Our data suggests that four emails make for an effective prospect outreach campaign. As a general rule, the total number of responses goes up as the number of emails in a sequence increases—even if the number of responses to a single stage doesn’t increase. This rule continues to hold past the first 4 emails; but when we broke out responses by “interested” vs “not interested,” we started to see diminishing returns. A 4-stage sequence strikes the right balance between connecting with talent and preserving employer brand.

The data proves that multi-stage sequences are more effective at eliciting responses from candidates. Yet in practice, many recruiters still only send one follow-up, if any. If followups are so important, why aren’t recruiters sending email #3 or #4? Our conjecture is that this is the case for a few reasons:

  1. We don’t have time
  2. We don’t want to come off as aggressive
  3. Rejection is hard! And we don’t want to feel it, again

To the first point, time constraints—not to mention the tediousness of manual follow-ups—disappear with automation. (Indeed, recruiters who use Gem work, on average, 5x more quickly through follow-up outreach with our automated follow-up feature.)

As for points 2 and 3, remember that passive candidates are less likely to respond to that first (or second, or third) email for one simple reason: They’re employed full-time, meaning they’re busy a greater proportion of the time than active candidates are. Follow-up messages are effective because they let you experiment with timing, eventually catching prospects when they can process what you’re offering.

Learn more content best practices in our Definitive Guide to Email Outreach

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