How to Write Follow-ups the Right Way

You wrote your B2B email, sent it at the right time and saw it land directly in your prospect's inboxes. After a while, you think it’s high time to give your recipients a little nudge and get them to respond. However, how do you not mess it up? 

There is no point to sugar coat it, follow-ups are very easy to mess up. It’s a delicate process and mistakes can be made. To help you prevent them, let’s finally dig into the subject of follow-ups. 

What is a follow-up?

Follow-ups are not the new emails you send to catch your prospects’ attention. They are sent after your introduction email and serve to:

  • Bring your offer back to the top of the inbox;
  • Catch the recipient’s attention;
  • Remind the recipient about your offer and conversation;
  • Motivate your recipient to respond. 

In our opinion, it’s very important to keep this set of differentiators in mind since people get confused sometimes, creating emails that are completely irrelevant to the subject of the original email, not connecting their follow-ups to the previously sent emails at all or downright duplicating one and the same message over and over again. 

Are follow-ups necessary?

While “don’t be annoying” is an important part of the B2B ethics, follow-ups keep your outreach campaign going. Therefore, you should differentiate between taking respectful pauses and actions that build up the momentum of your conversation.

We all deal with follow-ups in our lives. If you’re a busy person, you’re used to finding emails that bring you back to a message you received a week ago but was too busy to properly read it.  Sometimes, you’re annoyed. Sometimes, you’re actually glad to receive a reminder because you would have forgotten about that email otherwise.

Your prospects go through the same thing. Since they cannot read all emails in one day, they save some of them for later. However, later never comes because every new day brings new tasks, resulting in many emails with interesting emails slowly sinking to the bottom of the inbox and, ultimately, getting deleted during mailbox cleanup. 

Follow-ups help you prevent this and let your introduction emails finally be seen — given that you write follow-ups the right way. To do it, you should be aware of the many ways you can ruin your follow-ups. 

Common follow-up mistakes

Following up with the wrong person 

Not all leads get converted. Therefore, sometimes it’s just not worth following up with someone who is not interested in you. By following up with any lead in your list, you waste your and your sales development team’s time on the effort that will never be compensated. 

So, which leads should you be following up with? 

  • Leads who showed interest. Thanks to the abundance of email software, you can see opens and other metrics. If your prospect keeps opening your email, has checked your company’s LinkedIn, it’s a green light for you. 
  • Your dream prospects. If there are leads that are the perfect match for your ICP, don’t hesitate. There is a high chance of converting your high-value prospects into a long-term customer and it’s worth seizing. 
Targeting a prospect, not a company

As bizarre as it sounds, centering your follow-up around your prospect entirely is not the right way to go. In B2B, decisions are made by the company, not just one person. Before your recipient decides upon working with you or purchasing your services, they have to discuss your offer with multiple titles in their company, highlight the ways you can benefit them and then get back to you with a firm YES or NO. 

Therefore, if your follow-ups describe how your product benefits the prospect, but not the business as a whole, you are not providing your prospects with the compelling information to share with their colleagues and favor your business over your competitors. 

Always remember about the company. Your follow-ups must illustrate your services’ utility in solving the pain points that are relevant to the prospect’s business. 

  1. If you sell healthcare software:  

Wrong-way to go: appeal to the prospect’s personal pain points such as time management, having to work overtime and general dissatisfaction with the current software. 

The right way to go: provides data on how digitizing patient management and monitoring allows to balance out the workload and budget. 

2) If you specialize in installing office lighting: 

Wrong-way to go: rely on the prospect’s personal taste in illumination, describe the solutions that match that taste, build your argument on preferences only. 

The right way to go: outline the ways illumination at the workplace affects productivity and why your solution is more friendly to the budget of the company.

Getting your prospect’s interest is half of the battle. You must also provide your prospects with ammunition they would use when convincing their colleagues to work with you. 

Lacking structure

Being natural and genuine is important in B2B. However, not to the extent of sending random emails crafted in the moment of inspiration and expecting to receive a positive response. Or any response in general. 

Just like with planning the timing for sending emails, your follow-ups should be calculated. Your flow of emails is only natural when you think your conversation through. 

