Free Outreach Course: Lesson 4 — The Magic Art of Following-Up

Once you send an outreach email, what do you do next?

If they don’t respond, do you give up and stop? Or do you follow up with them and send a second email? A third email? A fourth email?

And if you do decide to follow up, how often do you follow up? What do you do if they don’t reply? How can you be persistent without being annoying?

Why Follow Up?

At Double Your Freelancing Conference, one of the speakers — Alan Branch of Less Accounting — had this to say:

When I get an email, sometimes I delete it. Then I wait and see. If they don’t email me a second time, I know it wasn’t important.

Why follow up? You follow up because your message is important. Maybe the person you emailed deleted your message. Maybe they missed it because they were busy.

Whatever the reason, you follow up because you have valuable information to share.

People with weak self-esteem and low confidence go away after only a single rejection. Because of that, they’re unlikely to close a sale.

If there’s anything I want you to take away from this email, it’s the idea that you must be set up to receive rejection and not take it personally.

Only a person with an extra dose of strong ego can repeatedly email a prospect after the prospect has not responded multiple times.

When you’ve identified a great prospect that you desperately want to connect with, you need an organized, consistent and relentless program to win them over – no matter how many times they don’t respond or say they’re not interested.

How Do I Follow Up Effectively?

To follow up effectively, you need to build in procedures to your business that require you to try again and again.

You need a system that builds in 5, 10, or more attempts to reach a prospect.

That way, even if a prospect says no or doesn’t respond multiple times, you have a system that allows you to continually, persistently follow up.

You’ll find that it can take 5 or more rejections to get a meeting or have a conversation.

What makes the difference between the people who face that rejection one time and pull out or 10 times and never quit is the strength of their ego.

Very few people — often less than 5% — are persistent enough to keep trying after four rejections. But by being persistent and determined — and by continually finding clever ways to get in front of the people you’re pitching — you earn their respect.

You see, if you continue to market to someone with great vigor, they will get to know who you are.

If you email them and they don’t respond and you keep following up with them, pitching them, and demonstrating how they’ll benefit from your knowledge and expertise, they will go from not knowing who you are to feeling obligated to respond to you or work with you.

Psychologically, it works like this: if you keep going after someone, they start to feel like they want to give something back to you.

By continually delivering value to the people you’re contacting through your outreach, you’re presenting them with an idea of the value that you’ll deliver to them, their business, or their audience.

After all, how valuable could what you have to say be if you’re willing to give up after a single rejection?

How Often Should You Follow Up?

You must expect and plan for the people you’re emailing to not respond to your emails several times — and these rejections or lack of responses must not cause you to give up.

Rather, you must anticipate that they will not respond.

In turn, you must plan out your marketing and your emails ahead of time:

  • What’s the first email that you send them?
  • What’s the second?
  • What’s the fifth?

By planning these out ahead of time, you make it easy to follow up with your prospects, educating them about how you’d help their business, and demonstrating to them your knowledge of your area of expertise.

When people don’t respond, you want to intensify your follow up. Stay in your prospects face, even when they aren’t responding.

Massive diligent follow-up can penetrate any company if you are determined. After all, how important could you or your message be if you give up after a single rejection?

How Often Is Too Often?

You should go after the prospect up to ten times — even if the prospect doesn’t respond ten times.

If the emails you’re sending are high-quality, relevant, and educational, what do you have to lose by being persistent in your outreach efforts?

Regarding your schedule, you should plan to send an email to your prospects about twice a week. I favor a schedule like:

  • Email #1: Monday
  • Email #2: Thursday
  • Email #3: Monday
  • Email #4: Thursday
  • Email #5: …

Alternating between two days in a week until you’ve reached ten total emails to a prospect.

It’s easy to focus on your maximum speed — the maximum number of emails you can send in a day to multiple prospects — but, what’s more important is your average speed: the number of emails you send a prospect consistently over time.

The small gains of being consistent in your outreach and follow-up will quickly outpace a short burst of outreach at your maximum speed. It doesn’t take long for average speed to produce amazing results.

How can you increase your average speed by just a little bit? Consistent, periodic follow-up.

When Do You Decide It’s Time To Stop?

You should step once you’ve sent ~10 emails to a prospect and they still haven’t replied.

At that point, you’re often safe in assuming that the person you’re contacting isn’t interested in your pitch or isn’t available to respond.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever email this person again. When someone disqualifies themselves by not responding to a series of your emails, you can set them aside for a future outreach campaign.

How Do You Make Sure You Aren’t Annoying?

First, let’s ask the opposite question: how do you know if you are annoying? What elements go into an annoying email?

You might have received a few less-than-stellar follow-up emails yourself and have a gut-level understanding of the attributes of an annoying email.

  • Whiny: The emails asks ‘why haven’t you responded to me yet?’ without providing any justification for why you should reply.
  • Doesn’t Provide Value: The emails fail to deliver any additional, unique value. Instead, they just offer you ’more of the same’ and nothing new or unique.

Keeping these two elements in mind, how can we design follow-up emails that are valuable?

  • First, be confident in your emails — You’re continuing to email your prospect because you’re confident in the value of your information and the value you’d bring to their audience or their business. It would be a disservice to the people you’re emailing if you gave up and stopped.
  • Second, you continue to provide value — Your emails need to provide additional value in new ways. It’s not enough to simply restate your original pitch. You need to build on your pitch by presenting new and unique information.

