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How do you know it’s the right time to send that follow-up email after no response? What would you say to get a response? Should you even email them again? These are all questions we ask ourselves when our emails get ignored.
And a lot of emails get ignored.
The majority of people say they prefer to be communicated with through email, perhaps in part because it is easy to ignore a faceless note. It turns out, 55 percent of marketing emails are never even opened, and even professional personal emails often go unanswered.
The question is…what do you do about it?
After all, you need answers. Something prompted you to carefully craft and send an email in the first place to a prospect, a current client, or a colleague. So you want to follow through on that initial question, clarification, scheduling issue, etc. But what does a follow-up email after no response look like?
In this article, we’ll go over why someone may not respond to your emails, how long to wait before checking in, the best way to write a follow-up email after no response (with specific steps), and a few templates to help you get started. By the time we’re done, you’ll be ready to handle all those non-responders out there.
- It’s important to be polite and professional in your follow-up emails.
- Try different approaches, such as checking in on their progress or offering additional suggestions, to get a response.
- Know when it’s time to move on and consider ending the project.
When to write a follow-up email after no response
You spent a good 15 minutes tackling a hard subject, choosing each word, presenting your key points in the best possible way. You anxiously hit “send” and…nothing happens.
Obviously you don’t expect an immediate response, but you wait a couple of days, and still nothing. A week goes by, and you STILL haven’t gotten a reply. So you’re definitely wondering at this point, did they not see it? Did it go to spam? How long do I have to wait to send a follow-up email after no response?
It really is that simple. Although there is no “right” answer, and you can reasonably send a follow-up within a 1-14 day window, the truth is, after about 48 hours, the person you are trying to reach has forgotten all about that first message. So sending a nudge on the third day makes sense.
That doesn’t mean you send one follow-up on day three and then never again. The art of following up is making sure that your subject hasn’t forgotten about you, without harassing them to the point that they never want to hear from you again. It sounds like a tall order, but most people appreciate reminders if you do it right.
How to write a follow-up email after no response
Ok, here we are on the third day after your previous email, and you have received zero response. So you’re ready to send a note to see if you can elicit an answer.
*Stares at blank screen.*
How do you do that?
You already said everything you had to say in the initial email, so what do you say in a follow-up email after no response? It depends on the type of email you are sending, and the type of response you need. But there is a pattern you can follow to help you say the perfect thing every time.
1. Don’t overthink it
An email is just an email.
Yes, the tone matters and yes, sending the right kinds of email can help you win clients, successfully complete projects, network with the right people and more. But at its heart, an email is really just a little note from you to the recipient.
If you spend hours agonizing over commas and italics and if you put too many adjectives here or there, your message will never be sent, and that is worse than an imperfection here or there.
Take a deep breath, be yourself, proofread before you hit the send button, and then move on.
2. Use the reply button
When I send a follow-up email after no response, I like to reply to the first email I sent. I delete any extra formatting, but leave the body of the previous message at the bottom.
This way, the person I am trying to reach, A) knows that this is not the first time I have sent a message and I’m awaiting their reply, and B) does not have to go digging around in their inbox to find the details from my first email.
This does not apply to a mass-marketing email, in general, but you can still include hints that this is the second time. Putting “ICYMI” (in case you missed it) in the subject line is one way to call attention to the fact that this is a follow-up.
3. Keep it short
You already said what you needed to say (and that text is included in your new message for easy reference), so a follow-up email after no response should be concise. A ten paragraph epic restating everything you have already asked probably not only won’t get read, but will annoy the recipient.
4. Take ownership
Yes, you are the one waiting for a reply. But people don’t respond well to accusations, so if you come at them with a confrontational email, you aren’t going to win them over.
Instead, take ownership over the process. Use I words instead of You words. “I am working on finalizing my client list for the next year, and I wanted to ensure that your place is held if you are interested.” Or, “I am almost finished with the case study, I simply need to add the perfect quote from you.”
Usually, I language comes across as selfish, but in this case, you’re putting the brunt of things back on yourself instead of pointing out that the other person is holding the process up.
5. Provide options
Sometimes people don’t respond because they aren’t sure what to do. If your original message did not have a clear call to action or offer the other person a way out of the situation, they might take time to think what to do, which inevitably leads to that person forgetting all about your email in the first place!
