A Complete Guide to Follow-Up Emails
When it comes to sales, finding leads is only half the battle. The next step is nurturing them towards a sale. Follow-up emails are an important part of the process, as they keep a lead engaged, even if they’re not currently ready to buy or sign a deal. Research shows that 60% of customers say “no” four times before they finally say “yes”, yet 48% of salespeople fail to follow up even once. In other words, persistence pays off in sales, and if you neglect follow-ups, you’re missing out on sales. In this article, we’ll give you everything you need to know about follow-up emails, including timing, what to include in the message, and how persistent you should be.
What Is a Follow-Up Email?
A follow-up email is a message that is sent to someone to follow up on a previous communication or engagement. Follow-up emails can serve different purposes, including:
- to engage with a new lead after the initial contact
- to re-engage with a lead after no response to a message or call
- to increase loyalty after a sale
- to convert a lead who is close to buying
- to check in on the status of a pending transaction or deal
The ability to write an engaging and well-timed follow-up email is a vital skill for any salesperson to possess.
The Main Types of Follow-Up Email
Lead Nurturing Follow-Up Emails – This is the most common type of follow-up email, which is mainly used by sales and marketing personnel. Sales follow-ups are written to move the lead or prospect closer to a deal or pending transaction. Follow-up emails of this nature may also be used to reignite interest and engagement with a lead that has gone cold. Most sales experts advise that a follow-up after initial contact should be sent within 24 hours for maximum effect. After-Sale Follow-Up Emails – The sales process doesn’t end once a customer has purchased goods or services. To encourage customer loyalty, you need to keep the engagement going. An after-sale follow-up might be as simple as a quick thank you note or asking them if they are satisfied with the product or service they received. Marketing Follow-Up Emails – These emails can also form part of a marketing strategy. Marketers can send them to existing customers, letting the customer know about other similar products or services as well as promotional discounts and offers.
How to Write an Effective Follow-Up Email
Writing a good follow-up email isn’t easy. It should be engaging without being pushy or aggressive. This can be a difficult balance to strike. Fortunately, we’ve put together a simple step-by-step framework that you can follow to make your emails stellar.
Step 1 – Define your goal and content
The first thing to do is decide what you want the end result of your email to be, as this determines what kind of content to include. For a lead nurturing follow-up email – Are you looking for a direct conversion or to keep the lead engaged and get a response? You need to choose between a straightforward sales message or value-driven content. Providing value can help to generate engagement and make a good impression on potential clients or customers. For example, if you offer financial services to clients, you can consider including some valuable and actionable tips as part of the email. For an after-sale follow-up email – Do you want the customer to feel valued by sending a thank you note, or do you want to nudge them towards another purchase? A post-sale email is a good opportunity to share some upsell offers or promotions on similar items or services. For a marketing follow-up email – Do you want people to enquire about your products, or services or do you want them to visit a landing page? Generally speaking, in a marketing email, you want to present an enticing offer and then include a strong call-to-action. You also need to think carefully about your audience before you begin writing your follow-up message and tailor the content to suit. For instance, the type of message you write for a CTO would be different to that for an HR manager.
Step 2 – Craft an attention-grabbing subject line
Research from Gartner shows that only 23.9% of sales and marketing emails get opened. That’s less than one in ten; you’re facing an uphill battle to get noticed by leads and existing customers. One reason for the low percentage is that a large number of sales emails end up in the spam or junk folder. To avoid this outcome, make sure you refrain from using spam trigger words and phrases, such as “free”, “offer”, “discount”, “giveaway”, etc., especially in your subject line. Email copywriting experts advise you to keep your subject line short and enticing without being spammy. Using the lead’s name can grab attention without being a spam trigger, so consider something like “David, just a quick follow-up” or “David, find out more about ….”.
Step 3 – Make your body text clear and concise
When it comes to writing the main content of your email, clarity is key. Avoid jargon, long words, and long sentences. Keep it nice and simple, preferably with a conversational tone to increase engagement. You also need to ensure that the first one or two sentences are highly engaging and straight to the point. Email marketers call this a “hook”, and it’s almost as important as the subject line, as most email inbox dashboards and mobile notifications will display the first line or two of text. Finally, try to make your email as short as possible. Write a first draft that says everything you want to say, then go back and edit it to remove any unnecessary points or wording. As a rule of thumb, try not to exceed 200 words, as it’s unlikely that people have time to read much more than that.
Step 4 – Sign off with a call to action
Once you have written the main content, you’ll typically want to include a strong call to action. Again, keep it simple. If you want them to call you, simply say something like “Get in touch” or “Book a call” and include a link to a contact or call scheduling page. You can also include your first and last name, phone number, company name, and your job role at the company (assuming you’re writing on behalf of a company).
Things to Avoid When Writing a Follow-Up Email
Follow-up emails are very effective in showing interest and displaying persistence, but there’s a fine line between engaging and coming on too strong. Many people misuse follow-up emails by cramming in pushy sales messages and over the top promises, which reduces their effectiveness. You should also only follow up with qualified leads, as you don’t want to annoy people that have no interest in your product or service. Finally, don’t inundate people with follow-up messages. As mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to follow up within 24 hours of the initial contact, but don’t keep following up every day after that for two weeks if you don’t get a response!
Harness the Power of Your CRM
If you want to make the process of sending follow-up emails more efficient, you can automate the process with a cutting-edge CRM such as webCRM. A CRM software allows you to follow up with hundreds of potential customers as if you were following up with just a few. This is because a CRM is built for it. For example, you can set up tasks so you're automatically notified when to follow up, and with one click you can see what you've discussed. This not only saves time, but it also makes sure that the follow up is always sent and never forgotten about. webCRM is designed to nurture leads every step of the way by keeping track of interactions, running multichannel campaigns and helping you to make better sales decisions. Book a demo of webCRM today.