How To Send a Follow-Up Email After No Response

How To Send a Follow-Up Email After No Response

Sending follow-up emails after you don't get a response can improve the success rate of your cold email campaigns.

But to achieve the best results for your follow-up emails, you need to consider the following:

  • Why do you send a follow-up in the first place?
  • How many follow-up emails should you send?
  • How often should you send them?
  • How to write your follow-up message copy?

In this article, I'll help you answer all of these questions to help you create a more successful email sequence.

Why send follow-up emails

Considering that the average professional receives 126 emails per day, it's likely your first cold emails simply gets lost. And even if it doesn't, responding to cold emails is rarely the first priority for your prospect.

By following up in a timely manner, you push your message back to the top of the inbox and you encourage the prospect to reply.

Moreover, you get an additional opportunity to restate your value proposition and try reaching your prospect from a different angle.

As research conducted by Backlinko shows, you can boost your reply rates by 65.8% by sending a single follow-up. And according to Woodpecker, adding one follow-up message to your email sequence can boost your average reply rate by around 13%.

In short, follow-ups create a unique opportunity to catch prospects’ attention once again and provide them with more information about your offer – all of which will boost the success rate of your cold email campaigns.

How many follow-up emails to send

Before we dive deeper into the ideal number of emails, there is one simple rule you should know and follow every time you think about sending follow-ups:

Send follow-ups only if you have a reason.

You may ask, “What if my reason is that I didn’t get a reply?”

Well, it makes sense with your first follow-up to politely ask if your prospect had an opportunity to take a look at your offer or discuss it with colleagues. But in any case, I recommend you deliver additional value with each new message.

You can’t ask “Why am I still waiting for your response?” in each of your follow-ups.

Hence, when thinking of the number of follow-ups to send to your prospects, think of whether you have a reason for them.

Want to send three follow-ups but have a reason for one? Send one. It’s easy as that.

There are tons of studies on the ideal number of follow-ups for cold email campaigns. For example, Steli Efti sent 48 follow-ups until he got a meeting with an investor. At the same time, Joshua Hardwick recommends sending no more than one follow-up for link building so as not to annoy people and burn bridges.

At Hunter, our key rule is to focus on writing irresistible emails instead of adding too many follow-ups. So we recommend limiting your cold email campaigns to three follow-ups. If you are sending too many follow-ups to someone who’s never heard about you, you may annoy them and hurt your company brand.

If you still feel that three follow-ups isn't enough or that you can provide more value for your prospects—don’t hesitate to use other channels. Twitter or LinkedIn could easily help you deliver your message on a personal level.

Keep in mind that the number of follow-ups you should do can also depend on the type of outreach campaign and your target audience.

Define the number of follow-ups depending on the outreach campaign

For a link building campaign, from my experience, almost half of the links we get are coming from a single follow-up. Send more than one follow-up, and you annoy your prospects. Don’t send any, and you’ll miss half of the links.

For example, this single follow-up had the best results for link building: it’s short, straight to the point, and perfectly reminds prospects of your offer.

Link building follow-up

At the same time, if the primary goal of your outreach campaign is sales, you will probably need more than one email.

Depending on your goal, you can provide additional value with follow-ups, trying to identify prospects’ pain points or delivering additional information.

Define the number of follow-ups based on your target audience

If you send emails to a completely cold audience, you’ll need to send more follow-ups to warm them up. It also takes more time from their side to learn about your product or service before getting back to you.

However, if it’s an audience familiar with you (for example, they previously downloaded your lead magnet), fewer follow-ups could be needed.

Overall, my best advice is to build a system that works for you: try to find a balance between being too pushy and not proactive enough, test different lengths of follow-up sequences, and stick to the one that works best for you.

When to send a follow-up email

You don’t need to wait too long before sending a follow-up email.

Most emails are opened the same day they’re received, so if you haven’t received a reply to your initial email within a day, it’s safe to assume you won’t receive a reply at all.

