Research from ezyCollect shows that most overdue invoices are paid by the third reminder—that’s the supplier requesting payment for an overdue invoice typically two or three times, often communicating with their customer via a combination of email and SMS.
With the right format, tone and timing your reminder for overdue invoices is very powerful. But how to ask for payment of an overdue invoice can be tricky.
Remember, your reminder is a communication from your business and is great opportunity to represent your professionalism and enhance your customer relationship.
Our tips below will help your customers with overdue invoices to understand and respond promptly to your requests for payment.
Overdue invoice email reminders
Email continues to be both a universal and popular mode of communication to reach overdue customers. But simply sending an email doesn’t mean your customer will open it. While emails are relatively cheap—and automation makes the cost per email even cheaper—an ineffective email (or series of emails) is a waste of time and money.
Make it easier for your customer to respond to your emails:
- Mobile optimise
Today, more than half of all emails are read on mobile devices. 72 per cent of people delete emails that don’t look good on mobiles; 22 per cent unsubscribe (2016 Adestra Consumer Adoption and Usage Study).
Your ‘from’ address and sign-off should include names your customer will recognise. Your salutation to your customer should also be personalised e.g. ‘Dear Sam, …’
Research the right person in your customer’s business to receive your reminder emails. Copy in their manager and your manager as debtors reach your danger zone for default (in ezyCollect we call these Red Zone customers i.e. any business more than 60 days overdue).
- Subject lines
Brief is best. Tell your customer exactly what your email is about so they are compelled to open it. (Try testing different subject lines to see which ones get the best response rates.)
Keep this concise. Use bullet points and short paragraphs. Marketing specialists, Hubspot, report “nothing boosts opens and clicks as well as an old school, plain-text email.” i.e. choose plain text over HTML for your reminders.
- Be polite
Often your customer has simply overlooked your invoice. Don’t jeopardise your relationship unnecessarily by starting with harsh language. Reply to completed payments with a thank you email.
- Include attachments
Add the overdue invoice to your reminder email, or if there are many, consolidate them into one table and include all attachments.
- Schedule a series of emails
But don’t bombard your customer’s inbox daily. Plan a schedule of emails that will consistently reach your customer. When intermixed with other modes of communication e.g. SMS reminders, more than one reminder is very effective. Subsequent emails should reference your agreed terms and conditions e.g. ‘As agreed in our terms and conditions, we will be placing your account on credit hold…’
Check spelling and grammar, URL links, and make sure any default template copy is removed.
- Reach every overdue customer
If you’re issuing large numbers of invoices it’s almost impossible to reach every customer without significant labour investment, or automation. Still, customers can easily slip under the radar if you don’t follow-up on the invoices that become overdue.
- Send on the right day
If you know your customer’s payment schedule e.g. end of month, send your reminder email in time. Don’t send on a Friday if their office hours are Monday to Thursday.
- Include clear calls to action
‘Please pay immediately’ is pretty clear. Provide a name and number should your customer needs to contact someone in your business to discuss their overdue invoices.
- Make it easy to action
Add a Pay Now button—when this leads to your online payments portal, your customer is one click away from paying off their overdue invoices.
Overdue invoice email template
A sample first overdue invoice reminder email
(Note: If using ezyCollect’s automated payment reminders, you can set up your email template with drag and drop merge fields like ‘total amount overdue’ and an ‘overdue invoice table’. The system collates all relevant information for you.)
Overdue invoice SMS reminders
A text message is a great strategy to get immediate attention. Oracle Marketing Cloud’s research found that SMS messages have an almost perfect delivery rate at close to 100 per cent. Because SMS offers you less ‘real estate’ to write your message, keep these tips in mind:
- Use SMS for bulletin or alert style messages.
- Be brief and to the point.
- No salutation required.
- Keep characters to around 200.
- Preview your message to ensure the reader doesn’t need to scroll too far.