How to Write a Follow Up Email After No Response [Template]

Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi
19 minute read

Here are the steps to write a follow up email after getting no response:

  1. Connect with your prospects on social media, e.g. LinkedIn
  2. Craft a subject line that doesn’t feel spammy and try to demonstrate value
  3. Give context as to why you’re emailing them and what you need from them
  4. Answer the question “what’s in it for me?”
  5. Add a strong call-to-action (CTA)
  6. Automate your follow up email sequence

We’ll also share six follow up templates with you — templates that you can use right away.

If you want to start getting responses to your cold emails, read on.

When Should You Follow Up?

Before we get deep into how to write a follow up email, let’s first establish two significant points: timing and frequency.

I’d like to start by saying that 91% of business emails are opened and read within the first 24 hours.

Additionally, 90% of the replies you’ll get from the email will come within 24 hours as well.

Does that mean you should send your first follow up 24 hours later?

No, it doesn’t.

At Respona, we understand that you risk permanently burning bridges if you come across as “spammy.”

That’s why we recommend being cautious with your number of follow-ups.

Based on our experience, 1-4 follow up emails is ideal, depending on the objective of the campaign and the importance of each target.

It’s important to adjust the number of follow up emails based on who you are emailing and what you are asking.

Sending 4 follow up emails within the span of 4 days is the fastest way to get flagged for spam, and ensure a blogger will never feature you or give you their time of day.

That doesn’t sound ideal, right?

Instead, you should send the first follow up several days after the previous email.

We would recommend 5 working days for most campaigns.

The subsequent follow-ups should come at least 1 week after the previous one.

  • General content promotion outreach: 1 follow up (to avoid getting flagged for spam and ruining relationships)
  • Broken link building: 2-3 follow-ups
  • Unlinked mentions: 2-3 follow-ups
  • Guest post inquiries to important industry blogs: 2-3 follow-ups
  • Reverse image link building: 3-4 follow-ups

Author’s Note: Remember, if you write personalized follow-ups that highlight benefits for them, you won’t need endless follow-ups or a breakup email to get a response.

This is an example of how we’d recommend an outreach campaign to be structured:

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If you think sending multiple followup emails to hundreds of bloggers and journalists sounds like a lot of work, it really can be.

However, multiple outreach messages can make a difference as this recently published seminal study from Backlinko of 12 million outreach emails proves.

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Image Source: Backlinko

Backlinko dissected the emails and analyzed the performance based on different content patterns.

According to the study, it looks like even a single follow-up email can significantly change the result and help you make your campaign a success.

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Image Source: Backlinko

Now that you know when you should send your follow-up emails, let’s see the six simple steps that will help you create a successful follow-up sequence.

How to Write a Follow Up Email in Six Steps

Writing a follow up email, although necessary in many cases, can be tricky.

That’s why we’ve prepared the following steps for you to help you take the process of following up to the next level.

To illustrate the following steps, we’ll use a hypothetical scenario.

Let’s say that we have this blog post: 22 Outreach Email Templates that Get Replies in 2020, and we’re trying to promote it so it gets shares on social media as well as links. 

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How are we going to do this?

By sending follow up emails to our prospects.

Let’s get right into it.

Step #1: Connect with your prospects on social media

The first step in the process of writing a follow-up email is to connect with your prospects on social media.

Reaching out to your media and PR prospects is recommended – where possible – because it will help you build and establish relationships with them.

This way, you have more chances of getting your email read by them, since they’re people who receive tons of emails daily and will be more likely to spend time reading an email from someone, or a company name, they know rather than a stranger.

You could consider writing a great, personalized note about why you’re connecting with them.

That’ll make the connection one to remember for your prospects.

Connecting with your prospects will also provide them with some essential information about you.

This can also work as a sort of social proof for the work that you do, people you’ve worked and are working with, as well as top of mind priority for your company.

After you’ve established this human connection on social media, you can then go on and send a follow up.

Moving on to the next step.

