Understanding 9 Types of Follow Up Email11 min read
When you need to power up your sales process, follow up emails are there to help you along the path. Here’s how you can deploy each different type of follow up email to your advantage.
- After a voicemail
- After a call or meeting
- When you have just met someone
- Inbound leads
- After they have opened your email
- When you need to find a new decision maker
- When your customer has stopped responding
- The last chance
- Final tips to craft effective emails
Whatever your sales goals are, large or small, follow up emails can help you achieve them. There are a wide variety of situations where a type of follow up email can make the difference between letting a lead go cold or turning them into a customer. You just have to know how to use them. In this article, we examine 9 types of follow up email, with tips you can try out today.
We will examine each specific type of follow up email, each designed to achieve a specific goal. However, there is one overarching goal that unites them all. That is to move the conversation along. The sales process should be a conversation where you and the customer both play a part. Follow up emails are there to reignite it, rather than let it burn out.
1. Following up after a voicemail
Goal: To encourage a reply, either by phone or email
When you phone a customer and your call goes to voicemail, it could be for one of two reasons:
- Your customer is away from their phone or on another call.
- Your customer does not want to talk to you.
If your call goes to voicemail because they are on another call, there is a chance they will return your call once they have heard your message. However, sending an email to reinforce your value proposition is still a good idea. It’s good for them to see your name via a different medium.
If your customer has ignored your call because they don’t want to talk to you, you need to win back their attention. Again, this type of follow up email can help.
3 tips for a follow up email after a voicemail:
- Confirm that you left a voicemail message.
- Explain why you are reaching out to them with the value you provide.
- Give them an easy way to reach you.
Sample phrase: I just left a voicemail for you, but thought I’d drop you an email in case you prefer to have a conversation this way.
2. Following up after a call or meeting
Goal: To move the conversation on to the next stage
When you put the phone down on a pre-arranged call, or leave the room after a meeting, you’re in a great position. It’s not the time to rest on your laurels though. It’s the time to reinforce your message and what you want your customer to do next, at a time when they are at their most receptive. A follow up email is ideal for this. Because they have just spoken to you, you’re top of mind. They are highly likely to read your email. This type of follow up email gives you an opportunity to reiterate the value you provide and tell them what to do next.
3 tips to follow up after a call or meeting:
- Recap what was decided in your meeting.
- Add value with any extra information that arose from your meeting.
- Tell them what the next steps are, including when you will speak to them next.
Sample phrase: We spoke about how we helped Acme increase their social media engagement by 120%, here’s a testimonial from their CEO.
3. Following up when you have just met somebody
Goal: To stay in contact and find out more about how you can help them
The more people you meet, the more opportunities that present themselves. However, you need to notice these opportunities and seize them. You could have met someone:
- At a trade show, conference or networking meeting.
- Introduced by a mutual friend.
You know you have the power to help them. You just need to let them know how. This type of follow up email can be extraordinarily effective. You get to spell out your value proposition in a non-intrusive way. You get to start a conversation which can lead to a deeper relationship. If you have their business card, you have an in!
3 tips to follow up when you have just met somebody:
- Remind them how you met, including who introduced you (if any).
- Mention something they told you during your previous conversation. It shows you were paying attention.
- Spell out the next step in an open and flexible manner.
Sample phrase: It was great to hear about how your drive for cost savings is going at Acme. I’d be interested to hear more.
4. Following up an inbound lead
Goal: To further demonstrate your value to a customer at the start of their journey.
When someone subscribes to your company newsletter or downloads a piece of content from your site, it is usually the beginning of their relationship with you. They’re interested in your product and the information you provide. However, they’re not necessarily interested in buying from you yet. The reason they downloaded your content may be because they don’t want the hard sell from your sales team.
This type of follow up email is a great way to help this relationship grow. You can demonstrate the value you provide without coming on too strong. You can let the customer know how they can progress, without forcing it on them.
3 tips to follow up an inbound lead:
- Tell them why you are contacting them. They may not remember downloading your content.
- Provide an extra piece of relevant info that demonstrates how you help. Social proof is excellent for this.
- Offer a no-obligation next step.
Sample phrase: It would be great to spend 10 minutes going through your social media advertising strategy and where we can improve it. Are you free on Wednesday?
5. Following up after a customer opens your email
Goal: To move your customer to the next stage of the sales process at a time when they’re most receptive.
If you’re smart with your follow up email strategy, you’ll be using software to monitor when a recipient interacts with your email. When you receive a notification that someone has opened your email, you know that at that moment, you’re at the top of their thoughts. This is the time to reach out to them again, to reinforce your message and the value you provide. You can also answer any questions they may have.
