How to Write a Follow-Up Email

We’ve all sent an email to a boss, colleague, friend, or client, waited for a response, then… nothing. A few hours pass, maybe a day or even more, and it slowly dawns on you that a reply isn’t coming, and you’re going to be forced to write the dreaded follow-up email. 

 

Sometimes it doesn’t matter if an email goes unanswered for a while, but other times it can block the next step in a project, delay plans, or leave you bereft of vital information. In these cases, it is essential to write clear, timely, and polite email reminders—and here’s how to do it! After all, no one wants to be THAT colleague or client always sending reminders and constantly bumping up email threads. In your heart of hearts, there’s a little voice telling you that if someone hasn’t replied to your email, then they’re either really busy or simply not interested in what you have to say. Either way, you wouldn’t want to bother them again…right?

 

The thing is, mastering the art of the follow-up email can pay dividends for a whole bunch of reasons. Whether it’s a sales email, a request for information, or simply a friendly reminder for a colleague, putting your gut feeling aside is not only a surefire way to get a reply, but in many cases, may also be highly appreciated by the recipient.

 

So, for everyone who dreads the follow-up email, rest assured that there’s no need to stress. Simply follow Spike’s guide on how to follow up on an email and get it right every time.

 

 

Why Haven’t I Received a Response to My Email?

There are a few ways to go about writing a reminder email, but before we look at what to include (as well as some handy templates), let’s think about why you haven’t got a response.

 

First, people are busy. You’re busy! And everyone knows that this can cause us to overlook things. Considering how much of the average workday is taken up by checking our inboxes, it’s no surprise that emails get forgotten or overlooked. A simple way to know if your email has been missed is to get an email client with read receipts, which will allow you to see when your email has been read. No receipt? The recipient of your reminder will probably be grateful for a little nudge!

 

However, it’s also possible that the recipient did read your message and has chosen not to respond.

 

Before you panic and assume your colleague now hates you, remember that most people are trying to be as productive as possible, just like you. Therefore, it’s likely they’ve simply prioritized other tasks above:

  1. Responding to your message;

  2. Doing whatever it is that you asked them to do. In this case, you have to use your email reminder to convince them of just how vital a response is.

 

Thankfully, whether the recipient hasn’t got the message; has deprioritized it; is ignoring you; or hasn’t responded for any number of other reasons, your email reminder should still consist of the same essential elements:

  • Being polite is critical (even if not getting a response is annoying) 

  • It should have a unique headline so as not to go unnoticed again 

  • It should be succinct 

  • The message must be clear 

  • It’s essential to think about the when in addition to the what 

 

When to Send a Follow-Up Email — How Long Should You Wait?

Email Reminders

 

One of the key elements when learning how to send a follow-up email after no response is identifying how long you should wait. In truth, it’s a bit of a loaded question, and there’s no real one-size-fits-all approach. However, if you want the short answer, then it’s probably “not long”.

 

In most cases, people open emails and at least scan the contents on the same day. This means that the purpose of your email has most likely already been absorbed. As a general rule, sending a follow-up a couple of days after the original email is a good idea, however, much will depend on exactly the type of message sent and its urgency.

 

Obviously, messages to colleagues or clients regarding time-sensitive projects may even need a same-day approach. On the other hand, sales emails or requests for information that are not urgent can probably wait a day or two. Either way, don’t be scared to send that follow-up in short order.

 

 

 

What to Say in a Follow-Up Email — Things to Think About 

Email Templates

 

As previously mentioned, there’s no single solution to the follow-up email, and much of what you’ll write will depend on the purpose of the original email and the recipient. However, there are a few core elements that will guide you in composition and allow you to write follow-up emails suitable for any situation.

 

 

Think About the Recipient

The recipient of your original email is all-important when considering what to say in a follow-up email. For example, if it’s a close colleague or team member, the register of your message will be very different than, say, if you’re following up on a cold sales email.

 

When it comes to someone you know or work with often, a simple thread bump or a friendly reminder will suffice. After all, you can be fairly sure that your email has just got lost in mountains of work rather than being ignored.

 

Sales emails or requests for information from people you don’t know well, however, will take more consideration. Remember to remain formal and polite, and gently encourage the recipient to reevaluate your original email and any further information you have provided in the follow-up.

 

 

Think About Context and Objective

The context of your original message will also determine how you write your follow-up email. Firstly, you should open your follow-up message with a reminder of what the original email contained alongside the date/day of the week you sent it.

 

Secondly, you should consider your original intentions and what you hope to achieve from your follow-up. Here are a few examples to get you started: 

  • Information requests

    When requesting information, you should clearly define the questions that you need answers to. Your follow-up email should aim to clarify any grey areas and reframe the questions so that the recipient can answer quickly and efficiently. 

