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The Ultimate Guide On How To Write A Follow-Up Email

How to Write a Follow Up Email

In a world filled with emails, texts, and instant messages, there are three phrases you probably find yourself consistently reading and writing:

  1. "Just checking in to see ..."
  2. "Thought I would just check in and find out ..."
  3. "Just wanted to check in to hear about ..."

These phrases signal a follow-up message. They're common expressions for people to use, specifically in emails, when trying to convert leads, close deals, or simply get the information they need. However, these repetitive phrases are often ineffective because they rarely catch an email recipient's attention and typically don't appear to provide them with any immediate value.

But let's face it... you (or the person sending the message) isn't "just checking-in" anyway — you're trying to accomplish something. You're sending that follow-up message for a reason — to generate business, make a sale, or clarify or learn something. So, you need to ensure it does catch your recipient's eye and provides them with some type of value. This way, they want to open and respond to your message.

Now, you might be wondering how to go about writing an effective follow-up email that actually accomplishes this end goal. In this guide, we'll cover the key steps to writing a successful follow-up email that will help you boost your open rates and conversions.

Let's get started.

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Determine an Objective

Step 1

You've met with your prospect, chatted with them over the phone, or exchanged information over email — now, it's time to send your follow-up email. Before you begin crafting your email, you must identify and clarify the end goal, or objective, of your message.

This way, you can incorporate a strong call-to-action (CTA) that makes your recipient want to get back to you so you can achieve your end goal (whether that's a conversion, sale, building a stronger relationship with your recipient, etc.).

Let's review four of the most common, primary objectives of a follow-up email:

Information Needed

Sometimes, after having an initial conversation with someone, you might realize you forgot to ask them something or need additional information to be of assistance to them.

You might ask for your recipient to clarify a piece of information about their business and/ or pain points, get a status update on a deal you're working with them on, or determine whether or not you made a sale. By clearly stating your need for the specific information you're looking to obtain, you'll provide them with clear directions on how they can respond to you in an efficient manner for both parties.

Meeting Request

Whether it's to pick their brain, pitch a product or idea, ask for assistance, or receive feedback, there's a chance you're writing your follow-up email to request another meeting or conversation. In your email, you should provide detail about what you're looking to discuss in the meeting, and why the discussion will be of value for your recipient (know how you can help your recipient).

To make things even simpler for your recipient, you can add a link to a free meeting scheduling software, so they can add time to your calendar.

Catch Up

If you haven't spoken to a connection in a while, hear big news about them or their company, or learn they've achieved a major accomplishment, you'll probably want to catch up with them and get the details directly from them about what happened. After all, these situations might change their need for assistance from you and your business.

For example, maybe their business has recently expanded and they're finally in a place where they can afford your support or need your services now more than ever. That's why catching up through a follow-up email can be so useful. Be sure to state what it is you're hoping to catch up on specifically in your email to avoid a vague, or even lazy, sounding message — show your recipients how much you care about whatever it is you want to review with them.

Thank You

Saying "thank you" goes a long way. Although this type of follow-up doesn't always warrant an immediate response, it leaves your recipients with a positive feeling about you and your brand. Showing gratitude is professional and it's something people remember down the road — they might need to do business with you again in the future or refer you to a friend, colleague, or someone else in the industry.

Examples of situations in which you'll want to say "thank you" to your email recipients include when they ...

... provide you with a referral.

... write you a review or help you complete a case study.

... close a deal/ do business with you.

... give you their attention, chat with you (via any mode of communication), or meet with you in person.

As you can see, once you've determined the objective of your follow-up email, you can begin writing your note with a clear purpose. This way you can incorporate your CTA in a way that's obvious and easy for your recipients to understand and act on. This includes responding with the information you've requested, scheduling a meeting time with you, catching up on what's happened in their life — whether it's businesses or personal — since you last spoke, or simply reading and acknowledging your thank you note.