With that said, the conventional advice is to wait two to three days before sending your first follow-up. You should give your prospect some time to respond at their own terms. Keep in mind that you should extend this wait time for every subsequent email you send in order to avoid annoying prospects.

Here’s a follow-up schedule you can use:

  • Day 1: Initial outreach email
  • Day 3: Follow-up email #1
  • Day 7: Follow-up email #2
  • Day 14: Follow-up email #3
  • Day 28: Follow-up email #4

After the fourth follow-up email, you can try following up once a month.

How to send follow-ups on autopilot

It can be hard to keep track of follow-ups if you're sending a lot of outreach emails.

Fortunately, tools like Hunter Campaigns can help you save time preparing and scheduling highly-personalized cold email follow-ups.

Once you find your prospects’ email addresses and upload them into Hunter Leads, you can start scheduling your first email and follow-ups.

With Campaigns, you can choose how many follow-ups you want to send, specify the time delays between each follow-up, personalize the subject line, and work on the email copy.

follow up after 5 days

Once you set this up, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to send a follow-up to your prospects. Your follow-ups will be sent automatically.

How to write follow-up email copy after no response

You probably receive emails like these yourself:

Bad follow-up email

… or this one:

Bad follow-up email 2

These follow-up emails do push the message to the top of the prospect's inbox, but they are more likely to annoy them than to make them react to your CTA. Just asking if the prospect had an opportunity to check out the previous email is not enough.

Do you have a product or service too complicated to describe? Send additional information in the next email, together with the benefits for your prospect.

Not sure if your offer was crystal clear? Show it from a different angle to spark some interest.

1. Add value with each follow-up

With each follow-up, you should provide additional value for the prospect.

Quite often, I receive follow-ups like this one:

Follow-up email with no value

Yes, I saw the first email, but the initial offer was unclear, and I didn’t know what Lauren wanted to achieve, so I decided not to get back to her.

If only she had provided more information with her follow-up, tried to collect more information about me (her prospect), and sparked interest with something relevant, I’d be happy to reply.

There are tons of opportunities to make follow-ups work by providing something of value.

For example, if you are a digital marketing agency, you can provide proof of how your current clients are growing using your services by sharing their success studies, results, or feedback.

Here is a great example of such an email (with a reply rate of 16%) that Donald Chan, founder of IMPACT, shared with us:

Agency follow-up email example

In this follow-up, Donald name-drops a company that he worked with in the past as a form of social proof. This company should be either familiar to the email recipient, whether that’s because they’re an industry peer, a competitor, or just a famous brand name.

And by offering to share how they achieved certain results for this company, they provide the email recipient with a compelling reason to respond to them.

Check out our directory of the best-performing cold email follow-up templates

2. Write a catchy opening line

If you start your cold follow-up with something dull and not personalized, the chances are that you’ll never get a response from your prospect.

I recommend polishing your opening line to make your prospects interested in learning more about what you have to offer.

Try to avoid these opening lines:

  • Just checking in
  • Thought I would just check in and find out
  • Just wanted to check in to hear about
  • Touching base

Instead, you can spark interest with a question, mention a mutual connection, start with the prospect’s problem, or use a recent trigger event.

Here's a catchy example from Kevin J. Duncan for a link-building campaign he did for Smart Blogger's gift guide for writers:

Besides that, in your opening line, try to give the context as to why you’re emailing the prospect. It could be a simple and short recap of your previous email.

3. Make it short

As Sleeknote discovered, emails with shorter copy (around 95 words) significantly outperformed emails with longer copy (around 170 words). In fact, shorter emails had a 5.81% higher CTR.

In your follow-up emails, try to eliminate unnecessary greetings like “I hope you’re doing well.” Being polite is a must, but it could be easily achieved by using the right style for your email.

Also, don’t use wordy sentences. Eliminate words that weigh down your writing and make you sound uncertain.