  • Meeting Requests

    If you have requested a meeting for a specific date, your follow-up email should offer other prospective dates that might be more suitable. Additionally, a link to your calendar or scheduling app with multiple date options can speed up the process. 

  • Deadline Reminders

    Reminders of an impending deadline can be short and to the point – particularly if it is someone who you contact regularly. Clearly indicate what needs to be completed by what date and ensure that all required resources are included or linked to.  

 

Think About Added Value

When considering how to follow up on an email, adding value to the original message is a great way to ease the sense that you’re bothering someone, while also encouraging the recipient to reply. For example, sales emails can include a limited time offer; meeting requests can hint at what will be discussed, and deadline reminders can include motivational messages or details of a bonus or reward upon completion.

 

 

Think About a Call-to-Action

Including a call-to-action in your follow-up email can add a little urgency and encourage the recipient to reply. This can be anything from suggesting a time and date for a meeting, asking the recipient to forward your request to the right person, or even simplifying the action the recipient has to take to confirm – just reply “yes” in response if you’re interested.

 

According to a study in 2015, sending an email outside of regular work hours (before 8 am or in the evening, for example) will see the odds of it getting a response go from about one in three to almost one in two – a significant jump! 

 

While this is a straightforward way to help your reminder email, it does leave you with the problem of working outside of paid hours. A quick fix is getting an email client with a built-in send later function, allowing you to write the reminder when it suits you and setting it to send at the peak-response time. 

 

 

Need Some Email Templates? Don’t Worry; We’ve Got Your Back

Staring at a blank screen can be intimidating, especially when you have to write something that you don’t want to be sending in the first place. So, to get you started, we’ve put together some simple email reminder templates below:

 

 

Template for a Deadline Reminder Email

RE: [PIECE OF WORK] Follow Up for [DEADLINE DATE]

 

Hello RECIPIENT NAME,

 

I hope you’re well!

Just wanted to follow up on [PIECE OF WORK]? Could you let me know a rough ETA or if you’re having any issues you need support on?

 

Best,

[YOUR NAME]

 

 

Template for a Polite Reminder Email

RE: [This should be in the same email chain as the first email!] OR Follow up on [TOPIC OF PREVIOUS EMAIL]

 

Hello RECIPIENT NAME,

 

I hope all is well on your end!

 

I’m just following up on my last email regarding [TOPIC OF PREVIOUS EMAIL] to see if you had a chance to take a look?

 

Let me know if there is anything you would like me to expand upon.

 

I look forward to your response!

 

All the best,

[YOUR NAME]

 

 

Template for a Final Reminder Email

RE: Final Reminder for [TOPIC]

 

Hello RECIPIENT NAME,

 

I hope all is well on your end!

 

I just wanted to let you know that this is the final reminder for [TOPIC]. Please let me know if there is any way I can support you in getting this finished! I’d be happy to help sort out any issues.

 

All the best,

[YOUR NAME]

 

 

Template for an Overdue Invoice Email

RE: Following up on Invoice for [TOPIC] [DATE]

 

Hello RECIPIENT NAME,

 

I hope that you’re doing well!

 

I just wanted to make sure that you have received my invoice of [DATE] for [TOPIC]?

 

Let me know if it didn’t come through or if there are any issues preventing payment, and we can deal with these together.

 

Best,

[YOUR NAME]

 

 

Template for a Reminder Email to a Client for Business

RE: [This should be in the same email chain as the first email!] OR Follow up on [TOPIC OF PREVIOUS EMAIL]

 

Hello RECIPIENT NAME,

 

I’m just checking in to see if you had a chance to read my previous email? 

 

We’d love to be able to move forward with [BUSINESS], so let us know if there is anything else you need or if you would prefer to talk on a call?

 

I can propose [DATE & TIME] for a video call if this suits you?

 

Best,

[YOUR NAME]

 

 

Getting Ready to Write the Perfect Email Reminder

Use these templates as a starting point and make sure to include a personal twist so that they don’t come across as generic. Remember that there can be any number of reasons that your first message may have gone unanswered, so assume the best!

 

Being polite is fundamental to successful reminder emails, as is keeping the message succinct, clear, unique, relevant, and delivered at the correct time. With that in mind, you should be sending perfect follow-ups and reminders in no time, and to make sure that you’re not the one being chased, consider getting a smarter inbox to help you never overlook a message, deadline, or detail again!

 

For more information on email reminders, read receipts, send later functionality, and much more check out the Spike blog today or Tweet us @SpikeNowHQ and let us know how you give a gentle nudge to those who don’t reply!