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Apr 15, 2021

How to write a reminder email – with samples

Learn why reminder emails should be friendly, gentle, and kind, yet professional and polite – and write your own with the help of our reminder email samples.

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Lawrie Jones

Writer

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Whether it's a missing payment, an urgent meeting, or a leave request, sometimes, you'll need to send a reminder email.

Reminder emails should be polite, professional, and persuasive – getting your point across while remaining on the right side of rudeness. By the end of the email, the recipient should know exactly what they need to do and when.

Friendly reminder emails are notoriously tricky to nail, but that doesn't need to be the case. By reading this guide and following our principles for writing a reminder email, you'll be able to send a gentle reminder in minutes.

What is a reminder email?

There are numerous reasons why you may need to send a reminder by email. Some of those include confirming attendance at an upcoming meeting or interview, highlighting an unpaid invoice, or late work.

Email reminders are typically split into two types:

  1. An email sent before something has happened – a friendly reminder that a meeting is due to happen, for instance.
  2. An email reminder after something has failed to happen – a reminder that an invoice hasn't been paid by the due date, for example.

A reminder email has a single purpose: to get someone to act. 

Whether it's emailing you back, calling you back, sending you the work, or paying your bill. At the end of the email, they must know what you want them to do, how you want them to do it, and when.

It's that simple, so why do so many of us find writing polite reminder emails so hard? It's the medium that makes the message a challenge.

Unlike phone calls, email is passive. Removing the human element can cause comprehension problems and lead to avoidance and a lack of action. People find it easier to ignore an email than a phone call.

So what can you do? Whether you're corresponding in a business capacity or a personal one, writing a professional email is an essential skill you have to master.

When writing a reminder email, the challenge is to strike the right balance between being professional, polite, and persuasive. Friendly reminder emails should adhere to email etiquette's formal rules but ensure that there's no room for confusion.

Academics studying emails have concluded that using the "appropriate tone and attitude in emails can help mitigate the challenges the medium presents." By being professional, polite, and persuasive yet kind, you can get people to respond. On the other hand, your email is likely to be ignored if it comes off as rude, aggressive, or ambivalent.

Why are friendly reminder emails important?

Writing polite reminder emails is a necessity in our personal and professional lives. Emails are the business currency of the world, with over 300 billion electronic messages sent every day. The average worker receives 121 emails a day, and it's estimated that an incredible (or shocking) 35% of these business emails go unread.

They also have 651 unread emails in their inbox. That's a lot of missed messages and unhappy senders. How many have you got?

If you find yourself drowning in digital communications, don't despair. Research focusing on R&D in US firms found that "Innovation administrators have a higher number of direct contacts, are more committed in conversations and receive more messages than they send." They also found that innovative people were more likely to respond promptly and professionally.

When you consider how long it takes to open, read and respond to an email, it's unsurprising that even essential correspondence can be missed. But missing emails can translate into lost revenue, with the average UK SME having at least five outstanding invoices, at an average of $11,700. How many overdue payment reminder emails have you sent?

Respondents may not be ignoring your email on purpose. In fact, increasingly sensitive spam filters can stick your crucial correspondence in a junk folder – especially if it contains an attachment.

Friendly reminder emails can be challenging to write and awkward to receive, so keep them concise.  The recipient needs to do two things: Read the email and respond. It's that simple, so there's no reason to overcomplicate sending them.

How to write a reminder email

Reminder emails should be short, snappy, and to the point. You want the person to do something, so you must be clear. You must be assertive and avoid being rude. Coming off as impolite is the fastest way for your email to get dismissed altogether.

In terms of tone, we recommend you being formal when sending kind reminder emails. If you're dealing with something serious, such as an unpaid invoice, you may need to refer to the email again in the future or even use it as evidence, so be as polite as possible.

Our research has found that there are six crucial components of successful reminder emails: 

  1. Subject line
  2. Greeting
  3. Situation
  4. Solution
  5. Action
  6. Sign-off

Let's look at these in greater detail step-by-step.

