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Event marketing | 3 September 2015

4 Tips To Write A Stand Out Follow Up Email

Guest Author

It’s probably obvious, but most people aren’t going to respond to the first email we send them. 

So we have two options:

  1. Send a follow up email
  2. Give up

When there’s no response, a lot of people think they did something wrong and decide to never email the person again. 

That’s a mistake. 

By following up, we do something that most people won’t do: being persistent and helping ourselves stand out. It shows that we’re serious. 

We know how to cold email people now, so let’s focus on the all-important follow up. 

First, here are two examples of emails you shouldn’t send:

“Hey Brian, just wanted to check in about the last email I sent you. Let me know.”

“Hey Brian, it’s been awhile. How’s it going?” 

These emails are horrible for three reasons:

  • They’re extremely vague
  • There is no no context provided in the email
  • The follow-up email lacks any call to action 

Here is a four-step process to improve your follow up emails.

1. Open With Context

Whether you met in person or just read a blog the person wrote, use a trigger event to provide context for following up. A trigger is a piece of information you may have about the person. Maybe they mentioned they were  planning their daughter’s birthday party the last time you spoke. Or maybe you saw on Twitter that their company recently released a new product.

If you had already interacted with them, we can use tidbits of information from the interaction as a reason to follow up. 

On the other hand, if you learned something about them through an interview you listened to or a blog post of theirs you read, you will have to do some research to find information to use as a trigger. 

Here are a few tools you can use to set up notifications to stay up to date about them:

2. Be Specific

It’s difficult to respond to vague questions like, “How’re you?” You could respond with your life story.

 The more specific the question, the easier it is to respond.

Brian Balfour, VP of Growth for Sidekick, gets a lot of emails from founders asking for advice on how to grow their business. Here are two examples he gives:

Bad example: “My startup is a SaaS product for marketers. What should my marketing strategy be?” 

Good example: “My startup is a SaaS product for marketers of SMB’s to help them capture more leads. It costs $100/month to start. I’m trying to decide between content marketing and paid acquisition as a channel. What do you think the pros/cons of those two channels would be in my case?”

Whether you’re asking for mentoring, or to meet over coffee, be specific about your purpose for following up.

3. Be Helpful

Many people often forget to provide value and instead go straight for the ask. 

“Will you use my software? Will you buy my product? Can you be my mentor? Would you meet me for coffee? Can I interview you?” 

The Rule of Reciprocity states that we are all bound – even driven – to repay debts of all kinds. That means if someone does something for you, you’d instinctively feel obligated to repay them.

It works both ways.

If you focus on helping the other person, they’ll be more likely to help you in return.

Here are a few ways to provide value:

  • Offer advice, feedback, or new ideas relevant to their business or position
  • Include a resource such as an article, ebook or case study that might be interesting to them
  • Introduce that person to someone you think would be able to help them achieve their goals
  • Share their content or product with others

4. Craft A Subject Line

A good subject line is short and sweet and intriguing enough to pique their curiosity so that they’ll actually open your email.

Based on a study from 2014:

  • Use concrete numbers and times. Emails with “Quick” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without.
  • Create a sense of urgency by using “tomorrow.” Emails with “tomorrow” in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without
  • Try omitting the subject line. Emails with no subject line were opened 8% more than those with one. 

Sam Parr used the subject line “my dog says hey” and has connected with over 27 CEOs through cold emails and booked many of them to speak at HustleCon. He attributes this success to one thing … 

“It took me forever to realize this. I used to ignorantly think I was spamming people by following up persistently. But in reality, if I didn’t follow up persistently, I never wouldn’t gotten ANY of these CEOs to speak at HustleCon. If you take away one thing from this article, it’s that you have to be ruthless about following up. 

Following up is crucial to networking, closing deals, and building relationships. For a little extra work, the payoff of following up can be tremendous. 

Is there someone you should be following up with right now?


David Ly Khim is a growth marketer for Sidekick. He writes about email productivity, career development, and marketing. When he isn’t writing, he can be found reading a book or on the dance floor.
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