Follow Up Email Subject Line – The Complete Guide [Examples Included]
My very first outreach campaigns back in 2008 had a single email. If I didn’t get a response, I moved on.
I’ll share supportive data in this post, but the importance of following up is literally the difference between success and failure.
So, if you’re going to send a follow-up email, you need to know the best follow up subject lines to use.
Let’s dive in!
An effective follow up email subject line can get you more opens and positive responses than your initial outreach email.
Writing a follow-up email is uncomfortable. After not getting a response to your initial email, your first instinct is to assume that the person isn’t interested in what you have to offer.
However, when it comes to cold email marketing, you should ignore this instinct. In most cases, the person is simply busy or forgot to reply, or they may have just truly missed it in their inbox.
Following up just one more time can help you get as much as 22% more replies.
One of the most important parts of a follow-up email is the subject line. If you’ve done any email marketing whatsoever, you probably already know that the subject line can make or break your campaign.
This is especially true for cold email campaigns.
You better learn how to write a follow up email and be very good at it.
When it comes to sending emails cold, having an effective cold email subject line is key.
But everyone knows that, right?
You also know that it’s based on the subject line that people decide whether to open the email and read it or not.
What you may not know: It’s equally important to have a phenomenal subject line for the follow up email going out to leads!
The cold email subject line also plays a key role in whether the receiver actually finishes reading the email and responds. More on that in just a second.
In short, when looking to learn how to write a follow-up email, it’s crucial that you understand how to craft an effective subject line. Here’s all we’ll cover:
- 15 Reasons to Always Follow Up (Infographic)
- Things You Must Include
- What to Avoid in a Follow Up Email Subject Line (and the email itself)
- Effective Subject Lines that Work for LeadFuze Clients
- Common Mistakes We See
We’re going to discuss why it’s not just about getting them to merely open the email, too.
This concept also applies (and is crucial) to your follow up cold emails to prospects!
The Power of Following Up
“Follow up or die” is the rallying cry of every small business.
But even knowing that, many small businesses and their salespeople fail to follow up enough to close the deal.
Not sending a sales follow up email is a mistake, since sending a follow-up email after no response is crucial for getting more responses and closing more sales.
Here are 15 interesting facts about following up on leads and getting the close that you might not know:
How Long Should You Wait Before Following Up
In most cases, you should aim to follow up with a prospect within three days. If you’re sending multiple follow-ups, you should extend the wait period after each follow-up email you send.
Here’s a follow-up schedule suggested by Steli Efti of Close CRM:
- Day 1: Follow-up #1
- Day 3: Follow-up #2
- Day 7: Follow-up #3
- Day 14: Follow-up #4
- Day 28: Follow-up #5
Finally, Steli suggests that you follow-up once a month after your fifth sales follow-up email.
As you can see, the schedule relies on increasing the wait period after each follow-up. This serves to give your prospect enough time to change their mind or make a decision.
Remember, your prospects are most likely receiving dozens of similar emails every day. If you’re sending an email without establishing prior contact with them, they most certainly aren’t considering your email a priority.
This makes it crucial that you stay patient and give prospects some space so that they can think your offer through and get back to you with an answer.
Keep in mind that, while the above schedule is a great starting point, you’ll need to experiment and find a follow-up schedule that works best for your specific target audience at some point.
Start off by using Steli’s schedule, and then slowly optimize it by performing A/B testing and using data you gather from your tests.
How to Write a Subject Line for Follow Up Emails:
Writing a follow up cold email subject line that works is not as easy as it seems.
When it comes to email subject lines in the B2B world, a line that works perfectly for your friend’s business, may not work for you.
That said, here are a few general suggestions you may find very useful. All geared to help you identify and write a great and effective subject line for your needs.
1. Start by setting a goal
It’s crucial that you set a goal for your follow-up email before you start writing a subject line. By setting an objective for your email, you’ll have an easier time crafting a subject line that will align with the other elements of the email, including the body and the call-to-action.
