Wondering why a prospect hasn’t gotten back to you yet?
There is a natural tendency to wonder: “Have they not responded because they're busy, because they're not interested, or because of something I said? ”
Typically, people just need a little nudge.
The good news is that sending a follow-up email after no response can deliver results.
The data backs up the importance of following up, too: after analyzing 1.7 million emails from users, we found that 55% of email responses came from a follow up email.
So, how do you send a polite follow up message to prospects that will actually get a response… without being annoying?
Check out these eighteen best practices to make sure your emails get positive responses… not radio silence.
Top Tips for Sending a Follow-Up Email After No Response
Let’s start with our list of the best follow up email tips!
1. Send up to three follow-ups
This is the most crucial thing.
If you’re not sending up to three follow-up emails, you’re not giving yourself a chance to succeed.
We looked at 1.7 million cold emails from QuickMail users and found that three follow-ups is the ideal number.
And what’s the best way to send follow-up emails out?
The best way to send them is by using cold email software that allows you to create an email sequence where all the follow-ups are automated.
This is how the follow-up sequence looks inside of QuickMail:
P.S. You can create follow-up sequences with QuickMail. Get started with a free 14-day trial.
This way, you don’t have to manually go through each email and follow-up if there is no response.
2. Avoid the “bumping this to the top of your inbox” subject line approach
Alright, quick sales email intervention: the “just bumping this back to the top of your inbox” approach has been played out.
It has officially retired in the mind of prospects.
It may sound strange at first, but it’s actually best to avoid using the phrases “follow up” or “reminder,” in your follow-up email template even if that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Using those words will only make people feel like you believe they are obligated to respond.
The same is true for:
“Just checking if you received my email about…”
“Wondering if you saw my previous email regarding…”
“I sent you an email about…”
“Making sure you received my email about…”
“Did you get my initial email about…”
If you say, “I just want to follow up on my previous email I sent,” they’ll feel bad for not remembering what you’re talking about or annoyed that you’re pointing it out.
The thing is, it’s all about earning the trust and prospect’s time.
It’s more important to build a respectful, lasting relationship.
But, above all else, the #1 mistake of the “just-bumping-this-to-the-top-of-your-inbox” email subject line approach?
It doesn’t provide value or make the other person feel good. This leads me to the next important tip…
3. Whatever you do, don’t go negative or guilt-trip your prospect in email copy
Go ahead and enter full-on Spock mode if you’re feeling even the slightest bit negative about your prospect not responding.
You’ve got to keep it positive and stay resilient, no matter how someone does (or doesn’t) respond to your message.
If you have any feelings of annoyance or frustration, do not — I repeat, do not — let your feelings known in the email you’re crafting.
Always assume that the other person has the best intentions.
Also remember that, at least in a sales context, your prospect owes you nothing.
Sounds kind of bleak, right?
Actually, it can be pretty empowering to think of things in this way.
You can use this knowledge to inspire and motivate you into crafting the most valuable follow up email ever to ever exist!
Even if the person you’re contacting may have meant to get back to you sooner, you don’t want to amplify the fact that they haven’t responded to your previous email yet.
4. Don’t apologize or act like you’re an inconvenience
Selling is actually less about the product and more about having the right approach.
You could be selling the most ground-breaking product in the world, but if deep down you feel you’re inconveniencing people by telling them, it won’t sell.
They’ll pick up on it.
Saying “sorry” when you haven’t done anything wrong will only hurt you if your intention is to position yourself as an expert in the field.
Though it may be tempting, do everything you can to avoid apologizing for following up on the original email.
After all, you’re reaching out because you genuinely want to help them.
The single best thing you can do in following up after no response is position yourself as an expert. If you show them that you’re someone they can learn from, they’ll want to continue the conversation.
Starting off the relationship believing (or implying) you’re a burden is never a good way to earn a prospect’s long-term respect.
If you believe you’re bothering a prospect, they’ll start to believe it, too.
Have confidence in what you’re offering and how you can help, and your prospects will naturally feel that same excitement as well.
