An email follow-up fail (and how to fix it)

I was doing some competitor research last week and, as a result, downloaded several pieces of gated content. Of course, part of any good content marketing automation process (if the competition have their marketing automation sorted out) is receiving a series of follow-up emails trying to entice me further down the sales funnel.

After downloading a content piece I received this about a week later:

I wasn’t exactly bowled over with the email follow-up, if I’m honest. In fact, I deleted it after I took a screenshot but it did get me thinking about automated follow-up emails. How can we make sure they work really hard?

A good automated follow-up should:

  • Arrive quickly
  • Remind me and give me a second chance to download
  • Be written by a human being (weird business-speaking robots, be gone)
  • Be personalised to me
  • Tell me who you are and where you’re from
  • Give me more

An email follow-up should arrive quickly

Your automated email follow-ups should arrive quickly – ideally right away. Test your follow-up email process and once you’re fully happy it’s working well, test it again. Test it from multiple email clients and office locations so you can be confident your email is arriving and looks professional. Otherwise you run the risk of losing a lead as soon as they’ve started sniffing around the top of your funnel.

We test on the following email clients to make sure our follow-ups arrive as planned, and look good, too:

  • Desktop: Outlook, Hotmail, Gmail
  • iOS: iPhone, iPad
  • Android: Samsung Galaxy

Remind me and give me a second chance

Remind me why you’re emailing me so I don’t delete your email or, heaven forbid, mark it as spam. You should also give me a second chance to download the content I requested in case I had some tech troubles when I was on your website.

Thanks for downloading xxxxxxxx from our website ( You can download your guide here. There’s no limit to how many times you can use this link and feel free to pass it on if you like.

Write like a human, not like a robot

This sounds obvious, but I’m regularly surprised (/horrified) by the robotic language that people use in B2B marketing.

Imagine you were talking to me face to face and write just like that. Would you ever walk up to me in a room and say, ‘I noted that you downloaded one of the documents from our [company name] page‘.

Instead, maybe you’d say, ‘I saw that you downloaded our xxxxxx guide. What did you think? Did you find it useful?

Be personal, but don’t force it

Since I’ve just downloaded some gated content from your website, so you probably have some of the following information:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email address
  • Company name
  • Job title
  • Telephone
  • IP location
  • The title of the content I’ve just downloaded
  • The date and time of my download

Well, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Use some of this information in your follow-up email, but remember to keep it conversational. Personalisation for the sake of personalisation, or worse, incorrect personalisation runs the risk of alienating your potential leads. Econsultancy has a great article on email personalisation if you’d like to brush up.

Tell me who you are and where you’re from

Introduce yourself and tell me how I can reach you in case I have any questions. But don’t, repeat, don’t sell to me right away. You should be able to make an educated guess about where I am in the sales cycle based on the content I’ve just downloaded, but you can use this info for something else, which leads me nicely into my next point.

Give me more

In my experience, this is the single-most ignored opportunity in follow-up emails. You’re emailing me about some content I’ve downloaded, so now is the perfect opportunity to recommend some of the other amazing and relevant content that you have in your arsenal.

Do you have any related webinars or events coming up? Invite me. Do you have a newsletter packed full of unmissable industry insights? Tell me. You get the idea. Make your email follow up work as hard as it can to grab a lead’s interest and keep them engaged.

What are your top automated email tips? Let us know on Twitter.

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