How to write a follow-up email that gets responses

Marketing professionals have a primary objective: to make conversions. Whether it’s a sale, a new subscriber, or an increase in social media followers — it’s the marketer’s job to get leads to take the leap. 

Conversions may look easy to accomplish. But don’t be fooled — 60% of people will either ignore or decline before ultimately making a conversion. (And almost half of those in sales won’t follow up after the initial decline.)

Following up is the key to meeting your conversion goals. Keep on reading for tips on creating the perfect follow up.

Why are follow-up emails important to your campaign? 

Follow-up emails serve as helpful reminders to your consumers in several ways:

  • They help you re-engage with those you've already touched base with regarding an issue or service

  • They can serve as reminder messages for those who left your site with items in their cart

  • They can provide readers with big news, like an event or sale

When done correctly, follow-up emails have the potential to:

  • Improve open rates by around 29% when personalized with the subscriber's name

  • Improve overall phone contact rates by approximately 16% (if a follow-up message is sent after a call)

  • Offer up nearly twice the return of cold calling

The point of a follow-up email is to continue contact between you and your client. And when it comes to opportunities to follow up, the options are endless. 

Popular types of follow-up emails

If you want your follow-up emails to drive results, make sure you’re taking every opportunity to reach out. Not sure how to do that without coming off as spammy? Here are popular follow-up emails that help drive conversions.

Abandoned cart emails

Abandoned cart messages are an excellent example. The perfect time to send these is after someone’s visited your website, selected a product or service, and then either chose not to make the purchase or was unexpectedly kicked off the site.  

Thanks to technology like website cookies, you can gather information from users and send them a follow-up email that reminds them of what they were doing or looking at. 

Adidas demonstrates this concept well. Not only did they expertly inject humor, but they also addressed a common pain point for many consumers. 

example of abandoned cart email

Source: Really Good Emails

Inventory update emails

Inventory updates are another great way to follow up (especially if someone was looking into a particular product on your website that’s been updated). Again, cookies can gather browsing history from certain subscribers: Should they visit a page or product that’s marked "out of stock," they could be placed on a segmented list to receive updates once it’s back in stock.  

luvAJ inventory update email

Source: Emma

New subscriber emails

New subscriber emails can come in several different forms, including thank-you emails and welcome emails. These are excellent because they help you extend your communication with a new subscriber to keep them engaged and — ideally — moving through the customer lifecycle.

Arcade | new subscriber email example

Source: Really Good Emails

Apple welcomes their new Arcade subscriber to the community — and right away, they not only thank this person but also encourage them to start playing or learn other features they might find useful.  

Testimonial or survey request emails

Finally, another great follow-up email is a testimonial or survey request sent to those who’ve made a purchase (or some other form of conversion). This shows the customer that you appreciate their business and that you care about their feedback. 

Twitch | testimonial email

Source: Really Good Emails

In this case, you show your customers that you appreciate them and their voice. Without them, you couldn't improve your brand. 

4 follow-up email best practices to know

Now that you know more about follow-up emails, and how to drive results and get responses, it's time for you to learn these four best practices. 

1. Timing matters

In business, timing is of the essence. You don't want to ghost your reader, nor do you want to hit up their inbox minutes after your first email.

Automation is one way to combat the issue of timing. In fact, businesses that use this to nurture prospective customers see as much as a 451% increase in qualified leads while also being 133% more likely to align their messages with their consumer's purchase cycle. 

Automation allows you to set predetermined triggers to automatically send the right follow-up email to the right contact. Triggers can be action- or time-based, so you’re sure not to miss out on an opportunity. 

Not sure how long to set your time-based automation? Consider scheduling your follow-up emails 4-5 days after initial contact. 

2. You need a great subject line and preheader text 

Your email subject line and preheader (or preview) text are the first pieces of content that your subscribers see. If you aren't taking full advantage of these areas to capture the reader's attention, then you might lose out on your follow-up opportunity. 

Say, for example, someone was shopping for shoes on the Skechers website. They browsed a pair, and for whatever reason, they walked away. In designing a follow-up email, the marketers at Skechers made an assumption that the lead was worried about paying. So, in their subject and preheader, Skechers got right to the point: 

Subject line: Buy now… Pay later!

Preheader text: Get both pairs with Afterpay! Buy now and pay in installments!

Skechers | example of great subject line and preheader text

Source: Skechers

The goal is to grab their eye and convince them they need to open your message — and Skechers accomplished that. 

3. Remind your readers why you're following up

With roughly 306 billion emails expected to be sent and received each day in 2020, it's easy for your consumers to forget about previous contact with you. That's why the body of your email should serve as a reminder, first and foremost, of your previous contact. But then make sure you get right to the point. 

Refresh their memory of what you’re offering, then direct them where they need to go — like Chimp Essentials did in this event reminder message.

chimp essentials reminder message

Source: Really Good Emails

This message doesn’t mince words: It reminds subscribers of the live Q&A and what can be expected. Then it ends with an identifiable call-to-action (CTA) that takes subscribers to the event page. 

4. Don't neglect your CTA

You want to emphasize your CTA and make sure it's not only easy to see but it also catches the reader’s eye. Be careful not to use typical sales terminology because that gives off the impression that you’re being benefited — not the reader.

When crafting your CTA, use action-inducing terminology. Some common words that marketers often use include:

  • Shop

  • Book 

  • Order

  • See

  • Learn

  • Start

  • Read

  • Register

Each has the power to encourage action because they promise something in return for a click. 

Avoid demanding terminology. The power of suggestion is great, and that's why marketers steer away from words like “buy,” “click,” and “sign up” – also known as friction words

A simple change can result in a significant increase in conversions. Not convinced? Michael Aagaard at ContentVerve tested this and found that, by changing one word in his CTA, he saw a nearly 15% increase in overall conversions. 

example of CTA increase with word changes

Source: Campaign Monitor

Wrap up

From the outside, conversions may look easy. But most consumers don’t say “yes” to your product right away. So, it’s your job to create stellar follow-up emails. 

To write follow-up emails that get responses, follow email best practices, and then adhere to these four tips: 

  • Timing matters

  • You need a great subject line and preheader text

  • Remind your readers why you're following up

  • Don't neglect your CTA


Every great email starts with an even better subject line. Not sure you have the skills? Check out this article and learn how to write eye-catching subject lines.

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our​​ powerful automation and personalization features, you can create and send email campaigns that reach the right customer at just the right time. It's email marketing that works for you.

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