Understanding how to write a follow-up email after no response is serious business.

You're in a situation where your previous email failed to hit the target and you don't have too much room left as prospect's attention is fading.

How to write a follow-up email after no response

The article you're about to read is a product of a 4-year experience with cold email follow-ups.

You'll find data revealing how big of an impact follow-up emails have on reply rates. I'll also show you my experiments and comparisons that will blow your mind.

You have 5 brand new follow-up strategies you can steal straight away.

As a 🍒 on the top, I'll share a few golden rules that helped me learn how to follow-up on an email, including answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Finally, if you're too lazy to read, there's a video about the topic too.

Here's the structure, if you wanna skip to your favorite part.

How to write a follow-up email

Back in the day, cold emails generated double-digit metrics in a heartbeat. Let’s not forget, the emails were pretty much the same quality as today.

But, as with any other cool thing on the internet, marketers ruin everything. It's in our DNA. Sad, but true.

To figure out how to send a follow-up email after no response, we must first pay attention to the current state of play.

Does this cold email template ring any bell?

  • Greeting
  • Intro —> here’s me, my tool or my company
  • The play —> e.g. “I’m sure you’re looking to decrease your overhead” (no, I’m looking to increase it EMOJI)
  • The ask

What about these follow-up email templates?

  • Just quickly following-up...
  • Making sure you saw my email...
  • Costs are the number one enemy of startups

What should we do with the majority of these emails?

That’s right. Pass the sentence and hit delete.

Cold email outreach is one of the most popular sales channels. It's no surprise that we see many cold emails every day.

As a result, our attention fades, BS sensors become sharper and we lose patience to read non-personalized messages.

Nobody likes to be one in a hundred. Nobody wants to use something they don’t need… or DON’T KNOW they need yet. 😉

Now, the million-dollar question.

Will follow-up emails work then?

Absolutely!

Let me give you two reasons why, before we talk about strategies.

Yesware, for example, sent 10 follow-ups and analyzed results. The reply rate was almost always going down after each follow-up, but the TOTAL number of replies increased.

If they decided to send just one email and zero follow-ups, that would bring 30 replies, instead of 141.

Iko System had an interesting experience as well. Check this out!

Now, allow me to show you something from my cold email garage. I went back and analyzed reply rates from 10 random campaigns I’ve sent. They were all campaigns where I needed something from a prospect.

Out of 63 replies, 23 of them came from the second and third follow-up. If I’m not mistaken, that’s 37%.

Conclusion?

More replies=more opportunities 👊

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

When people don’t reply, it doesn’t have to mean they aren't interested. They might have forgotten to reply because their day was busy.

However, if you talk more about you than them, no follow-up will ever save you.

Here are a few golden rules and answers to typical questions that helped me learn how to write a good follow-up email.

When to send follow-up emails

We can talk about the ideal time to send a follow-up email after no response all we want. What the market has shown me in the last four years is that a universal schedule doesn't exist.

Here's why:

  • There are HUGE behavioral differences in customers we target
  • There’s a HUGE performance impact if audience research wasn't done properly
  • There’s a HUGE performance impact if your emails are pushing too hard
  • Different prospects' expectations play a significant role too

All of these have a greater impact than our schedules. I guess the point is that we ought to focus on things that impact our numbers most.

But that as it may, you've probably noticed some timing patterns down the road. I’m gonna share mine now.

For me, the most important thing with follow-ups is the delay between emails. In other words, the amount of days that should pass between sending each.

Delays are essential because you don't want to overwhelm prospects. My typical framework goes like this:

  • 2-day delay between email 1 and 2
  • 2-day delay between email 2 and 3
  • 3-day delay between email 3 and 4

Here’s how we set this up in lemlist...

follow-up emails

As far as the timing goes, the goal is not to overthink it. Here’s how my schedule typically looks like...

follow-up emails

The time frame or the amount of emails can change, depending on the campaign. 😉

How many follow-up emails to send

Different case studies give different answers. Google it and you’ll see.

As stated previously, my amount varies between 2 and 4 follow-up emails. For sales campaigns, it’s usually 4 with a lot of A/B testing. For other objectives (e.g. backlink exchange), it's either 2 or 3.

However, if a prospect doesn't react to a specific sequence, I might send a totally different one in a month or two.

The bigger question is what to write. Are we bringing value to our prospects or making them not want to see our stuff again? I think that’s what we need to focus more on rather than the amount itself.

Call to action triggers

One huge mistake I was making in the early days was having too many call to actions. Then I read this book called “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug.

Here are the conclusions:

  • Too many options cloud the most important one
  • Try to position choices with minimum friction

The first bullet is fairly straightforward, but what the hell does the second one mean Let me give you a comparison.

  • Let’s meet. When’s the best time for you?
  • Let’s meet. How does this Tuesday at 14pm CET sound like?

It's simplified as many factors are influencing this decision. But, call-to-action buttons that eliminate the thinking part for prospects tend to perform 2x better.

The same rule applies for follow-ups. Do yourself this favor. Eliminate friction whenever you can.

Personalization

Reaching prospects on their terms is the game.

Nobody cares about how awesome your product is or that your work was published on Forbes. Respect, but if your prospect doesn’t understand what’s in it for them, it won't work.

Personalization helps you get the job done. Start the conversation so that you can sell later on.

There are many ways in which you can personalize a cold email sequence and talk to your prospects on a 1-on-1 level.

I won’t go in-depth in this article, but I will leave you with some cool links instead.

