How to write a follow up email after no reply?

If you are doing cold emailing for the first time, it is natural that you would expect a response from your prospect in the first email itself. But in the real world that is usually not the case. You would be surprised to learn that most of your emails aren’t even opened. Let me share my experiences with follow up email after having managed multiple email campaigns. 

I still remember my first cold email campaign in which I sent a single email to a list of 120 people. I was dejected after seeing the open rates. They were pathetic. Less than 30 emails were opened and the reply rates was even more worse. It was less than 3%.

That is when my colleague told me to follow-up with everyone who hasn’t replied. I was skeptical because sending repeated emails for the same purpose might irk my prospects and they might mark my emails as Spam. But to my surprise the open rate went up and so did the reply rate.

I added two more follow-up emails to the campaign and I was pleasantly surprised at the results of the campaign (my first one). An open rate of 76% and a reply rate of 15%. This gave me a strong conviction that following up multiple times with your prospects would actually get you better results.

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It taught me my first lesson in cold emailing: Not everyone is going to open your emails let alone reply to your emails in the first email.

Once you have figured this out, the next question you might be facing is how many times should you follow up with a prospect.

There is no one answer to this question and it depends on what kind of a salesperson is inside you. Some say that they would follow-up for as long as there is a reply from the prospect.

I for one am completely against it. I believe that if a prospect has opened your email and still hasn’t responded after several emails, I always believe that they are not interested in your proposal. And If you still sending them emails continuously they might mark you as spam.

Your email and domain reputation would damage if your email is marked as spam a few times. Hence I would always go back to getting more relevant prospects than sending emails repeatedly until a response.

When should you send a follow-up?

There are no hard and fast rules as to when should one send a follow-up but I would suggest that follow-ups should only be sent once you have given enough time for your prospect to take action. There can be endless possibilities on whether your prospect has opened your opening email or if they have replied to your earlier emails, but whatever be the possibility I recommend following up at least 2-3 days after your previous email.

So what should a follow-up be like?

Every email that you are writing is an opportunity to connect with a prospect. So I would recommend that do not write the follow-up for the sake of it. Treat it as an opportunity to make a sale every time.

Over several cold email campaigns that I have managed, I have tried out different strategies on follow-ups. This is a summary of my learnings from my experience:

Every cold email follow-up should have the following:

   1) Reference to your earlier email

   2) Your Value Proposition

   3) Call to action

   4) Niceties

1) Reference to your earlier email:

Every time you write a follow-up please include a reference to your opening email because it gives the recipient a context that you have already tried touching base with him and this is an extension of your attempt to touch base again.

But remember a follow-up should always be in the same thread as the opening email simply because when we refer our earlier email and write the follow-up there shouldn’t be any hindrance for the prospect to go and search for the opening email again.

You might be wondering why this is important. This came out of a first-hand experience.

I tried sending a follow-up as a separate email and ended up irking a potential customer. The prospect was so pissed at me that he told me to know the etiquette of emailing. He said and I quote

“Do you expect me to search my inbox with your email address to find the referencing email”,

Which is very true. I was mailing a decision maker and by not writing the email in the same thread, I was expecting him to search for my earlier email which he might have missed. I was naive to expect that he would do that.  

2) Your Value Proposition:

Don’t just follow up just because you have to. Make sure you are including what you offer to your prospect in every follow-up. One thing is instead of saying the same thing again and again. You can always do some wordplay telling what you are offering in a different way. Adding to the value proposition also works well.

But remember your follow-ups should always be short. Don’t make them too long.

3) Call to Action:

From my experience running multiple cold email campaigns, I have understood the importance of a clear call to action. During my initial days, in my efforts to write killer content, I lost track of my call to action. And sometimes even ended up using multiple calls to action in a single email.

Some of our customers who have exceptional open rates of over 80% often ask us this question,

“ I am happy that my emails are ending up in my prospects inbox and that my prospects are opening my emails, but why is it that they are not replying to my emails”

As a Sales Engagement Software’s job ends when the email that you have written reaches the inbox of your client. If they have opened it or replied to it always depends on what subject lines and call to action you include in your email.

Especially when you are following up please ensure that there is no more than one call to action included in the email and that the action should be of least hindrance to your prospect.

4) Niceties:

Though it is not a major issue in terms of a follow-up, a small line in the end like “hope to have your reply to my email” would do wonders sometimes. It actually is politely nudging your prospect to perform the action and you are reiterating the call to action one more time.

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