Sometimes, everybody needs a little nudge, and one of the best ways to do it is to send a reminder through email. A gentle reminder email brings your message across without being pushy. Despite all the technology on how to communicate, email is still the preferred form of communication by 86% of business professionals. In this article, we’ll discuss the following:
- What is a reminder email?
- Reasons to send a reminder email
- How to send a friendly reminder email
- What do if you don’t get a response or get a negative one
- Alternatives to reminding someone over email
A reminder email is a friendly yet professional and effective letter either to remind something that hasn’t happened yet ( like a meeting or an appointment) or to remind you of something that didn’t happen (an unpaid invoice or late work). Whatever reason you have for writing one, it serves one purpose: to get action. It’s possible to automate the sending of important reminders in your calendar, gmail or with marketing automation – but there are several good reasons to write it by hand.
Why should you send a reminder email?
We’ve already talked about how reminder emails are sent when something will happen and when something doesn’t happen. However, here are some specific instances of when you can send one.
- To remind people of important upcoming events. These events can be anything from a wedding to work seminars that are too important to miss. For these types, you can send a friendly email reminder to all involved so everybody is on the same page.
- To follow up on an unpaid invoice. Late payments are usually a tricky reminder to send because you want to sound professional without sounding pushy about asking for money. Usually, receiving payment for a work you did before the deadline you set is standard business etiquette. Don’t be shy about sending a gentle payment reminder if your deadline has passed and you still haven’t received your payment.
- To follow up on a job order or request status. Sometimes, you send a reminder email because you’re the one who needs to pay for goods or services, but you didn’t receive an invoice or the products.
- For team members who missed a deadline. Send an email with a friendly tone if you are leading a team and some of your team members drop the ball. However, if the project is critical, it’s best to send it a few days before the deadline is due.
- A professional email asking about job application results. You can send a reminder email if you need to follow up on the outcome of your job interview. If possible, ask the interviewer when you should expect a result. If you haven’t gotten a result by then, send a discreet email to follow up.
When is a good time to send a reminder email?
Reminder emails are helpful. However, when to send them so they are effective is a complicated art form and doesn’t have a single answer. When is the best time to send a reminder email? The answer to this question is, it depends on the situation and there’s not always a perfect time.
If you’re following up on an invoice, an order, or a missed deadline, it’s best to send it on the first business day after the due date.
For essential event reminders like R.S.V.P.s to a wedding, for example, it’s recommended to send reminders up to three weeks before the wedding date.
For tricky emails like following up on job interviews, you can send a ‘checking-in’ email two weeks after your interview. Remember applying for a job is a complex process, and often it takes longer than you initially expected.
Like job interviews, if you’re following up on a previous email for something that doesn’t have a due date – like a favor, it is considerate to wait before you send a kind reminder.
Sending effective follow-up emails often involves good timing, together with a well-crafted reminder message. Sometimes it might be useful to set your own appointment reminder to help you remember to contact the person again.
How do you write an effective reminder email?
Now that you know what a polite reminder email is and when to send it, the next step is to write the body of the email. From the subject line to your sign-off message, here are some effective tips for writing one.
Write an effective reminder email subject line
Writing a clear subject line is not only good email etiquette to assure your recipient your email is not spam, but it also gives them no doubt of what the email is all about. A clear subject line is essential, especially if you don’t know the person personally.
If you’re following up on an unpaid invoice, delayed shipment, missed a deadline, or anything similar, you can add the line “Response Required” to your subject line to give it a more urgent tone.
However, if you’re following up on a favor, a request, or a job interview, it’s best to write “Following up” before your subject line.
Don’t skip the email greeting
A greeting is standard when writing an email, pretty much like the subject line. Including an email greeting makes your letter sound more friendly yet professional at the same time. Before you get into your main message, you allow the reader to remember who you are with some personal remarks – a personalized email is far more effective.
If you’re worried about how to do the email salutation, here are some things to remember:
- Use Dear if you know the person’s name but don’t know them personally or if you just have a professional relationship with them. If you want a gender-neutral option, write their first or full name instead of Mr., Mrs., or Miss. For example, Dear John Smith, or Dear Wanda.
- Use Hi or Hello if you address a company department or someone you don’t have personal contact information with. You can use hi or hello followed by their first name – Hello John, Hi Sally, etc.
