Microconf LogoMicroconf Recap 2018

Following up... Without looking and feeling like a dirt bag

Mike Taber

Founder, Bluetick.io

Entrepreneur: MicroConf, Startups for the Rest of Us, Moon River Software, http://t.co/3fhJflkN8u & Author of http://t.co/i0vvCpPFhr

Mike Taber



  1. Intro
  2. Why Follow Up
  3. What happens on the Other End
  4. Why don't we follow up?
  5. Follow up strategies that actually work

1. Intro

Mike is behind Startups for the Rest of Us, the Single Founder Handbook, Microconf, and (most recently) bluetick.io

Clarification: follow up email != cold email

2. Why Follow Up

There are four things you want to know when following up:

  1. Was it received?
  2. Did they understand it?
  3. Did they make a decision?
  4. Did they inform you of that decision?

If you're not answering these questions, your email is getting sent into the void - the email black hole.

3. What happens on the Other End

There are four reasons why people don't reply to emails, even if it's important to the recipient:

  1. They never received it. Either mail server issues (surprisingly common), the wrong email address, it was filtered as spam, or the person is out of the office/vacationing/traveling.
  2. Received, but dismissed. Either email filters or rules, irrelevant subject line, they skimmed the email and made the wrong decision, a gatekeeper rejected it (like if someone isn't managing their own mailbox), or they were scarred off because of a wall of text.
  3. Received with best of intentions. Either they're traveling, working remotely, on a mobile device, their mailbox is flooded, they've declared email bankruptcy, the email has dropped off their radar, something is on fire, or there's guilt from not responding sooner. Followups give them permission to reply.


This is not how people feel when you follow up

4. Why don't we follow up?

Why don't we follow up?

  1. Incorrect value association. Value is a measurement of what the email does for the recipient, and what a response means to the sender? If the value of a response doesn't feel measurable,
  2. Time constraints. Either it feels like busy-work, or because... deadlines.
  3. Your emotions will get the better of you. Sending follow up emails is emotionally painful. You feel like you're repeating yourself and negative emotions are disproportionally outweighing the positive ones.
  4. We're afraid.

Douglas Adams probably didn't follow up in emails

5. Follow up strategies that actually work


Open rate of 26.7% is actually the worst open rate on Bluetick. Several are getting close to 100%!

Reply rate average is 5.9% - the best is close to 30%! The way to close that reply loop is to just send more emails.

What percent of people are blocking tracking pixels in email? Depends on your audience - it ranges from 0% to 62.5%.

The Four Pillars of Followup Success

  1. When: select the situations where it makes sense and the schedule to follow up. After first contact and after a demo work well.
  2. Personalization: Use their name, use your own domain, reply to previous emails you send, etc.
  3. Action: clearly define the single action you want the person to take
  4. Automation: templates, software, reminders, Zapier, outsourcing, etc, done in a way that doesn't appear to be automated

When you get into personalization, you have to be really careful. Don't send an email that starts "Hi ,", or "Hi FNAME".

Don't send a personalized email to "Hi ,", "Hi $FNAME", or "Vagina"

Example: design your followup process to get a prospect to schedule a demo

TODO: email sequence examples

Learn How to Automate Your Followups on bluetick.io is a free 6-part email course.

Questions? Email mike.


How do you send breakup emails?

Typical breakup email says "hey I've sent you several emails, I can see you're not interested, so I'll never email you again". This closes the door to emailing them in the future. A better reply is "hey, I can see this isn't a good time for you. I'll followup again in 6 weeks."

I'm worried about an automated system following up when I've already followed up in a different way. What should I do?

If your call to action doesn't apply if you've had another interaction (ex: "let's schedule a call" when you've already had a call), you should trigger those manually. Once the illusion of personal responses has been destroyed, your response rates go way down.

Do you legally have to have an "unsubscribe" link in automated emails? Is that a tell?

It's toeing the line either way. Even if you have an unsubscribe link, you can still be breaking the law. Bluetick doesn't include them.

There are three legal categories of email:

  1. transactional
  2. commercial (where CANN spam laws come into play)
  3. other (good job naming this one, government)

Most email providers make you include an unsubscribe link so their entire server doesn't get blacklisted, not for legal reasons.

What's the best communication channel to followup?

Multichannel marketing! There's a lot of value following up in different channels.

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