5. Make them laugh
Example campaign in QuickMail
If you’re the kind of person that welcomes a good (or heck, even a super cheesy) joke, you’re not alone.
Jokes can make some of the most challenging situations instantly better.
People can tense up and go on the defense if they feel they are being sold to.
Humor can break the tension and lighten the mood.
Show that you’re definitely not a cyborg by adding something funny to your message. This can be a disarming way to follow up after you received no response.
Use humor to make the email better for all parties involved, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, and to experiment with different jokes to see what resonates.
The more down-to-earth and human your message feels, the better.
The most important part, though, is to be yourself. If cracking a joke doesn’t feel natural to you, then don’t feel obligated to follow this technique in your follow-up email after no response.
Find what works best for your personality and go all-in with that technique.
6. Write something new. Summarize your previous message without directly copying it.
Have you ever received a 2nd or 3rd email from someone looking to book a meeting with you, and when you begin to read it, you realize that it’s the exact same email they had sent before, likely copied over?
Or, even worse: it says “see my previous message below”?
How did it come across?
For most people, it looks like the sender spent 1-2 seconds writing the email and they’re now demanding more time (oftentimes, an hour-long meeting) from their prospect.
Without putting any time in themselves to earn that prospect’s time.
When all is said and done, you’ll get a much better response if you focus on crafting an entirely new, unique email.
And here’s the thing: it’s perfectly fine to paraphrase your last message! It can even be a shortened summary of the last email.
Just make sure it’s new content (that hasn’t been repeated) and thoughtful.
Then your recipient will be more likely to know that you put some thought into it.
7. Know whether the lead is cold, warm, or hot — and let that set your email follow-up strategy
Before crafting your message, make sure that you define your strategy based on the type of lead you’ll be contacting.
Did they request a demo of your product? That’s a hot lead who has actively expressed an interest in buying from you, which means you can be bolder than you would be with a cold lead.
Or maybe they recently downloaded an eBook from your company, and you consider them a warm lead. Go in with confidence, but realize that they might not be quite ready to jump into a meeting right away. It might be a better idea to warm them up a little more first by asking relevant questions about their current business challenges, especially if it relates to the eBook they downloaded.
If it’s a cold lead and you’re sending a cold email, it’s important to realize that you’ve got to make sure it’s the right fit first. Your goal should be to learn more about them, rather than go into a sales conversation right off the bat.
8. Track email opens to respond at just the right time
If you track when (and how many times) someone has opened your message, you can follow up at just the right time.
It’s like magic.
For example, maybe a prospect has requested pricing information and went back to read your reply multiple times in the past 24 hours.
Talk about a sign.
I’d recommend adding email tracking to your first follow up on an email, not the first message, for best deliverability.
If you enable open tracking in the second message (or follow up), you’ll see the best results.
9. Be politely persistent if you still get no response
Did you know that most responses don’t come from the first email?
It’s true: responses often come rolling in much later in the process, even after many follow-up emails.
So, don’t be afraid to be politely persistent.
Sure, some people will say “no” along the way, but think of all the people who will say “yes,” all because you followed up and another business did not.
That amount of additional business you will win is significant, and I can tell you one thing: most of your competitors will be too lazy to do this.
Following up will help you receive a response and get ahead, but you’ve got to be consistent about it and create a repeatable, scalable process.
It's all about staying on the radar. Crafting that perfect outreach email takes effort, and persistence shows you mean business.
Plus, let's be real, inboxes are like black holes. Your first attempt might have taken a detour into the abyss. By following up, you increase the chances of getting a response.
Yep, consistency is key!
As long as you focus on providing continuous value, you can typically send multiple (well spaced-out) messages within the span of a few weeks and generate results.
And by being persistent and consistent, you’ll reap the benefits.
10. Write a follow-up email that’s down-to-earth rather than formal
Before sending your follow up email, stop and read it out loud (OK, maybe unless you’re in a public area).
