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Psychological Tips for Writing Cold Email Follow-Ups in 2024

16 min read
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Do you know that 80% of sales require sending five follow-up emails after the first contact? However, 20% of salespeople can easily close deals with just 1-2 follow-ups! 

This difference often boils down to understanding how people react to cold follow-ups and what appeals to them.

Understanding what goes on in your prospects’ mind is important if you want to turn strangers into actual customers. 

In this blog post, we’ll understand the basic principles of human psychology that influence how people react to cold emails.  

We’ll also discuss how you can use these principles to grab their attention, build relationships, and prompt people to take the actions that you want.

Psychology Behind Cold Email Follow-Ups : Table of Contents

What Psychological Factors Make Cold Email Follow-ups Successful?

When it comes to cold email follow-ups, understanding the psychology behind it is like having a secret weapon.

It’s the key to crafting follow-up emails that really hit home. You see, people don’t just respond to any old follow-up; they respond when something in that email triggers a response in their brain. 

As it’s all about emotions, personal connections, and tapping into the way people think. 

So, if you want your follow-up emails to work wonders for networking, sales, or any other goal, you’ve got to know how to make that psychological connection. 

This isn’t just about sending follow-ups; it’s about building relationships. 

Let’s understand some psychological factors that can help you write follow-ups for higher conversions:

1. Reciprocity

When you provide something valuable in your initial email, it sets the stage for a positive connection with your prospect. This connection makes them more likely to respond to your follow-ups, as they appreciate the value you’ve shared. 

It’s not a one-and-done strategy; it’s an ongoing process. 

After an initial positive response, follow-ups become essential for nurturing these prospects. 

You can express gratitude for their interest and emphasize how your continued interaction benefits both parties

This principle especially applies to cold email follow-ups, as it helps maintain engagement and fosters positive relationships.

For example, you can express your gratitude for their interest. You can say something like:


2. Curiosity

Curiosity is a powerful tool in email communication. Our brains love seeking new information and filling gaps in what we already know. 

That’s where the “Curiosity Gap” comes in. 

Imagine you’re telling a story, but you don’t spill all the details right away. Instead, you share a hint or a question that makes people curious.

They want to know more, so they click to find out or reply to your email.

When you use the curiosity gap in your follow-up emails, you’re not merely sending a message; you’re extending an invitation to an irresistibly intriguing conversation.

People want to know more, so they click to discover or reply to your follow-up email, drawn by the curiosity you’ve piqued. 

It’s a powerful way to encourage your recipients to act.

One way to utilize it in your cold emails is by not disclosing everything in one email, especially the initial email. 

Create multiple follow-ups and offer something unique in each one of them.

Additionally, offer them something valuable in each follow-up email but don’t directly ask them to buy something.


When sending cold email follow-ups, think of it like telling a captivating story in installments:

  • Start Intriguingly: Begin with a teaser about your product or service’s success, leaving some details undisclosed.

    For example, “Our solution doubled website traffic for a similar company. Want to know how?”
  • Gradual Unveiling: In subsequent emails, share more success stories and testimonials, still keeping some information hidden. Make them curious about the full story.

    “Our method led to a 200% increase in conversion rates for a client. Intrigued?”
  • Final Reveal: In the last email, present the complete picture and offer to discuss how your solution can benefit their business.

    “The wait is over! Let’s dive into the full blueprint of how our solution can transform your business. When can we schedule a call to explore your company’s exciting journey ahead?”

This gradual approach taps into curiosity, making recipients more likely to engage and learn more about your offering.

3. Social Proof

Incorporating social proof into your cold email follow-ups can be a game-changer.

It’s like having a trusted friend vouch for you, making your message more convincing and relatable.


Let’s break down how you can use social proof in your follow-up emails:

  • Customer Success Stories: Continue to feature genuine testimonials from satisfied customers or clients in your follow-up emails.

    Hearing about others’ positive experiences with your product or service reinforces its value.

    For example: 

    Hey there! Just wanted to share some love from our happy customers. Check out what they’re saying about how our product/service made their lives easier:

    “I couldn’t believe the results I got with [Your Product/Service]! It’s been a game-changer for my business.” – [Customer Name]
  • User Reviews: Mention any new positive reviews or ratings your product or service has received since your last email.

    Updated feedback continues to establish trust and can influence the decision-making process.

    For example:

    People trust the crowd. Our latest reviews speak volumes:

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Absolutely love it! It’s a must-have tool for [Specific Use Case].” – [User Name]
  • Updated Statistics: Provide updated statistics and numbers, such as an increase in satisfied customers or successful projects, to emphasize the growing popularity and reliability of your offering.

    Example: Join the growing community of satisfied customers! Over [Number] businesses have already chosen us. You could be next!
  • Consistent Recognition: Mention any additional industry awards or recognition your product or service has received in subsequent follow-ups, reaffirming your credibility and expertise.

