How Long to Wait Before Following Up on a Cold Email

April 30, 2024 by
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Have you ever sent an email and waited forever for a reply? Trust us. We know how frustrating it can be to wait for a reply to an important email, but patience is key here. 

In this article, we will share the perfect timing for following up on a cold email. We want to make sure your message gets noticed without being pushy. Let’s find out how to strike that balance and get the response you’re hoping for.

Main Takeaways

  • Some experts recommend waiting 2 to 3 days, while others suggest waiting a week before sending a follow up email.
  • If you don’t hear back on the initial email, the best days to follow up are Tuesday and Thursday. Mondays are too busy, and Fridays are when people are winding down and prepping for the week.
  • Sending the first and second follow up emails can increase your chances of getting a reply by 21% and 25%, respectively. 
  • Keeping your follow up email short can significantly increase your chances of getting a response. Emails with 200 words or less see the highest clickthrough rates.
  • Changing the subject line for your follow up emails may catch the recipient’s attention and improve open rates. Research shows that 33% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone.

How Long Should You Wait Before Following Up Your Cold Email?

You should wait at least 2-5 business days before following up on your cold email. This time allows the recipient to read and think about your email without feeling rushed.

Always assume people are busy rather than assuming they are ignoring your emails. After all, some people might not check their email every day, and many individuals receive over a hundred emails per day. If you follow up too quickly, you might annoy them. But if you wait too long, your first email may get lost in their inbox.

It is good practice to send a friendly reminder after waiting a couple of days for a response to show you value their time and are interested in hearing back from them.

Find the Follow Up Sweet Spot

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, there are some basic guidelines for working out a timeframe for follow-ups. Below, you’ll find our recommendations for how long to wait before sending a follow-up email. As you can see, the timeframe gets longer between each additional follow-up.

  • 1st follow up: 2 to 3 days after the initial cold email
  • 2nd follow up: 3 to 5 days after the first
  • 3rd follow up: 5 to 7 days after the second
  • 4th follow up: 10 to 14 days after the third
  • 5th follow up: 14 to 30 days after the fourth

These aren’t strict rules, so experiment with different timings based on your audience and your specific business needs​​.

Remember, the key to successful follow-up emails is finding the sweet spot that maximizes response rates without compromising the relationship with potential leads.

Why You Shouldn’t Follow Up Right Away

It’s easy to grow impatient when preparing to follow up on a cold email, but it is important not to rush it. Here are some reasons why you should wait to follow up.

1. Give Them Time to Respond

People are busy, and it may take some time to get to your email, especially if they receive many messages daily.

2. Avoid Spamming

Sending too many emails in a short period can annoy the recipient and lead to your messages being marked as spam. It can also hurt your future communication efforts.

3. Improve Open Rates

Timing your follow up can catch recipients at a better time. It also improves the chances they’ll open and read your email.

4. Respect the Sales Cycle

The length of your sales cycle can also influence the best time to follow up. If you have a longer sales cycle, waiting a bit longer before following up might be more appropriate.

Why Send a Follow Up Email?

Many sales professionals hesitate to send follow-up emails because they don’t want to seem too pushy or worried about being annoying. However, not following up could mean missing out on potential sales. 

Chasing down potential leads with a chain of emails is important because it keeps your name in the prospect’s mind. When the recipient is finally ready to contact you, they’re more likely to think of you first rather than your competition. 

Another key point to consider is that very few sales emails get a “yes” on the first attempt. People might need time to consider your offer, or they might not be ready to make a purchase right away.

A study found that a significant number of positive responses came after the fifth or later contact attempts. 

Additionally, consistently reaching out helps retain customers, which is cheaper and sometimes more beneficial for businesses than acquiring new ones. Keeping in touch with existing customers can also help you understand their dissatisfaction, allowing you to address any issues and maintain the relationship​​.

Why Aren’t You Getting a Response in the First Place?

