It can be frustrating when you send an email and you hear nothing.
You send an email to the editor of a potential publication you want to reach out to and, after checking your inbox like 100 times throughout the day, you hear nothing. Maybe they’re just busy, so you wait a day… a week… and still no response — until you completely forgot that you sent an email.
The above scenario should be very familiar if you send emails; it happens when you cold pitch clients, when you email your favorite bloggers or when you try to get published in major publications.
It’s understandable that many people find it difficult to reply to every email they receive when you consider the fact that over 2.5 million emails are sent every second. Personally, I despise my inbox. I’ll get rid of it if I could. However, since I’m a writer, much of my work depends on having to communicate through email; I have to email potential clients, I have to email actual clients, I have to email publications and blogs, etc. It becomes really frustrating after sending an email and not hearing back, so — by tapping into extensive research — I’ve developed a formula that is guaranteed to significantly boost response to the emails you send.
This formula is called…
The 3-7-7 Formula
By using the 3-7-7 formula, I get more replies from editors of some of the biggest publications in the world as well as potential clients — and many actually thank me for following up with them.
Most of the people that you email are very busy and they want to reply to your emails, but they can’t. However, because they want to reply and can’t, they feel guilty for not replying. Often, for some of these people, as soon as they see your email, the thought process goes as follows:
Thought process #1: Okay, this is another email… let me take a look.
Thought process #2: Hmmm. I’m a bit busy now but I’ll reply later today.
Thought process #3 (later in the day): I’m so busy right now. I’ll get back to this tomorrow.
Thought process #4 (a week later): Wow, so I totally missed replying to this email. It’s unfortunate that I can’t reply again; this person is probably pissed off already, or he might have forgotten about the email. Let me just forget about it.
**By some miraculous stroke of luck, you followed up**
Thought process: Wow, I feel relief. I’ve postponed this enough, let me reply know that this guy has followed up.
What I outlined is what most people (who feel responsible, at least, about the emails they get) feel. They try to respond but they can’t, and they feel guilty because they can’t respond. By following up, you actually relieve some of their guilt and make them feel better about themselves. This is assuming that they are very busy and actually wanted to reply to your email (most people do!).
Now that you know the importance of following up, the major problem is knowing when to follow up. How soon is too soon? You don’t want to appear too pushy and desperate, and you also don’t want to follow up when they might have forgotten you. This is where the 3-7-7 formula comes in.
The Origin of the 3-7-7 Formula
To make a case for the effectiveness of the 3-7-7 formula, I believe it is important to first address how it came about:
In what is the largest study of email habits at the time of writing this article, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering studied the email habits of over 2 million users. More than 16 billion emails were analyzed over the course of several months, and the researchers came to certain conclusions after their analysis of the emails.
Perhaps the most interesting finding is that 90 percent of people respond to an email within two days of receiving the email. 50 percent of people respond within an hour. If you don’t get a response to your email after two days, you most likely will never get a response.
Following the findings of this study, it is safe to send a follow up email three days after your first email; you can safely assume that 90 percent of people have seen your email and for some reason will not respond to it. This explains the “3” part of the 3-7-7- formula.
What happens, however, when someone doesn’t reply to your email after your first follow up? Do you send another follow up exactly three days after? While that’s technically possible, it might not be the best idea; the last thing you want is for someone to go on a week vacation only to have three emails (including two follow ups!) from you. That will probably kill your chances of getting a response due to you appearing very desperate and pushy.
If someone doesn’t respond to your first email as well as your follow up after three days, they could be busy or something else could be happening to them on a more personal basis. The human thing to do is to wait and give them some time. If you wait a whole week before following up, you won’t appear too desperate.
So after sending your first follow up after three days, wait a week (seven days) before sending another. If you still get no response, wait another week and send a final follow up.
If you don’t hear back after three follow ups, it’s safe to assume that you won’t ever get a response.
That explains the 3-7-7 Followup Formula for getting people to respond to your emails.