Saleshandy Cold Email Masterclass


Follow-Up Emails: The Ultimate Game Changers

Generating leads for your sales pipeline through cold emailing is a meticulous and skilled process. We put in the hard work to craft a high-converting campaign, and ensure our deliverability is good, but……our prospects are not responding!

Around 92% of salespeople give up after they have been turned away four times. But 80% of prospects say “no” four times before they even consider your product as a viable choice. It should also be noted only 2% of sales happen within the initial point of contact.

This highlights the need for follow-up emails. Prospects need to be wooed into buying your offerings. A study conducted by Iko System revealed the effectiveness of a follow-up cycle.

The study found that they receive an average response rate of 18% for their first email and 13% for the fourth one. Much to their surprise, the sixth email in the cycle saw a response rate of a whopping 27%! The graph below illustrates their findings:

Follow-ups are where the real winning happens!🏆 Because everyone else has stopped running, and you are the only person on the running track! Your pace, your speed, doesn’t matter! You are going to win regardless because no one else is running with you!

How do you plan a successful follow-up cycle though? How many emails should be included? What sort of content should be written? When should you stop following? There is a myriad of questions that come to mind! This lesson delves into everything you need to do to create a successful follow-up cycle.

Before that, let us understand what a follow-up email is and why they are so effective:

A follow-up email is a sequence of emails that are gradually sent out after significant points in the sales funnel with the intention of converting a prospect to a paying customer.

Follow-up emails are effective and yield results because🚀

  • They help in building gradual trust among prospects
  • They are known to increase conversion rates (refer to the statistics above) 
  • They help you filter your prospects and narrow down on qualified leads 
  • They act as a source of future referrals 
  • They add value for the prospect with each interaction 
  • They build your organization’s credibility 
  • They set you apart from your competitors

Why Send Follow-Up Emails?

The average professional receives approximately 121 emails per day, making your cold emails more susceptible to getting lost in a sea of emails.

The majority of your prospects will prioritize emails from business partners, clients, and co-workers. Opening and responding to cold emails would be a second priority to them. This is why it is essential to use follow-up emails since they serve as ‘gentle reminders’.

In case prospects miss or forgot about your email, a follow-up will act as a reminder or a prompt for a previous email you sent.

Your goal here isn’t to initiate a conversation, but rather to light the spark again and generate a response.

However, every follow-up email sent should aim to provide value. Your aim should not be to just gain a reply, it should be to provide value, always.

Below is an example of a follow-up email that provided extra value to the prospect, while also reminding them of the initial email: 

By this point, you get it, follow-up emails are an important part of cold emailing as a whole. But why don’t prospects reply in the first place?

Before we get into the effective strategies to write a follow-up email —let us take a brief look at why prospects are not responding.

Why are prospects not responding?

Well, according to research, we don’t respond to emails because we receive too many of them and end up “triaging” them. Triaging means assigning levels of priority.

Research has also revealed that users are more likely to defer emails that require replying, reading carefully, and clicking on links or attachments.

There are mainly five core reasons why emails get ignored: 

  1. The identity of the sender appears sketchy
  2. The time and effort needed in handling the email 
  3. The prospect’s workload and context
  4. The urgency of the message
  5. The number of recipients in the thread 

It is important to keep these points in mind so that when you are crafting a follow-up email you understand the pressures facing the recipient. It will also help you craft better content.

6 Steps To Writing The Perfect Follow-up Email

When it comes to follow-up email sequences there are two strategies you can adopt. The first one is a time-based sequence and the other one is an intent-based sequence.

A time-based sequence involves emailing prospects persistently with 7 to 8 touchpoints with timely intervals in between. This strategy gives each prospect on your list equal attention, regardless of what stage they are at in their buyer’s journey.

An intent-based sequence is more focused on the interest levels of the prospects. Only prospects that are in the solution-searching stage of their buyer’s journey are targeted. These prospects are identified through ‘intent signals’ such as reply rates, link clicks, open rates or downloads.

Intent-based sequences are more valuable since they help you target the right prospects. They are more personalized as well which will help you increase your conversion rate. Whichever strategy you choose, your follow-up emails should follow one universal format to prompt replies:

  1. Catchy subject line 
  2. Greeting/opening line 
  3. Body 
  4. Call-to-action 
  5. Closing 
  6. Sign off/signature

Now let’s find out the step-by-step process of writing the perfect follow-up email that will elicit a favorable response

Step 1: Determine Your Objective And Communicate It To Your Prospect

Much like any project we undertake, having clear goals and intent is of the utmost importance. Before you start creating your follow-up sequence, decide beforehand what each and every specific follow-up email aims to accomplish.

