You can’t help but notice that you haven’t gotten a response to several emails that you sent out weeks ago. You don’t want to give an impression of being impatient or pushy but you have deadlines and/or timelines that need to be checked off as completed. You’ve never learned the proper etiquette of sending out a reminder email. Is there even such a thing as a reminder email? As it turns out, there are several ways to send a friendly reminder email when you’ve not gotten an expected response.
Of course, you don’t want the recipient to feel attacked, so choosing your words wisely and carefully should be exercised. However, you do want the recipient to know that you are expecting a timely reply from them. Knowing how far to push and when to pull back is a balancing act that is only mastered with practice. You’re not just sending out random emails; the emails and follow-up need to be professional because that is in anticipation of forming a lasting, professional relationship.
Email reminders can be sent regarding:
- Upcoming meetings/appointments – If someone is needed or expected to attend a meeting and has not replied, sending a gentle reminder email would be the proper thing to do. It could be an oversight on the part of the recipient and a reminder is just what they need. MeetFox can help automate the online meeting process by sending reminders 1 hour before the meeting.
- Billing & Payments – Bills are generated monthly, for the most part, and payments for those bills are expected and payable upon receipt of the bill. When payment is not received timely, a reminder email is sent.
- Work deadlines – Some employers will send a friendly email reminder to a team or individual who has a work deadline approaching. This is generally accepted as a communication tool and not seen as micro-managing.
- Job Interviews/Applications – Email reminders can be sent to employers by job applicants who are following up on the status of the position they applied to. It is a common practice for jobseekers to try to stand out in front of other applicants, so why not do it the best way you can?
Now that we have seen examples of the reasons why an email reminder can be sent, let us take a look at what the structure of that reminder email should look like. Here are 7 tips for creating the perfect reminder email:
1. Reference the reminder email
Make sure that you reference the original email, if you choose not to reply to it directly. Sometimes it would not be appropriate to reply to an email if there are multiple replies and/or responses. You may be better off creating a brand new email and maybe copying and pasting important parts of the original email, just as a reference.
2. Write a compelling subject line
Create a subject line that is specific to what your original email referenced. Again, if you are not replying to the original message, make sure you make mention of the original content of the email. For this purpose, a subject line structure that works and gets opened can look like:
- “Action required - Payment pending on X Project”
Using a strong indicator to suggest the urgency and necessity to open an email is a good practice to increase open rates and get things done. This should be followed by stating the reason for writing so that the receiver gets an impression of what he can expect.
- “Follow up - John Doe job interview”
When you have to deal with a less urgent situation, the “follow up” formulation is more indicated, as it is not as direct and still states a clear intention for the email.
3. Use an appropriate greeting
Set the tone of your reminder email with an appropriate greeting. If this is a more formal email reminder, you should use the more professional greeting, along the lines of “Dear John Doe”, “Dear Mr. Doe”, “Dear Hiring Manager”. However, if you are comfortable and familiar with the recipient (for instance, a coworker), it is probably fine to use a more casual greeting, such as “Hello”, “Greetings”, “Hi there”, “Good morning”. Remember, your greeting will set the tone for the remainder of your email.
4. Begin on a good note
You are the one who is in need of something from the recipient. You have been waiting for a response so start out with something light. The last thing you want is not getting a response because you come out as too pushy and intimidating/demanding. Let’s take the example of a missing update on an important work task from your coworker. You wouldn’t want to jump directly into what you need from them, but rather try to build some rapport before making your point. Therefore, an appropriate way to approach this situation would be to ask about what difficulties they are facing and if there is anything you can do to help. Think about how you would like this situation to be handled if you were on the receiving end of the reminder and try to get your point across without putting a lot of pressure on the recipient.
5. Make your point
Articulate the point of your email. Whether this is your first or fourth reminder email, describe in great detail what you expected in the original email and the reason you are now sending out a reminder email. And if this is your fourth reminder, please don’t point it out in a way that will be interpreted as rude, although you may be a little annoyed and rightly so. Just keep focus on the fact that you are trying to generate a response.
6. Set expectations and a new deadline
State your expectation(s) and provide a due date. While the point of your email is to remind the person that you are awaiting a response from them, let them know (firmly!) that you, indeed, expect a response from them. It would be a good thing to let them know a day, date and time that you would like to have the response. There’s few things that are worse than missing one due date - and missing a second is one of them. That’s why it is important to align expectations by agreeing on a delivery time for the task. Again, be firm but pleasant.
7. End positively
End your reminder email on a good note. If it was a long email that needed a lot of descriptions of the tasks to be done, you may choose to, very briefly, summarize the highlights of your email. Using bullet points to do this offers a great overview to the reader and you can consider it if it applies to your specific case. Reassuring the other person that you are willing to help or answer any questions if needed is also something you could mention in the conclusion of your reminder email. The sign-off formulation should be in accordance with the opening greeting - for formal emails you can use “All the best”, “Best regards”, whereas informal emails can have a sign-off along the lines of “Cheers”, “Thanks”, “Greetings”. Last but not least, don’t forget about including your contact information at the end of your email. You did say they can reach out to you if in need of help, right?
The expert's advice
Then begins the waiting game…all over again! You can send the reminder email as often as you like. I don’t believe there is a proper blueprint for reminder-email-etiquette, but here’s what longtime sales expert Steli Efti has to say about follow up on emails:
“I have a simple philosophy: I follow up as many times as necessary until I get a response. I don’t care what the response is as long as I get one. If someone tells me they need another 14 days to get back to me, I will put that in my calendar and ping them again in 14 days.
If they tell me they are busy and they don’t have time right now, I will respond and ask them when they feel like a good time would be for me [to] ping them. The key here is to actually keep following up. If someone tells me they are not interested—I leave them alone.
But here is the kicker—if they don’t respond at all, I will keep pinging them until they do. And trust me, they always do. ”
In any event, getting responses is your bottom line and using these 7 tips for creating the perfect reminder email should come in handy with assisting you in that goal.