The million dollar question!

How to send a follow-up email when you get no responses?

Will that help you create more opportunities?

Maybe the most important question of them all is...

How many follow-up emails is okay to send to not annoy your prospects?

Before we dig into the psychology, stats and strategies with email follow-ups, let me quickly give you an overview of what I'm gonna be writing about in this article:

  • The numbers behind follow-ups and their impact on the reply rate
  • Why it's not a good idea to act based on someone else's numbers
  • What should be your number one focus if you wanna drive results
  • Follow-up examples from the internet world
  • Favorite follow-up email templates I like to use

Finally, if you're too lazy to read, Guillaume and I made a video about the subject too.

Nevertheless, if you wanna dig a little deeper, reading these words I'm about to scribble down is, I think, a good time investment.

Let's crack on!

Should you be sending follow-ups?

As with every other cool thing on the internet that used to work brilliantly, we marketers ruin everything. It's in our DNA.

Email outreach and follow-ups used to generate double-digit metrics in a heartbeat with pretty much the same quality as today.

Take any sales email as a classic example. Here's how the sequence usually looks.

  • Greeting
  • Love what you do
  • I do this
  • The ask

And then come those frustrating follow-ups. They sound something to the tune of:

  • Just quickly following-up...
  • Making sure you saw my email...
  • Hey [name], how's it going! Making sure you saw my email...

What do you do with those emails?

You pass the sentence and press delete.

This brings up a debate.

Why bother sending a follow-up email at all?

They didn't reply. Obviously, people are not interested.

You will see that many entrepreneurs, who by the way have fantastic results with email outreach, recommend not sending a follow-up or doing it only once.

My opinion is that you gotta do what works for you. But the logic is pretty straightforward here.

If you're selling too hard or being selfish by asking them to do you a favor, it's not going to work. No follow-up is gonna change that.

Me?

I send follow-ups. Sometimes just one, other times four or five. But truth be told, I'm always playing and testing.

So, if you ask me, you should send follow-ups for one simple reason. Let's imagine you've sent your first email. Got 10 replies. You've delivered a follow-up then. Got 4 more. 14 replies is bigger than 10.

The math is simple.

But that doesn't mean you ought to frustrate others by being selfish and boring.

In that case, we will be passing the sentence on you.

Let's quickly take a look at some industry standards.

For instance, one of our competitors Yesware did an interesting experiment. They've sent 10 follow-ups in total and analyzed the results. As you can see on the graph above, the reply rate is almost always going down after each email, but the number of replies is increasing.

More replies=more opportunities πŸ‘Š

They've also reported that 70% of salespeople stop sending emails after they receive no response to their first email. Look at that graph one more time. That would be 30 instead of 141 replies.

Again, simple thing of math.

Iko System experienced entirely different results in their experiments. Check this out!

Reply rate acts quite funny sometimes.

⚠️ MIND THE RULE: Vuk interrupts this blog article to bring you this important message. Never execute based on somebody else's numbers. Respect them, but don't let them define the way you execute.

With all these stats that we just saw, keep in mind that we don't know how their cold emails actually look like. Zero insight on what's their target buyer persona. We also got no clue if those replies were positive or negative ones.

It doesn't matter whether stats are from lemlist or our competitors, the message here is to be a practitioner. Always test for yourself. Learn and double down on what works best for your business.

You can use stats from others for inspiration or double check them in your own tests. But never follow blindly.

Follow-up strategy

Let's start from the beginning.

In order for a follow-up to be successful, we gotta take one step back and talk about our email outreach game.

  • Do we have a clearly defined goal of the email outreach?
  • Are we providing value to our audience?
  • If not, are we entertaining or educating them?
  • How are we pushing people down our funnel?

In most cases, follow-up exists as backup. Salespeople usually "remind" their prospects of their main email.

Rarely do you see, besides in specific email sequences, longer and more unique follow-ups.

That could be your opportunity for example.

The way you do your follow-ups, how you many do you send and what the content gonna be like depends on one key thing.

Your strategy.