Outreach personalization tricks:

5 follow-up strategies

Let’s talk about strategies.

Follow-up reminders

For specific campaigns, reminders tend to work great.

A typical example is when I’m pitching an article to a link roundup. Any person who owns a roundup is constantly looking for cool content. Therefore, I don’t have to be insanely creative. I can sell straight away.

The article needs to be good and relevant, of course. I also need a solid first email, as well as 1 or 2 follow-ups as reminders if they don’t respond.

Here’s an example.

Cold email follow-up

Video cold email follow-up

If you stumbled upon this blog or onto the lemlist platform before, then you know how much we like to brag about this tactic.

Personalized video thumbnail.

The reason for bragging is its ability to achieve insane click rates.

The mindset behind this follow-up strategy has two layers. First, you want to make both the first email and the follow-up interesting.

The other layer is the video. Most fun and engaging content format. Why not take advantage of it in outreach campaigns too?

Imagine you’re a marketing agency. You have to write a follow-up after no response.

An interesting tactic can be to send a video that’s relevant to your audience. For instance, startups that raised a seed round of capital. The video would be about how these companies can drive exponential growth.

Here's a follow-up template from a similar campaign.

Personalized video thumbnail cold email strategy

The best part?

You don’t have to go and create 1-on-1 videos. You can organize it per vertical and keep it highly targeted.

In the beginning of the video, you can say something like “Congrats on raising a seed round recently” or “When startups raise a seed round, here are some of the key marketing targets to hit to achieve a hockey stick kind of growth”.

When you say it like that, it’s already personalized.

This will get you clicks and attention.

All that's left is to deliver value in that video and you’re golden.

Contextual follow-ups

This is my favorite follow-up strategy. It’s reverse-engineering a typical cold email campaign I used to send earlier. With it, you can achieve many outcomes. For instance...

  • Build excitement by not revealing your ace in the sleeve early
  • Connect on the pain by showing you really understand or have lived it before

When you wish to build excitement, you should promote and share something fantastic. Imagine I’ve created an awesome video playlist on YouTube that’s not publicly available.

I shoot you a cold email because the research told me you might be interested in it. But I don’t give you the link, I ask you to reply if you want to receive it.

In case you don’t, a follow-up comes with access to one of the videos and asks you to reply if you want to get the rest.

Recommended read: Networking coffee email follow-up [52% reply rate]

This is one of the potential directions you can take.

The objective is to make your prospects want it, the same way they can’t wait for a new episode of your favorite tv show. Afterward, I can plan my funnel and decide how I'm going to try to seal the deal.

⚠️ MIND THE RULE: Vuk interrupts this blog article to bring you another important message. Avoid meaningless messages such as “this opportunity expires in 3 days” or similar. It’s not true and leaves a sales-y aftertaste.

Another example might be me selling lemlist to agencies. Since I’ve worked at one for a year, I can use that experience to connect with my prospects.

Instead of mentioning lemlist as the cold email tool they should use, I can talk about 3 tough cold email situations and how to resolve them.

Sell lemlist gently and focus on providing value first. Connect in an authentic way and show I’m one of them. That’s the power of context.

Real-time marketing in follow-ups

I'm a big fan of real-time marketing. Take for example the last season of Game of Thrones. While watching, 100 different jokes started popping in my brain.

The plan here is to identify popular things and events going on in the world at the moment. You match them with different cold emails and prospects (e.g. NBA playoffs, big movie, viral content etc).

You can even segment your audience and go narrow, because not all of them love Game of Thrones. For example, I can segment them into Game of Thrones fans, NBA fans, and hip hop listeners.

My .csv file would look like this.

Real time follow-up messaging

Since I want to narrow down interests in this follow-up, I can leverage lemlist’s liquid syntax to do it automatically.

What does liquid syntax do?

It means that GoT fans will see an intro line that mentions the series. For NBA and hip hop, lemlist will automatically change those sentences according to my .csv file.

I won’t go into details about it now, but you can get more info about liquid syntax here.

To make this strategy work, you need an event that’s recognizable or that your prospects are huge fans of. I’ll leave you with an example from our retention sequence we used to send earlier.

Real time follow-up messaging

Decision-maker search follow-up

Instead of sending break-up follow-ups, which I’m not a fan of by the way, I prefer to discover if someone else in the company is a better person to talk to. This is usually the last email in the sequence.

Here’s how the main template looks like.

follow-up template

The subject line is empty because I keep it the same throughout the sequence. That way, all emails can be under the same thread.

In lemlist, you just leave the subject empty and it's done.

Two {{TOPIC}} tags, you can replace them with something meaningful. If the person decides to connect you with their colleague, they know who to call.

First {{TOPIC}} tag could be replaced with “content marketing”, and the second with something more interesting like “streamlining content production”.

Depending on the target, I can throw in a joke or a funny GIF to increase my chances of getting the email address I need.

Bottom line

Follow-up success depends on the same things as with any other cold email. You need to provide value, share good information or entertain.

Follow-up success depends on the same things as with any other cold email. You need to provide value, share good information or entertain.

Keep in mind that just because you send a follow-up and don't get a reply, it doesn't have to mean that prospects are not interested. Sometimes, they forgot to reply because of the million things going on in their life.

Finally, always remember the golden rule of cold email outreach. More follow-ups equal more replies.

If you wanna use some of these templates with personalized images, 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 credit card required.

Think we're talking about fair trade here. 🤜🤛

See you down the road,

Vuk