If anything sounds unnatural when you read it out loud, chances are, it could use just a bit more of a human touch.
You may be thinking, “But shouldn’t it sound professional?”
The answer is no (well, within reason). While you don’t want to be sending them a message sprinkled with “LOL,” it also shouldn’t read like a textbook.
Aim for something in between.
Even VPs at very large companies don’t want to read overly formal messages.
They want to have fun, too.
And why wouldn’t they?
Rise above the noise in their inbox to send an email that’s fun and human.
Here’s a good rule of thumb: approach a follow-up email after no response the same way you would speak to a new, like-minded friend or acquaintance.
11. Be clear with your proposition
One common reason that people don’t respond to emails (unless it’s from someone they know closely) is because the ask isn’t clear enough.
Within a few sentences, your email should answer these questions:
-How and why is the message relevant to the recipient?
-Is the reason you are contacting them clear?
People are often skimming their emails quickly, looking for answers to these exact questions.
The easier you make it for them to know what you’re hoping to achieve, the better. Make your intentions crystal clear.
Transparency is a beautiful thing, after all.
People will appreciate that you’re clear in your communications and that they don’t have to read between the lines or try to translate.
12. Add relevance and context
The person on the other end of any message from a stranger is likely thinking, “How is this relevant to me, again?”
“Is this worth responding to?”
Yes, people are harsh when it comes to prioritizing their inbox.
They’re often looking for signals to either prove or disprove their theory or natural inclination to hit “delete.”
Your prospect will be wondering, “What’s in it for me?”
But you’ve got something important and relevant to share with them! Right?
In your follow up email, help them see this by quickly mentioning why you reached out to them, and why what you’re sharing is so ridiculously relevant to them and their success.
This shows them that you have their best interests in mind and know that you have to earn their time.
Funny enough, many people think they are entitled to a prospect’s time.
Stand out by demonstrating that you think it’s important to earn their trust by providing relevant value, context, and respect.
13. Add a value-packed call-to-action/question
You’re awesome, so your call-to-action should be awesome, too (if you want to stand out).
But let’s remember that all call-to-actions are not equal!
When you provide a clear ask while at the same time providing value, you’ll be far more likely to get a reply.
Let me give you an example:
“Please let me know if you have time to meet this week” doesn’t contain a clear question.
When someone is skimming an email, they may not feel compelled to answer unless posed with a question. If there is no clear call to action, oftentimes, they’ll just move on.
And we don’t want that.
Here’s how you might engineer that last line in a more effective way:
“Do you have time this Wednesday or Thursday at 1pm for a quick 20-minute chat about how we’ve helped other companies in the [insert prospect’s insert industry here] industry recover abandoned cart purchases by 50%?”
Now you’ve done two great things: you’ve piqued their curiosity, and you’ve also included your call to action — further motivating them to respond.
Many representatives out there may go for the ask, but they’ll fail to pack value into their CTAs.
If you make your call-to-action value-packed, you’ll instantly have an edge over the competition.
It shows that you care about providing results to the person on the other end of your message.
You can never go wrong when you send emails that provide upfront value.
14. Keep your follow up email short but intriguing (get them to ask questions)
Sure, what you’re selling is likely more complicated than one short message can communicate.
But no matter how great your product or service may be, the longer the email, the less excited your prospect will be to hear about it.
A concise follow-up email can help you get higher response rates by respecting the prospect’s time. Considering the first email went unanswered, don’t send them a novel.
So often, your prospect will be at work with a million things to do. A long email is the last thing they want to look at (no matter how amazing it may be).
So, just how long should your follow up email be?
Is there a special formula?
Here’s a good general rule of thumb: if you find that your email is longer than 4-5 sentences, try to shorten it as best you can.
Yes, that will often lead to more questions from the prospect.
And that’s a super good thing, because you WANT your prospects to be asking questions.
It shows that they’re curious, and gets them actively engaging with you.
If you provide them with so much information that they have no questions left to ask you in the next email, you’ve likely lost the sale. In such cases, they may decide there is no reason to respond at all.