In other words, what needs to happen for you to be happy with the result.

Get a reply? Book a demo? Earn a backlink?

That goal will define your entire sequence, the number of follow-ups, how long would your emails be and when you're going to go for the ask.

A lot of lemlist users (including myself 😈) drive results by making sure their emails stand out. Or at least try to do so.

How do they do that? With personalized images, videos and landing pages.

In other worlds, they've leveraged dynamic visuals and put all that on autopilot. The one thing they don't do is they never try to eliminate human touch and automate relationships.

Meaningful relationships take time. That's why they're meaningful.

You can always use "Interested or not" feature in lemlist to understand whether or not your prospects are interested. Building relationships gets a bit simpler this way.

Here's an example from one of our campaigns.

Here are the same email outreach rules that apply to follow-ups too.

Personalize your emails

82% Open rate

52% Reply rate

This cold email result belongs to Cam MacDuff, the Co-Founder and CEO of Wonderlab Creative.

Here's his step 1 email.

And here's his follow-up.

You can see that Cam's follow-up strategy was a simple extension of the step 1 email. Same content style, using humor and personalized images.

When your goal is to connect with your prospects, network and create win-win situations, using personalization and connecting emails in an entertaining way is a good way to go.

Talk about them first

Although in the first iteration, this was a 2-step campaign, I ended up merging it into one simple email outreach.

But the same principles apply for follow-ups.

Back in September 2018, Guillaume and I did a very basic podcast outreach. Text personalization, that's it.

What I did is went and created a standardized template, and then used lemlist to personalize one specific paragraph in every single email. I've used the review feature to jump between emails faster.

That paragraph was unique for every single email. It talked about a specific episode or a topic they were talking about. Plus, I've subscribed.

Here's how the email looked.

Here are the results. One thing to have in mind, 60% of emails were submitted via forms, so you can double the numbers.

Again, this wasn't a follow-up. But you can use the same logic to make every follow-up unique.

Context is key because it makes the email about them. People hate generic emails, fake flattery and all those bullshit comments. What you gotta know here is that I actually listened to some parts of all 50+ podcasts and learned what they are about.

Give value first

This is the best advice in my experience when doing a backlink outreach.

Instead of asking them to do you a favor, you should be thinking how you can do something that will bring them value first.

Why?

Because nobody gives a damn about what you want.

Here's a brilliant example of how Duke pitched me at my previous job.

Step 1 email:

1

1st follow-up:

2

2st follow-up:

3

When backlinks are the topic, most people go for a generic template, non-meaningful compliment and an ask.

Don't be most people.

At least ask me what can you do for me in return. Or, reverse engineer the process like Duke did. These are the two ways how I see backlink outreach, depending on how big of a list you've got.

Reminding is okay because people forget

Imagine the following situation.

You've sent your campaign. Your open rate is solid, but you would like to see more replies. In essence, there are 50/50 chances your prospects have either read your email and aren't interested, or they might be interested but forgot to reply.

In other words, you got a 50% shot. Give or take!

My advice here is to keep the reminder short and maybe funny in some situations. I'll show you an example in a minute.

Short or long follow-ups

Does size matter?

This question has been around for as long as the human kind exists. All I can say is...

Talking about emails here my friend... stay focused! 🀣

If you've been reading articles about the subject, you must have read that many people suggest short emails perform the best.

But do they now?!

There's no right way. Anybody who says short or long only is just talking. The content within the email is what makes your outreach work or not. Sometimes that content is longer, sometimes shorter. But the debate is whether it's good or not.

Don't sweat the technique. πŸ˜‰

Always have a clear call to action

Remember, your goal here isn't to sell your service or your product. Focus on one goal and one goal only.

Getting them to talk to you. If it didn't work the first time, don't worry. Keep testing and stay focused on the goal. You'll see, it will work, as long as you're providing value.

My favorite follow-up email templates

These are just a couple I've been using on an ongoing basis or planning to use soon. I've segmented them in three categories - easy reminders, real time follow-ups and I've also designed a brand new follow-up email template for marketing agencies.