Instead always lead the first follow-up with your question, but then finish with specific options for moving forward. Something like, “I’d like a response by Wednesday. If that doesn’t work for you, can you direct me to someone else on your team who can help fulfill this request?” Or maybe, “If this doesn’t interest you, could you let me know promptly so that I can extend the offer to the next person in line?”
Depending on who you are writing to, you may need to be more deferential, but you should continue to be specific and provide choices. “I appreciate that you have a very busy schedule. If you are unable to help, can you give me heads up so I have time to find a replacement?”
All of these examples provide an opt-out but also a specific need, so they will feel at ease responding with a “thanks but no thanks,” or, hopefully, they will be spurred on to follow through on your request.
6. Be respectful
There is never any need to be overly aggressive or upset when writing a follow-up email after no response. Yes, it was rude to ignore your last email. If you are feeling strong emotions about this, it’s best to wait an extra day before sending that first follow-up.
I like to try and imagine the reasons they may not have written back before I touch base. Perhaps they have an illness in the family? Maybe they are traveling and forgot to set an out-of-office message. Or this has been an extra hectic week and my email simply slipped through the cracks. Assume good will––while there are people who may just leave your email unattended to out of spite, I find that most people are just doing the best they can.
Dos and (and do nots!) of a follow-up email after no response
Even a short follow-up email has basic things it must include. If you haven’t received a response, there are some extra things to take into consideration. Be sure any follow-up email after no response has the following:
A strong subject line
Even though you’re responding to a previous email, re-writing the email subject line might help you get noticed faster. Here’s some ideas.
A friendly greeting
Even though you’re hitting reply and re-sending the same old details, be sure to be cordial and include a greeting once again.
A call-out of the most important detail
Don’t rewrite your previous message. They can go ahead and look at that for themselves. Instead, reiterate the most important detail from that message. “I need your approval on X,” or “Did you have questions about the proposal?” Something along those lines. This gets them thinking about what you sent.
I have always been more successful in getting responses from clients if I give them a hard deadline. People are busy, so things get on the schedule in order of priority. I try to be honest about when I really need them to reply, but not put the deadline more than a week away from when I send the follow-up message.
A hopeful closing
It doesn’t hurt to remind people that you are a person, too! I like to close with something like, “Talk soon!” or “Hoping this helps clarify…” or “Looking forward to finishing this project with you!” Something that eludes to the future without applying too much pressure. That way, they know you are expecting a response.
On the other hand, there are things you should leave out of a follow-up email after no response, including:
Pointing fingers might make you feel better in the moment, but it won’t get you any closer to your goal. The person you are emailing knows they didn’t respond, so you can leave that part out.
People can tell when you’re being a jerk. Because you’re annoyed, you might be tempted to put something clever in your message that the receiver might not realize is rude. Don’t. You aren’t as smart as you think.
A complete recap of what you already said
A follow-up email after no response really only needs to be a few sentences. If your message is longer than that, go back, re-read, and take out anything that was in your original email.
Follow-up email after no response examples you can use
Sometimes, it is easier just to copy and paste a template to get things going. With that in mind, I’ve provided a few follow-up email templates that you can start with below. Keep in mind, it is always better to personalize a message than it is to just send a generic template. Use these as a base, but fine-tune them for your individual business, and then for each situation.
1. To The Silent Prospect
I hope this finds you well. I haven’t seen a response from you on the [proposal/price sheet/sample] I sent over [exact date]. I would love to hear any questions or thoughts you have. Can we hop on a call [Tuesday/the 3rd/whatever day works] to discuss this further?
2. To The Reluctant Approver
I saw that you haven’t responded to the [article/design/pitch/etc.] that I sent [exact date]. Can I do anything to help move the process along? Personally, I think that [option or detail of the project] is the strongest, should we go ahead and move in the direction, or would you like to send me specific feedback before [deadline] so that I can get this completed on-schedule?
3. To The Unhurried Colleague
I heard that you have had a busy week! I am almost finished with [project/presentation/agenda] and just need your final details to make it perfect. Can you get that to me by [deadline], or can your point me to someone on your team who can help fill in the blanks?
People are busy. Not getting a response to an email can feel like a personal slight, but rest assured that it happens all the time, and it likely has nothing to do with you or the email you sent.
Wait three days, use one of the follow-up email templates above to send a quick follow-up email after no response to your initial message, and see what happens. If you still don’t get a reply, try again a few days later. If after about 10 days, you still don’t get what you need, assume that particular email will probably not be answered, and either move on or get the information you need another way. Either way, you can close the loop and not dwell on it anymore.