The four most common objectives for a follow-up email include:
- Requesting information – A lot of the times you’ll be requesting more information in your follow-up emails. This might include asking for clarification or requesting a status update.
- Arranging a meeting – Pitching a product or service, conducting an interview, asking for help, or requesting feedback are all activities that often require an in-person or online meeting. A large percentage of follow-up emails are sent with the objective of setting up a meeting.
- Catching up – Another common reason for sending a follow-up is to catch up with a connection and possibly strike up a conversation that might lead to a business deal or something else that might benefit both parties.
- Sending a thank you note – Sometimes you’ll simply want to thank a person for the time they spent talking with you (e.g., in a meeting or during a call) or helping you. Sending a follow-up email is a common way to express gratitude in these situations.
2. Always provide a crucial bit of information in the follow up email subject line
One of the most important things you should pay attention to is ensuring you provide the key information right away.
It is a subject line, after all. That means you need a subject for follow up email.
It is always good to give a specific reason for the recipient to read your email message.
Mention the exact reason why you are contacting the person — whether it’s something you are offering, like a new product or a service, or whether it’s something you are asking for, or about.
Even if it’s about a job interview you did and you know they know it.
Tell them again. If you aren’t sending a follow email after applying, and then sending a second follow up email after the interview, you are missing out on making an impression.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to send a follow up email to your recruiter if they got you the interview in the first place.
3. When it makes sense, use the recipient’s name in the email subject line
Typically, you’ll want to use the person’s name in your follow up email subject line. If you don’t have it, you can use the company name instead.
Good lead sources (like LeadFuze) will have the name of the person you’re emailing.
The more you personalize your subject line, the more benefits you can reap. Good contact data is key.
If you need more leads, or you’re looking for a source for freshly verified contact data, then I’d be remiss not to introduce you to LeadFuze!
LeadFuze is a software solution that helps you build lists of accurate leads automatically, while integrating with sales outreach tools to allow you to contact those freshly verified leads.
4. When it makes sense, ask a question in your follow up subject line (and answer it in the email)
Asking a question that is related to the recipient’s business, industry or company (in the subject line) can provoke an open.
Warning: It is essential that you provide a detailed answer or explain the cause of your follow up subject line question.
5. Always ensure there is a connection between your follow up subject line and your email message
This rule applies to any follow up subject line and any email message, but it especially applies to the follow up email subject line.
A good follow up subject line should create curiosity that can only be answered by reading the full email.
It is crucial that your email actually answers the question generated by the follow up subject line.
If the email message which follows the subject line doesn’t provide a nice and accurate answer to the curiosity, the recipient may decide against giving you a second chance.
Effective Subject Lines for Follow Up Emails That Get High Open Rates
The point of an effective follow up email subject line is to motivate the recipient to read the email message and hopefully have a positive response.
To that end, there are certain cold email subject lines that get high open rates.
It’s almost impossible to give you general canned lines that will work for you, because this will wary by industry and context.
If you want to write a good follow up email subject line, re-review the principles earlier in this article or consider asking us for help.
There are, however, some general scenarios where a general method can work for you. So here are a few examples…
The Genuine “Let’s Connect” Method
Follow up email subject lines that get high open rates are the ones which include the sender’s full name and their company’s name, plus the word “Introduction”.
Example: “Sender’s name/sender’s company name – Introduction”.
Alternatively you can write the recipient’s full name and “Introduction”; that works great as well.
You can also try mentioning both companies’ names and the word “Introduction”.
Another way to do this is to include the sender’s name, professional skills, plus the phrase, “trying to connect”.
Example: “Sender’s name, Java developer – trying to connect”, or “Sender’s name, Cisco Systems Software Engineer – trying to connect”.
Compliments also work well, if they are genuine
If there’s something you admire about the recipient or their product and business, this can work well.
Example: “Wow [First Name], I love what you did in launching product X”.