Here's how they look.

Easy reminders

My one-line reminders get sent only when the first email is providing value. In other words, I rarely use them for emails where I'm looking to ramp up my reply rate.

A typical example is when you're sending an outreach to link roundups. Any content marketer who owns a roundup is constantly looking for links that his or her audience would enjoy consuming.

Enter Vuk.

I always keep this email short and try to write something that's at least 1% different. To be more clear, I try to be witty.

Like this...

Real time follow-ups

Real time marketing works brilliantly. I'm a big fan! It's one of the easiest ways to do content creation.

Take for example the last episode of Game of Thrones where, (WARNING: skip this paragraph cause I'm about to spoil things), Daenerys does what she does to King's Landing. In just 12h after the episode has premiered, I saw 100s of different jokes with it.

I started thinking how good would this work in my follow-up strategy. Depending on the campaign, you can't always personalize things based on prospect's interest at scale. Like, not all my prospects are Inter Milan fans or wine lovers.

You can't use those references in bigger campaigns, but you can definitely scale the big stuff. Shows like Game of Thrones, Avengers or other famous movies, Champions League final, Time Square billboards, politics, worldwide news etc.

Even though somebody's not watching a blockbuster or following news, in most cases, they will know about all about it.

So I've decided to leverage this. It's almost always funny, helps me stand out, it entertains and kinda sets the tone of the conversation they'll have with me.

Truth be told, I've been testing these for some of our email sequences at the moment, but rest assure they'll soon be in the follow-ups too.

Here are some examples so you can understand where I'm at...

This is an example from one of our latest retention sequences.

But if I wanna transform it into a follow-up, I'll probably end up using something similar for content distribution and biz dev. It draws attention and creates that connection I'm trying to build.

For instance, leveraging the vibe from this follow-up email template for backlink outreach or potential cooperation of some sort might be a good fit.

Here's 2.0 variation of our retention sequence.

Chances are you know this scene. Even if you don't, still funny and unique.

I hope. πŸ˜…

This can very well be a witty version of "just reminding you" follow-up email, only a bit more personalized.

But anything popular, that's a trend and well-known worldwide, will do the trick. Super Bowl or a Mad Men reference for advertisers, sport and movies for content creators, famous politicians' meetings for us SaaSers...

Like, there are million ways to do this.

If you decide to play with it, drop me how it all went at vuk@lemlist.com. We can compare our experiences.

Marketing agency follow-up

As my article endgame, I've decided to create a new template dedicated first and foremost to marketing agencies.

Having worked for almost a year in one, I'm very familiar with how negotiations, sending proposals and waiting to hear for a response for certain clientele can take a while, so here's a template that I'd be sending in this situation.

Let's imagine two situations.

1st agency is offering Facebook Ads service

Hi {{firstName}},

Imagine that you got someone grinding so hard on your Facebook Ads that one day your name pops in Time Square.

IMAGE

{{firstName}}, to show you I'm for real, made you a quick video.

Need 3.5 minutes of your time to demonstrate how to build your Facebook Ads Funnel that actually converts.

This is the exact process I've used to drive [RESULT] for [COMPANY]

I'll show you that too. Here's the link.

Take care,

Vuk

2nd agency is offering content/branding service

Hi {{firstName}},

Facilitating transactions is objective number one for any business. The second part of the equation is building a brand. Giving {{companyName}} the ULTIMATE POWER. πŸ‘‡

IMAGE

{{firstName}}, I made you a quick video as I want to help you accomplish this. For real!

Need 3.5 minutes of your time to show you the entire plan and why I'm the man for the job. 3.5 minutes, that's it!

Here's the link.

Take care,

Vuk

If you wanna use these templates with personalized images of course, there's a little thing you gotta do. Take lemlist for a test drive.

Start your free trial

14-day free trial, access to these and all other cold email templates, no restrictions, no CC required.

Think we're talking about a fair trade here. πŸ€œπŸ€›

Anyway, hope this article brings value to your world.

See you down the road,

Vuk