The Art of the Follow-Up Email: Guidelines and Samples You Can Use

October 16, 2023
Written by
Melissa Zehner
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own
Reviewed by
Ayanna Julien
Opinions expressed by Twilio contributors are their own

The Art of the Follow-Up Email: Guidelines and Samples You Can Use

No one likes being left on read. If you’re waiting for an email reply and your inbox remains empty, it’s probably time to send a follow-up email. 

Here’s a five-minute primer in formatting and phrasing your follow-up email for maximum success, along with some samples you can use. 

3 guidelines for effective follow-up emails

Whether you hope to close a sale, get hired for a new job, or get a co-worker in the accounting department to send over a report, these are some best practices for sending an effective follow-up email: 
  1. Be kind and genuine. Approach the conversation with kindness and authenticity since being unkind or rude doesn’t get you very far. You’re more likely to get the response you want if you keep your cool and invite open communication. So don’t lose your temper or take an accusatory tone. 
  2. Restate your ask. Avoid vague nudges like “just circling back on Tuesday’s email” that could leave the recipient wondering what you mean. Just restate your ask to save the recipient from searching previous messages to find the one in question. 
  3. Be specific. Help the recipient to understand your needs better (and hopefully) provide it by being more precise with your ask. For example, asking for “some ideas for our product launch campaign” is a fuzzy deliverable, whereas saying you need “five ideas for sharing our new product on Instagram, delivered by Friday” clarifies the request, the purpose, and the time line. 

4 key elements of a follow-up email

Now that we’ve covered the guidelines, let’s discuss formatting. Each follow-up email should have four key elements: 
  1. Clear, concise subject line
  2. Friendly greeting
  3. Restatement of the ask
  4. Positive signoff
Let’s look at the four key elements in action. We’ll use our co-worker, Mike, in the accounting department as an example.

1. Use a clear, concise subject line

Start with a clear, concise subject line. 

“Following Up: Sales Report Due Tomorrow, Please.”

2. Start with a friendly greeting

Then, kick off the email message with a friendly greeting.

“Hey, Mike. How are you? Hope you enjoyed the weekend.” 

3. Restate your ask and be specific 

Next, restate your ask and be specific.

“I’m following up about the monthly sales channel report. Have you had a chance to complete it and send it? 

I originally requested the report last Wednesday and I’ll need it no later than tomorrow, including conversion percentages for each sales channel. The data is for our quarterly planning meeting later this week.

Attached is the marketing team’s report for cross-reference. If you need any additional data points, please let me know by the end of the day, and I’ll gather those for you. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing your report tomorrow.”

4. Sign off on a positive note

Finally, end your message with a positive signoff.

“Thanks for all your help and hard work, Mike.

Cheers, Chelsea”

That’s it—you’ve crafted a kind email, restated your ask, and clarified exactly what you need within a given time line. 

Now, let’s look at samples of some other common follow-up emails. 

Sample follow-up email to send to a sales prospect

Writing sales emails can be tough. You want to show enthusiasm and stir up enthusiasm without coming across as pushy. 

When possible, reference any personal connections or comments the prospect made—this shows you listened closely and paid attention. Also, don’t be afraid to suggest further actions to keep the prospect moving through the sales process (remember, specificity works wonders). But overall, remember to offer sincere help rather than focusing on just closing the deal as quickly as possible.

Here’s an example of a short follow-up email sent after a first conversation with a prospect:

“Hi, Maya. 

We met a few days ago at the Chamber of Commerce event. I enjoyed meeting you and hearing about some of the growth goals you’ve set for your business. 

As I mentioned, I work with a few companies similar to yours and would be happy to share some tactics that have worked well for my clients. Would you like to schedule a time to chat next week? 

What day would be convenient for you?

Regards, Cristina”

Sample follow-up email to send after a job interview

Sending follow-up emails after a job interview is less common these days, but here’s the thing: it could help your chances, and it only takes a minute—so why not send it? Better to send the follow-up email and know you did all you could to try to score that job offer. 

A few tips: like when you create a prospect email, first highlight a memorable part of the conversation so the recruiter or hiring manager knows you paid attention. Next, if there’s a specific skill they said was crucial to the job, touch on it. Finally, don’t be too stiff—a little personality makes you a memorable candidate. 

Here’s an example of a follow-up email to send after a job interview with a recruiter:

“Hi, Kai. 

Thank you for taking the time to tell me about the product marketing role at Twilio SendGrid. I’m excited to see the new features rolled out. My proficiency with analytics tools will help me bring forward some strong options for the data reporting features we talked about.

I’m eager to meet the product marketing team and learn more about the daily dynamics. Will we be able to get that scheduled this week? I’ve got plenty of time on Thursday or Friday.

Excited for next steps, Olivia”

P.S. If someone asks you to interview for a job and you need to reply, we’ve got a helpful guide for how to respond to their email request

Level up your follow-up emails with Twilio SendGrid

Although more than sufficient for sending infrequent follow-up emails, this primer is just the beginning.

If you’re an email marketer or want to scale your sales program, you need something powerful and comprehensive to get the job done: an email marketing tool like Twilio SendGrid. 

SendGrid customizes and automates emails for prospects, clients, repeat customers, and more. Sign-up forms, automation workflows, detailed analytics, and dynamic templates take you beyond your email platform’s capabilities to help you grow your business without spending countless hours on emails. 

Plus, you can send an automated follow-up email that helps you do business while working on something else. 

SendGrid is free to join. Sign up today.

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