Be careful, this only works if you genuinely are a fan of the person, their products or services.
You also have to genuinely write the email from the perspective that you love their work, would like to connect, and see how you can provide value to them.
Offering to give value works as well, if it’s genuine
This is mostly applicable to seeking out joint ventures.
Let’s say that you run a web design agency, and your recipient runs a web-hosting company. If you want to get web design leads, you do not contact them asking for leads!
Example: “Hey, I have some clients to send over to you, [First Name]”.
In the email, explain how many of your web-design clients need good hosting, which your recipient has (compliment them remember), and you want to know where to send them and how.
Get Straight to the Point
Writing effective cold email subject lines is important.
You’ll never know how to follow up on an email without it.
It is a useful skill that can help you create or find new job opportunities which will reshape or launch your career or land your next big prospect.
In order to write follow up email subject lines that actually work, ensure you keep it simple and communicate effectively.
Remember to be specific and clear about what you are offering or asking for, and leave out generic greetings (they can be included in the email message).
Instead, try to make your point in seven or eight words (including names) and get straight to the point.
You must never forget that in the business world time is money. And you certainly don’t want to waste it. This is especially true with sales follow up emails.
Mention a Direct Benefit for Your Recipient
According to Jimmy Rodela of EBCallCenter.com,
“Whether you’re sending a cold pitch, a follow-up email, or an email message to one of your existing connections, you need to add a direct benefit for the email recipient in your subject line if you want to catch their attention and increase the chances of them opening your email message.”
At the end of the day, you need to remember that your audience is thinking of the question, “What’s in it for me?”
If you’ll add an enticing enough benefit in your follow up email subject line that can satisfy that question, then it becomes easier to compel your audience to open your email message.
What to Do If You Don’t Hear Back
If you don’t hear back from the prospect after sending multiple email follow-ups, try reaching them via a different method. Find their phone number and give them a call, or reach out on social media.
Any good outreach strategy should rely on multiple channels of outreach. By reaching out to prospects through multiple channels, you’ll increase your chances of getting a reply and converting the prospect.
By using multiple channels for outreach, you also open yourself up to discovering a better way to reach your target audience.
For example, you might find out that your prospects are more responsive when contacted through LinkedIn. This, in turn, might prompt you to focus your outreach and follow-up efforts on LinkedIn rather than spending more time writing emails.
When using a multichannel outreach strategy, don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to contact prospects through every channel possible. Not only is this creepy, it’s most likely a waste of time too.
Focus on a few key channels that you think your prospects use most frequently, and create a strategy revolving around those channels. Whichever channels you decide to use, remember to always personalize your outreach, as well as track and measure results so that you can optimize your strategy.
What to Avoid When Writing Follow up Cold Email Subject Lines
Cold emails will be sent to busy, hardworking individuals who constantly receive numerous messages.
They don’t have the time to go through every cold email.
It is vitally important to write an outstanding and eye-catching subject line.
Here are some suggestions on what to avoid when writing follow up cold email subject lines.
1. Avoid “never-ending” subject lines
A short and informative subject line is more effective than a subject line which tries to tell the entire story.
The subject line is supposed to be a teaser, not a summary!
Moreover, many entrepreneurs check their email on their smartphones, and the typical inbox reveals only about thirty characters.
So, try to keep it short and make your point in about seven to eight words.
2. Avoid subject lines which don’t give a reason to read the email message
It is very important to write a follow up email subject line which keeps the recipient interested in your email message.
If your subject line doesn’t make a clear point, your email can easily end up in the spam or junk folder.
3. Avoid misleading subject lines
If you believe that the most important thing is to get your cold email opened, even if it means resorting to a misleading subject line — you are terribly wrong.
There is nothing more disappointing than reading an email that is not related to the subject line.
Not getting the content that is mentioned in the subject line can be annoying for the recipient and your email will get a negative response — something that you want to avoid, right?
Are You Making One of These Follow Up Mistakes?