Your ultimate main goal will of course be to convert prospects into paying customers. However, there is a very real possibility that might not happen with the first follow-up you send out.

Some common organizational goals include but are not limited to, getting a demo booked, having a prospect sign up for a free trial, scheduling a meeting, closing a sale, etc.

Your goal should be clearly communicated to the prospect in the copy of the email. The more specific you are the better, it shows prospects you are here to waste their time.

They will also understand why you want their attention, making it more likely for you to elicit a response. The best way to do this is by keeping your emails actionable towards the goal and short.

A few examples of how you can do this:

For example,

  • {{First Name}}, if you are interested in my proposal I would love to demonstrate how you can use our product to your advantage. Schedule a free demo here: {{add link}}.
  • {{Your organization’s name}} just launched {{product name}} and it could make a huge difference in the way you {{how it will impact them}}.
  • {{product name}} could really help you [increase your sales by 10% this quarter]! I was wondering if you would be interested in trying it out for free.

Step 2: Ensure Your Initial Emails’ Subject Line is Attention-Grabbing

Subject lines should be given equal importance as the content of your email. A study by Harvard Business Review found that around 47% of emails end up getting discarded by users because of subject lines! You cannot become a part of this percentage.

It is a good practice to have all your follow-ups in the same thread to avoid deliverability issues. So what really matters is the subject line of the initial email.

Your subject line can contribute to the success or failure of cold email campaigns.

By the way, we mentioned in Lesson 3, how you should avoid ‘spam triggering’ words (because it will set off the spam filter), so don’t forget about that!

You don’t want your emails to land in the spam or junk folder, because if even ONE email lands up there, all of your future emails will land up there too.

(Conduct a Google search on the list of spam-triggering words to get a full list. One or two spam-triggering words will not set off the spam filter, ESPs consider the context.)

So be careful when writing your subject line! Especially since the same subject line will appear throughout your follow-up cycle.

Key rules to remember when writing a cold email subject line:

  1. Personalize as much as possible
  2. Keep it short and to the point (ideally 5 words and 60 characters)
  3. Include intriguing questions 
  4. Optimize the length of your subject line for mobile users
  5. A/B test subject lines to figure out which one is yielding a higher open rate

So be careful when writing your subject line! Especially since the same subject line will appear throughout your follow-up cycle.

Key rules to remember when writing a cold email subject line:

  1. Personalize as much as possible
  2. Keep it short and to the point (ideally 5 words and 60 characters)
  3. Include intriguing questions 
  4. Optimize the length of your subject line for mobile users
  5. A/B test subject lines to figure out which one is yielding a higher open rate

(And yes, you can experiment with emojis, if need be)

Step 3: Provide Context

When it comes to follow-up emails, CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING! We mentioned before that an average business professional receives around 121 emails per day—because of this most recipients will not remember who you are when you follow up.

For the same reason, it is recommended to include a unique identifier, personal connection, or common interest that will provide them with some form of context to help them remember you.

Even if they did not open your email, you still need to provide context. Especially since the first follow-up email typically tries to bring attention back to the initial email. Also, it is well known that we are more likely to respond to someone that has contacted us before.

It is also helpful if you segment your prospect list based on those that opened your first email and those who didn’t. It will help you provide better context and create better content accordingly.

Your opening line can provide a clear context as to why you are following up again, don’t try to confuse them. Every follow-up in your sequence should have context.

Here are a few examples of content providing context:

  • Hey {{First Name}}, I saw that you read my previous email. I was just wondering……
  • I am reaching out to you in regard to the email I sent a few days ago.
  • {{First Name}}, I just wanted to do a quick follow-up to see your thoughts about {{topic of email}}
  • Were you able to review my previous email?
  • I know you are probably busy at the moment, but I thought this might be beneficial for you.
  • {{First Name}}, I haven’t heard back from you, but I am convinced {{topic of email}} will generate the results you are looking for.

Here are a few examples of content providing context:

  • Hey {{First Name}}, I saw that you read my previous email. I was just wondering….
  • I am reaching out to you in regard to the email I sent a few days ago.
  • {{First Name}}, I just wanted to do a quick follow-up to see your thoughts about {{topic of email}}
  • Were you able to review my previous email?
  • I know you are probably busy at the moment, but I thought this might be beneficial for you. 
  • {{First Name}}, I haven’t heard back from you, but I am convinced {{topic of email}} will generate the results you are looking for.

