How to Write a Follow-Up Email
There’s something about the follow-up email that sends a shiver down peoples’ spine. 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.
When to Send a Follow-Up Email — How Long Should You Wait?
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
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 onto the right person, or even simplifying the action the recipient has to take to confirm – just reply “yes” in response if you’re interested.
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