Write Effective Follow-Up Letters

Stacie Heaps
Professional Writer and Editor

Follow-up letters can be very important to help you accomplish what you want or need to. For one thing, follow-up letters show to the recipient of the letter your interest in a particular subject or position or your dedication to a responsibility or cause. Furthermore, when written correctly, follow-up letters can be effective tools in helping or ensuring that important tasks get done.

Purposes of Follow-up Letters

Follow-up letters are written for a wide variety of reasons, but they are most often written for one of four main purposes:

  • Provide further information and show continued interest after an interview.
  • Recap important points or decisions made at a meeting, seminar, workshop, etc.
  • Reiterate the benefits of a product or service, or demonstrate continued interest in a client or potential customer by announcing a special offer.
  • Remind readers of an upcoming meeting or other important event.

8 Tips for Writing Effective Follow-up Letters

  1. Send your follow-up letter promptly, especially after an interview (usually within 24 hours; 48 hours at the most).
  2. Indicate to the recipient of the letter whether or not you need a response, and specify how the person can respond to you: via phone, e-mail, in person, or by mail.
  3. Send reminders about meetings and appointments well in advance so that the recipient has sufficient time to prepare or fulfill assignments. You may send other reminders as the need arises. The message of your letter should be brief and clearly stated to avoid misunderstandings.
  4. Take advantage of follow-up letters to reiterate the positive aspects of your service or product, and gently urge your client or potential customer to take the next step in negotiating a sale. If the reader has already expressed interest in your business, give a firm sales pitch. Highlight the benefits of your product or service, but don't push too hard.
  5. Don't duplicate previous sales pitches, but offer something new, such as more information or a special discount.
  6. When following up after an interview, indicate that you are willing to provide additional information or references (if applicable).
  7. If you do not receive a response from an initial follow-up letter, you may want to write a second letter. Include a copy of the previous follow-up letter with your new one, or repeat the message. Reiterate the importance of receiving a response.
  8. Avoid negative remarks. If you do not receive a response after a first letter, do not imply in later letters that the reader is forgetful, thoughtless, or negligent, as this will likely make him or her feel defensive. Showing your frustration will usually make the situation worse.

Follow-up Letter after an Interview

When writing a follow-up letter after an interview, you should:

Thank the interviewer and briefly remind him or her of your name and qualifications.

Reiterate your interest in the position.

Add important information that did not come up during the interview.

Remind the interviewer of some aspect of the interview that went well, briefly elaborate on an idea brought up in the interview, or work to repair any damage that may have been done during the meeting.

Send information the employer may have asked you to provide during the interview.

Send the follow-up letter within 24 hours. Sending a follow-up letter will show that you are courteous and professional, and it will give you an edge over job applicants who do not send thank-you or follow-up letters (many do not).

Follow-up Letter to Recap Important Information

Send a follow-up letter after a meeting or other occasion in order to:

Remind individuals who attended a meeting of the decisions and assignments that were made (this can help to move the work along).

Reiterate important ideas that were shared.

Promote further discussion and collaboration.

Follow-up Letter to Reiterate Benefits or Announce a Special Offer

Writing follow-up letters to customers allows you to:

Establish or renew a relationship with a current or potential customer.

Remind a client or potential customer of your continued willingness to serve him or her.

Emphasize the advantages of doing business with your company, and propose a course of action that the customer can take.

Thank a customer or announce a special sale or limited-time offer.

Keep your company's name before the customer, and reinforce the impression that you are a good person to do business with.

Follow-up Letter to Remind Readers of Important Events

By sending a follow-up letter, you are able to:

Include reminders about upcoming meetings or appointments.

Include in the letter the date, time, and location of the event, along with any other important information that the reader may need to know before attending.