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How to write a successful follow up email, step by step

Vincenzo Ruggiero author on Overloop the sales engagement, cold email, and LinkedIn automation software blog
Vincenzo Ruggiero Mar 10, 20225 min read

One of the most important parts of any cold email campaign is establishing a proper strategy for your follow-up emails. In this post we'll help you write a successful follow up email, step by step.

It is often not enough to send a single email and wait for prospects to respond to our call to action. Nothing is further from reality. In most cases, successfully reconnecting with a prospect and following up on your value proposition can mean the difference between success and failure for your email marketing campaigns. For this reason, from our experience as a sales automation platform, we want to make it a little easier for you, with this step-by-step guide on how to write a follow-up email.

I will make a brief analysis of some aspects to take into account before executing your mass email campaign and, from there, I will explain some key points that will make your follow-up emails achieve the expected success.

When is it worth writing a follow-up email?

This is the first decision you have to make and, although it may seem otherwise, it will not always have a clear “yes” or “no” answer. Is it interesting to always send a follow-up email? Clearly not. But don't dismiss it out of hand, either. Instead, try to establish a norm, a protocol to follow when you have not received a response in your cold email campaigns and use follow-up emails as a tool to complete that first contact.

It is also convenient that you take into account the characteristics of your future prospect, to determine the convenience of sending follow-up emails and, if so, in what number and how often.

There are numerous reasons why your prospect may not respond to your first cold email. Maybe he was too busy at the time and missed your email. Or it is also possible that your email did not reach the right person in the decision-making process. It can also be simply due to a technical issue: problems with the incoming server, delay in reception, etc. It is even possible that that first cold email simply did not fully capture your prospect’s attention, but that does not mean that they cannot be interested in your proposal.

For this reason, you should not get discouraged at first and abandon the task once you have not received a first response, but you should insist and develop a suitable follow-up campaign to maximize the response rate from your prospects.
Are you ready to develop an optimal follow-up email strategy? If the answer is yes, go ahead with this little guide.

A successful follow-up email strategy

You have already designed the strategy for your lead generation campaign and you have decided that you are going to develop a follow-up strategy, be it with a single email or a sequence of messages. You are also clear about your target audience and what value proposition you are going to make. Now what?

Now comes the fun part: get going!

Step 1: Plan

As we always say at Overloop, don't leave anything to chance. A follow-up email is another step in your overall email marketing strategy and, as such, should be taken into account from the start. Don't wait to see what results your first cold email blast has generated to think about a follow-up strategy. Rather, design your follow-up mailings from the start, based on your campaign's marketing objectives and value proposition.

  • Focus the email on your prospect. As we advised you in a previous post for your cold emails, when writing a follow-up email you should also put your future client at the center of your message. Tell him about him, his needs, his achievements... Focus your message on the benefits that your product or service can offer him, instead of looking for a direct sale that is likely not to occur.
  • Think about whether you are going to send a single email or you are going to send a sequence of them. Sending a reminder of your first email, making a short summary or clarification about your value proposition can be useful in some cases. But other times it will be more interesting to prepare a series of emails that better develop the content and that can make it easier for your prospect to understand your proposal.
    The number of emails will depend on the complexity of your proposal, the characteristics of your audience or the communication strategy of your business, among other things. That makes it a very subjective matter, but always make sure to leave a minimum period of time between one mailing and another, so as not to overwhelm the prospect, or cause him to forget a message before receiving the next. A common strategy is to leave between 2 and 4 days between each shipment, but that will also depend on your own experience and the results of your previous campaigns.
    Also make sure to end the sequence of sendings when the prospect has responded to one of them, because the feeling of receiving automatic and generic emails can lead to the loss of the business relationship with that person. Fortunately, tools like Overloop make this task quite easy and allow you to choose the exact moment you want to stop sending successive follow-up emails.

Step 2: Optimize

A follow-up email does not have to follow the same structure as a first contact email, but it should follow a series of guidelines that will maximize your success rate.
Remember the three basic objectives of any email: get the prospect to open it, read its content and give you a response. Design the parts of your follow-up email based on these goals.

  • Subject line. As with any email, the first contact your prospect will have with the content of your follow-up email will be the subject line. It is of vital importance that you optimize the message of the subject, to guarantee the highest possible opening rate in your mailings. Avoid writing a subject that is too long. Keep it short and concise, grab the recipient's attention and leave them wanting to know more.
    In case of sending a sequence of emails, it is normal to follow one of these two strategies: repeat the subject of the previous email, so that all the messages are saved under the same thread or, on the contrary, write subjects that differentiate some messages from others and, therefore, open new threads of conversation.
    Both formulas are valid and, depending on the characteristics of your audience, one strategy or another will work better. My advice is to experiment with both formulas and see which one generates the best results.
  • Body of the follow-up message. You can tackle this part in different ways, depending on the communication strategy you decide to follow in your email marketing campaigns. That is why it is so important to have previously developed adequate planning and not just start sending messages.

    In general, the proper structure of the body of a follow-up message should look something like this:

    • Make a brief reference to the previous email, to keep the conversation going.
    • Personalize the text as much as possible and remember to focus on the prospect, instead of just talking about yourself. It's helpful to use custom labels with the prospect's name at certain key points, like the start of the text, to make the experience as up close and personal as possible.
    • Outline your message and make clear what is the value proposition that you offer to your prospect, how you can help him. Be concise, remember that the body of a follow-up email should not exceed 250 words.
    • Include a clear and direct call to action. Make it clear to your prospect what exactly you want him to do from now on: reply to your e-mail, register for a video call, schedule a meeting... Don't give rise to ambiguity, tell him clearly what you want from him.
  • Signature of the message. Of course, don't overlook the usual details for optimizing a follow-up email, such as your signature, your title, and contact information that will allow your prospect to find you easily, if necessary.

Step 3: Measure and experiment

As we always say at Overloop, the theory is clear, but at this point, it's time to experiment and see for yourself what works best for you to make your follow-up emails a success.

We have given you a series of guidelines for the planning and execution phases of the follow-up campaigns for your cold emails, but now comes what is perhaps the most important part. Measure the results of your campaign based on the metrics that you consider most important: bounce rate, percentage of openings, response rate... and, above all, focus on the degree of fulfillment of your global email marketing objectives, because that is the reason for both your cold emails and your follow-up emails.

Also make sure you have a proper sales lead management tool. If you're looking for one that suits your needs, I highly recommend signing up for Overloop's free trial and seeing how our platform can help you with both execution, measurement and optimization of your email lead generation campaigns. With this information in your hand, you will be able to do A/B tests and different performance tests, which we will talk about in future posts.