Step #2: Craft a subject line that doesn’t feel spammy and try to demonstrate value

The second step is to craft a subject line that doesn’t feel spammy.

This’ll help you demonstrate value.

To put it simply: The subject line is key.

The key to subject lines is personalization and relevance.

Do you know anyone who opens up an inbox thinking: “How can I help the world? :)”

Checking the email inbox is a business responsibility for most bloggers/webmasters and not something they enjoy doing.

Your subject line needs to instantly communicate why they should use their time to read your email, even though you are a stranger.

That’s why personalizing every single subject line is crucial, even for the follow-up emails.

Have a look at this uncommon subject line for a follow up email that scores a 52% open rate.

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Image Source: Sumo

Undoubtedly, it’s more cheesy and personalized than most subject lines, but that’s what makes it catchy, fun, and successful.

By personalizing your subject lines you make sure they’re not just blanket statements anymore.

The efficiency of this tactic has been proven by studies again and again.

The Backlinko study – yes! The one mentioned earlier – showed that personalized subject lines lead to 30.5% higher response rates.

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Image Source: Backlinko

So instead of a short and sweet “Following up”, or “Link to my site?”, it would be better to start with something like “About [Your blog post]…” or “Suggestion for [Your blog post]” “Loved [Your blog post] but….”

If your original email did this, you can borrow the subject line but just add “Re:” to it.

Another bonus is that this will also continue in the email thread of the first email so that the prospects can easily get context by reading the first one without having to search for it.

Like “Re: About [YOUR BLOG POST]”.

Short subject lines are not better

Personalizing a subject line usually puts it past the 5-6 word range that some “experts” recommend.

Short subjects might work better for autoresponders but work categorically worse for outreach emails.

The same 12-million email in-depth study by Backlinko showed that longer subject lines, specifically between 36-50 words, had a 24.6% higher response rate.

This could be because personalized subjects tend to be longer.

Either way, you have no reason to skimp on personalization because you are scared of a character limit.

Be clear

In a case study by Marketing Sherpa, clear email subject lines outperformed “creative” subject lines by 617% in click-throughs to the link inside the email.

Subject lines that clearly communicated the topic/benefit crushed the ones that tried to express the same more creatively.

Get straight to the subject.

Moving on to the third step.

Step #3: Give context as to why you’re emailing them and what you need from them

The third step is to give context as to why you’re emailing them and what you need from them.

In doing so, there’s an additional move that we suggest you should take.

Segment your prospects based on the following two categories:

  1. Those who opened your first email
  2. Those who didn’t open your first email

This sort of categorization will help you give relevant context and be more clear about why you’re emailing them.

Why?

When you know that someone did open your email you can then go on giving them some additional information on the reason why you’re reaching out to them.

In cases where they haven’t opened it, you should include all the same elements as in the original email.

To put it another way, the chances are very high that your prospects simply didn’t open or read the first email you sent.

You want to include all the necessary information the prospect needs.

In terms of giving context in relation to why you’re emailing them, you should remember to be as clear as possible.

Whether your follow up has to do with a/b testing, your prospects’ pain points, content promotion, email marketing, or it’s simply a sales email, you should give context to the reason why you’re emailing.

This’ll make it more likely that your follow up will get a response.

Below is step #4.

Step #4: Answer the “what’s in it for me?” question

Another step is to answer the “what’s in it for me?” question.

People are self-centered most of the time — especially when dealing with strangers.

And a person you haven’t even met face to face, who has sent you an electronic mail out of the blue is about as strange as you can get.

So filter a person uses when reading and considering emails is simple.

“What’s in it for me?” Is the question you silently ask yourself when you scan subject lines in your inbox.

You don’t want to go out of your way to getting sold to or to work for free for (help) some stranger out.

And this is the same for busy, successful bloggers.

Noah Kagan is the founder of Sumo.com and AppSumo.

He also happens to be Facebook employee #30, and a successful blogger and podcaster.

Needless to say, he deals with lots of emails looking for favors.

