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Subject Line for Follow-Up Email: Crafting the Best Ones

When it comes to follow-up emails, you get a second chance at making a great first impression — that’s what makes your subject line so key to the success of your follow-up messages.

Knowing how to avoid poor subject lines, and instead craft ones that are engaging and effective and capture your prospects’ attention, will deliver the results you need.

But what makes a great follow-up cold email subject line that will get you appointments or meetings with prospective clients?

In this article we’ll cover:

By the end of this guide, you'll master crafting compelling follow-up email subject lines that boost open rates and engagement.

Let’s dive straight in!

What Is a Follow-Up Email?

what is a follow-up email?

Follow-up emails, which often include the need to introduce yourself in an email, are emails you send after a meeting (perhaps at a conference), inquiries, questions, in search of further information, or any other time you want to follow up on a previous conversation.

The important thing to note about follow-ups is that you’re likely only going to send them in a business context when you need to request something in particular — for example, you’re trying to get feedback on a product, schedule an in-person coffee meeting, or follow-up on a job application.

This isn’t to say that you only send them in a last-minute fuss, deadlines looming, or that the person you’re sending them to is holding you up. Rather, it means that the follow-up email needs to work in your favor and be crafted to best suit the tone, role, position, and connection.

A good follow-up email is also a reminder about who you are (your name), what you do and where you work (your company name), what you’re offering them (your product or service), and what they’ll get from it.

It’s about communicating your requirements and goals as clearly and precisely as possible.

Why Are Follow-Up Email Subject Lines Important?

Did you know that according to email marketing data, only 16.97% of emails are opened, with an average CTR of 10.29%? That means that over 80% of emails go straight to trash or stay in the inbox, unopened.

The first hurdle, then, is the subject line of your email — without a catchy line, chances are no one will even see the follow-up email you’ve spent time crafting, nor the website you’ve spent money on, or any of your other places where you have an online presence.

Without a successful follow-up email subject line you won’t receive that quote from accounts, those documents you requested, that project delivered. Nor will you hear back from the decision makers, if potential customers or prospective clients have agreed to terms, or land any further leads. 

In short, your revenue won’t have a chance to grow.

The range and variety of cases and events in which a follow-up email is necessary is as vast as it is varied. The better your first follow-up email is, the less necessary is your second or third.

Best Practices for Crafting Effective Follow-Up Email Subject Lines

best practices for crafting effective follow-up email subject lines

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to crafting a great follow-up email subject line, but there are a number of steps you can take to make sure that your follow-up email subject lines are effective. 

There’s a lot to factor in, but with a few of these ideas and strategies, you’ll be able to touch base with your potential new leads easily and guarantee a response.

Keep It Personal and Conversational

Know your crowd and how to address them so that you can swiftly tackle any issues or tasks for the particular situation. Using special buying signals by using reputable data suppliers like Bookyourdata by targeting and acquiring direct email leads can be beneficial for being laser-targeted to know your audience.

While there’s a place for formal follow-up emails, like to lawyers or doctors, when you’re prospecting for clients or trying to reinforce your value proposition to readers, you need to build rapport.

You’ve already had the initial conversation and laid out exactly the services you offer, and you’re feeling confident enough to follow up. Keeping your inquiry personal and conversational puts you on even footing with the reader. The objective is to not come off pushy, not come off stale, and to ultimately remind your readers of the value you can bring them.

It may be suitable to offer options to follow up in person in a more informal setting, for example, a coffee or alternative hot drink and sit down, or something else in their area. An invitation to one of the more formal restaurants in town might be a little much, but an offer to buy them a casual lunch and chat could be a good choice.

Make Subject Lines Short and Crisp

There’s a limited amount of space that a subject line affords you, and a limited amount of notice your recipient will give. Think of them like news headlines where you have to capture the reader’s attention quickly.

Keeping your subject line short and crisp, to hold interest and pique curiosity, is crucial.

Make a list for yourself of the things you need to convey, craft a few short subject lines that express these, and then try editing them down until there’s nothing more you can remove.

Relate to the Contents of Your Email

Your subject line needs to tie directly to the content of your email on the whole. The objective is to be clear and concise, but also convey exactly what the email is about. 

The recipient needs to see the key points of your email and understand the topics of conversation as soon as the email arrives in their inbox.

Avoid “Never-Ending” Subject Lines

Rambling is never a good idea. If your subject line runs too long it also won’t display in full in an inbox (especially on mobile devices). 

Subject lines need to be informative and concise so that your reader is clued into the direction of the conversation and benefits to them before they open the message.

Test, Test, and Test Your Subject Lines

A/B testing your subject lines can be a great method for revising and honing them. 