Here is an excellent example of a short and straight to the point email Katia from Audext sent for pitching her idea with a guest post for the prospect’s blog:

  • She made a quick reminder about the previous email (discussing content cooperation).
  • She added a CTA offering two convenient options to continue the conversation (via email or phone call).
  • She asked for the decision-maker’s contact information, in case the prospect she is reaching out to is not a relevant one.
Short follow-up email

4. Personalize

Personalization is essential when it comes to sending a successful cold email follow-up. The more personal your follow-up is, the better your response rate will be.

There are two key approaches to personalizing your follow-ups:

1. When you have a small number of prospects, you can write each follow-up from scratch, making them unique and personal to each prospect.

A great example of such an email is the one I received from HubSpot’s Growth Manager after not talking to him for a month since our first conversation:

Personalized follow-up email

This email is great because it’s super personal. Adam did a lot of work by conducting such in-depth research. Besides including essential personalization, he made the follow-up effective by:

  • Mentioning a mutual connection (he previously talked to our Customer Success Manager Giovanni).
  • Providing a new offer relevant to our marketing strategy based on the information he previously received about putting our customer success project on hold.
  • Showing his expertise (mentioned the companies he previously worked with).
  • Ending with a clear CTA.

2. Automate personalization

When sending a lot of emails, it can be time-consuming to personalize all of them manually.

Fortunately, you can use tools like Hunter Campaigns to save time preparing and scheduling highly-personalized follow-ups.

While Hunter Campaigns doesn’t automate the whole process, it still saves hours of your time. It’s always better to spend a bit more time to add a personal touch to each message, even though they will ultimately be sent on autopilot.

Here's how to do it:

  • Create a .CSV file with detailed information about your prospects.
CSV file for personalization
  • Then, upload it to Hunter Leads (a simple CRM tool that allows you to structure information about your prospect).
Hunter Leads
  • Use the data from the .CSV file to personalize emails in bulk automatically.
follow up email personalization

5. Add a persuasive call-to-action

When you send a follow-up to a cold prospect, you should be very clear about what you want to achieve with it.

Just imagine you receive a similar follow-up to an email that you didn’t have an opportunity to open:

Cold email without call-to-action

The first question you may ask yourself would be, “What does this person want from me?”. There is no context, no personalization, no call-to-action. Even if you read the context from the previous email, how do you know what you should do?

A call-to-action is very important when following up. If you don’t guide your prospect with next steps, it's highly unlikely they will take this initiative.

Make it easy for the recipient to respond.

For example, if you’re arranging a meeting, suggest a specific time and date: “Does 4:20 PM on Monday work for you?”.

If you’re building links for your content, you can ask an open question: “Would you be interested in linking to our guide, perhaps?”

On the other hand, if you want to find the right person in the company to discuss a specific topic, ask “Are you the right person to talk about this? If not, could you point me in the right direction?”

Many cold emails are missing or have an ambiguous call-to-action that wastes the prospect's time. Make your call-to-action crystal clear, persuasive, and hard to resist. Tell your prospects what you want them to do.

6. Avoid sounding passive-aggressive

In your follow-up email, avoid sounding passive-aggressive or desperate.

Direct aggression is relatively easy to spot, but more subtle passive-aggressive phrases can sneak into your follow-ups almost without thought. These kinds of micro-aggressions can exasperate your prospects and quickly chip away at the good will and all the mutual trust you have established.

Will you ever respond to a follow-up similar to this one?

Passive-aggressive follow-up email

The answer is no.

Even if the prospect wanted to reply back to the first email and forgot (or just missed it), there is very little chance that you'll get a response after such a follow-up.

Hence, try to omit passive-aggressive phrases in your follow-up emails, such as:

  • I’m following up because you haven’t responded to me yet
  • I’ve tried to reach you a few times now
  • I know you’re busy; I’m busy too
  • I know you opened my first email a couple of times
  • Any updates on this?
  • Just checking in
  • Friendly reminder

Besides that, try to remove desperation from your follow-ups. Yes, you might be upset because your prospect didn’t respond to your previous four follow-ups, but don’t show them your distress.

