How many follow ups is best practice

Jason Lopez
Jason Lopez Member Posts: 2 Navigator
edited January 2022 in Industry Insights

First time posting and happy to finally join the community! Here goes...

I plan to have a discussion with my CS team on how many follow ups is best when sending proactive outreach. This could be for product adoption, onboarding, etc... In my online research, I have read that 2 to 3 follow ups is typically best with diminishing returns occurring once you get to the 4th follow up.

What is everyone else's experience with this?




  • James Stuart
    James Stuart Member Posts: 27 Expert
    edited January 2022
    Hi @Jason Lopez

    I normally have 2-3 follow-ups with my customers. A couple of things I track are 

    1) Are they reading my emails?- You can use plugins such as streak, This tells me if they are ignoring my email or not
    2) Are they actioning my emails just not responding?
    3) Are they just ignoring my emails?

    If it is 1 or 3, the question I ask is

    1) Was the content relevant to them, if not how could I have made it relevant
    2) Was there too much content. Sometimes it is better to send 1 or 2 points rather than 4 or 5. The reason for this is if your customer is short on time asking them to do 4 or 5 things may seem to much for them but asking them to change 1 or 2 small things often is more manageable.  You also want to track if each change has made an impact. If you throw all your eggs in one basket it is hard to do so. 
    3) Was it laid out in a simple manner for them to digest. 

    Let me know if you need anything else from me

  • David Ellin
    David Ellin Member Posts: 170 Expert
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Comment
    edited January 2022
    Hi, @Jason Lopez and welcome to this great community. Your question is a loaded one and my answer is, it depends. On what, you ask?

    Outreach and follow-up depends on your touch model. For high-touch enterprise clients, the CSM should have more outreach spread across different stakeholders - users, decision-makers, executives.

    For mid-touch (mid-market) or low-touch (SMB/long-tail), the touch model may look drastically different.

    And, while I realize you're asking about CSM follow-up, there are other ways to follow up with customers (IE: digital outreach, asynchronous video, etc.)
  • Ed Powers
    Ed Powers Member Posts: 180 Expert
    Photogenic 5 Insightfuls First Anniversary 5 Likes
    edited January 2022
    I agree with @David Ellin that your circumstances will vary, and perhaps it's best to keep in mind that this a testable hypothesis. Run an experiment and collect some data. Frequency of attempts could be a factor, but other factors @James Stuart describes may also come into play.
  • Guy Galon
    Guy Galon Member Posts: 26 Expert
    Photogenic First Anniversary Name Dropper First Comment
    edited January 2022
    Welcome Jason . While David and Ed covered most of the variables that will influence the number of follow ups (by the way, the influence many other aspects of communication and stakeholder management), I would add one more factor to consider.  There is a difference between following up with someone you know and been engaged with  Vs. new contact that you approach for the first or second time. The other aspect is is whether the quality of relationship. Much easier to follow up with a supportive stakeholder Vs. someone you identified as neutral/detractor.
  • David Ellin
    David Ellin Member Posts: 170 Expert
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Comment
    edited January 2022
    I'll add one other thought.

    If a CSM is following up on a prior conversation, IE: "did you read the information I sent" or "based on our prior conversation…", that's one thing. However, some companies build a cadence of follow-ups just for the sake of following up, IE: check-ins. These can tend to annoy busy people if there's no real reason for following up.

    As a general rule, I'd suggest considering this. Follow up for the sake of follow up is not good. Deliver some piece of value with every conversation. It could be about a product feature, use case, industry metric, best practice, competitive insight, or something else. If your customer receives value from your interactions, they'll interact more frequently. If you're not delivering value, you're wasting your customer's time.
  • Will Stevenson
    Will Stevenson Member Posts: 16 Thought Leader
    First Anniversary
    edited January 2022

    I would echo @David Ellin - I would say it's less about the frequency and more about the content of the follow ups. 

    If you're reaching out providing key information to the customer, you can probably get away with far more than 2-3 outreaches. I would actually say if you're truly providing value in these outreaches to continue past 2-3 in hopes that you address a problem they are facing and catch their attention. 

    If your subject or the body of your message includes "Just following up on...", I would scrap those all together. Positioning is key here. For example, rather than "I'm just following up to see if you could update your profile", try positioning it as "Our customers that have updated profiles see 50% more engagement from their audience."

    One other key is to figure out how your customers work best. Do they work best with directions bulleted out in emails or do they get more done on dedicated calls. It's really hard to have dedicated calls for everything, but if you find customers are responding to "Let's hop on a 15 minute call and knock this out", you might think about making it easier for customers to schedule calls with you or hold group office hours. 

    Thanks and hope this helps!

  • Mark Flanagan
    Mark Flanagan Member Posts: 26 Expert
    First Comment
    edited January 2022
    Great advice, WIll!
  • Jason Lopez
    Jason Lopez Member Posts: 2 Navigator
    edited January 2022

    Thank you for the great and quick responses!

    This is a one to many situation, so Low Touch Success. We are currently tracking email open rates, click rates, reply rates, etc... and are setting up a test to see how 2 vs 3 follow ups affects those metrics. 

    Great points about continually providing value with those follow ups @David Ellin and @Will Stevenson. That makes a lot of sense about getting away with more than 2 - 3 outreaches if it is key info and each follow up brings additional value. For instance, a new value added stat as why someone should join an onboarding sessions with each additional follow up so each email brings new info.

    That also reminds me to keep in mind where they are in the customer journey in regards to other outreach the customer might be receiving from say marketing or if there are planned outreaches from the CSM for other initiatives. Might not make sense to follow up on email 1 if you know you are sending email 2 the following week on a different topic. 

    As for Will's other point, we are slowly learning what our customers respond to most. We put together our Low Touch Success team around 6 months ago so are still learning what gets our users to engage most with our Low Touch CSMs (i.e. live calls, training videos, help center articles, certain email formats, etc...). This is good to keep in mind though so we continually keep trying and testing different engagement perspectives.