It’s not a perfectly scientific method, but checking the rate of responses and engagement with your follow-up email subject lines can help you study and refine your process.

There are also online resources (i.e., services, tools, and apps) that can assess your subject lines for readability, sense, and details, and offer you actionable statistics to work from.

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Examples of Follow-Up Email Subject Lines

examples of follow-up email subject lines

Looking for an overview of subject line examples that you can model your own work on? The following subject lines are divided up by theme or techniques, so you can see how focusing on a specific feature or point of interest can help. 

General Follow-Up Subject Lines

More general follow-up subject lines are best suited for reaching out to someone who knows you well or with whom you work, and who needs a gentle nudge to get back to you. They are still conversational and informal, and as a bonus, brief.

Try these approaches:

  • Checking in about… 
  • Reminding you of…
  • Following up on…
  • Updates on…

Simple and straightforward, these types of subject lines leave the bulk of the line for the specific details of your email and your reason for reaching out.

Question-Based Subject Lines

Psychologically, asking questions helps to build rapport and trust between people. It acts as a link in situations, creating bonds.

Similarly, simple questions work well in follow-up email subject lines. They put the ball in your reader’s court and give you the opportunity to get indirect feedback on your previous communication.

You could try:

  • Have you thought about…?
  • Do you have any more questions about…?
  • Did you get everything you need?
  • Is there anything else I can do for you?

If you open with a question and your reader has more questions, then you’ve opened up another line of conversation. 

If not, you’ve at least put yourself back at the forefront of your reader’s memory.

Plans/Goals-Based Subject Lines

Presenting yourself as someone whose skills can help your client achieve their goals is a great way to position yourself as integral to their plans. A great way of doing this is by demonstrating how you can help others with a particular goal in the subject line. 

This also shows the degree to which you paid attention to your potential client, it helps build rapport, and it changes your relationship with them from salesperson and customer to two professionals working towards a common outcome.

Some examples could include:

  • We’d still love to collaborate, [insert name]!
  • A great piece for you, [insert name]!
  • Need a hand with…?

Conversational Follow-Up Email Subject Lines

Part of building rapport is getting to a place of familiar friendliness with potential customers. A conversational tone helps you to ingratiate yourself with them, and using that tone in your subject lines will put you on familiar and easy footing. 

Simply dropping the business formality your reader might be expecting can go a long way in showing your sincerity and trust, and develops the relationship so valuable to making and closing deals.

Don’t be afraid to demonstrate gratitude and thanks, a compliment, or pleasure dealing with your potential lead — it may help you get a few more callbacks!

Examples include:

  • Hey, just wanted to let you know…
  • I’ve just had a thought about…
  • How’d you like to catch up again?
  • Shall we put a date on the calendar?
  • Checking in on…
  • This blog post might be helpful for you, [insert name]!
  • Let’s connect on LinkedIn!

Promise-Based Subject Lines

Something like the goal or plan-based subject line, the promise-based subject line simply and clearly presents the promise of your services with confidence and clarity.

For example:

  • I can help with…
  • I’d like to offer to…
  • Let me do…

You might have a specific offer you want to make or to reiterate the pitch you’ve already made. In any case, focusing on your client’s paint points, and delivering the promise of your help reinforces your brand and value.

Funny Subject Lines

If you’re looking for something eye-catching to herald your inquiries, leveraging humor to get your readers interested and put them in a good place is a strong strategy to get a reply.

Funny subject lines work best when you can employ the comedy inherent to your line of work or something from your previous conversations. 

Because everyone has such a wide variety of experiences to draw on, it’s best to find something you and your reader can relate to or understand rather than use email templates.

Inspiring Subject Lines

Inspiring subject lines are all about your value proposition. 

When you commit to an outreach campaign to potential clients, you’re seeking to show them what your services can bring to their lives to improve it.

Examples include:

  • Your next step towards [insert job title]
  • Let’s take the next step towards…
  • Ready to help you achieve…
  • Ready to get started on…

Offering a glimpse into how you can help your client or their company works so well because you’re already nudging them towards the yes, and showing them the opportunity they need to get on board with. 

FOMO-Based Subject Lines

The fear of missing out can be an immensely powerful tool when following up with customers. 

The tactic relies on letting them know that you only have so much capacity and it’s up to them to make the jump and get involved or opportunity pass them by.

Examples include:

  • Last chance to…
  • We only have a few spaces left for…
  • Don’t miss out…
  • Reaching out with a limited offer…

These subject lines create a sense of urgency for your reader without resorting to clickbait email campaigns or spam.

This snippet of urgency helps up your response rates simply by putting a timer on.

Curiosity Inducing Subject Lines

Creating questions and sprinkling a little bit of mystery is a great strategy for encouraging email replies. All you have to do is offer your reader a question that you can answer.