To further elicit a response, ask the prospect if they are facing any obstacles that you could help with (obstacles that could be hindering them from moving forward).

It is also a good practice to reply as quickly as possible so you can speed up the process of conversion. In case, you are able to sense obvious clarifications that need clearing up, pre-empt those in your content.

Step 4: Strengthen Your Value

One of the leading causes of emails not eliciting a response is that they lack value. If you keep sending emails to prospects that have practically no value for them, they will ignore them.

Bear in mind that there is a very fine line (nearly invisible) between adding value and blatantly annoying the prospect.

Do not keep sending follow-up emails without adding more value than the previous one. Unfortunately, the whole generic follow-up email content will not work in your favor either.

‘Touching base’ or ‘catching up’ is a common strategy deployed—but sorry to break it to you, this strategy is antiquated and outdated. Prospects require so much more than that! Every interaction should aim to provide value and make it worth their time.

Here’s how you can provide value: 

  • Share customer testimonials/reviews (preferably from someone in the same industry/business as them) 
  • Solutions for specific pain points 
  • Blog posts 
  • Social proof
  • E-books
  • How-to guides/videos 
  • Case studies 
  • Webinar 
  • Attractive offers/discounts
  • Extended free trial

Whichever way you choose to add value, ensure it is relevant to your prospects. The value provided should be viewed as an asset for them. Remember this, to open the lines of communication sometimes prospects require incentivization —a push to respond and engage.

Additionally, you can also ask prospects certain questions like “Does our current pricing not work for you?” “Does our product lack a feature you require?”. This will create a positive business relationship whilst simultaneously giving you an insight into the minds of your prospects to better suit their needs.

Step 5: Add a CTA

If your email doesn’t have a strong and compelling CTA, you won’t get the results you desire. Your emails should be easy to respond to and also be actionable at the same time.

Too many cold emailers focus on their subject line and content, but their CTA is often weak and does not prompt users to take the desired action.

Tips on how you can formulate a strong and actionable CTA:

  • If you are just starting out your follow-up cycle, avoid asking for a ‘big ask’. Your focus should be on establishing trust first. Give prospects a chance to know your organization before you ask them to commit to a deal. You may start with smaller requests such as sharing resources, requesting a short meeting, inviting them to a webinar, scheduling a demo, etc. 
  • Make it a habit of being as clear as possible in your CTAs, and don’t leave any room for ambiguity. Avoid the vague tone that too many sales folks use. Be clear on the next steps you want them take.
  • Lastly, don’t over it by asking for too much! Don’t unnecessarily burden your prospects. Instead, your CTA should be easy and simple to review and respond to quickly. For example, If you are interested in learning more about this, reply by saying ‘yes’.

Step 6: Automate Your Sequence

If you are opting to send out follow-up emails manually then prepare to spend a lot of extra time and resources. It is tough! Especially if you are unable to track prospects who have actually opened your follow-up email and are worth focusing on in the first place. This is why it is recommended to use cold emailing automation tools to automate your sequence.

Saleshandy offers all the important features you require for a successful follow-up cycle:

1. Automated Follow-up Cycles

On the Saleshandy app, follow-up cycles are referred to as ‘Email Sequences’’. You can create email sequences with various steps, the time gap between each step (email), and also with different A and B variants if needed. Ensure to leave the subject line of the subsequent steps to keep the follow-up email in the same thread(refer to the image below).

2. Merge Tags

Remember the importance of personalization in cold emails? Well, with so many follow-up emails to send it’s nearly impossible to personalize every single one of them.

Luckily, merge tags exist. With merge tags, you can personalize email content and subject lines by simply inserting them in the compose window. To use merge tags, you need to import your CSV file with the custom data fields (up to 30 supported in Saleshandy)

3. Timezones

Your prospects are probably scattered all over the world! Or reside in various different time zones. Sending cold emails at the right time is pivotal to the success of your campaign. With the timezone feature, follow-ups can be scheduled as per the time zone of your prospect to drive open and response rates.

4. Advanced Email Analytics

You can track each step of your follow-up cycle with detailed analytics. By gauging your prospect’s level of interest, you can optimize your sequence and make data-driven decisions accordingly.

