Today I led the online class How to Write Email That Gets Results. Brad, a participant in the class, had this legitimate goal:
"My goal is to master different introductions for different types of messages. For example, when I'm following up on an email that I have not received a reply to, what do I start with? I don't like 'Just following up on my last email' type intros."
Yes, openings are tricky, especially in situations in which you have not received a reply. And as Brad said, it's awkward to "just follow up."
Here are five approaches I use:
1. When you haven't heard from someone, share something new to get their attention. For example, I might write an opening like this: "Hi, Jessica. As you consider ways to improve the executive team's writing, you may find this survey data instructive." I present the data, and then ask for an update on the prospective client's process.
Your "something new" might be an article you have written, an article you found in the news, a product review, a new testimonial from a client, a case study, even a 7-point checklist. The idea is to share something new to make the reader think of you and respond. You might begin with "Since I wrote to you last month," followed by your new helpful information.
2. Another way is to let the client or prospective client know that your schedule is filling or that seats in a webinar are filling. For example, I might write, "I know you want to offer the program in July. I have only three days available that month: July 11, 12, and 13. Please let me know if you would like me to hold a day for you." I only use this approach truthfully, that is, I say I have only three days available if it is true. Clients respond well to this approach, either by scheduling or responding that they cannot schedule yet.
3. "If I hear from you by" is another way of getting a response when there is a deadline. Example: "If I hear from you by Friday, I will be able to incorporate your input into the preliminary design" or "If you pay by July 1, you will be eligible for the early-registration discount." If you are offering something your readers want, they will try to meet your deadline.
Whenever you can show a benefit to replying to you, show it.
4. "I will call you" often gets people moving too, like this: "Hi, Rahel. I would love to get your reaction to the proposal I sent last week. Have you had a chance to review it? I will call you on Friday unless we have communicated before then."
5. If you can't use the methods above, try this simple approach: "Hello, John. I am forwarding the message I sent last week to be sure you received it. I look forward to hearing from you." When I use this opening, people frequently respond positively and include a brief apology for not responding earlier.
People are busy. They often cannot respond as quickly as we hope. What have you done to move them to action? One of the above suggestions, or other methods?
Please share, and I will pass your suggestions on to Brad.