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How and when to write a follow-up email after receiving no response

When a client doesn’t respond it can lead to delays, doubts and awkward conversations.
CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS 16 mins 15 Aug 2022 by Ignition Team

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

When a client doesn't respond, it can feel awkward and lead to endless doubts and questions on your part. By following up with them, you can figure out exactly what's happened and help get things back on track. But how do you follow up respectfully?

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Below, we explore how and when to send a follow-up email and give you a number of potential templates to use in a variety of different circumstances.

We will be covering:

  • Why clients might not be responding and how you can turn this around

  • Why you should send a follow-up email and how this can improve your response rates

  • What to consider before following up with a client

  • When to send follow-up emails and how often you should send these

  • How to write a follow-up email and what to include

  • Example follow-up emails to help you get started

Let’s dive in!

Why don’t clients respond?

Not receiving a response from a new client is unnerving to say the least, especially when you’re a customer-centric organization. Remember that no matter how excited a client is to work with you, they’ve also probably got 1,001 other things going on and for many of us it is a constant struggle to reach ‘inbox zero’.

In fact, this HubSpot email marketing report shows that 40 percent of consumers have at least 50 unread emails in their inbox at any given time – yikes! There is every chance that your email has been lost in their inbox among the seemingly endless sea of unread emails.

40 percent of consumers have at least 50 unread emails in their inbox.

- HubSpot Email Marketing Report

It could also be that they’ve discussed your impending projects with their colleagues and have identified a couple of potential roadblocks. Maybe they’re awaiting sign-off from their manager. Maybe their accounts team has told them that if they’re going to proceed with you, then they need to come up with cost-savings in other areas.

There are all sorts of reasons why a client might not respond in a timely manner. Try not to let your imagination run wild – just touch base with them so you can get the ball rolling.

Why should you send a follow-up email?

According to research conducted by Woodpecker sending just one follow-up email could increase your response rate by 22 percent. It was also shown that the first follow-up email is the most effective with a 40 percent higher response rate than the initial email which sits at around a six percent response rate.

There are a number of instances where a follow-up email might be appropriate, and a few where a follow-up is warranted and even expected. Depending on the industry you work in there may be a number of factors that dictate when and how often you need to follow-up with clients. For example, if you are working in an industry where compliance plays a significant role you may be required to follow-up with clients – and there may be consequences for failing to do so.

Sending a follow-up email is generally considered a good practice, if not to remain compliant and check a box from your side it also shows you are engaged in the client’s journey and helps to set and reinforce expectations.

4 Things to consider before sending a follow-up email

There are 4 golden rules to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to send a follow-up email.

1. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone

Email is the fallback that many service professionals use to communicate with clients. Emails are great. After all, they allow clients to respond when it’s convenient for them, they can take their time composing the appropriate response, and it provides an irrefutable log of all back-and-forth communication.

However, it’s a lot easier for your email to get lost in a client’s inbox (or to be read but promptly forgotten about) than it is for a client to ignore a phone call. If your emails seem to continually go unanswered, then it might be time to pick up the phone.

If you have sent your proposal to a client you can give them a quick call to let them know they should have received a proposal from you. This also gives you the opportunity to confirm they have received it and answer any questions they may have that could have delayed their acceptance of the proposal.

2. Automate when you can

Clients aren’t the only ones who are busy – and you can improve your efficiency and save time by automating your follow-up email process. Following up on multiple emails to different clients can become a time consuming process. Automating parts of this process will help with the heavy lifting. Depending on the platforms you use there are many different ways to automate some or all of the follow-up process.


For example, Ignition's proposal reminders feature allows you to send reminders to clients who are still yet to accept your proposal. You can choose how many days to wait before sending a reminder and select the total number of reminders to send out until they accept your proposal.

3. Always give the client a call-to-action

CTAs or calls-to-action help to remind a client of what you need from them – whether it’s key information, an answer to your question, sign-off on a project, or payment.

Giving the client clear instructions helps them to action things from their end as quickly as possible. We recommend making the call-to-action as direct as possible so that you can avoid any potential confusion.

CTA examples:

  • Include a ‘schedule a meeting’ link if you are following up to confirm a time to meet with them

  • Ask a clear question, for example, asking for a time to meet with them

  • Position your questions at the beginning and the end of the email if you are chasing information

  • Provide a direct link for your client to pay an overdue invoice

4. Make sure you actually need to follow-up

Cover yourself first and check that you haven’t already received a reply from the client. It might have disappeared in your email, or they may have contacted someone else in the team.

Follow-ups can be awkward enough as it is – let alone if you make a mistake and actually did receive a reply from them. So before you send a curt ‘As per my previous message…’ email, double check that you haven’t already received their response (and check those spam and trash folders just in case!).

How long should you wait for a response before following up?

It can be hard to know exactly when you should follow-up if you haven’t heard from a client. On the one hand, you want to keep on top of things and make sure they don’t lose interest. On the other hand, you don’t want to seem too pushy.