Examples include:

  • Have you considered…
  • What do you think of…
  • Eager to hear your thoughts on…
  • A few more questions about…
  • Would you like to hear about…

It doesn’t have to be anything major — after all, you’ve only a few words to work with in a subject line — but a little curiosity can mean everything to your task.

Catchy Subject Lines

Catchy subject lines are best used in conjunction with an overall marketing push. 

For a particular offer, a new service, a rebrand, or new campaign, repurposing marketing slogans or catchy headlines for your subject lines can help reinforce a sense of identity and connect the dots. 

Using catchy headlines tied to your marketing reinforces your brand personality, and reminds your reader of your position in the market and business landscape.

Customer Pain Points Subject Lines

Because you’ve paid attention and taken notes in all your previous conversations, you know what it is your potential customer is looking for, or at least what worries them. 

If you can help with those pain points then it can be immensely effective to put that front and center in your email subject line.

You’ll need to know the specifics of your customer’s paint points in order to use them effectively, and you need to be able to actually help with those pain points. 

Using them as a hook to get your client’s attention will cut right to the chase: how you can help solve their problems.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Follow-Up Email Subject Lines

common mistakes to avoid in follow-up email subject lines

While there are plenty of things you should be doing to improve your follow-up subject lines, there are other things you ought to avoid if you don’t want to turn prospects off.

Being Too Pushy or Desperate

Your subject line needs to be confident and forward, but you don’t want to come off as pushy or desperate. If you’re too pushy, you may inspire defiance in your client who will feel that you are being aggressive, and they will ignore or reject you out of self-defense.

If your subject line betrays a sense of desperation, then you are likely to throw up questions in their mind: “Can this person really do what they’re saying or are they just desperate enough to lie to get my business?” 

These sorts of thoughts spell death for your campaign.

Not Including Enough Information

Not including information is as bad as being generic. If you don’t provide the details up front then your reader is just as likely to forget about your message as they are to ignore it. 

You need detail to stick in the minds of your customer and to convey to them the most important points they need to pay attention to.

There’s also always the chance that, without detail, your email will simply be lost in the bottomless pit because you haven’t given any clear information to set it apart.

Be sure to include other contact information in the main body of your follow-up email — after all, your recipient may prefer phone calls to email. Just remember to check your voicemails if you miss a call!

Sending Mass, Non-Personalized Emails

Even when you’re running a mass communication campaign, personalization is fundamental to upping your response rates. 

Even if you are communicating through mass-email send-outs, ensure that you use personalization to stop your email from being lost or ignored.

Using Misleading or Clickbait Subject Lines

Clickbait might work for Youtube videos, but when it comes to emails all they do is flag your message as a potential scam.

While you’re not fishing for credit card numbers or trying to trojan horse a virus, a clickbait headline is sure to raise such concerns in the mind of your reader.

On top of that, there’s also every chance that many spam filters will mistake your message for a scam and send it directly to the spam folder, never to be seen again.

FAQs About Subject Line for Follow-Up Email

Why is personalization crucial in follow-up email subject lines?

Personalization and specificity ensure your recipients can quickly recall who you are and what you’re contacting them about. Show that you’ve put time and effort into knowing who your client is by personalizing your follow-up email subject lines.

How often should I test my email subject lines?

You should test your email subject lines as often as you can! You can simply keep track of the response rate from different subject lines, or use apps, extensions, or programs to measure the effectiveness of subject lines.

What is the ideal length for a follow-up email subject line?

The ideal length for a follow-up email subject line is one that will be displayed in your readers’ inboxes. Keep the subject line as direct and as clear as possible without sacrificing detail and personalization.

Final Thoughts: Core Takeaways on Subject Line for Follow-up Email

There are many moving parts to successful follow-up email subject lines, but crafting a great line can be made easier by following these three important steps.

The Importance of Personalization

Remember, the best way to connect and build rapport with a potential lead is by personalizing your follow-up email subject line.

Nobody likes to be thought of as just another cog in the machine, so show that you’ve done your research and know your potential customer!

The Role of Testing and Perfecting Subject Lines

Not every subject line is going to be a winner, which is why you should spend some time doing A/B testing to help craft the subject lines that get your email opened and replied to.

Don’t forget, practice makes perfect!

Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Follow-Up Email Subject Lines

Want to see more responses? In your follow-up subject line, remember to:

  • Avoid coming across as too desperate
  • Include enough information
  • Not use misleading or clickbait lines.

Make sure those initial emails are reaching your potential customers the first time around, hopefully eliminating the need to send follow-ups and sign up with BookYourData for 10 free leads today 🔥

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