Whether they want a feature on his blog/podcast or just some free advice.

Being a busy CEO, he’s always thinking, “What’s in it for me?” when dealing with cold outreach.

And the emails that get through communicate it clearly in the subject, and opening lines.

He shared a cold email that successfully got a response on his blog, and analyzed why it worked on him.

He even used it to develop a quick & easy framework for cold emails.

The first three steps of Noah Kagan’s framework for cold email outreach all deal with satisfying the “What’s In It For Me?” mindset most people use when interacting with their inbox:

  • Flattery

Do you compliment them or stroke their ego a bit?

  • Benefit

How will this benefit them (not just you)? Do you spell it out and is it a real benefit?

  • Credibility

How can YOU be the person the other person would enjoy meeting?

Author’s Note: These are principles most sales professionals and sales teams are using as well, both in their email communications and in phone calls with prospects. You can use them to your follow-up emails as well, as long as they sound natural.

Flattery makes them understand that while they might be a stranger to you, you are not a stranger to them.

The benefit is simply “what’s in it for them.”

Are you offering them a free premium trial of your software? Did you feature them already on your company blog in a roundup of designers?

With most bloggers, the goal isn’t a face-to-face meeting, but you still need to convince them that your product/service/company is worth getting to know better for someone in their position.

Since this is a follow-up email you are writing, eliminate all the fluff, and make sure you really get this point across in as few words as possible.

You don’t need to send a full A4 page to add context and show value.

Instead, focus on hitting all the marks with a short paragraph, and maybe some P.S.es. If there is more than one possible benefit, you can try highlighting a separate benefit/or build some credibility.

For high-value targets, you can even add value before you follow up, to pretty much guarantee a response.

  • Point out a recent specific blog post where they feature your competitors and show some credibility for your product and why they should care/feature you.

Have a look at the follow up email example below:

RE: Subject

Just reaching out again because I noticed you featured services A, B, and C in a [RECENT POST], but not our service. Any specific reason why?

I would be more than happy to set you up with a premium account for free so you can try it out.

P.S. We’re actually NR. 2 in [X Category] with [G2 Crowd], ranked above service B and C. 

  • For industry experts you admire, you can feature them/their work first, and follow up later.

RE: Subject

Just thought I’d let you know we featured you as one of our top 15 [INDUSTRY] blogs. Everyone at the office loves your work :)

[DESIGN PIECE] even inspired us to create a template in [THAT STYLE] last month!

P.S. If you’re interested in that free upgrade I mentioned, let me know. 

Let’s see what another step of a successful follow up email is.

Step #5: Add a strong call-to-action (CTA)

Another step is to send a follow up email with a strong call to action (CTA).

When you are following up on a cold email, you might find yourself in a slightly difficult situation.

The prospect doesn’t know you personally, and you can’t refer to previous interactions, like a meeting, to open the email.

The chances are great that they didn’t even open your first email, so make sure you give them a reason to read and respond right in the opening.

Avoid vague statements like: “I really love your blog and think you would love our product.”

Especially if they were included in the first email.

Instead, create a completely personalized and unique opener to the follow-up mail that clearly tells them what you want and why they should care.

Here’s some interesting CTAs that make it very easy for the recipient to respond:

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Image Source: Klenty

These make you want to press the reply button immediately, right?

To put it another way, a strong CTA will help you be more straightforward about what you want, thus making it more likely the prospect will open your email and get back to you.

There are plenty of CTAs that you could consider using; ones with a calendar link can also be successful.

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Image Source: Klenty

This is how a CTA with a calendar link in an outreach email could look like:

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In a few words, CTAs are great because they make it clear and easier for the recipient to take the next steps – because the steps are highlighted.

Additionally, using a CTA means that you do the job for your prospects.

You’re being clear and specifically asking what you want them to do, without making them lose time trying to find what it is that you might want.

That’s going to be much appreciated.

Moving on to the last step.

