A follow-up email is an integral part of any cold email campaign. But is one enough? When should we send it? Should we personalize it? I decided to look into data and answer some of those questions. Today I bring you the results of my research. Time for some numbers.
Follow-up emails are required
I learned that if you don’t follow up on your opening email, you can reach 9% reply rate on average. However, if you add at least one follow-up message to your email sequence, your average reply rate goes around 13%.
When it comes to the most experienced users, the percentages are higher. In this case, those who send only one email without follow-ups achieve a 16% reply rate on average. In comparison, users who send at least 1 follow-up in a campaign reach 27%.
Even without analyzing the content and the schedule of follow-up emails, it gives you solid evidence of how important they are in your outreach strategy.
Learn more: Why Should You Always Follow Up?
How many follow-up emails after no response to your initial email?
The most optimal number is 2-3 follow-up emails
From what I’ve gathered, sending 2-3 follow-up emails is the most optimal. Top performers usually send just that, and if you compare it with our last year’s blog post: What we’ve learned from sending 20+M Emails, it seems nothing has changed.
The first follow-up email is naturally the most effective. It brings the highest reply rate — even about 40% higher comparing to the initial email. Definitely worth the effort.
For example, if your initial emails have an average reply rate of 6%, a single follow-up may increase the total average reply rate to 8.5%. Nice.
Now let’s see what happens when we compare the reply rate of the whole campaign with two separate reply rates: the one of the first follow-up and that of the opening cold email. My research shows that a campaign with so many as one follow-up converts about 22% more prospects, than the one without any.
Wouldn’t sending more emails increase the chances of getting a reply?
I would like to believe that the more follow-up emails in a sequence, the better. Theoretically, each follow-up email increases the total reply rate of the whole campaign. So the smartest move would be sending as many follow-up emails as we can, wouldn’t it be?
Well, the data shows that flooding your prospects’ inboxes with messages is not the answer. The 5th, 6th or 7th follow-up email brings you merely a fraction of the total percentage, so the people who go for quantity don’t seem to have a better reply rate.
There’s also something else you need to think about. Each follow-up you add takes up your time. You need to write it, personalize it and include it in the schedule. Thus the question is… Should you waste your time on putting more than necessary?
My advice to you is that enough is as good as a feast. Don’t bury prospects under your emails. You may easily overdo it, and get labeled as a spammer from one of the irritated addressees. You don’t want that. Once you lose your sender’s reputation it is hard to recover it.
Frequency matters more than you would think
I found out that the frequency of your follow-ups is more important than their quantity.
Although it’s pretty much a matter of trial and error, there is a golden rule that clearly stands out — sending a follow-up too soon will make you look pushy and intrusive. Give your prospects at least 2-3 days to think stuff over and reply to you.
Woodpecker allows to send up to 11 follow-ups within 1 campaign, but it’s up to you how many you chose to schedule. Experiment, analyze, improve, repeat.
Does the sending time have an impact on the open and reply rate of a follow-up email?
No, it doesn’t. At the very least, it doesn’t impact it to a significant extent. Admittedly, there’s a slight increase in the average open and reply rate of the follow-ups sent on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays, but in our opinion, it’s not meaningful enough to make a rule out of it.
The best sending time is specified by your target group and we recommend you to discover it by yourself. You can do some research to find out your prospects’ working hours or test a few different timeframes to discover what days and hours bring the best results.
If you notice that you get the majority of replies on Sunday evenings, though you send your cold emails on Friday morning, consider changing the sending time. In this case, Sunday evening is clearly the day when most of your prospects go through their mailbox.
What to do with these follow-up tips?
Look at your last cold email campaign. Focus on follow-ups. How many follow-up emails did you have in your sequence? What was their frequency? What time windows did you set? Is there enough time for Woodpecker to send all the emails? Can you improve their content?
Try to work on your follow-up emails. If you want more knowledge about follow-ups, read the all-in-1 guide we wrote:
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