    Example: We’re proud to be recognized by [Industry Award].
  • Updated Comparisons and Benchmarks: Provide fresh data that reinforces how your offering outperforms competitors or industry standards.

    Showcasing consistent progress in follow-ups can encourage recipients to take action.

    Example: Wondering how we stack up against the competition? Here’s a quick comparison:

    [Insert Relevant Data/Statistics]

4. Scarcity

Ever heard of the saying, “You snooze, you lose”? 

Well, that’s the essence of scarcity, and it can be your secret weapon in cold email follow-ups.

Scarcity is a psychological principle that plays on people’s FOMO (fear of missing out) on valuable opportunities or resources that are limited in availability. 

In the context of cold email follow-ups, you can use scarcity to create a sense of urgency and motivate recipients to take action promptly.

Here’s how you can use it to your advantage:

  • Act Fast or Miss Out: In your cold email follow-up, you want to get straight to the point as the main message is already conveyed.

    Remind the recipient that the opportunity you’re offering is time-sensitive.

    For example, “Just a quick reminder that our special discount is only valid until [specific date]. Don’t miss out on this limited-time offer!”
  • Limited Spots Available: If your follow-up pertains to an event, webinar, or limited service availability, send successive follow-ups and communicate that spots are filling up quickly.

    Say something like, “Our webinar on [topic] is in high demand, and seats are getting snatched up. Reserve your spot before it’s too late!”
  • Exclusive Access: If you are already two or three follow-ups down the line and still haven’t received any response, then you need to change your approach.

    Highlight the recipient’s unique status or the personalized nature of your offer.

    For instance, “You’re among the select few we’ve chosen to extend this invitation to. Take advantage of this exclusive opportunity.”
  • Holiday Hype: If your follow-up aligns with a holiday promotion, remind the recipient of the holiday’s significance and the limited-time nature of your offer.

    Example:  “As [holiday] approaches, our special discount is running out of time. Grab the savings before the holiday season is over!”
  • Prove it with Numbers: Share social proof in your follow-up by mentioning the number of satisfied customers or clients.

    “Over [number] professionals have already benefited from our service. Join them in experiencing success.”
  • Countdown Timers: While not always possible in plain text emails, you can create a visual sense of urgency by referring to a countdown timer on your website or landing page.

    “Visit our website to see the ticking clock – the offer expires in [remaining time].”

How to Use Customer Psychology for Cold Email Follow-Up Success

There are certain touchpoints in cold emails where you can use psychology principles to trigger customers and push them to take the desired action:

1. Add Attention-Grabbing Subject Lines

People often underestimate the importance of cold email subject lines but they play their own role in getting higher open rates for cold email follow-ups. 

That’s why you need to invest some time in creating attention-grabbing subject lines. Here are some tips to create more effective subject lines for your follow-up emails:

  • Persistence: Subject lines in follow-up emails help you stay on your recipient’s radar and keep the conversation going.
  • Building Relationships: Effective follow-up subject lines can signal your continued interest in connecting or working with the recipient, fostering a sense of relationship-building.
  • Timing: Well-timed follow-up with apt subject lines can catch your recipient at the right moment, increasing the likelihood of them opening and engaging with your email.

Having realized the importance of effective subject lines in cold email follow-ups, here is how you can make them more impactful with the application of the psychological principle:

  • Ask Questions: You can use curiosity to make your subject lines more effective by posing a question.

    You can also hint at valuable information or use a teaser that makes the recipient want to know more.
  • Showcase Value: Incorporating relevant statistics or data in your subject lines and email content can lend credibility to your message and make it more compelling.
  • Create Scarcity/FOMO: Scarcity implies limited availability or a time-sensitive opportunity. It can create a sense of urgency and encourage recipients to take action.
  • Use Personalization: Personalized emails are more likely to grab the recipient’s attention.

    Mentioning the recipient’s name, referencing their company or industry, or addressing specific pain points they’ve previously shared can make your follow-up emails feel more tailored and relevant.
  • Provide Context: When sending follow-up emails, it’s helpful to reference your previous communication to provide context and continuity.

    You can briefly summarize what you discussed in the earlier email and build on it. This shows that you’re attentive and committed to the conversation.
examples of email subject lines

2. Create Persuasive Email Openings

Opening lines are the first thing that your prospects will see once they open your follow-up email.

Here are some ways you can make them more effective:

  • Maintaining Relationship Momentum: Opening lines help you pick up where you left off in your previous email, ensuring that the relationship doesn’t stall or lose its momentum.

    This continuity can be vital in the B2B  sales cycles.
  • Reinforcing Your Value Proposition: Follow-up opening lines can remind the recipient of the unique value and solutions you offer, reinforcing why they engaged with you in the first place.
  • Highlighting Progress or Updates: If there have been any noteworthy developments or updates since your last interaction, your opening line can quickly bring the recipient up to speed, showing that you’ve been proactive and attentive.
  • Addressing Any Concerns: If the prospect had concerns or objections in the previous email, your opening line can address these in a non-confrontational and solution-oriented way.