The most effective way to do this?

By building an outreach funnel: a series of pre-planned, pre-written emails that you send to your prospects over time.

How Do You Build An Outreach Funnel?

An outreach funnel is simply a series of emails that you’ve pre-written to send to your prospects.

With a pre-planned outreach funnel, if you email a prospect and they don’t respond, you’ve already planned out the next emails that you’ll be sending them.

You want your series of outreach emails to provide additional, unique value to the people you’re emailing. You don’t want them to restate your initial pitch or ask them if they received your earlier emails.

Rather, by focusing on providing additional value and sharing additional information, you echo your initial message — the fact that their audience will value hearing from you — in new and unique ways.

When you plan out your outreach funnel, you want to identify additional assets you have — articles, guides, interviews, videos, testimonials, case studies, books, courses, etc. — that act as an opportunity to provide additional value.

A simple framework you can use — assuming that you don’t hear back — could look like this:

  • Email #1: “Are you the right person to talk to about having a guest on {Podcast Name}?”
  • Email #2: “Did you catch my interview on {Podcast}? We talked about {Topic} and I’d be happy to talk about the same topic with you for your audience.”
  • Email #3: “Here’s a popular article I wrote on {Topic}. Check it out — would your audience be interested in this topic?”
  • Email #4: “I just spoke with {Podcast Host} and he had great things to say about my understanding of {Topic}. Check out what he said to say!”
  • Email #5: “By the way, I recently took part in another interview focused on {Topic}. You can check it out here.”
  • Email #6: “I’m closing my files for the month and haven’t heard back from you. Do I have permission to close your file?”

With a sequence like this, we’re focused on providing additional resources — articles, interviews, testimonials, etc. — that support our outreach and our pitch.

Rather than simply following up and asking if the person we’re emailing has received our previous emails, we’re repurposing our existing marketing assets in a way that strengthens our initial pitch.

What Tools Can You Use To Help With The Follow Up Process?

As you dive deeper into this process, there are some tools that you can use to supplement your outreach and follow-up systems.

Let’s take a look at a few of these tools:

  • Quickmail is an outreach program that lets you build in your outreach sequence, load in a list of prospects, and automatically send your outreach sequence to your prospects on a schedule that you define. As you scale up your outreach process, Quickmail makes it incredibly easy to ensure that you’re consistently following up with your prospects.
  • YesWare is an affordable email tracking, template management, and mail merge utility for Gmail. With YesWare, you can see when a prospect that you email opens one of your emails (giving you insight into if they’re receiving your emails). Additionally, the template management feature lets you store your outreach sequence and the mail merge utility makes it easy to email a batch of prospects at once.
  • Boomerang is a utility for Gmail that easily lets you set a reminder for an email thread. If someone you emailed says, “Hey, I’d love to work with you — but get back in touch in two months,” you can use Boomerang to set a reminder. Sent an email and want to remind yourself to follow up with them in a week? Set a reminder with Boomerang.
  • StreakCRM is a CRM that integrates with Gmail and adds three valuable features. First, it allows you to track the progress of conversations through ‘pipelines’. Second, Streak lets you ‘snooze’ conversations (similar to Boomerang) and receive a reminder to follow-up at the appropriate time. Third, Streak lets you store templates and snippets to reuse in email threads.
  • Calendly is a scheduling tool that makes it easy for someone to schedule time on your calendar. Instead of playing the ‘scheduling dance’ where you go back and forth suggesting times, Calendly lets a prospect simply pick an available time on your calendar for a meeting or to record an interview. While not directly related to the outreach process, I’d be ashamed if I didn’t mention it to you. Calendly has transformed my calendar management system.

A consistent, repeatable follow-up system is like rocket fuel for your outreach.

If you develop a habit of consistently following up with the people that you email, you will stand out from other people emailing them and get the results you’re looking for — relationships with influencers and audience owners, placements on podcasts, interviews on exciting sites, opportunities to work together, etc. — that your competitors couldn’t ever approach.

Just because someone doesn’t respond to your first email doesn’t mean that they don’t want to work with you. It simply means that they were unable to respond to your email. (As I write this email, I have 108 emails in my inbox flagged as ‘To Respond.’)

It’s not that I don’t want to have a conversation with these people. It’s that when they emailed me, I was unable to respond due to outside circumstances.

As more emails come in, the earlier emails get buried under a larger pile and the chances of me responding to them decreases.

However, for those few people that are consistently following up, their emails rise to the top of my inbox, and they have the greatest chance of me responding to their email.

As you send your outreach emails, you must keep this idea in your mind: how valuable is what you have to say if you’re willing to give up after a single rejection?

Now, for your homework, I want you to do one thing for me. 

I want you to go into your inbox and find an email you sent to someone — and never received a reply. And you want you to follow up with them, sending them some valuable information to restart the conversation and get it moving forward.

Then, I want you to come back here and tell me what was the experience like, following up with that person?

What was scary and hard? What was easy and graceful? What did you learn?

I’m looking forward to hearing back from you 🙂

Do you want to learn the simple steps behind writing emails that get a response?

In The Outreach Blueprint you’ll learn a framework to follow for your outreach:

  • How to identify the influencers and audience owners you want to contact
  • How to qualify the people you’ll be emailing
  • How to find email addresses for people you want to contact
  • How to write emails that get responses
  • …and much, much more.

Order your copy of The Outreach Blueprint today