In a few months or years, something new might come up and you’ll want to reconnect with that person again, so always leave the line of communication open on your end. Concise, respectful follow-ups are always the way to go.
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How would you respond to this email? keep in mind that we trat all of our clients with the same priority… i guess he doesnt want to pay us all..
“Sorry for the delayed response as I have been dealing with some personal issues for an extended period.
I have been meaning to write you earlier but have not found the time. I am back working now.
I am going to be quite forward in this email as I have been a client for a very long time and have always been satisfied with your firms work. You have been my lawyer in Mexico since day one and have been a great value to my endeavors as well as my fathers and for that I will be forever grateful.
However, since the merger with Dentons there has been a major change in the quality of services and a lack in the attention to detail your firm has provided. I know your focus is on bigger accounts and that an account like mine will take a backseat but I did not anticipate such a drastic change.
There have been some notable issues that I would like to highlight.
For over a year there have been a revolving door of junior associates that were accompanying Dante to our meetings and they weren’t versed and in most cases briefed about the items I was going over with Dante (this list of items has been static for over a year). Since they weren’t familiar with what was being discussed there was little value added by their presence and this resulted in a waste of time/money.
Additionally, I have been trying to resolve the same issues (a court releasing money to Cosafi as the result of an appeal where the has been a simulated workers claim taking a lien on the money) for almost a year and was hitting my head on the wall trying to think of ways to solve these issues. There has been no creativity or thinking on the firms side as to how to resolve the issues. The ideas on resolving issues were solely coming from me and then the feasibility would be analyzed by your lawyers. I expected more from your lawyers in way of coming up with solutions rather than evaluating my proposed solutions. I know the counter party is a difficult counter party but since I have had other lawyers working on this that provided an avenue of options never brought up or discussed by your team.
The biggest item that I took exception to was not being informed that Dante had left the firm. In the past I was always advised of changes to my legal team and was particularly advised if there would to be changes to my relationship manager.
Regarding your fees I will make a payment next week and hope to have the balance paid by Christmas. I kindly ask that you reconsider some of the fees of your jr associates that accompanied Dante to these meetings (for the above reason).
I still want to work with your firm and am still satisfied in many respects. “
I have a client who asked me to work on 15 units of 3D rendering job for $30 each. The deal was a done deal. The client was happy with the output. One month later, the client has contacted me again to work on 120 units of 3D Modelling and Rendering task. He asked me to give him a quote. The new task were a mixture of complicated and easy objects, and after careful analysis to the new project scope, I decided to charge the same amount per piece as our previous deal. After I submitted the quote, the client did not reply back. There is no word from him at all. No bargaining whatsoever. Where did I go wrong? It has been more than a month since I submitted the quote. Should I still follow-up?
Yes, definitely follow up, Kristian. You’ll never know what’s up unless you reach out to them.
its very helpfull for me
I usually remind them three times via email spread over 2 weeks.
and then call them up ( which almost everytime they never pickup)
however , I call them up or send them an email after a month or even two months and I always connect with them. and I actually closed many deals this way,
they were just busy .
They sometimes just need time.
Great article but I have a tricky one for ya . . . I contacted a company (Well funded as in 8 figures). I met there Marketing Director, we had a great chat. He suggested to make a proposal and then we can all discuss it with the CEO. Two days later I sent him the info he needed, no response.. 1 Week later, I followed up, no response. 2nd time I followed up no response. 3rd time, I followed up with your message above lol “Is this project still a priority for you? . . ” – That one and I added ‘tracking on it’. Just to see if he will open it. So he opened it but again, no response. I”m assuming that I’m in the running and they are just weighing in on other options as well (Originally they were looking for someone in-house). Funny thing is I have a meeting with a prospect who are in the exact same market as these guys tomorrow. So if I like them, and things work out, I won’t be able to work with them regardless. PS: Great site by the way.
This also presupposes that you have enough time on your hands to do these follow-ups. You may have a programme to enables you to maintain focus on all these things,
This is what my client replied after step 4 of my email.
“I don’t think it’s any of your business to question my priorities, I am a client to you, you have given your proposal i will respond at my convenience.
We are busy with other things, you are at your liberty to engage yourself.
