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How to Follow Up on an Email (Without Being Annoying)

Lindsay McGuire
January 2, 2020
Min Read

It’s a scenario every professional–or anyone who sends out agreements to be signed–is all too familiar with. You send out a contract, agreement, or form through email, and then wait. And wait. And wait.

Finally, you realize you’re going to have to give your client, coworker, or customer a gentle nudge. A sense of dread might start setting in as you decide on how to send a follow up email without being annoying.

There’s an art to following up with someone without being obnoxious. Email is a great communication tool, but it's so heavily used that emails can be easily lost in an inbox. You may find that sending follow up emails is a normal part of your outreach cadence. It's not fun, but it has to be done.

Following up with someone can be difficult. You don't want to come off as pushy or annoying. Here are a few tips to help guide your outreach to ensure a response while avoiding awkwardness and stress. You don't need to worry about alienating the person you're trying to work with if you follow these 5 tips.

1. Be friendly, humble, and polite.

It’s easy to get frustrated when someone doesn’t seem like they’re being considerate of your time. Being passive-aggressive (or worse, expressing displeasure outright) isn’t the answer. Make a point of remaining friendly and open, even if it’s the fourth reminder with no response. Remember, this is someone you need to work with in some capacity, so keep the goodwill flowing!

2. Give it time.

People are busy, now more than ever before. Try to remain empathetic about the other demands on their time. Most business professionals have a loaded inbox, with an average of 126 emails going in and out a day. Don't add to the pile more than you need to! Leave a healthy break of a week or two between follow-up emails if at all possible.

3. Keep it brief and to the point.

Don’t beat around the bush! Let someone know why you’re emailing them right off the bat. We often wait to reply to emails that will take us time to answer and sometimes forget about them. Being concise can help you get a response more quickly.

4. Make it skimmable.

People are going to skim emails. That's why it is incredibly important to make your emails easy to read. People need to be able to understand what you need in just a few seconds.

Here's how to make your emails skimmable:

  • Add a due date
  • Bold important information
  • Use bullet points
  • Craft short sentences
  • Only include one link

Use these tips in your original message to minimize the need to send a follow-up email. The easier it is to read, the higher the response rate will be.

5. Automate it.

Pro tip: use software to send automated email reminders about signing paperwork. You can send it, forget about it, and avoid complicated manual tracking. This will save you time and ease the stress of keeping all your email reminders in order.

If that last tip sounds useful, good news: Formstack Sign, the easiest eSignature software on the market to use, can schedule reminders for your unsigned documents. Plus, you’ll be able to take advantage of Sign’s many other features, like an open API and mobile signing.

When sending out contracts via Sign, you can schedule weekly reminders until your documents are signed. No awkward “just checking in” emails for you!

Get documents signed quickly and securely with Formstack Sign. Start your free trial now to see all of Sign's features in action!


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Lindsay McGuire
Lindsay is the Content Marketing Manager at Formstack, splitting her time between creating blog content, writing reports, and hosting Formstack's Practically Genius podcast. She's a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism (MIZ!) and loves connecting with others on LinkedIn.
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