Growing a business is difficult and one of the most challenging parts is keeping your sales pipeline full.
Following up with prospective customers is a key point to doing so, but are you killing your pipeline with one of these mistakes?
Not following up enough
The #1 problem people have with following up is that they don’t do it enough. Especially after someone has initiated interest.
Conventional wisdom says you don’t want to annoy that person, but the reality is people now take that part too far.
Following up too often
People that learn how to write a follow-up email after no response often make the mistake of following up too often.
You want to avoid annoying your prospects, so don’t contact them multiple times in one day or multiple days in a row.
Give them a chance to check their email or their missed calls before trying them again a few days later.
Following up after they say “No”
I once worked for a candle store where company policy was to keep trying to upsell the customer until they said “No” 3 times.
I wasn’t a fan of this practice then, and I’m not a fan of it now.
If someone tells you they aren’t interested, leave them alone.
But until you receive a definite “no,” keep following up with them until they respond.
Steli at Close.io suggests following up once or twice with completely cold emails. If you have already had a favorable interaction with a prospect, follow up as much as necessary until they respond.
Sending a Flash-based email with no option for text only
According to HubSpot, 80.8% of users report reading email on a mobile device.
Flash-based emails don’t load properly (or in many cases, at all) on smartphones and other mobile devices.
If you send a Flash-centric email, be sure you give your prospects the option to view it as text-only. Or even better, don’t send a Flash-based email at all.
Sending mass, unpersonalized emails
If you’ve done any sort of research on your prospect, you should know their name at the very least.
Never address emails as “To whom it may concern,” “Dear Sir or Madam,” or any variation of them.
Also, take note that if you CC or BCC too many people on one email, many email clients will automatically push that message to the Spam folder.
If that happens, your message will never even be seen by the prospect, let alone responded to.
Sending the wrong email or the right email to the wrong person
Be sure to double-check the address before hitting send to make sure that the message gets to the intended recipient.
If you use a mail merge client, make sure that all of your tags get properly replaced with the corresponding fields. A good way to check this is to first send your message to your own email addresses via the merge client.
Bait and switch
Nothing relegates your message to the Spam folder faster than a bait-and-switch. Never try to trick your prospects into opening up your emails. Your follow up email subject line should always match the content of the email.
Writing a short novel in your email
Email follow ups are not the place to begin writing sections of your memoir.
Keep your follow-ups short and to the point. You can expand on your offering when you have the prospect in a meeting or on the phone.
At that point, they are a hot lead and will be interested in all of the details and nuances of your product or service.
Finding and following every social media account they have
While it’s not out of the ordinary to follow a prospect’s Facebook page or Twitter feed, going beyond that can end up backfiring in a big way.
If you have something relevant to add to a discussion taking place or have an interesting article to share with the prospect, feel free to share it with them. There is an art to social selling and you shouldn’t over do it.
But don’t expect them to respond, and don’t “Like,” “Follow,” or “Retweet” every update just to see if they notice. If they don’t notice, you’re wasting your time, and if they do notice, you’ll come off as a little creepy and stalkerish.
Follow Up Email Best Practices
You’ve made it this far – great. In this section, we’re going to discuss a few follow-up email best practices you should keep in mind before sending your next follow-up.
Don’t make it seem as if you’re sending a follow-up email just for the sake of following up with a prospect.
Use the follow-up email to offer something of value to your client, such as an ebook, case study, or a free audit.
Sending your prospects something they need might be just the thing that will push them to reply to your email.
Keep it short
No one likes reading long emails. Keep your follow-ups relatively short. One or two sentences should be enough to grab prospects’ attention and compel them to reply.
Use a call-to-action
It’s crucial that you let prospects know what you want them to do after reading your email. Do you want them to schedule a meeting, book a demo, or something else? Use a call-to-action to let them know what they need to do to move on to the next stage.
