follow up email subject line

Crafting the Perfect Follow-Up Email Subject Line

In the bustling world of email communication, the subject line of your follow-up email is your golden ticket to capturing attention. It’s the first impression that decides whether your email gets opened or lost in the abyss of an overcrowded inbox. So, how do you ensure your follow-up emails stand out and, more importantly, get opened? Let’s dive into the art and science of creating compelling follow-up email subject lines.

The Importance of a Good Subject Line

Think of your email subject line as the headline of a newspaper article. It needs to be engaging, informative, and concise enough to intrigue the reader to want more. In the context of follow-up emails, the subject line serves a dual purpose: reminding the recipient of your previous interaction and compelling them to open the email.

Crafting Your Follow-Up Email Subject Line

Keep It Short and Sweet

The best subject lines are often the ones that get straight to the point. Keeping your subject line short ensures that it’s fully visible on mobile devices, where a significant portion of emails are opened. Aim for no more than 50 characters to make sure your message is clear at a glance.

Personalization is Key

Adding a personal touch to your subject line can significantly increase your email’s open rate. Use the recipient’s name, reference a recent event, or mention a specific detail from your previous interaction. This approach shows the recipient that the email is tailored specifically for them, making it more likely they’ll pay attention.

Clarity Over Creativity

While it’s tempting to be overly creative or use humor to stand out, clarity should always come first. Your subject line should make it immediately clear what the email is about. If the recipient has to guess, they’re more likely to skip over it.

Reference Your Previous Interaction

A great strategy for follow-up email subject lines is to directly reference your previous email or interaction. This could be as simple as starting with “Following up on our conversation” or “Re: Our last meeting.” This approach helps the recipient quickly place the context of your email, increasing the likelihood of a response.

Use Action-Oriented Language

Incorporating action words can make your subject line more compelling. Phrases like “Let’s continue our discussion” or “Next steps for our project” encourage the recipient to take action, which in this case, is opening the email.

Avoid Spammy Words

Certain words and phrases can trigger spam filters, or worse, turn off your recipient. Avoid using overly salesy language like “free,” “guarantee,” or “no obligation.” Keep the tone professional and focused on the value you’re providing.

Follow up Email Subject Line Examples 

  1. “Quick follow-up on our meeting”
  2. “Touching base after our chat”
  3. “John, let’s pick up where we left off”
  4. “Re: Your thoughts on our proposal?”
  5. “Next steps for the project plan?”

Why Follow-up Email Subject Line Matter (James Urchin)

The art of crafting the perfect follow-up email subject line is akin to finding the key that unlocks the door to your recipient’s attention. It’s not just about reminding them of your previous conversation but about compelling them to open and engage with your message. The subject line is the first impression you make on your recipient after your first email, and as such, it plays a pivotal role in whether your email gets opened or ignored.

When you use this subject line effectively, it can increase your chances of getting a response by up to seven times. This is because a compelling subject line acts as a preview of the email, setting the tone and expectation for what’s inside. It’s your first, and sometimes only, opportunity to persuade the recipient that what you have to say is worth their time. Therefore, the best follow-up email subject lines are those that are not only relevant and specific but also intriguing and personalized.

Personalizing your follow-up email subject doesn’t mean just inserting the recipient’s name. While that can help, true personalization involves tailoring the subject line to reflect the recipient’s interests, needs, or previous interactions with you. This approach shows that you’re not sending a generic follow-up but one that is specifically designed for them. For instance, referencing a detail from your first email or meeting can make the subject line more relevant and increase the likelihood of the recipient to open the email.

Moreover, the subject line for your follow-up email should convey a sense of continuity from your previous conversation while also offering something new. This could be a different subject or angle that wasn’t covered in your first email, suggesting that opening this next follow-up email will provide additional value. It’s about striking a balance between reminding them of your previous interaction and enticing them with the promise of new information or insights.

Best practices for follow-up suggest that keeping the subject line concise and to the point is crucial. A lengthy subject line may deter recipients from opening your email, as it can appear overwhelming or irrelevant at a glance. The goal is to keep the subject line short yet powerful enough to grab attention. Intriguing subject lines that pique curiosity or challenge expectations can be particularly effective, as they create a sense of intrigue that compels recipients to discover more.

