How to send a follow-up email after no response at work

I was so excited; it was my first business trip overseas.
The dates and agenda were locked with all the parties,
and I was only waiting for approval from my manager to proceed with the booking of the tickets and the accommodation.

I prepare a simple email – like this one.

Hello,
as talked in our one-to-one connection,
could you approve it?

Thank you
MisterPaton

What I expected to be an easy approval the kind of approval I would get from one day to another,
it took way longer than I expected, to the extent that I almost missed the business trip.

The good news is that I got the approval. 😁

What did I do to get the approval?
Keep reading here, I will show you how to send effective follow-up emails after no response at work.

How to send effective follow-up emails after no response at work

According to a recent study by templafy.com, we receive more emails than we send.

To put some numbers behind,an average worker receives around 120 emails a day while sending only around 40.

The conclusion is clear, chances are high that not all the emails get answered.  

It is important to understand why people do not reply to emails.

Why do people not respond to emails?

Each person and each mail inbox are different,
however, there can be various reasons why people do not reply to your emails.

Top 3 reasons why people do not respond to your emails:

  • You did not address the action to a specific person
  • You did not state a clear action
  • You did not set up a specific deadline

Remember for every action you expect from someone you need to cover these three elements. Clearly state the action that is needed – be specific, address to one person (avoid general owners such as All, Team… make sure you indicate one name) and set up a deadline.

If you include these three elements in your next email, chances are high that a follow-up email will not be needed.

Structure of perfect follow-up email

Imagine if instead of the original email above,
I would have contacted my manager Jan with the following email.

Hello Jan,

Your approval is needed.

Approve the expenses of my upcoming business trip to Singapore for $5250 by end of this week.

Thank you
MisterPaton

Do you see the difference?

  • There is a clear subject: Approval – Business trip to Singapore – End of this week
  • There is a clear action: Your approval is needed.
  • There is a clear owner: Hello Jan,
  • There is a clear deadline: by end of this week

What do you think? – Would you be increasing your chances of getting your follow-up emails?
I promised you that if you follow such a structure, you will skyrocket the number of emails you get answered and no more follow-up emails will be needed.

What to avoid in a follow-up email?

I see more and more people trying to “soften the message”
while requesting someone to do something,
or even when sending a follow-up email by including unnecessary words.
Unnecessary words such as: Hope this email finds you well, hope you are doing well, hope you had a nice weekend…remember people get on average around 120 emails per day.

Forget about it. Forget about including unnecessary words in your email.
Keep it concise, simple and to the point.

How to remember to send a follow-up email at work

Notes, a To-Do list, a piece of paper … there are many options for how to remember when to send a follow-up email.
My favourite (far from the second option) is using the Task functionality within Outlook (typing in your keyboard Ctrl + 4 you would land in your Outlook tasks) .

PRO Tip: Use the Create a Task with attachment

How to Create a Task with an attachment in Outlook while sending a follow-up email:

Step by step, how to Create a Task with attachment in Outlook:

In your Inbox – go to Quick Steps and click on the down arrow button

Note: You may wonder what this ” DO NOT READ EMAILS” is about.
You can find more details about what it is and how it will help you to drive your productivity here.

Click on New Quick steps

Click on Custom

Choose the action and the shortcut you would like to use for such an action

In this case,
we will choose to Create a Task with an attachment and the shortcut: CTRL+SHIFT+7

Once all is set – click on Finish.

Imagine you get an email, and you want to follow up on that email in three days’ time.

What will you do?

You get the email and, on your keyboard, you enter the keyword combination CTRL+SHIFT+7

After this keyword combination, a task will be created.

What will this task look like?
Name of the task: it will be the subject of the email
Body of the task: it will be the email you have just received.

Here you can categorize the task, set up the due date, make your own comments … anything that comes to your mind.

Why to use Outlook Tasks to send follow-up emails

Various reasons why to use Outlook Tasks to send follow-up emails.

You don’t need to have everything in your head.

Do you know that feeling when you are at your weekend and suddenly you remember an email you need to send?
Outlook Tasks allow you to have everything in place so you don’t need to rely on your memory but rather navigate through your tasks.

You have Inbox, Calendar, and Tasks in one place

This is extremely convenient, all of it is in one place, with a few clicks you can easily navigate from your Inbox to your Calendar and your Tasks.

Managed smartly,
Outlook Tasks are a very powerful tool to increase your productivity by making make sure you do not miss any single email or a follow-up.

If you want to learn more about using tasks – click here.

When to send up a follow-up email at work and how long you should wait for an email response

When to send a follow-up email and how long to wait – it depends.

It depends on the urgency.

  • If something is very urgent with major business risk (and you clearly stated in your Subject) – I would recommend you wait max 1 day
  • If something is urgent and still can wait – I would recommend you wait 2-3 days
  • If something is not so urgent and still important – I would recommend you wait a week.

I would recommend you never pause your follow-up email for more than 7 days.

Why?
You will build your reputation that when you ask for something – and people don’t reply – you will be coming back to them after 7 days no matter what.

With such a reputation, people indeed will prioritize your emails, as they will not “enjoy” this feeling of being exposed by you when they do not perform their job on time.

5 examples of follow-up emails after no response

I bring you here 5 examples of follow-up emails you can use in your day-to-day work interactions.

Follow-up email when approval is needed

Hello [Name],

I would like to ask if you could approve my requests as per details in email below, thanks! 😊

[Your name]

Follow-up email when an update is needed

Hi [Name],

Following up on the open topic.

I would appreciate if you could get back to me by COB today.

[Your name]

Follow-up email when a root cause is needed

Hello [Name],

Just checking if you had a chance to investigate this email chain.

Your prompt response would be very much appreciated.

[Your name]

Follow-up email when a contact person is needed

Hey [Name],

Who would be the best person to speak to about [Your Topic / Service / Benefits]?

Thank you

[Your Name]

Follow-up email when urgent action needed

Hello [Name],

This is an urgent topic.

I would appreciate if you could get back to me on this one, or we could connect in a call.

[Your Name]

FAQ Follow up email after no response

Why people do not reply to my emails?

There is not one reason why people do not reply to your emails. There can be several factors contributing to no reply: Other priorities, unorganized inbox , email was missed… if the topic is urgent it would be a good idea to follow up politely on the topic.

Should I send a follow up email after no reponse?

Yes, it would be a good idea to send a follow up email after no response. Try to keep the email concise, ask only what you need, avoid redundant wordings and include a deadline by when you would expect to get the response. As pro tip , suggest to connect in a 5-10 minutes call if it would make it easier for the other party.

How do you politely write a follow up email?

Keep it simple. Start by replying to your previous email. Address the person you need the input from by mentioning his/her name: Hi [Name], be concise in the call to action – what you need from this person: Could you share your update on email below? Share a specific deadline by when you would need the input: thank you for sharing your input by [Include date] and last but not include your name as signature of the email.

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