Step #6: Automate your follow up email sequence

The last step in the process of writing a follow up email is to automate your follow up email sequence.

Companies tend to put a large amount of time into writing and sending follow up emails.

If you’re worried about running an overwhelming outreach campaign, you could consider using automated outreach tools.

They take most of the repeatable tasks out of the picture.

This allows you to run outreach campaigns at scale, without having to hire additional staff.

To put it another way, automating your follow up email sequence will save your valuable time and money.

You still send personalized emails to each prospect, but the follow-up messages you create in advance get sent with exact intervals automatically if you don’t receive a reply.

Respona adds a little extra convenience with our tools that help you find emails straight from blog posts, and our AI assistant that helps you reference relevant points from each blog post.

Here’s a video that explains how that works:

Six Follow Up Email Templates to Help You Get Responses

Given that we’re in the business of cold outreach, specializing in blogger and journalist outreach for content marketing and link building purposes, we have developed a set of six targeted follow up email templates.

The first template is the “link building” one.

Let’s say that you’ve sent out a link to a product, service, or piece of content that you wish to promote and you got no response.

Here’s how your follow up email subject line might look:

RE: Your (general topic) resources post

Hi {first_name},

Hope all is well with you! Just a quick follow up on my previous email.

I was wondering whether you’d be interested in including [Your Post/Company/Product] in your {url_title} post: {url}

We’d be more than happy to share your updated post on our social!

Looking forward to hearing back!

[Your name]

A personalized headline, and the mail itself, includes the same basic content as in the original email.

No prospect who read the first email will be confused about why you’re sending the email, and that’s exactly what you want.

We’ve thrown in a general benefit as well, but this can be changed and optimized based on your product/website/campaign.

Relevant Resource: What are Inbound Links and How to Build Them? Guide for 2020

Template #2: The “content promotion” one

The second template is the “content promotion” one.

You’ve recently published a content piece on your blog and you want to boost its performance by promoting it to people you know will be interested in reading it.

If you emailed them once but got no reply, you could write a follow up with the following subject line.

RE: Suggestion for your (topic) post

Hello {first_name},

I know you receive a ton of emails every day, so thought I should send you a quick follow-up for my email below in case it got overlooked.

I was wondering whether you’d be interested in referencing our article [hyperlink to your post] in your [topic] post?

We’ve also compiled a list of [topics] that we think would be a perfect fit for some of your posts. 

Especially [hyperlink to your post], we think it would go great in [prospects’ blog post]. 

Don’t you think?

Looking forward to hearing back!

[Your name]

P.S. We’d be more than happy to share your updated post with our [# of social followers] social followers.

See the personalized email subject line focusing on them?

We practice what we preach.

However, this is just a basic template.

For optimal results, we 100% recommend that you personalize your follow up emails.

Relevant Resource: Content Promotion: The What, Why & How Behind It (2020)

Template #3: The “brand pitch” one

Another follow up email template which I think you’ll find useful is the “brand pitch” template.

For the sake of example, let’s say you’re an influencer who’s reached out to brands but hasn’t heard back.

What should you do?

You should definitely follow up.

RE: (Your name/Brand name) x (Prospect’s company name)

Hi {first_name},

Hope all is well!

Although I haven’t heard from you, I’m convinced that great results could come out of a potential collaboration between us. 

I’ve checked your [product/service] on [Google, social media, website] and I’m confident I could help you with [what you offer].

Let me know if you would be interested in discussing a collaboration between me and your company. 

[Your name]

By linking your name with your prospect’s company name you make it more possible that they will open your email thus having more chance of hearing back from them.

No one can resist opening an email that has their company name in the subject line.

Relevant Resource: 7 Things to Add in Your Brand Pitch Email Template (2020)

Template #4: The “guest blogging” one

Template #4 is a follow up email to do with guest blogging.

RE: {Your Name} can help you write topics that are missing from {Company Name} blog

Hi {first_name},

Hope this finds you well!

Just a quick follow up on the email I sent last week.

