As an investment director, I get hundreds of emails a week from startup founders seeking to raise a round. The overload gets so heavy that I can simply miss some of those letters.
Result? You won’t get a reply, and I won’t get the chance to meet you.
Solution? Write a follow-up. Research shows it will increase your reply rate by 65.8%.
Writing a good follow-up, however, is a skill. Here are some tips on ping etiquette to keep in mind when you reach out to someone for the second time.
Appreciate investors’ time
It’s not a good idea to write a follow-up on the same day you sent the first email (or even the next day after sending it). Investors rarely have time to look at pitch decks and data rooms immediately.
So it doesn’t play in your favor if you send a data room and, in several hours, ping investors, asking, “Did you get a chance to look at it?” It’s even worse when founders simultaneously start pinging investors on Twitter and other social media. Making it to investors’ spam lists isn’t the best outcome.
Generally, a week or two after your initial email is a good time to reach out again.
Add value to your follow-up
If, after the first email, you have any updates on your project, mention them. It will increase the value of your follow-up and your chances of getting a reply. Updates may concern a new investor in the upcoming round, product launch, sales, and revenue metrics. Hiring a “star” employee can also be worth mentioning.
If you haven’t done so in the first email, explain to the investor why you think your startup is a good match for her or her fund. “I know you invest in EdTech and pay attention to startups that… My company is a good match for you, because…”
Apart from showing that you did research, it also helps the investor see an opportunity she might not see before.
Crafting an email: number of words, subject line, language
Any email should be short and easy to reply to on the go; a follow-up should be even more concise. According to the widely cited Boomerang research, an email between 50 and 125 words is ideal. Such emails yield a 50% or higher response rate.
As you craft your email, consider that clever or overly complicated words won’t get you far—only 39% of the emails written at a college reading level get a response. Try simpler words and write shorter sentences than you normally would.
Brevity concerns subject lines, too. Another research shows that subject lines with only 6-10 words received the most responses—21%.
Show tact and patience
“Why do you ignore me?” or even “How is it going?” is not a good way to phrase your follow-up. You probably wanted to sound friendly, but given the receiver can’t see your body language and hear your tone, your intentions can be misinterpreted. A follow-up like this may seem impatient and intrusive, and I am often discouraged from talking to its sender, even if it’s a founder who runs our portfolio startup.
Take care to craft a message that sounds friendly and polite; use a slightly more formal approach.
I just wanted to resurface my email in case it got buried in your inbox. Have you had an opportunity to look at the document I sent you last week?
Please let me know if you need any specific data from me.
Following up with potential investors is a crucial part of fundraising. However, remember that there is no all-in-one strategy for follow-up emails and that even the most-optimized emails don’t get a 100% response rate.
- Before sending a follow-up, wait for one-two weeks after your initial email.
- Keep it short; use simpler words.
- Respect the investor’s time—do not demand immediate attention.
- Research potential investors and show why you are a good match.
- Add metrics and product news to get attention.
Catch our interview with Paul Down, Head of Sales at Intigriti.
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