5. Bounce Guard

Saleshandy’s algorithm detects the likelihood of an email bouncing, it automatically pauses the email sequence to save your domain from having compromised deliverability. With this feature, you can manually check what the issue is, resolve it, and then resume your sequence.

Other features to explore:

  • Custom domain tracking 
  • A/B testing
  • Spintax
  • Preheader text
  • AI-powered email assistant 
  • Email health score 
  • Email age 

When Should You Send A Follow-Up Email?

The majority of experts advise delaying your first follow-up email for two to three days. Depending on how many follow-up emails you intend to send, you can gradually lengthen the time between each email.

The best follow-up sequence and time gap for 7 follow-up emails are shown in the chart below (ideally 7 touchpoints, including the first one are a good number to follow). In fact, marketing guru Dr. Jeffery Lant advises that in order to successfully break into a market, a prospect must be continuously reached at least seven times.

Pro Tips

1.Keep your follow-up emails in the same email thread as if you start a fresh thread each time it can impact your deliverability. Additionally, having a thread allows recipients to have proper context from your previous emails and also makes it appear like a human is following up. 

If you start a new thread every time you send an email, there is a chance your follow-ups could land in the spam folder despite the initial email being sent to the primary inbox. ESPs monitor the behavior of recipients when interacting with emails, and if a recipient has not opened your previous emails, then the follow-ups will land in spam.

2. We are all aware that when it comes to cold emailing, PERSONALIZATION is the thread that pulls everything together. Incorporate as much personalization as you can. Depending on the prospect, there are several levels of personalization; choose wisely.

You can discuss pain points, current events in the industry, interests, competitors, etc. Including incentives and discounts just for your prospects is another method to add some customization. For example, “We are offering you an exclusive 10% sign-up discount.

3. Your email’s content should be short and to the point; aim for 150 words or less.

4. Persistence is necessary to get results from your follow-up cycle, but moderation is key. Don’t spam prospects with emails! Make a follow-up cycle and give enough time in between emails to avoid coming across as aggressive.

5. Adjust your campaign to the prospect’s timezone for the best results. In order to approach them at the right time, analyze when they are the most active.

6. Lastly, if all your efforts are still not eliciting a response, then try to find somebody else in the organization to reach out to; chances are, they could be far more receptive to your offerings.


  • How many follow-up emails should I send?

You should send a maximum of 7 follow-up emails (including the initial email). According to marketing pros, one should reach out to their prospects at least 7 times. Ensure you have adequate time gaps before sending the next email. 

  • How often should you send follow-up emails?

It’s a good idea to hold off sending your initial email for two or three days. Your prospects can grow tired of receiving follow-up emails if you send them frequently. As you progress further into your follow-up cycle, the time gap between the emails sent should increase. 

  • How do I automate a follow-up email in Gmail/Outlook?

To automate your follow-up emails you will require software like Saleshandy.

  • What should I include in a follow-up email?

When writing an email follow-up, it is important to include a reference to the initial email and a summary of the information or request. This will help the recipient to quickly understand the purpose of the follow-up and provide context for the conversation.

It is also important to include any additional information or clarifications that were requested in the initial email exchange. In addition, it is helpful to include a call-to-action or next steps to encourage the recipient to take action or respond to the email.

  • What should I do if I still don’t get a response after multiple follow-up emails?

If you still don’t get a response after multiple follow-up emails, it may be best to move on and reassess your approach (offer, targeting, context, etc.)

  • How can I make my email follow-up more effective?

There are several strategies that can be used to make email follow-ups more effective. First, it is important to personalize the message and address the recipient by name.

This will help to make the follow-up feel more personal and engaging. Second, it is helpful to use a clear and concise subject line in the first email itself that accurately describes the purpose of the email. This will help to ensure that the recipient opens and reads the email. Third, it is important to keep the email brief and to the point, as long emails can be overwhelming and difficult to read. Finally, it is helpful to use a friendly and professional tone to maintain a positive relationship with the recipient.

  • Can I use a different subject line for my follow-up email?

Yes, you may use a different subject line for your follow-up email. However, this is not the best practice for cold emailing as it can confuse the recipient. Consider using the same subject line so that your emails go in a thread and clearly indicate that this is a follow-up email and provide any relevant information or updates. This will make it easier for the recipient to understand the purpose of your email and respond accordingly.

Let’s apply the best practices with Saleshandy and compare the results