Was it Something I Said? Five Simple Rules for Acing the Follow-Up Email

There is often an unnerving feeling when writing a follow-up email to current and potential clients. This may be due to the fact that many business professionals fear that they may be perceived as ‘annoying’ when following up. The fear is understandable, especially if you are attempting to arrange a pivotal business meeting, obtain time-sensitive information, or inquire about an update on a project.

Try as we might avoid them, follow-up emails are a necessity in today’s business world and there should be no need for anxiety when it comes to sending them.  Following these five rules will have you well on your way to creating your own follow-up email strategy pain-free and with a high response rate to boot.

Rule 1: Don’t Take it Personally

It seems obvious enough, but many people take it personally when they do not hear back from someone right away. Fight the urge to get angry or frustrated, and never take your feelings out in an email.  Sending out a follow-up email that says “Why are you ignoring my emails?” or “It’s rude not to respond” is unprofessional, and if you get a response at all you can count on it being negative.

Take a slice of humble pie and set your feelings aside, no matter how frustrated you might feel.  Maintain a polite demeanor throughout the entire body of the email. Acknowledge that the recipient you are trying to reach may have been busy. There is also a possibility that the last sent email got lost in their inbox, so give them the benefit of the doubt before assuming that they are ignoring your emails deliberately.

Rule 2: Space Them Out

Sending a follow-up email every day of the week does not show you have initiative or persistence, it only shows that you are being a pest. The general rule of thumb is to give at least a week before following up. Any sooner, and it might come off as pushy; let too much time pass, and you risk the other person not having any clue who you are.

Persisting does not have to be pestering as long as you know when to stop before it becomes too much.  Attempt to start off with a follow-up email every week, and then switch to every few weeks.  This chart from Hubspot serves as a pretty good guide for spacing out your follow-up emails:

follow-up email
Rule 3: Know When to Stop Reaching Out

If you have followed up numerous times and still have not heard back, it might be worth it to directly ask the recipient if you should stop following up. Most people respect honesty and do not want to waste another individual’s time; after all, you do not want to waste your time, either.  There is a good chance the individual will let you know if they would like you to cease the follow-up emails if you take the time to ask them politely.  This type of email might also serve as a final notice for a client who is still on the fence about working with you or your business.  Letting them know that you are going to stop following up with them might be the push they need to take action before you move on.


Rule 4: Spice Up your Subject Lines

When writing a follow-up email, or any email for that matter, the first step in getting a response is to make sure the email gets opened in the first place.  The very first way to increase your open rate is by crafting a subject line that stands out in your reader’s inbox.  There are several strategies you can use to accomplish this, such as: addressing the reader by name, writing a punny subject line relating to their business, or creating a sense of urgency using the time (“this offer expires tomorrow!”).


Rule 5: Toy Around with Timing

follow-up emailIf your emails are still not receiving a reply, try changing up your timing.  In other words, don’t schedule your follow-up emails at the same time on the same day every week.  Getting people to respond to a follow-up email can sometimes just come down to catching them at the right time.  For example, if you normally set aside time for follow-ups on Friday, try pushing it until Monday.  If you send follow-up emails in the morning, see if you have more success in the afternoon.  A shift in schedule might be all it takes to get a response.


Whether you’re just starting to ask yourself the crucial questions to consider before starting your own email marketing campaign or you’ve already got the ball rolling, it’s always better to have a little extra help from the pros.  The Creative Click Media team is comprised of digital and email marketing experts who know just what it takes to craft mobile-friendly emails that get results. Contact us today to get started.

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