Pro-tip: After sending your proposal you can give your client a call to confirm they have received the proposal. This gives you an opportunity to answer any questions they may have.

It is generally considered good practice to wait at least two to three days between your follow-ups. Clients, like anyone else, are often busy which may mean it takes a few follow-up touchpoints to prompt a response. It is easy to forget that you’re not always going to be your client’s top priority and sending a follow-up email too quickly can make you appear rude or even annoying in some cases. We recommend sending a gentle reminder a couple of days after your initial email to get back in touch whenever they’re ready to proceed.

Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Assess the urgency. If a client hasn’t responded about a project that’s due to be completed by the end of the week, then perhaps send a follow-up a day or two after your original message. However, if they haven’t got back to you about your availability for a project in a month’s time, then consider waiting a week or so.

  • Rely on context. Small talk at the beginning of a meeting can provide you with invaluable information. Perhaps a client apologizes for joining the call late and explains they’ve been in back-to-back meetings, or perhaps they casually mention that they’re preparing for a big company-wide initiative that’s about to launch. If this is the case, leave more time between follow-ups. Not only will this make your email less likely to get lost in the ether, but it’ll also ensure that you don’t end up annoying them during a really busy time.

  • Don’t let your proposal go cold. In general, wait no longer than a week without following-up on a proposal that you’ve sent over. Provided they had not already given you an expected timeframe for their response. Proposals may require sign-off from different stakeholders, or you may want to make sure that the proposal has been thoroughly read. Sending a follow-up email may also surface any final questions the client has before they are ready to sign off on the proposal.

How often should you send a follow-up email and how many should you send?

There is no one-size-fits-all rule for the number of follow-up emails you need send to a client – that is dependent on the circumstance. What we do know is that sending two to three follow-up emails is considered to be the optimal amount – with the first follow-up email being the most effective. With data also showing that sending an excessive number of emails is generally not the answer either.

Avoid taking up too much of a client’s time by constantly chasing responses, limit it to three follow-ups if you can – the effectiveness of follow-ups is shown to drop off after the fourth email. Try to get the small details sorted out via client intake forms, text, phone, or a messaging platform such as Slack – try communicating with your client in the format that is easiest for them if you are after a quick response.

What to include in a follow-up email

  1. A short but compelling subject line – try to include part or all of your request if possible. E.g. Reminder: Overdue invoice requiring payment or Following up on business expense report.

  2. A warm and friendly greeting or an appropriate greeting based on your rapport with the client.

  3. In the body of your email make sure to include the objective in simple language. This has been shown to improve the likelihood of receiving a response and your request being fulfilled.

  4. Provide context where necessary, forward the original email or provide any necessary links of documentation to avoid the client having to search for it and potentially delaying their response.

  5. Sign off with a tl;dr or summary of your request and provide a clear call to action to prompt a response or the desired action from your client.

8 Email follow-up templates for every situation

If you are struggling with how to write a follow-up email we’ve got you covered with a range of follow-up email templates to help you get started. Simply update the details (name, address, etc.), add in any additional information, and they’re ready to go.

1. After the initial client meeting

This email is ideally suited for following up after an initial meeting. It gives the client a list of actionable steps and keeps a proactive tone that gives off the sense that you’re already in partnership together.

Subject: Kickstart meeting action points and next steps

Hi NAME,

It was lovely to meet you and the team today, and to learn more about BUSINESS NAME and your goals with this project.

I’ve put together a list of action points based on our meeting:

For our team:

  • ACTION POINT ONE
  • ACTION POINT TWO

For BUSINESS NAME team:

  • ACTION POINT ONE
  • ACTION POINT TWO

Can you please reply to confirm that this is correct (and that I haven’t missed anything)?

I’ve got a follow-up meeting scheduled for 3pm on Tuesday 21st. Let me know if this doesn’t work for you and we can try to reschedule to a more convenient time.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

2. After you’ve sent a proposal and haven’t heard back

The client has outlined their project and asked you to send over a detailed proposal (perhaps using Ignition's proposal management software). You’re excited to bring a new client on board and so get on to this right away, but you never end up hearing back from them. As frustrating as this is, don’t worry – the below email should help move things along.

Subject: Got any questions about the proposal?

Hi NAME,

Last week I sent through the proposal doc you asked for as part of your website redesign project. I hadn’t heard back from you since and so I wanted to check in and ask if you have any questions?

In any case, I’d love to organize a quick call to talk it over in more detail. Would Tuesday at 3pm work for you? I’m really excited about the project and am keen to get it started as soon as possible!

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

3. When you need documents or information to get started

If you require key information from the client before you can begin your work, this email will clearly outline the urgency of the matter and remind the client of precisely what it is that they’re supposed to send across.

Subject: URGENT: Accounting package—I need these signed to get started

Hi NAME,

I’m keen to get started on your accounts. I want to make sure that it’s all finished up in time for your deadline, but at the moment, we’re stalled.

In order to get started, I need the following documents/need you to fill out the following documents, which I’ve attached to this email.