While you don’t want to come across as creepy or stalker-like, reaching out while you’re top of mind is effective, so it is worth doing. This type of follow up email can work wonders, just be careful to phrase your email in the right way.
3 tips to follow up after an email open:
- Tell them that you have seen that they have opened your email. Use it as an opportunity to offer help.
- Offer social proof to demonstrate value.
- Let them know about the next step, a call or meeting.
Sample phrase: I saw that you opened my email yesterday, so I thought I’d reach out and see if you have any questions about Acme.
6. Following up to find a decision maker
Goal: To find out who the real decision maker is and earn an introduction
When selling your solution into an organisation, you need to be in touch with the decision maker. Unfortunately, this can be tricky because often decision makers are hard to reach. Plus, there are often multiple decision makers involved in a buying decision. Ideally, you should get a handle on how decisions are made when you are qualifying your leads. However, depending on how you came across the company, you may have a contact elsewhere in the business.
If your contact in an organisation isn’t a decision maker, this type of follow up email is an effective way to find out who you need to talk to. If you get it right, you can even earn an introduction to the decision maker.
3 tips on following up to find a decision maker:
- Tell your contact exactly who you want to be referred to, with an exact job title or function.
- Reiterate the value you provide, how you can help their business.
- Be nice. You’re asking for a favour here!
Sample phrase: I’m looking to speak to whoever is responsible for improving social media engagement at Acme. Would you be able to refer me to them?
7. Following up on a referral
Goal: To restart a conversation with a new decision maker
Following on from the previous example, when your contact has given you the name of the decision maker, you need to start the conversation all over again. Nevertheless, because you have been referred, you have an advantage. You can leverage the respect between colleagues to make a positive impact.
This type of follow up email is a great way to introduce yourself, because you can include the person that referred you in the conversation. Of course, this is not possible over the phone.
3 tips on following up on a referral:
- CC the person that referred you in the email.
- State the problem your product solves and exactly how you solve it.
- Ask them to take the next step with you.
Sample phrase: I just spoke with Lizzie who recommended that I contact you. I reached out to Lizzie because I noticed you’re using WordPress for your company site…
8. Following up to a customer who hasn’t responded
Goal: To reignite a conversation that has fizzled out
For whatever reason, your customer has decided not to reply to your emails anymore. Maybe:
- They’re busy.
- They never saw your previous emails.
- They’re not interested in your proposition, but don’t want to tell you to your face.
A follow up email that is concise, clear and easy to respond to could provide the spark you need. Don’t dwell on the fact that they haven’t responded. Simply remind them of why they were talking to you in the first place and spell out why they need to respond, as well as how. When executed well, this type of follow up email will spark them back into life.
3 tips for following up to a customer who hasn’t responded:
- Mention when you last emailed them.
- Restate the value you can provide. One important fact is ideal.
- Tell them what you want to do next. If it’s set up a call or meeting, suggest a day and time.
Sample phrase: In case you missed my email from Monday, I’m reaching out because I can help your sales team spend more time selling and less time updating the CRM.
9. Following up for the last time
Goal: To shock the customer into responding because they think they might lose you forever.
Sometimes, you just have to walk away. After a long series of follow up emails which have all been ignored, rather than spend valuable time chasing a lost cause, you can send one last email to tell them you won’t be contacting them again. You don’t want to have to send this type of follow up email, but sometimes it just has to be done.
Of course, the thought of you walking away may be the very thing that makes your customer finally take action. You’re showing them that you value their time. Plus, if your value proposition is strong, they might not want to let you go!
3 tips for following up for the last time:
- Tell them that this will be the last time you contact them.
- Remind them why you were in contact in the first place, the solution you have for their problem.
- Wish them all the best for the future.
Sample phrase: I don’t want to clog up your time or your inbox, so this will be my last email. If you ever want to talk about how Acme can help you reach 1 million potential customers, feel free to get back in touch.
These examples illustrate how follow up emails can be used to achieve many different sales goals. To maximise your chances of success, make sure that your email copy is as good as it can be:
- Use a subject line that intrigues your customer and makes them want to find out more.
- Keep your email as short as possible.
- Try to send it on a day and at a time when your customer will be most receptive. Ask them when that time is.
- Email templates are great, but make sure you add some personal touches. No one wants to read an email from a robot.
- Use software to monitor engagement with your emails. If an approach isn’t working, change it.