However, it’s important to avoid using a misleading subject line just to get an open. While it might tempt you to use sensational or vague subject lines to increase open rates, this can backfire by eroding trust and damaging your relationship with the recipient. The subject line must accurately reflect the contents of your email, providing a genuine preview that aligns with the body of your email.

In conclusion, the subject line of your follow-up email is a critical element that can significantly impact the success of your outreach efforts. By crafting a subject line that is compelling, personalized, and reflective of the email’s content, you can increase the chances of your email being opened, read, and responded to. Remember, each follow-up email you send is an opportunity to strengthen your connection with the recipient, and the subject line is your foot in the door.

My 3 Best Practices for Follow-up Email Subject Line Examples

Kathy Cruz, an expert in email marketing strategies, shares her top three best practices for crafting follow-up email subject lines that not only capture attention but also encourage recipients to engage with the content. According to Cruz, the secret to increasing open rates and fostering meaningful connections through follow-up emails lies in the meticulous crafting of the subject line. Here are her insights:

  1. Personalize Your Subject Line: Personalization goes beyond merely including the recipient’s name in the subject line. Cruz emphasizes the importance of tailoring the subject line to reflect the recipient’s specific interests, challenges, or any previous interactions you’ve had. “A personalized subject line shows that you’re paying attention and not just sending out mass emails,” she notes. This approach makes the recipient feel valued and increases the likelihood they will open an email. For instance, referencing a recent event or a topic discussed in your last conversation can make your follow-up subject line stand out.
  2. Keep It Short and Sweet: With the majority of emails now being opened on mobile devices, Cruz advises keeping your subject lines concise. A lengthy subject line can be cut off on mobile screens, potentially losing its impact. “The best follow-up email subject lines are those that get straight to the point,” Cruz states. She suggests limiting your subject line to 50 characters or less to ensure it’s fully visible on all devices, thereby avoiding the risk of your subject line being too long. This brevity makes it easier for recipients to grasp the essence of your email at a glance, which can significantly increase the chances of them opening your email.
  3. Convey Value and Urgency: Every follow-up email should offer something of value to the recipient, and this value proposition should be clearly communicated in the subject line. Whether it’s a piece of exclusive information, a special offer, or a solution to a problem they’re facing, your subject line should make it clear what’s in it for them. Additionally, incorporating a sense of urgency or exclusivity can prompt recipients to act. “An effective follow-up email subject line conveys a sense of importance or timeliness,” Cruz explains. She recommends using phrases that create a sense of urgency or exclusivity, such as “Final Reminder” or “Exclusive Offer Ends Soon,” to encourage recipients to open your email promptly.

Cruz also highlights the importance of using email marketing tools to test different subject lines to see which ones perform the best. “Don’t be afraid to experiment with different subject lines for follow-up emails,” she advises. A/B testing can reveal valuable insights into what resonates with your audience, allowing you to refine your approach over time.

Four Challenges of Effective Follow Up Email Subject Line to Get a Response

Gabriel Madei, a seasoned expert in crafting compelling email marketing campaigns, sheds light on the nuanced challenges of creating effective follow-up email subject lines that elicit responses. According to Madei, while the goal of a follow-up email is straightforward—to get a response—the path to achieving this through a captivating subject line is fraught with obstacles. Here are four significant challenges he identifies:

