How to send a kind reminder email

Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik
· 5 min read

A friendly reminder email is an effective tool when you want someone to take action or inform them about an event, meeting, or sale.

Yet, the thought of writing one leaves many people feeling awkward and uncomfortable.

The result? They put it off.

You don’t want to feel pushy or rude.

Striking the right tone and the perfect time to send one can be daunting, even when you know sending the reminder is important.

Fortunately, writing friendly and effective reminder emails doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.

In this post, we’re sharing tips to help you write kind reminder emails faster.

When to write a reminder email?

Reminder emails are useful when you need someone to take action on something or to reduce the chance of no-shows to appointments, events, or meetings.

Here are some potential use cases for sending a reminder email:

  • Remind a prospect about an upcoming sales demo
  • Follow up on a late payment or invoice
  • Remind someone about an important deadline
  • Follow up on a late shipment
  • Remind people of an upcoming appointment or meeting
  • Follow up about a job or interview
  • Let customers know if a membership is expiring or will be automatically renewing
  • Follow up with a client about a project if you haven’t heard back from them in awhile

This particular list of reminder email use cases is fairly self-explanatory.

The tricky part to get right is around timing. You want to remind someone in a helpful manner without coming across as pushy or annoying.  

For example, if you’re reminding someone of an appointment or meeting, you’ll likely want to send a reminder 24 hours and 1 hour before. This is actually something you can even automate using scheduling software, like SavvyCal.

Yet, if you’re following up about getting paid, you might want to send a reminder email a couple of days before the deadline and then again the day after the deadline (if they still haven’t paid).  

You may need to send multiple reminders for overdue payments. While you don’t want to send a reminder every day, you do want to monitor the situation. For example, you can send an overdue payment reminder one day after it’s late, then a few days later, and so on.

Reminder emails vs. reminder text messages: When to use

In general, email reminders are the de-facto standard. If the reminder message is business-related, then you should almost always send a reminder email.

On the other hand, text messages are more casual and tend to elicit fast reply times than email.

For instance, reminder text messages can be effective when something is urgent or for offers ending soon since people typically respond within a few minutes of receiving a text. So, for example, if you're reminding someone that a sale or offer is ending soon, they may be more likely to see the text in time to take action instead of an email.

Reminder text messages can also help reduce no-shows to calls and appointments.

You could also use a strategy that combines the two approaches, especially if you’re having trouble getting a response.

For example, you send a reminder email about a late payment one day after it was missed. Then, a few days later, you send another follow-up email reminder. If you still don’t hear back, you could switch to sending a brief text reminder.

This approach can be especially effective if you contact them right before imposing a late fee. People will see this text has helped them to avoid the late fee, and they’ll be more likely to take the action you want.

7 best practices for writing reminder emails

Writing reminder emails doesn’t have to be daunting. These tips will help you craft an effective reminder email in no time.

1. Write a clear and compelling subject line

People typically receive more emails than they can get through in a day. So you want to create a subject line that grabs their attention and lets them know exactly what the email is about.

A reminder email isn’t the time to be clever or witty. Instead, being clear will work best, especially if writing them because they’ve missed a deadline, payment, or meeting.

You also may consider including a phrase that adds some sense of immediacy for emails about missed payments or deadlines. For instance, you can include “Re: Action Needed,” “Payment reminder,” or “Call starting in 1 hour.”

2. Be concise

It is always best to assume that the person reading your reminder email is busy and checking their inbox on their phone or in the meeting in-between times. Because of this, short reminder emails are more effective.

Writing reminder emails using the inverted pyramid method tends to work best. To do this, you include the most important stuff first. This approach helps respect their time and yours.

For example, when reminding someone about an upcoming meeting, your first line should include when the meeting is, the main topic you’ll discuss, and any location / meeting room details. Then, you might have a couple more sentences with the meeting agenda items.

Pro Tip: Here are some meeting reminder templates you can copy and paste (and modify) as you see fit.

3. Don’t bury the action item

This is more relevant when you are sending a reminder email about a favor, a missing or late payment, or anything that might be uncomfortable to send.

Trying to hide your ask in flowery language just puts more work on the recipient. They’ll be more likely not to reply to your email or deny the request.

Instead, a better approach is to be polite but direct. After you’ve briefly stated the problem or reason for the email, now let them know what you need them to do.

For instance, if they’ve missed a payment, you can say, “Please pay immediately by clicking the payment link in this email.”

If you’re following up on a missed deadline, the action you need is an update on when you’ll receive the project. So, you can simply ask, “I’m looking forward to receiving [project] as soon as possible. Please let me know by the end of today when you will submit the project.”

4. Be polite but don’t apologize.

Mistakes happen. People miss appointments, payments, and deadlines.

Taking a friendly, polite approach will get people working with you. But this doesn’t mean you have to give them a ready excuse or apologize for sending a reminder.

You aren’t doing anything wrong. Instead, your reminder is helping the person.

If you’re not sure of your email’s tone, read it as if you’re the one receiving it. Is this something that would get you to take action?

5. Send follow-up emails as needed

The number of follow-ups will depend on your reason for sending the reminder, but don’t forget to send them.

Reminder: most people are busy. The average person receives dozens if not hundreds of emails every day. Emails get missed or overlooked. A reminder email pushes your request to the top of the pile.

6. Make it easy for someone to reschedule

This applies only to appointment and meeting reminder emails. However, things come up. The easier you make it for someone to rebook, the more likely they will do that instead of simply not showing up.

That’s where using scheduling software, like SavvyCal, can be particularly beneficial. Anytime someone books a time on your calendar, there is a link at the bottom of the calendar invite that someone can click that makes it easy for them to either reschedule or cancel.

7. Be proactive

Arguably, the best approach is to be proactive, so you don’t have to send a reminder email at all.

For instance, after a call or meeting, you can send a follow-up email recapping what went on as well as any action items and deliverables. This sets clear expectations and reduces the chance you’ll need to send reminder emails about missing deliverables.

Reminder emails don’t have to be hard to write

Sticking to a professional, friendly tone can help you solve problems and get people to take the action you need.

By following these reminder email best practices and keeping the purpose of the email and the one action you want the recipient to take in mind, you’ll be able to write an effective reminder efficiently.

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