1. Subject line

We recommend being clear in your reminder email subject lines. Our sample below means the recipient can have no doubt what the email is about.

To
sarah.j.johansson@mail.com
Reminder: Unpaid invoice no: SC0856

2. Email greeting

Being polite and professional is the right approach. We won't go too deep into the nuances of email greetings, but read our guide on how to start a professional email if you want to learn more. 

To
sarah.j.johansson@mail.com
Reminder: Unpaid invoice no: SC0856
Dear Sarah,

3. Situation

Explain the problem and be specific. Include references, dates, and details. Be clear and unequivocal.

To
sarah.j.johansson@mail.com
Reminder: Unpaid invoice no: SC0856
Dear Sarah,

I am contacting you about our unpaid invoice (SC0856). We sent the invoice on 1 January 2021. Our standards payment terms are 28 days. The amount outstanding is $240.

4. Solution

We'll be a bit more kind in this reminder email sample than you necessarily need to be. Still, often it helps – particularly if you're a small business and the person you're communicating with is a valued client or customer.

To
sarah.j.johansson@mail.com
Reminder: Unpaid invoice no: SC0856
Dear Sarah,

I am contacting you about our unpaid invoice (SC0856). We sent the invoice on 1 January 2021. Our standards payment terms are 28 days. The amount outstanding is $240.

Please can you pay the invoice immediately. We are a small business and rely on our customers to pay promptly. This ensures we can continue to support you and your business.

Sometimes there may be legitimate excuses as to why an email or invoice is ignored or unpaid. Being polite and professional gives you the best chance of achieving a satisfactory outcome. 

5. Action

Tell the recipient exactly what you want them to do. If you want them to pay you, tell them. If you want to set a date, do so. But resist making threats or becoming angry. It's less likely that you will achieve the outcome you want if you do.

To
sarah.j.johansson@mail.com
Reminder: Unpaid invoice no: SC0856
Dear Sarah,

I am contacting you about our unpaid invoice (SC0856). We sent the invoice on 1 January 2021. Our standards payment terms are 28 days. The amount outstanding is $240.

Please can you pay the invoice immediately. We are a small business and rely on our customers to pay promptly. This ensures we can continue to support you and your business.

I would appreciate it if you could let me know when you have paid the invoice. If you are experiencing problems paying, please contact me as soon as possible. 

In the case of consistent late payers, you may wish to specify a date for payment. In some cases, you may want to explain the consequences if someone doesn't kindly respond to you. It could be that you offer their interview slot to someone else or begin formal proceedings to recover lost revenue.

Again: If you're clear about what you want, there is no margin for misunderstanding. 

6. Email sign-off

End your email formally and politely. If you need a reminder on how to end an email professionally, check out our guide. 

To
sarah.j.johansson@mail.com
Reminder: Unpaid invoice no: SC0856
Dear Sarah,

I am contacting you about our unpaid invoice (SC0856). We sent the invoice on 1 January 2021. Our standards payment terms are 28 days. The amount outstanding is $240.

Please can you pay the invoice immediately. We are a small business and rely on our customers to pay promptly. This ensures we can continue to support you and your business.

I would appreciate it if you could let me know when you have paid the invoice. If you are experiencing problems paying, please contact me as soon as possible. 

Sincerely,
Andrew

Reminder email samples 

Here are some standard and relatively gentle email reminder samples that you might find helpful. They also use the six-point framework we've established above. Whether you draw inspiration from our examples or not, always remember the core aspects of a kind reminder email that we've laid out in this blog.

Gentle reminder email to boss 

A gentle email reminder to your boss can be a sensitive subject, but the principle is still the same. Keep it professional, polite, and persuasive. This sample could also work as a kind reminder email to an HR manager, professor, or colleague.

To
david.e.thomas@mail.com
Re: Leave request for August
Hi David,

I recently sent you a leave request for the week of 1 August to 5 August 2021. I'm hoping to book a holiday with my family.

Please can you confirm whether my leave request has been granted when you can? 