Try to reassess what you can improve in your messages, what reason your prospect could have for not responding to you (wrong prospect, not relevant offer, etc.), your call-to-action, and your offer.

These phrases signal that you're a bit desperate, so try to omit them as well:

  • If it’s not too much trouble
  • I apologize in advance for bothering you
  • Sorry for being so persistent

7. Craft a perfect subject line for your cold follow-ups

Creating a great subject line is one of the first things you should do while setting up your follow-ups.

The subject line is the first thing your prospects see, and they may make a decision whether or not to read your email based on the subject line alone.

Try not to be too obvious by having “Follow-up” or “Just checking in” as subject lines for your follow-ups. Be a bit more creative and write a catchy subject line that will make recipients open your email.

These are the key rules to follow while writing subject lines for your follow-ups:

  • Make them personal
  • Keep copy short
  • Ask intriguing questions

Read: How to Craft Perfect Cold Email Subject Lines (55 Examples)

Do I need to create a different subject line for each follow-up?

I typically send and recommend using the same thread with the same subject line for cold follow-up.

This way, prospects quickly get reminded about the offer from the previous email. Moreover, in this case, you can use follow-ups to continue telling the story or offering additional benefits.

However, you can send a different subject line for your follow-up email if your follow-up also contains all the key information. In this case, you give yourself another chance to get attention. At the same time, I don’t recommend changing the subject line more than once to avoid looking spammy.

Here is how you can set up everything with Hunter Campaigns:

  • Keep the subject line field empty if you want to send a follow-up in the same thread automatically.
  • Add a subject line for the follow-up if you want it to be sent as a new email.
follow up email subject line

Examples of great subject lines for cold email follow-ups:

  • Our next steps
  • Sending the info I promised you
  • I hate follow-ups
  • Great speaking with you
  • I forgot to mention
  • What would you say?
  • Just {{number of days}} day(s) left
  • Nice to meet you {{first_name}}

Follow-up email examples

Need some inspiration for your next follow-up email? Check out these 7 follow-up email examples.

1. Your thoughts?

This is a very simple and polite follow-up email designed to keep you and your offer top-of-mind. It reminds the prospect of what you talked about and lets them know you’re available to answer any questions they might have.

2. Quick one {{first_name}}

Sometimes the best way to get a prospect to respond is to make them smile. This is exactly what this follow-up email tries to do.

3. Appropriate person

This follow-up email attempts to move the conversation forward by asking the prospect for their availability for a call. In case the prospect isn’t the right person you should be talking to, they can direct you to a colleague who’s a better fit to continue the conversation.

4. Not a priority?

With this email, you’re showing that you genuinely care about the prospect’s goals and won’t bother them if they don’t have an immediate need for what you’re offering. However, you’re still keeping the line open by letting them know that they can reach out to you at any time.

5. Ideas about [[lead’s goal or problem]]

Emailing multiple times and simply asking if they read your previous email or have time for a call can annoy prospects. On the other hand, providing value in the form of educational resources in your follow-up message is a great way to follow up with a prospect.

6. Better fit

If a prospect hasn’t replied to multiple follow-ups, it’s a good idea to check if there’s someone else on their team you should contact instead.

7. Permission to close your file?

Fear of missing out can be a great motivator. With this follow-up email template, the idea is to try to get the prospect to respond by making them think your offer won’t be available to them anymore.

Looking for more follow-up email examples? Check out Hunter Templates.

Wrap up

It’s quite difficult to catch the attention of someone who previously didn’t respond to you.

That’s why while composing your follow-ups, make your primary focus on delivering value and providing irresistible offers instead of bombarding your prospects with too many follow-ups.

Write a catchy opening line to make your prospects read your message, keep the email short to not lose their attention, and do your research to personalize follow-ups.

By following these simple tips, I'm confident that you’ll be able to get a reply from your prospects.

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Irina Maltseva
Irina Maltseva

Previously Head of Marketing at Hunter. I enjoy working on inbound and product marketing strategies. In my spare time, I entertain my cat Persie and collect airline miles.