting the expectation for future business.

Send a “thank you” or “congratulations” email at the very moment one of your prospects completes an action.

How to create a follow-up email that converts

You now have the right mindset and strategy for how to engage with your leads.

Writing the actual message is the next step. It can be easy to make seemingly small mistakes in your wording that can seriously affect conversion, so be sure to look cautiously at the finer details of your message.

Step 1: Consider your audience’s identity

Knowing your audience allows you to determine the content of your message and your messaging strategy.

Here’s where you want to develop the ultimate “call to action” — the specific thing you will ask them to do. By knowing your audience, you can predetermine what their response will be.

Ways to consider identity:

Start with basic demographics: Age, gender, occupation, and location can reveal some insights into who your prospects are. Do thorough research to get into their thoughts. Meet them wherever they are.

● Look to historical analytics: Analytics can reveal how often a lead has visited your website or opened your emails. Take all of their previous actions into consideration.

Step 2: Start with an effective outline

Begin the body of your email with something that ties the reader into a past experience they’ve shared with you. You want to avoid the impression that you’re a stranger, so push the idea of being a close friend or associate.

Leave no room for them to be confused about who you are.

Ways to craft an outline:

● Have a beginning, middle, and end: Divide your message into three parts. Your intro should always start with a bang and a concise topic. The body of the message delves into the main topic and delivers on your promise. At the end, summarize your main points and ask the reader to act.

● Use subheadings to make things easy: You can create sections within your email by using subheads to structure your template.

Step 3: Communicate the value of what you’re promising

Don’t phone it in because this is “just” a follow-up email. Work to change the lives of your readers with something they can take with them from the email itself. Make it a practice to change their lives every time you interact with them.

How to communicate clearly:

Think of something unique: Try not to use concepts you’ve shared with them before. Your content should be original. It should inspire your recipients to remain loyal to you.

Give them a taste of the final solution: One of the best ways to inspire your audience is by living up to the promises you’ve made. Show them exactly what they’ll get if they re-engage with your business.

Step 4: Write and edit the email

Here’s where everyone, including the very best writers, often get intimidated. Remember you have a strategy, a topic, and an outline to guide you. Let your emotions and thoughts do the rest.

How to get the right message out:

● Don’t hold back: Your first draft might be overwritten, with a lot of fluff, but that’s okay. It’s important to get your thoughts out — you can take out the unnecessary parts later.

● Only reach for perfection as you edit: Don’t get caught up in what does or doesn’t work as you’re writing; remember instead to set aside time to edit your piece. You can make changes and corrections endlessly until you’re satisfied with the result.

When you should consider a CRM for follow-up emails

When your company reaches a certain size, or is processing a large number of transactions each day, it can quickly get overwhelming. You can start to feel like you’re no longer on top of things, or worse yet, the work begins to feel like a chore rather than a passion.

This is where a CRM software can make a big difference. Even the most basic, free CRMs can help you organize your messaging pipeline and make things a lot easier.

Two of our highest-rated CRMs, Insightly and Agile CRM, come with complete marketing automation capabilities. Not only do you no longer have to worry about forgetting to reach out, you can even pre-compose all of your emails and communication beforehand, and then let the software do the work.

Or, if you're looking specifically for an email marketing software, our favorites include Aweber, MailerLite, and SendPulse.

Finally hitting send

Getting people to your website is tough. So why not make the most of the people with whom you’ve already connected? The follow-up email is arguably the most important marketing email in your arsenal, and with our guide, we know you’re going to crush it!