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How to write a follow up email?

Follow up emails operate on a straightforward principle. If your first email doesn’t generate a reply from your prospect, it’s up to your follow up to get the job done. That’s why it’s key to pick the right strategy and create the perfect follow up email template.

Why do people send more than one email in a sequence?

Because follow up emails generate more replies. It’s as simple as that. Here’s an interesting experiment from our colleagues at Yesware.

More follow ups = more opportunities.

Another important factor to mention is that just because a prospect didn’t reply to your email, it doesn’t mean that she/he is not interested.

The reasons behind no response are many. People were busy at the moment, they forgot to reply, the message was not clear enough, wrong targeting, etc.

So when your cold email doesn’t receive a response, setting up a follow up is a move that you’ll be glad about in the long run.

When we’re talking about strategy, there are various questions people have. How many follow ups should a sequence consist of, how to write a follow up that doesn’t cause their prospect to feel annoyed and what are the ideal time delays between each message.

How you write your follow up email template depends on two factors - your target audience and the objective. For instance, you can aim to:

  • Send quick follow up reminders
  • Tease people by packing every subsequent follow up with more value
  • Check if you’re speaking with a decision-maker within that company
  • Use humor and jokes to make your message less annoying

Your target audience and the objective will also dictate whether your follow up email template pushes to provide more value, inform or entertain prospects.

How to send a follow up email?

There are a few things that you need to make a decision on:

  • How many follow ups in total you want to have
  • What’s going to be the strategy with each new follow up?
  • Will we send all cold emails under the same thread or not?
  • What are going to be time delays between every step?
  • What’s the best call-to-action for each follow up?
  • Is there an ideal day and time to send a follow up email?

Let’s talk about each bullet in a bit more detail.

When to send a follow up email?

Trusting other people’s stats about the ideal time to send a follow up email is a bad idea. Here’s why.

First of all, their market is not your market. Second of all, every campaign is unique. While it’s a good idea to interpret that data and see if you can spot any similarities, it’s far from recommended to blindly adopt it as yours.

Inevitably, if you’re analyzing the performance of your cold emails, you’ll start noticing patterns. For instance, Monday morning might not be the perfect time to send a follow up email because your prospect might be on meetings and their attention is just not on their inbox at that time.

On the other hand, you could realize that some time delays between emails provide better reply rates than others.

The best way to know that for sure is to test it in your own campaigns.

As a general rule, here’s the framework we suggest as a starting point:

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

To identify the best time frames or days to send a campaign, the advice we can give you is to A/B test different schedules and assess whether there’s a difference or not.

How many follow up emails to send?

Different case studies provide different answers. A typical campaign consists of between 2 and 4 follow-up emails. If we’re talking about a sales campaign, the amount is usually 4, but there’s a lot of A/B testing as well. 

For objectives that are not directly tied with revenue, people tend to be less tenacious on average with the amount being between 2 or 3 follow ups.

However, the right answer will again depend on your particular case. You cannot know for sure until you see the reaction from your audience. That’s why it’s important to test different follow up email templates, learn what and how many work best, and then double down on your learnings.

Furthermore, if a prospect doesn't react to a specific sequence, you could decide to test it against a totally different campaign later down the road.

Follow up email subject line

The big question here is whether to keep all emails you send under the same thread or not. This decision will give a clear answer if you need to think about one or more subject lines.

Our advice is to keep them under the same thread as it’s easier for prospects to quickly remind themselves about things and go back to your previous email if there’s a need.

As for the actual subject line examples, here are a few we love to use.

  • As promised
  • Next steps
  • Call recap
  • 🔥 links coming your way "firstName"
  • Here’s the info I promised
  • I was excited to meet you "firstName"
  • I had this idea since we last spoke

How to follow up on an email?

Here’s a quick checklist for you guys on how to create the perfect follow up email template:

  1. Think about your sequence and set up at least two or three follow ups

In our opinion, the minimum you have is three cold emails in total. Just be careful not to make your follow up annoying and lame.

Target the right audience, work on making your pitch valuable to them, and your follow up emails will come naturally.

  1. Keep your subject line same

By keeping your subject line empty in lemlist, your follow up emails will go under the same thread and have the same subject line as your first email in the sequence.

  1. Decide on your follow up objective

In short, you have to pick between quickly reminding your prospect about the previous email, sending more value, informing or entertaining them.

  1. Set up proper time delays

You want to avoid the situation where you’re sending a prospect four emails in five days. Nobody likes intrusive salespeople.

  1. A/B test different time schedules (optional)

In case you’re open to playing with different sending schedules, it’s easy to A/B test it in lemlist and see what happens.

  1. Analyze email outreach metrics and iterate based on results

Assess your open, click and reply rates, as well as the context behind replies, to see what approach, follow ups and call-to-actions have performed best.

podcast email template

Follow up email templates

Follow up email templates are templates that are out there to get you that reply if the first email failed to get the job done.

It's proven that follow ups bring more replies than if you decided to send only one email. More replies means more opportunities for your business and therefore it's super important to add them to your outreach sequence.

