The Art of the Follow-Up Email

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The art of the follow up email

Dealing with the uncomfortable nature of constructing a follow-up email is difficult for many business people. The simple act of asking for business is not the easiest thing, but for entrepreneurs and salespeople, it’s essential to ask for what you want sometimes repeatedly.

If you scour the internet and Google “follow-up email templates,” you’ll find a plethora of great ideas to get you started. Ideas ranging from giving good advice or free business strategies are the most common, but if you’re reading this article and looking for ideas about how to reach out to clients after you’ve already done it once, then you need something different than a template to copy.

My goal is to show you that writing cold-email or follow-up email is simple and nothing to worry about. It’s only tough in the beginning and quite easy to do once you get the ball rolling. If you’re struggling, you can bet that it’s your perspective that needs to change. Writing emails is simple. However, what you’ll most likely need to get over are your own emotions.

Why You Need To Follow Up

Follow-up email delete

According to YesWare blog, your emails have a very short lifespan. After 24 hours the odds of your email being opened are less than 5 percent. If you email someone and they get back to you in a day two, consider yourself lucky.

When I email people, I expect the first email to get deleted. The second and third in my opinion have a better chance of getting a response. In my experience, it’s best to be mentally prepared for rejection.

Does that mean that you won’t get a response right away? Not at all, but if your clients are completely obvious to who you are, then expect to get a rejection at first. It’s better to be pleasantly surprised than stressed.

Accept That Most of Your Emails Won’t Get Read

If you expect your follow-up email marketing won’t be read, you’ll focus harder on making each email stand out in its own way. It’s careful planning and ruthless revisions that will get your clients to read and click-through.

Through this acceptance, you’ll understand not every one of your clients is one size fits all. Every client is on a different schedule and requires different nuances. This means you should vary the style of your emails.

Use a combination of long and short emails, serious and humorous, and outlandish and conservative approaches will ensure you’re hitting your clients where they like it. If you’re new to the industry you’ll have to try lots of variety to get it right. If you know your industry, you won’t have an issue with finding the right mixture of the above characteristics.

Track Your Progress and Run Split Tests

A great way to learn about your audience is to use split testing and tracking statistics over a span of time.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try using different headlines on the same email. If the open rates are stronger on one set instead of the other, keep the better one and test it against another new headline.

If I was doing cold email, I would shoot for an open rate of at least 5%. Then I would split test from there and try to get it up to 20% within a few months.

For warm leads or an opt-in email list, you should shoot for at least 40%. They should be expecting your emails and want to see them. If your warm leads are not opening consistently, there is something dreadfully wrong with your headlines. Revise at once and research your target market aggressively to find out what they want.

Another strategy is to mix up the characteristics of each email with the same headline and find out which is better.

Your Headlines Are The Something You Should Lose Sleep Over

Follow-up email Newsletter

80% of email readers won’t get past the headline. This is why I make such a big deal out headlines for follow-up email in this article. If you struggle with headlines, hire a copywriter at once to get back on the right track.

Headlines basically come down to research. If you know your audience they will be receptive when you reach out to them.

Think about it…

Let’s say you have an online business that sells superfoods, using Shopify, and are collecting emails through an opt-in box on your website. You offer a 15% discount for first-time customers if they give you their email address.

You know they are interested in what you sell because they want the discount. They probably already have a product in mind and either made a purchase or left prematurely. Either way, you have their email and have an opportunity to sell them again if you follow up.

If you target your emails to these people you can ensure that you’re giving yourself the best chance to sell them on another product or the product they abandoned. A targeted headline could include their name, location, the product they abandoned, the last chance timer, or another discount. Your email could be reminding them all your products have a lifetime guarantee or a money back guarantee. All of these ideas work, so choose wisely.

For tips on making headlines that get opened, consult the Hubspot Idea Generator, Buzzsumo and Google.

Cocktail Party (i.e. Sales) Emails

This kind of follow-up email is great for sales, but only if you follow-up.

When you’re at a cocktail party, there are people you know and those you don’t. What’s the point of the party? It’s to bring people together to share ideas and enhance everyone’s lives.

Cold-email or sales emails are somewhat the same. The first interaction is introductions. The more you associate with those people and have more encounters you develop rapport. It’s the same with emails. If you know they are opening the emails, you know that you’re doing something right. Focus on making each email more interesting, helpful, and targeted to your specific audience.

Many times, I’ll use the first few emails to warm up the client even more. I’ll write a more informational follow-up email and then insert a link. If you’re writing is entertaining it will be easy to get them to click on the 3rd email.

Use a little social media stalking to find out what they’re all about. If you tailor the message to their desires, getting a meeting will be easy. Maybe you share a hobby. Throwing a little commonality like your shared love for cooking or hiking can make all the difference.

It doesn’t have to completely related to the subject of the email, and you shouldn’t go into extreme depth, but just touch on something you know they love and you should see a quick response.

Talk-Radio Follow-Up Email

You might think, “what the heck does talk radio have to do with follow-up email?” Well, if you have an email list, this is exactly how you should think about your content.

Everyday talk radio hosts have to come up with fresh ideas to talk about in their niche. Sportscasters are the epitome of this skill because they have to make a big deal out of the day-to-day happenings of each sport.

In some cities, certain sports take precedence at all times during the year and that creates more challenges to grab the attention of the listeners day in and day out. Without an engaging orator, the audience will dwindle and ratings will suffer.

The same happens to email campaigns with weak follow-ups. If you’re not quickly adapting to changing conditions in your industry your emails will fail to get opened and read. This will significantly reduce traffic to your website and lower conversions on the products you sell.

The benefit of email campaigns is you can plan every follow-up email months in advance. Every episode is done and ready to be edited multiple times until it’s perfect if you do it right.

Before You Hit Send…

Follow-up email

Number 1: Be Consistent

For cold-emails, I like to send out a follow-up email once-a-week. Each email must be more and more tailored and have a fantastic headline. Watch your open rates and click-thru rates closely over a few weeks. If your prospects don’t respond after 7 weeks give them a break.

Number 2: Be Humorous

Everybody loves to laugh, but figuring out what kind of humor works for your audience is the key. Not everybody likes slap-stick videos, but most people like funny animals. I’m not saying everybody, but if you’re looking to add a picture to your emails, a funny animal might be a great start. A funny story is always a great idea, but make it short and sweet. If you make it too long you might lose their interest pretty quickly. Remember, you’re still selling something.

Number 3: Test, Test Test

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Use different headlines, images, copy, strategies and test them against each other frequently. Highly skilled marketers might test 5 -10 different emails against each other to see what does the best. Lastly, combine what works and then test again.

Perfection is not possible with follow-up email but definitely something to strive for. For more information on email marketing, check out this link to apply the 2018 email principles to your marketing campaign now.

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Anthony Catullo