- If you address a group of people, you can write Hi everyone to make it more inclusive. It’s considered more appropriate to use “Hi Folks” instead of “Hi Guys” if you want to be more casual.
Keep the body of the email as simple as possible, and include a call to action
After you write the subject line and the salutation, you will now write the most crucial part- the main message of the email body. When writing the email body, there is one acronym that you should keep in mind – K.I.S.S. ( Keep It Super Simple).
You want to start with a pleasant greeting. If you don’t know the person, I hope you’re having a good day should suffice. However, if it’s a colleague or someone you know, you can start with something specific.
Explain the situation politely and as objectively as you can without blaming anyone, and don’t forget to add a CTA (call to action) – or what you expect them to do. After all, you’re writing the email because you want to achieve something. Be clear with what you want the recipient to do and when. However, again, be polite. Consider the following reminder email samples below:
Kindly confirm you have received this email, and let me know when we can expect to receive payment.
Please RSVP by Thursday by January 14, so we can confirm your attendance at our wedding. You can email/phone call, or text.
Can you confirm whether my request for leave is granted when you can?
For most business applications, you’ll find a good set of email templates that can cover what you need.
End the email and sign your name
After you write a short but concise email, it’s time to wrap it up. Consider writing something that’ll encourage communication. The following examples are great ways to end a reminder email:
- I look forward to your response about this matter.
- Thank you for prioritizing my request.
- Thank you for your time.
After you’ve wrapped your letter up, it’s time to sign your name. The way you end it depends on the strength of your relationship with the recipient. If you’re in doubt about how to sign it, use any one of the following:
- Best regards
- With Gratitude
To avoid confusion, especially if you don’t know the person, sign it with your first and last name, job title, and your phone number if you want. Adding your company name and social media links to your signature is always useful.
Tactful ways to follow up if they don’t respond or respond negatively
What do you do if you’ve already sent a reminder email, but you haven’t heard back, or worse, they responded negatively. Let’s discuss these two situations one by one.
They Don’t Respond
If you are waiting for a response for a job interview, one follow-up email should be enough. Suppose you need to get an answer for a delayed shipment, a potential collaboration, or anything else similar to these. In that case, there is a polite but persuasive way to get them to answer back.
- Don’t apologize, be clear on what you want
If your reminder email is to notify them about something important, resist the urge to apologize, instead be clear on what you want to happen. Be polite, but if you need to, bullet points the things you need from them and when you need them. Particularly when sending payment reminder emails or business email, it’s best to cut to the chase.
- Call Them
If you need an urgent response or to take a credit card number, instead of emailing them, pick up the phone and call them. Sometimes direct person-to-person communication is the best way to get things done..
They Respond Negatively
What if you’re eagerly waiting for a job interview response, and when you do receive something, it’s not the response you wanted to have? It’s not the end of the world, although it might feel like it at that moment. It’s normal to be disappointed, but you can treat it as a networking opportunity and make yourself stand out from the potential pool of applicants just in case another offer crops up. Send a well-crafted email back taking into consideration the following elements:
- Thank the interviewer
- Express your disappointment, but express your continued interest
- Ask for feedback
- The same applies to sending replies to almost any kind of rejection email.
Other ways to send reminders: Text, Slack, Whatsapp
There are other ways other than emails to send reminders. Some of the most popular ones are text messages, Slack and Whatsapp.
Text Messages. Sending text messages from your phone is one of the best ways to remind people you already know. You can use it to send messages for important events or schedule appointments or follow up on important details with your teammates. However, you need phone numbers to send text messages, and sending messages through this channel only works with people you already know.
Slack. Slack is a messaging app geared for business organizations. Suppose you’re part of a team using Slack as the primary form of communication. In that case, you can easily send messages to your co-collaborators by sending a friendly reminder directly to the person involved. However, unless you are part of a smaller private channel, your messages are visible to everybody part of the team.
WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a messaging app that allows you to send and receive messages and make video calls through your mobile or on your desktop. You need a phone number to use WhatsApp. Like text messages, it’s a great way to follow up on people you already know. However, since you need a phone number to use WhatsApp, you should already have a personal connection to those people.
With some practice and good timing, you should be able to master sending effective emails as well as receive responses in no time.