Once I have your approval, I'll be able to book the holiday. If you would like to discuss my request, please let me know as soon as you can.

Best,
George

Reminder email to client

Sometimes, a project can be held up if a client, contractor, stakeholder, or someone else fails to play their part. A gentle reminder email to a client can get your project back on track.

To
susan.s.porter@mail.com
Re: Project plan sign off
Hi Susan,

I'm getting in touch to confirm whether you received our project plan?

The project document is a crucial part of the strategy we've created for you and needs your sign-off before we start working.

If you can review the document and let me know if you're happy with it, we can begin.

If you haven't received the documents or have any questions, please contact me as soon as possible. I'd be happy to talk you through it and provide any additional information you may require. 

Best regards,
Karen

Event reminder email 

Event reminder emails are necessary to ensure your event is a success. You'll likely be sending out quite a few of these, so this reminder email sample is reassuringly short, sweet, and to the point.

To
rupert.k.schlosmann@mail.com
Secure your spot: Managing change in a time of crisis on 1 Sep
Dear Rupert,

I'm contacting you to confirm your attendance at our event, 'Managing change in a time of crisis', which takes place on 1 September 2021.

The event has proved to be popular, and places are in demand. To confirm your spot, please respond in writing by replying to this email. Once you have confirmed your attendance, we will provide you with all the details you need for the event.

If we do not hear from you by 1 August 2021, we will assume you are not attending and offer your place to someone else. 

Kind regards,
Emma

Meeting reminder email

Meeting requests should always be personalized. You can be more specific about the importance of a meeting and the implications of not attending compared to the event email. This example can also be turned into an appointment reminder email.

To
stephen.d.davidson@mail.com
Reminder: Contract review meeting on 16 May
Dear Stephen,

You have been invited to a meeting to discuss your current contract from 10:00 am – 11:30 am on 16 May 2021.

I would be grateful if you could confirm to me today that you can attend the meeting.

The meeting is a chance for you to discuss your current contract and any potential challenges you may have had with our service. If the time or date is inconvenient, please let me know as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements.

Sincerely,
Philip

Overdue payment reminder email

Payment reminders are (sadly) all too common, with late payers a problem facing all businesses. The key here is to remove emotion and resist the temptation to get angry. State the facts, give them the outcomes and tell them what you need them to do. 

To
andrea.r.smith@mail.com
Unpaid invoice: PR00989
Dear Andrea,

I am contacting you about our unpaid invoice (PR00989). We sent the invoice on 14 February 2021. Our standard payment terms are 28 days. The amount outstanding is £300.

Please confirm that you have received this email and let me know when we can expect to receive payment. If we do not receive the payment within 7 days, we may not be able to continue to provide our services.

If you are experiencing difficulties making a payment, please contact me using my email address or direct telephone number.

Sincerely,
Saul

5 common email reminder mistakes – and how to avoid them

The samples above should provide some valuable guidelines on how to structure friendly reminder emails. Before we sign-off, here are five common email reminder mistakes and how you can avoid them.

1. Get to the point

Be friendly but firm. You're writing a reminder for a reason, so get to the point quickly. Be detailed, specific, and structured.

2. Avoid embarrassment

You know they received the email (and they probably do too), but don't name and shame. Keep your gentle reminder emails polite, friendly, and focused.

3. Never apologize

It's easy to apologize (it's what we do, right?), but it won't help your email reminder. If you want to, you can soften the blow a little (you may have missed my previous email), but you don't need to. Also, don't write one of those "Just a reminder…" emails.

4. Provide a solution

Always be clear about what you want the recipient to do. You want a response and an action that delivers the outcome you want. Tell the person what you want them to do and by when.

5. Encourage communication

In some cases, there may be legitimate reasons why someone isn't responding to you. Provide multiple opportunities and prompts to encourage them to reply to you. If they don't want to email you, offer a chance to reach you via phone.

Still wondering about how to write a gentle reminder email? With Flowrite, you can turn short bullet points into a ready-to-send reminder email with AI. Request early access to send friendly reminder emails faster than ever. 

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