  1. DOCUMENT A
  2. DOCUMENT B
  3. DOCUMENT C

Please acknowledge that you’re working on these and that you’ll get them to me by DATE. If you have any questions or want some clarity around why we need these documents, I’m happy to jump on a call.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

4. When their payment is overdue

It can get pretty awkward when you have to get in touch with a client and ask why you haven’t been paid yet – and more so if you have to follow-up multiple times. Invoices usually don’t get lost, but they may well be forgotten. The email below avoids an accusatory tone and gently reminds the client to chase this overdue invoice up with their accounts team.

Subject: Late payment: Did you miss the invoice?

Hi NAME,

I’m following-up on unpaid invoices and noticed that you’ve yet to make payment on INV-0023, which was sent to you on DATE.

Since I haven’t received payment, I wanted to check in and make sure the invoice hadn’t gotten lost? I know that they can sometimes be sent to ‘Spam’ folders, or perhaps your accounts team is really busy right now, so I’ve gone ahead and attached it here again for your convenience.

However, given that this invoice is now 15 days overdue, you’ll need to make payment within the next X days if you wish to avoid the overdue payment fee of X% added to the bill.

Yours sincerely,

YOUR NAME

5. After you send a cold outreach email

Cold outreach is used across a number of different industries. However, it’s worth highlighting that you risk losing their interest if you don’t follow-up with them within a few days. According to a study done by Backlinko, sending a follow-up to a cold outreach email can double your response rate.

This email offers a useful piece of content as a way to get the conversation going and build trust with the lead.

Subject: Still interested? Here is a guide to help get started.

Hi NAME,

I hope you’re well. I previously sent through an email expressing interest in working with your business, however if now is not the right time I completely understand.

I’m just following up with a link to a guide for growing a successful small business. You can find it HERE. Based on the areas most businesses can improve in I think you will find this to be particularly useful.

Let me know if you enjoy the content!

Cheers,

YOUR NAME

6. To revive cold leads

Once leads have been marked as cold, it can be tough to bring them back again. However, at one time, this person was seriously considering your services – so there’s a real benefit in reaching out to them again.

The key rule here is to present them with an offer. This gives you the perfect excuse to email and may provide the incentive to get them to finally convert. Even better, label it as an exclusive offer and explain that they’re the only ones to benefit from it. This will make them feel special and will show that you’re willing to go above and beyond to win their business.

Subject: Special 25% discount for BUSINESS NAME

Hi NAME

I hope you’re well and that you remember me – we chatted a few months back about accounting packages for your business, but you unfortunately decided not to pursue working with our practice.

I’ve since been able to speak to my team about offering you an exclusive 25% discount on all our fees. I hope that this goes some way to showing just how keen I am to work with BUSINESS NAME.

Please browse through our different packages HERE [link], and I’d be more than happy to set up a call when it’s convenient to discuss your options further.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

7. Closing the loop after several follow-ups

If you’ve tried several times to reach out, both by email and phone, and you’ve received no response, then it may be time to end the relationship with your client. This sometimes happens during the initial proposal stage – perhaps the client was talking to several companies and chose a competitor, or they’ve simply decided not to go ahead with the project.

They may not end up notifying you of their decision – instead, they could have moved on and may not answer your queries. Your final message should be an email, letter, or phone call to officially ‘close the loop’ This gives your client a final chance to respond, but also gives you some closure.

Subject: Sorry that it didn’t work out this time around

Hi NAME,

I still haven’t heard back from you about your project, so I’m assuming that your priorities have changed and that you no longer want to go ahead with it.

Please keep us in mind if you want to move forward at any point in the future.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

8. Check-in again after six months

Projects are delayed and rescheduled all the time, so you may well face a situation where a client asks you to check back in after a few months’ time. If that is the case you can go ahead and add these clients to a “follow-up” folder in your email list and set a reminder to get back in touch in X number of months. It’s also worth asking them if there’s anything more that you could do to bring them on board now.

For example, they might ask you to check back in next quarter so that they can squeeze this project into their team’s budget. If this is the case then you could consider offering them a special discount so that you can begin the work this quarter.

Here’s a potential six-month follow-up email that you could try:

Hi NAME,

I hope you’re well and that you remember me. We spoke six months ago about an accounting package for your business, but you mentioned that you needed a few months to grow the business before you were ready.

I can see from your brand new website (great design, by the way!) that things are ticking over nicely. I wondered if you’d had a chance to look over the accounting package that I sent you previously?

It would be great to put some time in the diary where we can have a catch up about your current needs. How does Tuesday at 3pm sound?

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME

Over to you

If a client suddenly goes cold then don’t worry or start blaming yourself. There are a myriad of reasons why this might have happened. Perhaps they’re busy running their own business, they’re in the midst of a company-wide initiatives, or they have personal issues to attend to.

If this is the case, then follow-up. Clients will appreciate you taking the time to get back in touch with them – even if they can’t progress things right now – and it shows that you’re genuinely interested in working with them. Follow-ups might not always get you the right result, but they’re worth doing.

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Published 15 Aug 2022 Last updated 01 Dec 2022
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