There could be many reasons why your cold emails are going unanswered. Understanding these reasons can help you refine your strategy and improve your chances of getting a response in the future.

1. Your Email Is Too Long or Asking Too Much

People are busy, and a long email can be off-putting. It might get saved for later and then forgotten. Keep your emails short and to the point​​.

2. Lack of Personalization

Using the same template for many recipients can make your emails feel impersonal. Emails that start with “Hi” without using the recipient’s name can give the impression that you haven’t taken the time to personalize your message​​.

3. You’re Not Known to the Recipient

Sending emails to someone who doesn’t know you increase the chances they’ll ignore your message. Try to establish some form of recognition or connection before sending your cold email​​.

4. Emails Lack a Personal Touch

Adding a personal touch, such as mentioning something unique about their company or sharing relevant news, can make your email shine and show that you’ve done your research​​.

5. Your Emails Aren’t Reaching the Inbox

Delivery issues can prevent your emails from being seen. Prioritize maintaining a positive sender reputation and use a double opt-in process to ensure your emails reach the intended inbox​​.

6. Not Following Up

Not following up on your initial email is a missed opportunity. Polite, concise follow up emails can remind the recipient of your initial contact and potentially lead to a response​​.

7. Sending at the Wrong Time

Consider the recipient’s schedule and time zone when sending emails. Sending during the recipient’s working hours increases the chance of your email being opened and read​​.

8. Lack of Clear Call-to-Action

Make sure your email has a clear call-to-action (CTA) so the recipient knows what step you’d like them to take next. A specific and compelling CTA can guide them toward the desired action​​.

9. Subject Lines Are Off

The subject line is your first impression. If it’s not engaging or clear, your email may not even be opened. Make sure it’s direct and relevant to the recipient​​.

10. Lack of Research

Showing that you’ve done your homework can significantly increase your chances of getting a response. Mentioning specific details about the recipient’s work or company shows you’re genuinely interested​

11. Emails Are Not Backed Up

Claims or compliments without evidence can seem insincere. Provide proof or examples to support your statements​​.

12. The Email List Is Not Verified

Sending emails to outdated or incorrect addresses can hurt your campaign’s effectiveness. Always verify your contact lists to ensure accuracy

How to Write an Effective Follow Up Email

So, now you know why you may not be getting a response. Here’s a short guide to help you write a follow up email that leaves an impression:

  1. Your subject line should be interesting and relevant to the content of your email. Avoid common phrases like “just checking in.” Use a creative opener that captures their attention right away.
  2. Kick off your email by reminding the recipient about your previous email. Briefly mentioning your last interaction can help make your message more memorable.
  3. If your first email had attachments, include them again. Make it easier for the recipient to review essential information without having to search through their inbox.
  4. Your follow up should focus on one main ask. If the original email was full of requests, choose the most important one for this email. 
  5. Explain why you’re reaching out again without saying it’s a follow up. Highlighting what’s in it for them can make your email more appealing.
  6. Be clear about what you want the recipient to do next. Your CTA should be easy to understand.
  7. Make sure each email you send adds something new or beneficial. Sharing success stories or valuable data can make your offer more attractive.
  8. Your message should be brief and to the point. Long emails can be overwhelming, so make sure you’re respecting the recipient’s time.
  9. Show that you’ve taken the time to customize the message. Mentioning specific details about the recipient’s needs or interests can make your email feel more personal.
  10. Close your email on a professional note. Even if you’re feeling frustrated, maintain a tone of professionalism. Don’t forget to sign off with your name and any other relevant details.​

Turning Cold Email Silence into Success

Waiting for a response to a cold email can feel like watching paint dry. It’s easy to become discouraged and consider giving up. 

But don’t let that frustration get to you! With the right approach and strategy, you can break through the silence. It’s all about timing, persistence, and refining your message.

Remember, each follow up is a new chance to make an impression. With patience and focus, you’re well on your way to turning that waiting game into a win.


About The Author

Mike Yon

Mike is the Co-Owner of Growth List.

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