Creating a script for your follow-ups allows you to:

  • Never leave out any critical details. Whenever you have a natural conversation, you end up remembering that there was one very important thing that you forgot to mention. It’s quite frustrating in everyday life, but in B2B it’s simply unforgivable. While we can always get back to the important subject in our casual conversations, there are no second chances in prospect outreach. Of course, you can message your prospect again and describe all the points you failed to mention earlier, but it won’t make you look good and credible. 
  • Help you avoid repeating yourself. Nothing pisses people more than getting the same information over and over again. They did not agree to be pulled into the Groundhog Day situation, they don’t find it fun, they don’t find it interesting and they won’t change their mind if you tell them one and the same thing for a hundred times. Also, they don’t care why you do it. If you’re repetitive because you forget what your previous email was about, it’s your responsibility to improve and organize your data. 
  • Prevent info-dumping. We understand that you have a lot of good things to tell about your products and services. However, listing every benefit, even the ones that are currently irrelevant to your prospects turns your email in an info bomb, which erupts in your prospect’s face without warning. They won’t appreciate this. With the right pace and sequence, you will be able to send information in brief, comprehensive emails, allowing your prospects to learn something new each time they receive your message. 
  • Control your conversation. Crafting a sequence of follow-ups is an exercise in understanding and analysis. You get to think about how exactly you want your conversation to flow, develop various approaches and figure out the order of the information and tone of the conversation. 

How do we structure our follow-ups? 

  • Don’t start with the details. Our Wave 2 follow-up is merely a brief reminder about our introduction email. It encourages the recipients to check the entire thread and see what they have been missing. 
  • Continue with more specific information. If our Wave 2 follow-up doesn’t result in a response, the next follow-up will explore the company’s assets in greater detail. Here, we can elaborate on a relevant service or product, tell about our latest achievements and why they are important for the prospect’s niche, or provide a case study that might be interesting to the prospects. 
  • Motivate to write back. In case we still don’t receive a response from our prospect, we don’t just stop the conversation entirely. We always leave our prospects an opportunity to respond. At this point, they may respond with “We don’t need your services because…”, but getting any kind of feedback is important for understanding our chances with the prospect and structuring our schedule. 

While we prefer to customize our templates to meet the needs of the prospect’s niche, this structure is our life-saver. With it, we are able to gradually build up the interesting facts about our business and ensure that the pattern of our outreach campaigns feels natural, is informative and in no way a nuisance to our recipients. 

Following up too often

It is crucial for you to find a golden middle in staying on your prospect’s mind, but it doesn’t mean you should bother your prospect’s three times a day. Give them time to read your offer, think about it, then read it again. Creating a customized schedule will help you figure out the most productive days and make your work a lot easier. 

Changing the subject

Sending follow-ups dedicated to a matter that is completely irrelevant to your introduction email doesn’t bring you closer to closing a deal. If anything, it confuses your recipients. 

The purpose of your follow-ups is to bring attention to your introduction email and your offer. Therefore, your entire email sequence must be wholesome. Doing otherwise would result in your prospects losing any understanding of what you want from them as well as in you losing a B2B opportunity

General follow-up tips 

The most jarring thing about follow-ups is the necessity to personalize them so they could meet the individual needs of the industry you’re working with. Nevertheless, there are tips anyone can use to improve their follow-up campaign:

  • Try out different CTAs. If you see that your current CTA has low CTR, consider changing it. Some calls-to-action speak to prospects, while others just don’t work for them. 
  • Include social proof. It always helps to mention your customers from the prospect’s industry to show your familiarity with the niche. 
  • Give your prospects credit. Always acknowledge the efforts and achievements of your prospects. 
  • Make each email count. Your follow-ups should never be placeholders for your introduction email. Information is your bread and butter, so make sure to supply your prospects with new food for thought.  
  • Test, test, test. Just like with introduction emails, you should craft A and B templates for each of your follow-up messages and monitor their performance across various segments of your target audience. 
  • Stay relevant. If you want to attach relevant news articles or research papers, make sure they’re freshly posted and really hot topic. After all, your recipients are educated people who are as interested in new information as you. 

Conclusion

Writing follow-ups is a complicated task. It takes awareness, knowledge of the prospect’s industry and the ability to be in your prospect’s shoes. In 5 years of working with B2B emails, we realized the following: 

  • There is no perfect formula to follow-up emails. There is a range of methods and approaches that are based on the sales data and metrics delivered by your email software. 
  • Personalization defines success. The more research you do about your niche of interest, the more compelling your follow-up templates can become and, therefore, the more they will appeal to your audience. 
  • The organization is everything. It’s very easy to make mistakes when you don’t plan anything in advance. Structuring your follow-ups, launching tests and keeping a close look at your sales data and customer data will help you avoid all the mistakes we described above. 

Without a doubt, there are a lot more things to discover. B2B content keeps developing and exploring new communication patterns. Since we monitor all of the closely, stay tuned for new tips and data!

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