How to Write Follow-Up Emails That Get Responses

Have you ever read a page of a book, and by the time you finished, you had no idea what you just read …

So you had to go back and read it again?

Maybe the topic was complex … or the author used phrasing that was difficult to comprehend.

Or maybe you were thinking about what you were going to have for dinner, and simply were distracted.

Whatever it was, at that moment, you had to decide whether or not the material you just read was worth reading again.

When you’re reading a novel for pleasure, chances are high you’ll take the time.

When you’re reading a piece of direct mail, chances are much lower. You may simply throw it in the trash.

But when a marketer is reading an email from a freelancer who wants his business, chances are at an all-time low.

As I mentioned on Monday, complicated emails and proposals are one of the biggest reasons marketers don’t respond to freelancers. (If you missed my note, I also gave you two other reasons why they may not be responding.)

Remember, your job is to make the marketer’s job easier, not add more work to his plate by making him decode your emails.

So today, I’m going to give you five tips you can use to make sure your follow-up emails get read — and are easily understood — to give you a better chance of getting a response from clients.

1. Start with a subject line that is clear and specific.

The subject line is not a place to be clever. It should sum up in 5 or so words, what your email is about.

One of my writers does a great job of this when she wants me to approve copy she’s working on. She’ll literally write something like:

Subject: Wealthy Web Writer AR – APPROVE?

I know right away that her email contains an autoresponder series she’s working on for Wealthy Web Writer, that simply needs my approval. I won’t put off opening the email, because I know it’s only going to take a few minutes of my time, and I’ll have one more project crossed of my list.

2. Get to the point.

While marketers want to work with great writers, you don’t need to demonstrate your ability with a 20-page sales letter in the body of an email.

Think about what you want the client to do, and what you need to say to get him to do it. The place to demonstrate your writing ability is in your samples.

That said, your follow-up email technically is still a sample. And like all persuasive writing, it comes down to knowing your prospect, and being able to write copy that persuades him to take action. And in this case, your prospect is a very busy marketer.

3. Don’t be too brief.

Even though you want your emails to be as short and concise as possible, it’s important to provide enough information so the marketer has everything she needs to take the action you want.

For example, when you’re following up with a potential client, don’t assume she remembers your initial correspondence.

Clients who hire freelancers are often working with many at one time. She may not remember the conversation you had a month ago when you met her at a trade show.

And that’s an important point worth repeating …

You’re most likely not the only freelancer working on a project for the client. Personally, I’ve been known to work with over a dozen at any given time. And as much as I hate to admit it — sometimes I forget. :-)

So make sure you provide the information needed to move forward with the project. Otherwise, you may end up getting put off simply because the client doesn’t have time to go digging for the information she needs to proceed and respond.

That’s why I highly recommend this next tip …

4. Keep the chain of email responses intact.

By simply forwarding the last email you sent (or at least the original email you sent), and adding your follow-up content on top, you make it easier on the marketer. He won’t have to go looking for the email or proposal you’re following up on. He’ll have the details in one convenient location.

And my last and final tip for writing follow-up emails to clients …

5. Don’t come across frustrated.

The way you come across in your emails can make or break you when it comes to getting clients to respond. (I’m actually going to talk about this a bit more on Friday.)

While you may truly be frustrated that the client hasn’t responded, you want to keep those feelings to yourself. Your marketer won’t appreciate “attitude.”

You need to keep in mind that, as I explained, marketers are often putting out their hottest fires first. And, they’re usually juggling multiple projects and several freelancers.

And while they would love to devote 100% to one project and one freelancer at a time, it’s simply not possible.

So even if you have great ideas, or it seems like the project should be simple to follow through with, don’t get frustrated if your client isn’t getting back to you. Like I said Monday, it’s most likely not you — so don’t take it personally.

Just keep patiently following up, and providing value to your client.

We’re going to tackle that last bit tomorrow …

For now, you have some tips for making sure your follow-ups will get read, and that give your marketer the best chance of knowing what you want or are proposing, so she can respond.

Consider these the requirements for all follow-ups you send. And tomorrow, I’m going to share with you some ideas that allow you to follow up again and again.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


Click to Rate:
Average: 4.0
Published: March 28, 2012

1 Response to “How to Write Follow-Up Emails That Get Responses”

  1. FOLLOW UP EMAILS ARE GOOD

    Guest (Gurpreet kaur )


Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)


This name will appear next to your comment.


Your email is required but will not be displayed.


Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters


Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)