    This demonstrates your commitment to resolving issues.

Here are some unique psychological techniques you can implement in your cold email follow-up opening lines to make them more effective:

  • Use Storytelling: Begin your follow-up email with a captivating, concise story that relates to the prospect’s pain points or your previous interaction.

    This narrative should pique their interest and establish a connection right from the start.
  • Create a Thought-Provoking Teaser: Pose an intriguing question at the beginning of your follow-up email that makes the recipient pause and reflect.

    Make sure this question aligns with their challenges or goals to spark curiosity and prompt them to read on.
  • Add Impactful Data: Offer a sneak peek of a compelling statistic or data point right in the opening line of your follow-up email.

    This statistical tidbit should hint at the substantial benefits your product or service can provide, instantly grabbing their attention.
  • Use a Humorous Icebreaker: If it’s appropriate for your audience and industry, use a lighthearted and tasteful joke or witty comment to break the ice.

    This humorous touch can create a friendly and approachable tone in your opening line.
Opening lines in Cold emails

3. Add Effective CTAs

Call-to-Actions (CTAs) are crucial elements in cold email follow-ups, as they serve as the bridge between your email message and the desired action you want the recipient to take. 

An effective CTA can significantly improve your email campaign’s success rate. 

Here’s why CTAs are important and how to craft compelling ones:

Clear Next Steps: In a cold email follow-up, the recipient may have forgotten your initial contact or needs a reminder of the desired action. 

CTAs serve as clear, concise directives, guiding the recipient on the next steps they should take.

Re-Engagement: Cold email follow-ups are often sent to re-engage with recipients who might not have responded previously.

 An effective CTA can reignite their interest and encourage them to interact with your email.

Conversion Booster: Multiple Cold email follow-ups aim to convert leads into customers or push them further down the sales funnel. 

CTAs play a pivotal role by motivating the recipient to take the action you desire, ultimately leading to conversions.

Psychological approaches for CTAs that work to convert more:

  • Use Action-Packed Language: Utilize strong, action-oriented verbs that leave no room for ambiguity. Phrases like “reply now,” “click to learn more,” “secure your spot,” or “explore the offer” drive home the intended action.
  • Highlight Benefits of Action: Clearly communicate the benefits or value the recipient will gain by taking the suggested action.

    Highlight boost in metrics that they can get or other stats that they can improve and by what percentage.
  • Inject Urgency: In cold email follow-ups, urgency can be a powerful motivator. Employ phrases like “time-sensitive opportunity,” “limited availability,” or “exclusive offer for you” to create a sense of urgency.
example of cold email CTAs

4. Handle Objections and Rejections Effectively

Handling objections and rejections is a crucial skill when it comes to cold email follow-ups, especially in sales and business development. Here’s why it’s important and how to do it effectively:

Importance of Handling Objections in Cold Email Follow-ups:

Builds Trust: Addressing objections demonstrates that you’re attentive to your prospect’s concerns.

This can build trust by showing that you’re not just interested in making a sale but in finding the right solution for them.

Overcomes Skepticism: Cold email recipients often have reservations about engaging with unfamiliar contacts.

Handling objections provides an opportunity to alleviate their skepticism and create a more receptive environment.

Shows Persistence: Effective objection handling showcases your commitment and persistence.

It conveys that you’re willing to work through challenges to meet the prospect’s needs.

Increases Conversion Rates: By addressing objections effectively, you increase the chances of converting a lead into a customer.

Many prospects might be genuinely interested but need clarification or reassurance.

Here is how you can handle objections psychologically in your follow-up emails:

  • Providing Relevant Evidence or Testimonials: Offer specific data, case studies, or testimonials that support your claims. For instance, “Here are some results our clients have achieved with our product…”
  • Offering Alternatives: If the objection is related to a specific aspect of your offering, consider offering alternatives or customization options. This shows flexibility and a willingness to meet the prospect’s needs.
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage dialogue by asking open-ended questions related to their objection.

    This can help you better understand their concerns and tailor your responses accordingly.
  • Handle Objections Timely: Don’t make any delays in addressing objections. Promptly reply to objections in your follow-up emails to maintain the prospect’s interest.
  • Maintain a Positive Tone: Keep your tone positive and professional. Avoid getting defensive or confrontational, as this can escalate the situation.
objection handling

Ready to Create More Effective Cold Email Follow-Ups?

Now that you’ve gained insight into the psychology behind effective follow-up emails, it’s time to put these strategies into action.

By implementing these psychological principles, you can significantly increase your email open rates, responses, and ultimately, conversions. 

So, go ahead and apply these techniques to your follow-up emails, and watch your outreach efforts yield better results.

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