There are three words we all read far too often:

"Just checking-in to see ...

"Thought I would just check in and find out ..."

"Wanted to just check-in to hear ..."

Yep. It’s the follow up email. And the body of that email is often repetitive and ineffective. We're not "just checking-in" - we are trying to accomplish something. 

So how do we write an effective follow up email that actually accomplishes our end goal? Read below to understand the key steps to writing a successful follow up email.

 In this ultimate follow up email guide, you’ll find:

  • How To Write A Follow Up Email in 5 Steps

  • Tools To Improve Your Follow Up Strategy

  • 3 Collections of Follow Up Email Templates [Sales, Networking, and Job Hunting] 

How To Create A Follow Up Email in 5 Simple Steps

  • Step 1: Determine Objective
  • Step 2: Open with Context
  • Step 3: Clearly State Purpose
  • Step 4: Craft Subject Line
  • Step 5: When to Follow Up

Determine Objective

Step 1

Before crafting a follow up email, we must first clarify what our objective is in order to draft a more effective call-to-action.

There are four primary objectives for a follow up email:

 Need Information

When we need to clarify a piece of information, get a status update on a deal, or determine whether we got a job.

 Request a Meeting

We generally want to meet with a contact to pick their brain, give a pitch, ask for a favor, or receive feedback.

 Just To Catch Up

When we haven’t spoken to a particular connection in a while, when we hear exciting news about them or their company, or when we want to share a milestone that we accomplished.

 Thank You

When we haven’t spoken to a particular connection in a while, when we hear exciting news about them or their company, or when we want to share a milestone that we accomplished.

Sample Follow Up Email After Interview:

Let’s walk through an example to better understand the process of writing a follow up email. Say we just had an interview for our dream job with the hiring manager, Louisa Clark, and we need to send a follow up interview thank you email. This clearly falls under the “thank you” type of follow up. Below is one follow up email after interview template, and here we have 10 more samples for follow up emails after an interview, job application, and more.  

Open With Context

Step 2

We can’t get too caught up in the act of following up itself.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget to include a personal connection or a common interest that will help our contact remember us if we don’t already have a close relationship. Re-emphasizing our initial email or interaction will help jog their memory and make it easier for them to respond.



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Sales Follow Up Email Sample:

Let’s demonstrate a good example of how to open with context based on another example: a sales follow up email. Looking for more sales follow up email samples? Find 16 additional templates here. Say Louisa is now a prospect and we are busy salespeople attempting to close a deal with Louisa. If we notice that a prospect is re-opening one of our emails or proposals, we can send this useful follow up:

Bonus Tip: Trigger Events

Did a hiring manager just land a new role within their company? Did the company just release a new product? Did a new competitor begin gaining traction within the industry?

Any of these trigger events would provide a fantastic opportunity for us to send a meaningful follow up email to our contact. Prove that you’re paying attention by including one of the following trigger events in your follow up email:

  • Any new features on your contact or their company

  • Industry, competition, product, or other related news that your contact would find interesting or helpful

  • A project, blog post, or piece of work that your contact worked on

Tools to help:

  1. Google Alerts:  This is a great tool to stay up-to-date on our connections by setting a Google Alert for their company’s name, product, competition, or industry buzzwords. Google sends a real-time, daily, or weekly alert on whichever keywords we choose to follow.

  2. Newsle: Receive updates on your LinkedIn or email contacts whenever they appear in the news. No keyword alert required.

  3. Sidekick: While composing my follow up emails, I use Sidekick, a free email tracking tool which provides me with details on who I’m following up with and what they’ve been tweeting about recently.

Clearly State Purpose

Step 3

No beating around the bush. We should be blunt with our follow up intentions right off the bat, explicitly mentioning them in our intro. It’s also important to explain any underlying purpose. 

This means, for example, not just stating “I’d like to grab coffee and chat about what you do.”

Specificity is key. Instead say, “I’d like to grab coffee to learn more about how you consistently reach quota because I’ve been struggling with my targets.”

With specificity, our contacts can better help us achieve what we need and, in turn, we don’t have to waste their time.


Sample Follow Up Email After Meeting: 

Continuing on with our examples, let’s weave in purpose. Louisa is now a contact that we just met for coffee. She gave us great career advice and now we have to follow up after meeting to express our gratitude. What do we say? Here’s a sample follow up email to send after that meeting and 12 more templates for follow up emails after meetings, conferences, and more: 

Bonus Tip: Add Value Beyond Email

Demonstrate that you are a helpful person regardless of whether you’re following up on an application, a job interview, or a connection you just met. Remember, what goes around comes around.

Here are a few ways you can add value:

  • Offer advice, feedback, or new ideas relevant to their business or position
  • Include a resource (i.e. article, blog post, ebook, case study) that he or she might find helpful or interesting  
  • Introduce that person to someone in your network that you think would be able to help them or further their business goals
  • Invite them to an event or conference that they might find interesting or fun
  • Share their company, content or product with others

It gets hard to keep track of your relationships and this whole concept of adding value. We can actually create a template for managing our personal connections by using “cards” in Trello to determine when we should be following up. Click below to download this free Trello template: 


Craft Subject Line

Step 4

Subject lines should be kept short and sweet, but intriguing enough to pique their curiosity.

We conducted a study in 2014 using 6.4 million emails sent with Sidekick and learned a few things about subject lines that improve email open rates:

  • 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 altogether were opened 8% more than those with a subject line.

Our slideshare below provides even more valuable insights into subject line dos and dont’s

Sample Follow Up Email After Application: 

Now, let’s tie in the subject line to another example. Below is a follow up email after an application which demonstrates how we can stand out from other applicants when applying to our dream job. Find more sample emails for the job search here

When To Follow Up

Step 5


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Okay, so our follow up email is written. When should we send it? Here are some suggested time frames for follow up emails based on various use cases: 


Follow Up Email After Interview Sample:

We’ll return to our initial scenario of a follow up email after an interview for the final example. Here are more sample thank you emails as well. Again, Louisa will get the privilege of being our follow up recipient for this post-interview thank you email:

Follow Up Email Samples

Now we know the steps, strategies, and tools to write a follow up email.

So ... it's time to start writing!

10 Job Follow Up Email Templates

Get sample follow up email subject lines, 10 follow up email templates for your job search, and 3 tools to improve your follow up emails.

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Prospecting Tool Kit

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36 Sales Email Templates

These templates have helped sales reps get in touch with decision makers and close $100,000 deals.

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