Wow! Sounds like not an ideal client for you. I believe clients should be partners, and if they don’t care about the fact that you’re taking the time to follow up AND “saving space” to ensure you can meet their needs, then that doesn’t seem like a good long-term client relationship! How’d it turn out?
Thanks for your great help regarding following up old clients, but how to get new good paying clients? What’s your strategy for this part of getting new business?
Thanks so much for this! I don’t always remember to follow-up, which is why I got Boomerang to keep track of all the emails I send.
But when I do, it’s amazing how often I get responses back saying something along the lines of “sorry I took a while to respond I was…sick, dealing with a family emergency, on vacation, etc.”
Great article and great advice, especially for newbies. I find it can be tricky getting the right tone over email and being confident, but not sounding bossy.
I found your “I’ve attached a proposal for you to review. Please look it over and let me know your thoughts” a little pushy/bossy.
If you’ve had success with that perhaps I should try it! I’m just very sensitive to being told what to do!
I do tend to assume if I don’t hear back by 2nd or 3rd email that the client (or potential client) isn’t interested, but perhaps a bit more persistance is needed.
Thanks for this!
The article is good and indeed very very helpful especially as a reminder to follow up and offer that tiny bit extra in conversation.
I did feel the 4th and 5th email is a bit cold in its words. Do you have a suggestion to deliver the same message in a better tone?
Question for ya, though. I have a long-standing client that has been wonderful. One of those that you don’t want to lose. We have done several projects for him over the years. Recently we proposed ongoing marketing services/social media management. I sent him an email outlining the basics of what we would do and a starting price range to see if it was in the ballpark of what he was thinking. He never addressed that email, but we have interacted several times since then about other projects or questions he had. I specifically asked about it multiple times, but he still never responded. I do not want to chance being pushy since he is such a good client, but at the same time I really want to know if he is still interested. Any advice on how to gingerly approach it would be great!
Good question. Well, does he still have a need for ongoing marketing services/social media management? If he does, I don’t think it is pushy to ask about it. If you ask about it showing you are genuinely curious and interested in helping him and his business.
So I would ask from his perspective.
Instead of asking about the proposal, ask if he still has the problem that was the genesis for the proposal in the first place.
Ask as though you want to know if he still has that problem that you were trying to solve for him. Get him talking about that first. You could ask him a two-part question: “Is that still a problem for you and is it a priority for you to fix it?”
It could be the timing is not right. It could be that he has other more pressing issues. I would simply try to have a conversation about his business with him to get a feel for what situation he is in.
From there, you can figure out if it is still a priority or not.
The budget matter is probably less important if you have worked with him in the past and those projects were in the same or similar range as what you proposed.
If so, then you know the money if there.
The goal then becomes more about showing him that social media management and ongoing marketing management is important because it will help grow him brand, free up time for him to focus on things that he does best, etc.
This is a great reminder to follow up. So many forget this important step. I have my own “3 strikes and out” unofficial rule. I contact my potential clients 3 times after the initial proposal is sent. Usually once a couple days after, another about week after, and then a 3rd about a week after that. Usually after this point, they are “a gonner”, but you never know. I do keep “the loop” somewhat open so that I can reach out again…even if it’s months or a year later. I’ve actually had responses that far after. And if they haven’t officially told you no then they shouldn’t be annoyed if you keep reaching out 🙂
I do something slightly different by reaching out later on down the road.
About 6 months down the road I reach out and open a new loop by asking if there is something they need help with.
If the timing is right, they may decide to respond and resurrect the old proposal or start a new proposal.
Great advice, Ian!
Prospects who disappear after receiving our proposal is very common among freelancers and often discussed.
I think a 2nd or 3rd follow up email would be enough for me.
I don’t want to be pushy, because in my case, 90% of the prospects who don’t respond, they just don’t have the budget.
And many of them feel uncomfortable to admit it.
(I am an architect and my fee is only a small part of the whole amount one has to invest.)
Thanks Maria! Yes, working with the right clients is even more important than following up.
It’s one of those things where you do it right in the beginning or all the other tactical stuff down the road becomes irrelevant.
If you are working with the wrong people, following up with them is not going to help your cause.
So what I do is first send a client questionnaire with a minimum budget amount on it. That way, if I’ve gotten to the point of writing a proposal for them, I know they at least meet the budget requirement.
The reason I go all the way to the end of the sequence is really just to get it out of my head. At the point of sending them the Closing The Loop email, I am just looking for closure for myself so I can move on.
Sorry. Comments are closed.
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