By identifying and stating your objective in your follow-up email, you'll be able to provide your recipients with a professional-sounding message and CTA that gives them some type immediate value (depending on your specific objective) and a way to act on it.

Let’s take a look at a follow-up email template with a clear objective so you can get a better idea of how to state your purpose and include a CTA for your recipients. This specific template falls under the "meeting request" category, but feel free to tailor this template to your specific goal and recipient.

Appreciate your time today, Brian!

Hi Brian,

Thanks for taking the time to share a little about HubSpot, as well as the goals and challenges you face.

If you would like to learn how other companies are dealing with challenges like yours, I would be happy to schedule a call. We could also talk a bit more about your challenges and determine whether or not I might be able to offer some help.

Are you available for a call next Tuesday at 1pm?

Thanks again for chatting today and I look forward to hearing from you!

Open With Context

Step 2

How many emails do you receive every day? "A lot" might be what you're thinking — that's certainly my answer to that question.

With the high volume of emails that most people receive these days, it's important to include a personal connection, identifier of some kind, or a common interest in your message that will provide context to help your contact remember you. Doing so is especially important if this is your first follow-up email, if you don't share a close relationship with your recipient, or if it's been a significant amount of time since you last spoke.

Emphasizing and providing context around your initial communication, email, conversation, or interaction will help jog their memory and make it easier for them to understand your email and respond. Be sure to start your email with this context so your email recipient knows who you are and what you're following up about — the last thing you want to do is confuse the person (or people) you're looking to impress and do business with.

Here are some examples of strong email openers for you to consider using in your follow-up to provide your recipient with the context they need.

Effective Email Openers

  • We met last week at the [Name of Event or Location].
  • I was inspired after you spoke at the [Name of Event].
  • Our friend, [Mutual Friend's Name] suggested that I reach out.
  • Last time we spoke about... [Topic].
  • I'm reaching out in regards to the email I sent a few weeks ago about [Topic].

Now, let's take a look at a follow-up email template with an email opener that's sure to provide your recipient with the context they need.

Any questions, Brian?

Hi Brian,

Last we spoke, you requested that I get in touch in a few months to discuss how [Company Name] can help your business achieve [goal]. I may be a few weeks early, but I thought I would check in.

Have you given any additional consideration to my proposal? I’d be happy to chat on the phone and answer any questions that may have come up.

What does your schedule look like this week to talk?

Clearly State a Purpose

Step 3

Now it's time to clearly state the purpose of your follow-up email. You should be straight forward with your intentions right off the bat — this will prevent you from sounding spammy, untrustworthy, vague, or confusing.

For example, you wouldn't just say, “I’d like to grab coffee and chat about what you do.” Instead, you'd want to 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 this level of specificity, your contacts will feel as though you're not wasting their time and they'll understand why you're asking them for their attention — this will make you more likely to get the information or response you want from them.

Let's take a look at a few ways to clearly state the purpose of your email in your follow-up message.

Common Ways to Articulate a Purpose

  • I want to invite you to join me at [Name of Event], I think you'll find it helpful for what you do at [Company Name].
  • As we discussed, here is the developer [insert link] I think could help you with your new website.
  • It would be great to hear more about [topic] as I'm working on something similar at [Company Name].

Now let's review an example template with a clearly stated purpose for you to base your follow-up email off of:

Thought you might be interested in meeting [Name]

Hi Louisa,

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat today. I really enjoyed talking and learning more about your experience with [career field]. I really appreciate all the advice and tips you offered on how to break into [industry].

You mentioned that your team at [Company Name] is looking for a new business development rep, and I actually just met [name of contact] who runs the business growth strategy at [Company Name]. I think she would be a great fit for your team. Can I make an intro?

Thanks again for your time and advice. I wish you the best of luck while wrapping up your beta, and I hope to stay in touch!