  1. Balancing Brevity with Clarity: One of the most critical challenges is writing a subject line that is both concise and clear. “A great subject line grabs attention without being misleading about the body of the email,” Madei explains. The subject line must give recipients a compelling reason to read your email, but making it too long can result in it being cut off, especially on mobile devices. Conversely, a subject line that’s too short may not convey enough information to pique interest. Finding this balance is crucial for encouraging recipients to open and read your email.
  2. Personalization vs. Privacy: Incorporating elements of personalization, such as the recipient’s name, job title, or references to previous interactions, can significantly increase open rates. However, Madei cautions against overstepping boundaries. “Using a job title in a subject line can help personalize your message, but there’s a fine line between personalization and perceived intrusion,” he notes. The challenge lies in using personalization effectively without making the recipient feel uncomfortable or that their privacy has been compromised.
  3. Standing Out in a Crowded Inbox: With the average professional receiving a multitude of emails daily, crafting a subject line that stands out is increasingly difficult. “Your follow-up email needs a subject line that can help it stand out in a crowded inbox,” Madei states. This involves being creative and strategic in how you write a subject line, ensuring it’s unique and compelling enough to catch the recipient’s eye amid a sea of other messages.
  4. Avoiding Spam Filters: Another significant challenge is ensuring your follow-up email doesn’t end up in the spam folder. “Certain words or phrases in a subject line can trigger spam filters,” Madei warns. This means that even if you send a follow-up email with the best intentions and a great subject line, it might never reach its intended recipient. Crafting a subject line that avoids these triggers while still being effective is a delicate balancing act.

In conclusion, Madei emphasizes that the key to overcoming these challenges lies in understanding your audience, continuously testing different approaches, and staying updated on best practices for email communication. “Each email subject line every time you send a follow-up should be thoughtfully considered to ensure it’s tailored to your audience and objectives,” he advises. By paying close attention to these challenges and adopting a strategic approach to your subject lines, you can increase the likelihood of your follow-up emails not just being opened, but also acted upon.


The perfect follow-up email subject line is a blend of brevity, personalization, clarity, and relevance. It respects the recipient’s time while clearly conveying the purpose of your email. By following these best practices, you’re not just increasing the chances of your email being opened; you’re also building a foundation for more effective and meaningful communication. Remember, in the world of email, the subject line is your first impression—make it count.

Q: What are some examples of follow-up email subject lines?

A: Here are a few examples of effective follow-up email subject lines: “Following up on our discussion,” “Quick question about [topic],” “Would love your insights on [topic],” “Scheduling a follow-up call,” and “A friendly follow-up.”

Q: How important is the subject line in a follow-up email?

A: The subject line in a follow-up email is crucial because it is the first thing the recipient sees and can significantly impact whether the email is opened or not. A compelling and relevant subject line increases the chances of the email being read and responded to.

Q: What are the best practices for creating an effective follow-up email subject line?

A: Some best practices for crafting an effective follow-up email subject line include personalizing the subject line, keeping it concise and to the point, incorporating the recipient’s name or relevant information, and ensuring the subject line aligns with the content of the email.

Q: How can I improve the response rate of my follow-up emails?

A: To improve the response rate of your follow-up emails, consider using a compelling and personalized subject line, following up at appropriate intervals, adding value or new information, and respecting the recipient’s time and schedule.

Q: Is it important to personalize the subject line of a follow-up email?

A: Yes, personalizing the subject line of a follow-up email can significantly increase the likelihood of the email being opened and read. Including the recipient’s name or referencing previous interactions can make the email more relevant and engaging.

Q: What are some tips for writing a follow-up email subject line?

A: When writing a follow-up email subject line, consider referencing the previous email, offering a specific benefit or value, using a conversational and friendly tone, and avoiding vague or generic subject lines.

Q: How should I approach crafting a follow-up email subject line for a cold email?

A: When crafting a follow-up email subject line for a cold email, aim to make it relevant and personalized to the recipient, add value or intrigue, and avoid sounding pushy or overly sales-oriented.

Q: Are there any recommended email templates for follow-up emails?

A: There are numerous email templates available for follow-up emails, ranging from general follow-up templates to templates specific to job interviews, networking, sales follow-ups, and more. It’s advisable to customize these templates to suit your specific follow-up needs.

Q: What should the subject line of a follow-up email convey?

A: The subject line of a follow-up email should convey relevance, value, and a reason for the recipient to open and engage with the email. It should be clear, concise, and reflective of the content and purpose of the follow-up email.

Q: How can I create an effective subject line to follow up on an initial email?

A: To create an effective subject line for following up on an initial email, consider referencing the previous email, offering additional value or information, personalizing the subject line, and maintaining a respectful and professional tone.