The follow-up email is a key component of sales communication. When done right, a follow-up email can keep your company top-of-mind with prospects, demonstrate your investment in your customer relationships, and convey the value of your business without being intrusive or obnoxious.
Like any other sales activity or messaging, some companies do follow-up emails considerably better than their peers. Here, we'll take a look at some of the businesses that did them right — we’ll show you five follow-up email examples and what you can learn from them.
By dissecting them, you’ll learn:
How to write follow-up emails that actually get responses
What strategies to use
What to say instead of, "I just wanted to follow up with…"
How to adapt your follow-ups to suit different circumstances
Let’s dive right in.
5 Follow-Up Email Examples to Fix Your Follow-Up Process
1. Twilio Covers the Follow-Up Email Fundamentals
There’s a lot done right in this email.
Although the information is protected, we know that "Howard" is Howard Schultz — CEO of Starbucks. Not only is Emerald aiming as high as she can, but she is also writing this follow-up email with personalized, straightforward information on why Starbucks needs Twilio.
Emerald doesn't focus on highlighting the tool’s features. Instead, she stresses how the tool can help Starbucks today. She clearly shows she did her homework and ties the information to strategies that Starbucks was already running.
The end product is a valuable, straightforward, unique follow-up email — one that shows Emerald actually cares about helping Starbucks.
Steal this idea:
Emerald did two things right. First, she wrote a fully personalized and authentic message. Second, she wrote directly to the CEO.
If you want to borrow from Emerald's example, pack your follow-up emails with as much relevant information as you can to pique your lead’s interest. Start with an attractive subject line and follow through with your highly-valuable content.
You'll also need to aim high when you send your message. The CEO might not be the best person to make the decision, but if they forward the email to the relevant decision-makers, it's bound to get some serious attention.
2. Canva Re-Engages Its Audience
Every time you send an email with a link, you’re asking your audience, "Will you click the link?" If you want that answer to be "yes," you need to prime your reader beforehand.
Canva does this beautifully in this short and elegant email. In just one small paragraph, the email asks two questions that every reader would say "yes" to.
If someone answers, "Yes, I do wonder if I make mistakes on social media," or, "Yes, I would like to make things better," they’ll be more inclined to answer, "Yes, I will click the link and follow through."
The email also ends with a human touch — with the sender signing "Tom" with no last name.
This email can be read in a few seconds and easily re-engage users. Plus, it’s so simple and non-intrusive that it is unlikely to generate many unsubscribes.
Steal this Idea:
If your leads have gone cold, don’t try and force them to come back. Instead, write them short follow-up emails containing content they may find interesting.
Educate your cold leads and segment them as they warm up to place them in the right funnels.
The colder your leads are, the less time they’ll give you. Make the most out of the attention they pay through short and interesting emails that they’re likely to open and click through.
3. Apple Humanizes Itself
Apple’s customer support is legendary. While many tech companies come off as cold and inaccessible, Apple aims to simplify the customer experience — from its products to the attention customers can expect from their support team.
This is the first email Steven received from the company:
While Steven was impressed with the initial message, it was the follow-up email that really wowed him. After Steven told them his issue was resolved, Apple replied with this:
Several other companies might have replied with something like, "Good to know. Thank you for choosing us. Please, let us know if there’s something else we can do."
Apple thought differently. Instead of a canned response, Jose from Apple told Steven he was the reason why he made an effort at his job, and he reminded him that he was always "just an email away."
With this email, Jose assured Steven that Apple's staff is a group of hardworking people who sincerely care about him and his experience with Apple products.
It means a lot that one of the top five largest corporations in the world can demonstrate that kind of commitment to individual customers.
How to Steal This Idea
The lesson here is simple: Stop using canned responses.
Sure, the more emails you need to send, the better it’ll be to have a general structure and copy. So, if you can’t avoid pre-written responses, use the right templates — and make sure the tone is as friendly and personal as possible. Connect with your prospects and customers, and let them know how much you value them.
Instead of signing the email with the name of your company, sign with the name of the person writing it. You can even use a free electronic signature software like Signaturely or Smallpdf to add a real signature to your email.
Create a personal connection by personalizing emails and letting recipients know that they were written by people just like them, and not by a large, callous, faceless corporation.
4. Salesforce Nails How to Follow-Up After an Event
If there’s a company that knows about B2B sales, it's Salesforce. In this follow-up email, sent after the Chicago conference of 2018, Salesforce gives the reader a whopping four calls to action.
Although four CTAs may seem like a lot, it makes a lot of sense when you consider the context.
Salesforce knows that these are warm leads, so it focuses its first three CTAs — offering three potential routes to conversion. For any leads that may need a bit more convincing, it dedicates its last CTA to its informative, valuable keynote video as opposed to direct conversion.
The keynote video may be shared around the teammates that didn’t attend the conference. This generates brand awareness, which may lead to conversions down the line.
This email has the perfect CTA for every lead, wherever they are in their customer journey.
How to Steal This Idea
If you’re following up with someone who already knows your product, don’t be afraid to go for a sale. Set up a couple of ways for them to reach conversion right away, like a pricing link and the phone number of one of your salespeople.
However, do what you can to avoid sounding pushy by giving them an option to learn more about your product — this might be a free ebook, webinar, or case study.
Put yourself in your leads’ shoes and give them ways to both close the sale and learn the information that will lead to a sale down the line.
5. ReturnPath Follows Up With Ice-Cold Leads
All leads are worth a follow-up, even your cold ones. This email asks one simple question: "Are you still interested?" Two things can happen out of this.
The cold lead could reply “yes,” making them a hot lead. Or they could reply "no," telling the sender they’ll never buy.
Whatever happens, one thing is certain — the readers who respond will no longer be cold leads.
Steal this idea:
Instead of deciding whether it’s worth deleting cold leads or not, let them tell you, themselves.
Sometimes leads are just not ready to buy but might want to in the near future. By allowing them to choose whether or not to stay subscribed, you’ll make sure you're only keeping your qualified cold leads to nurture — all while removing the rest to save time and money.
Also, make sure you’re using the right (and latest) email address by using suitable tools to find email addresses. Otherwise, all of your effort might be wasted.
A conversion may be just one follow-up email away. The right follow-up email can reignite interest, strengthen relationships, and lead to more and better business down the line.
These five examples show that writing the right follow-up email is a matter of meeting your leads where they're at. Put yourself in their shoes and find out what they need from you to get a conversion depending on where they are in their buyer's journey.
Originally published Oct 7, 2020 8:00:00 AM, updated June 10 2021