The key to writing successful follow-up emails (and cold emails in general) is personalization. Personalized emails get higher open rates, increased click-through rates, and more conversions compared to non-personalized emails.
There are a number of ways you can personalize your follow-up emails. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Find common interests – People have an easier time trusting those that are similar to them. You can use this to your advantage by finding interests that you share with the prospect and mentioning them in your follow-up email. Do some research on the prospect by checking their LinkedIn profile and other social media accounts to see if you have any shared interests.
- Take advantage of mutual connections – If reaching out to a prospect directly didn’t work, try utilizing a mutual connection. Ask a mutual acquaintance to send an email to your prospect and introduce you, or simply mention the mutual connection in your follow-up email.
What Experts Say About Follow Up Emails
We’ve searched the web to provide you with the best advice on follow-up emails. Here’s what experts have to say on the subject:
Kevin J. Duncan – Treat prospects like real people
Kevin J. Duncan, the Editor-in-Chief for Smart Blogger, reminds that you need to focus on treating prospects like real people. Do everything you can to make prospects feel like they’re not just a number to you.
Show prospects that you know who they are and what they do. This will give you the best chance of getting a reply.
Nate Wright – Don’t be desperate
Inbox Attack’s Nate Wright warns against sounding desperate in your follow-up emails and suggests making sure that your emails don’t contain anything that might suggest desperation.
This includes avoiding expressions such as “I apologize for bothering you” and “if it’s not too much trouble”.
Gaetano Nino DiNardi – Prepare prospects for your follow-up email
According to Gaetano Nino DiNardi, Sales Hacker’s former VP of Marketing, it’s crucial that you prepare prospects for your follow-up email by letting them know that you’ll be following up with them in case you don’t get a reply.
This will prevent your follow-up email from being a surprise and make it more likely that prospects will reply to your follow-up.
Follow Up Email Templates
In this last section, we’re going to provide you with some of our favorite follow-up email templates. You can use these as a starting point when drafting your next follow-up email.
Following up after voicemail
[Prospect’s First Name],
I just tried calling you and left a voicemail.
I’d love to talk about [The Opportunity] with you.
Please call me at [Your Phone Number], or reply to this email when you get the chance.
Finding a mutual fit
Hi [Prospect’s First Name],
I tried getting in touch with you to see if there might be a mutual fit between our two companies.
If you’re not interested or if there’s another person I should follow up with, please let me know.
Would it make sense to invest 10 minutes to see if we’re a good fit to work together? If not, can you recommend someone I could talk to?
Suggested date and time follow-up
Hey [Prospect’s First Name], can we get on a super quick call on [ Day and Time]?
PS: I thought you might consider this blog post interesting [Link]
Following up after an event
Hi [Prospect’s First Name],
It was very nice meeting you at [Event]. I enjoyed talking with you about [Discussion Point].
I’d love to learn more about your role as [Prospect’s Job Title] at [Prospect’s Company Name], because of [Reason].
If you have time this week, let’s [Follow-up action].
I’m usually free on [Day of the Week]. Does that work for you?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Following up after not receiving payment
Hi [Prospect’s First Name],
I hope you’re having a great week.
I just wanted to follow up on the invoice I sent you on [Date].
I haven’t received the payment yet, so I wanted to check if you received the invoice. Can you please check?
If you haven’t received it, I’d be happy to resend it. Otherwise, I’m looking forward to receiving your payment this week
Cold emailing prospects is hard enough, so don’t waste all of your hard work by screwing up the follow up email subject line.
Keep it brief, on topic, and give them time to respond.
Don’t give up early!
That is the main problem that most salespeople have: They give up after 1 follow up call, when research shows it may take 5 or more touch points to convert a prospect.
Be the one salesperson who follows up enough to make the close, and you’ll be way ahead of the game.
What questions do you have on follow up email subject line strategies? Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know!
Citations (for the infographic):
Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!
We have over 60,000 monthly readers that would love to see it! Connect with me on LinkedIn and let's discuss.