We’ve put together a list of topics that are missing from your [Company Name] blog. 

[link to sample list]

My team and I are convinced that covering these topics will help you expand your target audience.

To cut a long story short, because we totally understand how busy you are, we’d love to guest post for you and be your writers for a day (or more!). 

Can’t wait to hear back from you!

[Your name]

For successful guest blogging follow up emails, it’s essential that you do some research and propose topics that are indeed relevant to what your prospect does.

Relevant Resource: Guest Blogging: A (Complete) Step-by-Step Guide for 2020 

Template #5: The “PR outreach” one

The “PR outreach” template will help you to write a follow up email that gets replies and allows you to connect with people.

RE: (Exclusive News )

Hello {first_name},

I understand that you’re probably very busy at the moment, but thought that you wouldn’t like missing [reason for reaching out]. 

We’re not planning on reaching out to [Prospect’s competitors – other blogs or media publications] until [date and time]. 

Let me know what you think and I’ll share our [landing pages or other assets] before they go live.

Looking forward to speaking with you soon!

[Your name]

Relevant Resources:

Template #6: The “press release distribution” one

The last template I have for you is one you’ll need to follow up on a press release distribution email.

RE: Let’s make it official - (Press Release Title)

Hi {first_name},

I thought it was worth following up on my previous email since your work shows that our [reason for reaching out] is definitely in your niche. 

We can provide you with all the details and information you may need in relation to [launch/news].

In fact, we’ve prepared a nice, detailed file that includes all that you may need. 

You can find the file by following the link below:

[file link]

Please note that the file will be available until [date and time].

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

[Your name]

Relevant Resources:

Keep in mind that these are meant to be skeletons for you to fill in with real benefits and meaningful personal content.

Let’s wrap this up with some closing thoughts.

Wrapping Up

There you have it.

You now have the foundations to write a great follow up email.

Keep in mind that cold emailing is all about experimenting and iterating based on results.

What does that mean?

Don’t expect to start improving your response rates without testing different elements such as email subject lines and constantly trying to understand what makes some people open and reply to your email.

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What have you tried so far when it comes to following up to an email after getting no response? What has worked and what hasn’t worked?

Let us know by leaving a brief comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Have a look at the follow up email FAQs below.

Q1. What does it mean to follow up an email?

To follow up an email means to send an email or a sequence of emails – usually a few days after having sent the original email.  

Q2. How do you send a follow up email politely?

A nice follow up email needs to be relevant and add value to what your prospect does or is interested in.

To make sure you follow up an email politely you should try to not be spammy and bombard your prospects’ inbox with tons of follow up emails.

Also, it is recommended that you introduce yourself in a professional manner, including information such as your job title, phone number and email address so that people know they’re having a conversation with an actual human being.

Q3. When should you follow up on an email?

As a general rule, you shouldn’t follow up too quickly.

Waiting between three and five days before you send out your first follow up email is usually a nice and polite approach.

For subsequent emails, you should also wait for at least five working days.

Q4. How do you follow up without being annoying?

To follow up on an email without being annoying means that you always try to add value for your prospects in your email.

Also, you should avoid following up an email on consecutive days because this’ll put you straight on the spam list.

Q5. Should you send a follow up email?

People receive tons of emails on a daily basis which leads to many emails getting overlooked.

If you haven’t heard back from a prospect, you should definitely follow up – especially if you feel confident that a successful collaboration could  potentially come out of this sort of communication.

Q6. How do you politely ask for a status update?

Asking for a status update in a polite way means that you are giving the recipient of your email a bit of context on why you’re asking for an update as well as about your initial query.

Avoid being too short or too long when asking for a status update.

Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi
Farzad Rashidi is the co-founder of Respona, the all-in-one PR and link building tool that combines personalization with productivity.He runs the marketing efforts at Visme, where he helped the company gain over 5 million users and pass 1.5M monthly organic traffic. Since then, he’s been helping other companies achieve the same success via Respona.

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