Craft a Subject Line

Step 4

Did you ever have a teacher in school who taught you to "write your introduction after writing the body of your essay"? I sure did.

You can think about your follow-up email like this too — try working through content of the email itself (opening line, body, closing, and signature) prior to writing the subject line of your email. This way you can ensure you write a strong, eye-catching subject line that's sure to make your recipients want to open it and so it's an accurate description of what you wrote them in the message.

Here are some other ways to write a strong subject line that will help you improve your email open rates — these tips and tricks come from a study HubSpot conducted in 2014 using 6.4 million emails sent with HubSpot Sales.

Tips For Strong Follow-Up Subject Lines

  • 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. (Since this is a more uncommon practice and doesn't necessarily work for all types of business and in every situation, you can try A/B testing subject line vs. no subject line in your emails to see what works best for your target audience, customers, contacts, and buyers personas.)

Now let's take a look at an email template with a strong subject line that grabs the attention of a recipient as well as accurately describes what it is that recipient is about to read.

3 reasons I would be a great addition to your team

Hi Louisa,

My name is [Your Name], I saw that [Company Name] is looking for [position title] and had to reach out to you.

I think I would be a great addition to your team for the following reasons:

  1. I’m teachable. I love learning and I am always reading a new book, blog, or listening to a podcast (current favorite is [Podcast Title]).
  2. I’m [list your unique qualities].
  3. I believe in [Company] and your mission to [restate mission].

I’ve attached my resume and a video of me explaining why I would be a great addition to your team (I thought it would be a little more personal). I've also included my website and samples of projects that I’ve worked on for [previous relevant role or position] in case you’d like to see examples of my work.

I look forward to hearing from you, [First Name]!


Send the Follow-Up Email

Step 5

Your follow-up email is written — there's an objective behind it, you open with context, your purpose is clear, and you've decided on a subject line (if any). Now you need to decide when you're going to hit "Send".

Based on your specific situation, you're going to want to send your follow-up at a certain time to ensure your message remains relevant to your recipients and has the largest chance possible of being opened.

Here are some suggested time frames that have worked for HubSpot employees for sending follow-up emails based on various use cases.

  • Within 24 Hours: Say "thank you" after a meeting, sale, conference, interview, or other special occasions that warrant immediate gratitude or follow-up.
  • Within 48 Hours: After submitting important documentation (like a job application or another type of submission form) or if your specific reason for following up was fairly urgent (and cannot wait 1-2 weeks).
  • Within 1-2 Weeks: Follow up on a meeting request, after no response regarding a job offer or to confirm receipt of a previously sent email you need feedback on.
  • Every 3 Months: Catch up with a past connection, ask if anything has changed for them or their business, or learn about a new development in their business or personal life (depending on your relationship).

And that's it! Congrats, you've officially written a strong and compelling follow-up email that's sure to make your email recipients excited about responding and getting in touch with you.

Take Your Follow-Up Emails to the Next Level

Follow-up emails have the power to convert leads, bring in new business, build strong relationships, and close deals. The hardest part is making your email recipients want to open your email and then respond to it.

Think about the important aspects of your follow-up email to ensure it's eye-catching, relevant, and of value for your recipients — give them a reason to respond and get in touch with you. Work through the steps above to write a follow-up email that has an objective, provides context, has a purpose, and a strong subject line (if you choose to add one). Next, determine the best point in time to send the email so your recipient is likely to open it. Then, sit back and watch your inbox flood with responses.

And remember, if you're ever in need of additional assistance or support when it comes to your follow-up email techniques, HubSpot's free sales software is a great resource. With email templates, Sequences, meeting scheduling tools, and more, the Sales Hub will allow you to take your follow-up emails to the next level so you can begin boosting your open rates and conversions immediately.

When people are in the consideration or decision stage of the buying cycle, they’re not patient. If you don’t have the tools setup to respond to them quickly, they’ll make a decision without you.

Josh Harcus

Founding Principle


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