Questions are a beautiful thing in the early stages of a sale. You want more of them.
It’s much better to get questions from prospects rather than radio silence. If you give them too much information, you risk cutting off your line of communication.
15. Consider the day of the week and time to send follow-up emails
How often do you respond to cold emails as you’re drifting off to sleep?
For most of us, that doesn’t happen all too often.
When emailing your prospect, you want to leave a good first, second, third, and even fourth impression with your prospect.
Because you’re following up multiple times, right?
To do this well, it’s best to send your messages at an optimal time.
Consider the day of the week and how that might impact their work: on Mondays, people are often catching up with work and busy frantically putting out fires.
Essentially, they’re still playing catch-up until mid-week.
Of course, it can depend on your industry, too. Assuming your prospect is working an office job, then you can safely assume that Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday are all good days to send messages.
Also consider their timezone: it’s better to pop up in their inbox after they’ve had some time to settle in at the office (think of how you might feel before your morning coffee!).
Or after lunch.
Of course, there’s only so much you can do, and it’s best not to overthink this part too much.
But stopping to think about their timezone and being mindful of that before sending your message can only help, and it will help you see things from the recipient’s perspective.
When you’re able to see things from the recipient’s point of view, you’ll begin sending more messages that deliver results!
16. Make it easy for them to say “yes.”
It’s much easier to say “yes” to a request for a 5 or 20-minute chat compared to, say, an hour-long meeting.
Go ahead and aim for a quick chat and see where it goes.
Ask for as little of their time as possible. It’s easier to say “yes” to, and it shows respect for their time.
Also, when it comes to the call-to-action itself, think about the words you’re using and their associations.
For example, “meeting” sounds more daunting than “quick chat.”
For the best results with your follow up email (and I know you want the best results), you need to use words that have positive associations.
When people think of scheduling another “meeting,” they may think back to the last meeting they had that dragged on far too long without accomplishing anything.
A quick chat, on the other hand, sounds like much less of a commitment and is therefore easier to say “yes” to.
While these may seem like very small changes at first, they can make a big difference in the long-run.
17. Think about how many follow-up emails that you’ve said “yes” to lately
When was the last time you responded to a follow up email yourself, as the recipient?
Take a moment to go through your inbox and dig up the last email that prompted you to jump on a call successfully.
Why did the message work?
What made it different?
What made you want to respond positively?
Did you end up meeting?
Maybe the rep made you laugh, or maybe they sent you something of value that you found helpful and/or surprising.
You can learn from those emails you’ve received over the years by using similar techniques in your own emails (and adding your own unique spin).
As long as the technique in question isn’t over-used, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel!
You can even create a folder for amazing emails and save any interesting emails for future inspiration, so that you can go back and look at them the next time you’re looking for motivation!
18. Be confident, but avoid being too presumptuous
Confidence is good, but too much confidence can cause prospects to go silent.
Sure, it’s always good to know that what you’re sending a prospect is valuable.
But here’s the thing: even if you know that it will be useful to them, don’t be too presumptuous about whether or not they’ll respond.
If you can help it, avoid saying things like “I look forward to your positive reply.” (this makes me cringe — I’ve received this sign-off before. It went straight to the trash folder).
This implies that you fully expect them to respond.
Instead, try saying something like: “Would love to chat about how I can help you [insert business goal here],” or, if you want to keep it simple, “thanks” is a classic sign-off that never gets old.
If you do include a sign-off in your follow up email, a good place for it to go is after your call-to-action question.
Even if you think there’s a pretty good chance you might get a response from a business contact, don’t imply that you expect one.
Too often, it can hinder the first impression.
Humble wins the game.
Follow-ups are crucial for your success
Following up is super useful when done right, but it’s something that many people don’t do.
That's a mistake.
As our data shows, 55% of replies come from follow-ups. Imagine knowing that and not sending follow-ups.
The best and most time-efficient way to send them out is to use a cold email tool like QuickMail.