The 2 little known keys to writing perfect follow up email

Follow-up emails – they are necessary yet often get overlooked. We all receive so many emails that half of them end up in your spam folder or are deleted.

The words you use in your follow-up email determine the outcome of where your email ends up. 

Whether you’re following up on a personal request or it’s work-related, the words you put in the email will either cause it to be ignored or illicit fast action. I’m guessing you want the ‘fast action’ because no one likes to be ignored.

Why are follow-up emails so important? Let’s face it, most of us ignore that first email that comes into our inbox.

Either that or we get so busy that we forget to handle them, and before we know it, the once important email is lost in a sea of hundreds of other emails.

Believe it or not, the first follow-up email usually has the most success. It’s a reminder of ‘oh yeah, I wanted to do something about XYZ, and here’s my reminder.’ If you want your follow-up emails to be successful, use these two little known keys.

Have an objective

Don’t follow up without a goal in mind. What do you want from the follow-up? Do you:

  • Need more information
  • Need them to call you
  • Want to catch up
  • Have to thank the recipient for something

These are just some ideas. Think about the action you want from the email, and it will help you write your follow-up. You’ll get to the point faster if you know what to write and say so that you get the necessary results.

Use context

Think about how many emails you get a day. Do you know who each person is? Probably not, and if you do, I’m impressed. 

When you follow up with someone, start with some sort of context – something that connects them to you. Whether you met them in person, a mutual friend introduced you, or you saw this person speak or perform, start with that. Help them recall how and when they know you before you get to the point of your email.

Bringing them back helps them think, ‘oh yeah, I remember you,’ and then they’ll be more invested in the email.

If they can’t connect with you, guess what? Chances are they’ll hit delete on your email, and you won’t get a response. 

More tips

  • Don’t forget your purpose – What do you want out of the email? What’s your point in emailing?
  • Be polite – Don’t make demands but use words that elicit action. Choose power words over ‘could you maybe’ or ‘do you think you want to’ as two examples. 
  • Tell them what you want – Be explicit. Tell your recipient what you want or need and why you are emailing them. They don’t know how to respond unless you tell them.

Be direct

Beating around the bush does no one any good. You’re following up for a good reason. You want something from them, and I’m assuming it benefits your recipient too.

Whether you’re selling something, hoping to receive something, or just need a response from your mom, state what you want but in a polite and meaningful way.