Sales follow-up templates

These templates for sales professionals will help you receive a better reply rate and close more deals.

Access templates

Networking follow up templates

Below examples are the templates you can use for networking if your goal is to reach out to a blogger, get a backlink, invite someone to be on a podcast, etc.

Access templates

Analysis of a high-performing follow up email template

Last but not least, it's the perfect time to see a follow up email template that scored solid results and analyze it together.

Here's the one we're going to focus on today.

cold email hub by lemlist

This one is from Jeff Wenzel, one of our users. After his first email didn't generate desired results, Jeff turned to a creative follow up email and managed to score a 23% reply rate.

The first thing you notice is a sales follow up, but that's focused on the prospect and their needs. Once Jeff finished the research on his audience, he knew what they were looking for and anticipated what kind of opportunities lie ahead, and he used that as his hook.

Second, the personalized image immediately grabs attention. In this example, the grey area automatically transforms into the image of prospects, and it's always nice to see the faces of people you are talking to.

If we break Jeff’s follow-up down, you’ll notice the following structure. It starts off with a value-oriented intro, there's an image for the sense of uniqueness, followed by a simple call-to-action. It's always a better idea to have one clear CTA, then add multiple ones and allow friction to kick in.

Cold email mistakes to avoid

Optimizing your cold email for the wrong goal
Going in guns blazing, trying to sell at all costs. The goal of cold email outreach is not to seal the deal. The real ambition is to get a reply and get on a call with your prospect, so that you can sell later. Always remember then when you go into full sales mode, you sound exactly like a typical salesperson who gets forgotten immediately.
Sending all cold emails at the same time
It's not about how many cold emails you send. It's about how many replies you get and how many prospects you can close in the later stages. Plus, there's not a single reason on the planet why you should hurry and send hundreds of emails in a day. Not only the odds are against you, but you will suffocate your email reputation down this road.
No understanding of your ideal customer profile
One of the most overlooked steps in the cold email process is not understanding who is your target audience. If you start sending emails to prospects who are not in your ideal customer profile, you will keep wasting your time on trying to sell the unsellable. Make sure you thoroughly understand and know your target audience, as well as how can your product or service bring value to their world.
Didn't set up all technical components
You can have the best cold email and top salespeople in your team, but if your prospects don't see the email to begin with, you're not going to win. Having your emails land in the primary tab and not in promotion or spam folders is extremely important. Always keep email deliverability in good check, don't send spammy emails, personalize and set up all technical details in the right way.
Didn't warm up your email domain
Email warm-up is a process that involves gradual increase of your sending volume. A warmed-up email address is one that has been sending and receiving messages as a real person would, when creating their email.

By using lemwarm, a feature that's connected to your account, you'll warm up your email account automatically.
Didn't verify your email list
In order to successfully deliver your outreach campaigns, you have to pay attention to the quality of the email addresses in your list. Otherwise, if you keep sending to invalid emails, you will keep getting hard bounces in return. Every time you receive a hard bounce, your sender reputation takes a hit. There are tools to help you verify emails. We recommend Bouncer.
Sending one-size-fits-all cold emails
Copy/paste-ing other people's emails and sending the same cold email to all people may be efficient, but is far from effective. Similar to the way one suit or dress doesn't fit every individual, a cold email needs to be personalized for every prospect. And when we say personalized, we mean that you thoroughly understand what pain points is that individual or a segment within the audience facing, and how can you help them solve it.
No follow-up emails
People sometimes forget to reply to your email. It's not that they are not interested, but they've forgot or were too busy at that moment in time. Sending relevant follow-up emails guarantees you more replies.
Not testing enough
When you're not sure about what's the best approach to cold email a certain audience, always A/B test. Don't waste time debating subjective opinions and let the market be the judge.
Unclear call-to-actions
Prospects expect simplicity and for you to navigate them to the promise land. Therefore, it's super important for you to be sharp and clear with your call-to-action, offer one or two links, and eliminate friction from the sales funnel. If you give your prospect too many choices or haven't explained clearly what do you expect them to do, you will lose those leads for good.
Chasing perfection obsessively
When it comes to it, you will never know how one cold email performs until you test it and let your audience tell you. So make sure you don't spend hours debating or second-guessing yourself. Test instead, analyze the impact, learn, don't repeat the same mistakes and double down once you figure out what approach works best.

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"We had massive success using lemlist to grow our sales pipeline. When you work with a good company and they help you become more successful, I can just highly recommend them.“

GABRIEL FRASCONI, SE Director @Zendesk

Every salesperson needs lemlist. It’s so simple to use, easy to connect with your CRM and their automation features will save you a lot of time. We booked more meetings using lemlist compared to other tools we used in the past.

Alla Zeitoun, KEY ACCOUNT MANAGER @Meero

"My emails simply stand out amongst all that noise of emails we receive every day. Building relationships with top talents is much easier thanks to highly personalized emails."

Mark Lundgren, Co-Founder @SourcingChallenge

lemlist cold emails vs. regular cold emails

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Cold email templates that will grab your prospect's attention and help you stand out in any inbox
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