The Secret Formula of Successful Follow-up Emails

The Secret Formula of Successful Follow-up Emails

  I feel like you probably already know this, but this statement will help set the tone for this article:

Consumers have all the control.

Today, consumers have access to more information, more choice and more ways to disconnect from pesky salespeople and businesses demanding their money, time and attention.

This leads me to another fairly obvious statement of fact:

Attention has become the most sought-after commodity in 2018.

With hundreds – thousands – of businesses vying for your customers’ attention - how can you compete? How can you win their attention in order to convert that into business success? Great questions!

Truly accepting these two statements – that (1) Your consumers have all the control and (2) Attention is now the most sought-after commodity - can revolutionise your business. But why, how? Another good question.

In this article, I’m making the assumption that you’ve already had some contact with a prospective customer. Maybe they’ve enquired on your Facebook or Instagram page, or maybe you’re doing B2B sales and they found your website or discovered you on LinkedIn, enquired, and you’re now following-up your initial phone conversation.

Either way, it’s now time to follow-up your initial contact with an email.

You’ve sent similar emails a million times before, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes they reply, often they don’t, leaving you unsure of where-to next.

This article breaks down our top 3 tips for sending follow-up emails that get attention, add value and encourage your prospective customer to take action.

First, you need their attention

When it comes to emails, the first hurdle is quite simply enticing your reader to open it.

So, what makes a great subject line?

  • Always personalise – Wherever possible, individualise your emails to your reader. This can be as simple as starting the email subject line with their first name.
  • Inspire curiosity – Pique your recipient’s curiosity or interest with a clever subject line? The right creative phrasing can almost guarantee your reader will not be able to resist seeing what you’re talking about.
  • Make an exclusive offer – Offer your reader something exclusive or free. If your reader likes your services and products, then this might be just the right enticement they need to take the next step.
  • Highlight urgency – You can compel your readers to click by communicating any urgency or scarcity associated with your message. This could include the last days of a product sale, limited stock remaining on popular merchandise, final two tickets to your next event or seminar etc.

Here are some Subject Line Examples using the above approaches:  
Adam, Since we last spoke, I want to let you know…
Carly, About our last conversation…
Shaun, You’re invited to an exclusive event
Karl, This is our most popular free tool!
Joy, This offer is just for you!
Ash, Just for you: 50% off [insert product/service] this month!

Question – do you track email opens? If not, it’s going to be hard to know to what extent changing up your subject lines is impacting on open rates. Consider free tools like MailChimp, or for something more in-depth, a CRM might be the right answer for your business. At Boss Finance, we use InfusionSoft for better business analytics and marketing tools – it took time and effort to set up but has greatly helped us take the business to the next level as it makes scaling much simpler.

Don’t just ‘check in’ always add value

Savvy business owners know that in order to be successful today, they need to move beyond the transactional and engage with their customers on a deeper level.

Businesses are doing this in many ways in addition to face-to-face relationship-building. They’re using social media tools and platforms to reach out to prospective customers, get to know them, share valuable information for free and then invite them to buy/shop/whatever.

Here’s a real-life example:

Melbourne Dentist clinic the_dental_room has built more than 7700 followers by offering helpful dental advice, sharing client stories and using Instagram influencers to build credibility and reach more people. They encourage engagement through posing questions and responding to comments. They introduce their happy staff. All of this is adding value to their 7700 followers who enjoy their dental tips, funny puns and seeing some of their favourite local celebrities doing what we all despise – time at the dentist! What else is The Dental Room achieving? They’re warming up their followers for their next visit to the dentist, normally a negative experience, but now something much more familiar and safe.

Why are businesses bothering to do this?

It goes back to consumer choice and the overwhelming competition for attention. When we engage well and offer something meaningful, interesting, inspiring or funny, we’re pre-loading value.

If your ultimate objective is to ask your prospective customer for something (their money, their time, their endorsement), then you’re going to feel much better about asking if you’ve already brought them value.

It’s simple reciprocity, and Gary Vaynerchuk says it better than me:          

“In order to build any type of relationship that gives you the air cover to be able to ask for something down the line, you should always be the one providing the value upfront. You might not always get what you ask for, but at the end of the day, the absolute worse case scenario is that you had a positive impact on somebody through your actions, and as a human, that should just make you feel good.”

So what kind of up-front value can you offer?

As an example that you are most welcome to steal, at Boss Finance, our team regularly develops and shares free tools and content with people and businesses who aren’t yet our customers. We don’t ask for anything in return. To be honest, we’re pretty satisfied when people come back to us with positive feedback on how this tool has helped them, or that blog pointed them in the right direction. And we feel really good when some of them become paying customers – but that’s not necessarily the end goal. Because going back to Gary Vaynerchuk’s quote – if we make the true objective about having a positive impact on another person, literally nobody loses.

So, after you’ve successfully enticed your reader to open your email, are you just another person trying to take from them? Or are you offering them something of value?

Leave them with a clear request to take action

Close your email with a clear avenue for your reader should they wish to progress. What this is will obviously depend on what products or services your business is offering. But, it’s important to outline:

  • What the Action is: If your reader wants to achieve [insert their desired outcome], then the next step would be for them to [insert actionable next step].
  • The timeframe: Outline whether there’s a timeframe within which they might want to consider taking this step in (i.e. you might have a special offer for them that expires soon, or your services are seasonal, or you book up quickly so they need to confirm to secure a booking).
  • Let them know they have a choice: You’ve set out the action and timeframe for them to take, now it’s just a matter of letting them know you know they’re in control. You can do this in a few ways – using the words “should you choose to proceed” is an easy one.

So here are the key takeaways for writing the perfect follow-up email:

  1. Get your email opened with a strong and personalised subject line.
  2. Consider their pain points and add something of value (for free).
  3. Ask them to take action, should they choose.

Good luck and I’d love your feedback on how this information helps you and your business’ follow-up emails!

Willow Sloane

Director, Communications and Culture at

Everything I do is underpinned by creativity and a focus on people and culture. I value transparent communication, delivered at the right times, and see it as a critical ingredient to every business' growth and success. I work across the HR and Communications sectors, and believe the two are inextricably linked. I work with executive and senior leaders to develop communication strategies that deliver on organisational priorities. I'm most passionate about working with others to achieve goals

Comments (1)


There are no more challenging email than follow-up, because you send it in order to get a response from someone who didn’t reply you a while ago. You may even have hesitations if you want to send another mail to this person. Lots of people simply don’t do it because they are worried it may disturb the recipient. However, if you do it very professionally you can get the answer! If you are not sure how to write it properly, ask to do it for you.