Research from ezyCollect shows that most overdue invoices are paid by the third reminder. That means the supplier must typically request payment two or three times before an invoice is paid. In the digital age, those reminders are usually sent by email and SMS.
With the right format, tone and timing your reminders for overdue invoices can be very powerful. Done well, your reminders become a great support tool for your customers’ payables team. Suppliers who use ezyCollect report back that their customers actually thank them for sending helpful payment reminders!
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 their debt and respond promptly to your requests for payment.
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The right way to write 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 percent 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. Use action words such ‘Please review’ or ‘Please action’. 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.)
- Oldest overdue invoice
Rather than communicate individually about every invoice, communicate about the entire account. This means that you will consolidate all overdue invoices into each reminder and the oldest overdue invoice will be the priority (See our template below.)
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 in the body of the email and then add invoice copies as attachments.
- Schedule a series of emails
One reminder email may not be enough to generate a payment. Still, you don’t want to bombard your customer’s inbox daily. Plan a schedule of emails that will reach your customer over time. 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, tone, 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.
Template for overdue invoice reminder email
Subject: Reminder: Your account from <your company name> is overdue
Dear <Customer name>,
I hope you are well. A friendly reminder that our trading terms are <payment terms in days>.
Your oldest overdue invoice is now <number of days> days overdue.
The total amount overdue is <total amount overdue>. The table below summaries all overdues.
<table of overdue invoices>
I have attached invoice copies for your reference.
We would appreciate immediate payment.
We welcome your payment by the following methods:
<include all payment methods>
To pay via credit card, please click the Pay Now button below:
<Pay Now button>
Please contact us immediately for any queries about your account.
<Contact name, email, phone number>
(Note: If using ezyCollect’s automated payment reminders, you can set up your email templates with drag and drop merge fields like ‘total amount overdue’, an ‘overdue invoice table’, and a ‘Pay Now’ button for online payments. The system collates all relevant information for you.)
Template for overdue invoice SMS reminder
Your SMS reminder will be much shorter than your email reminder. You have much less ‘real estate’ to work with!
- 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.
- Credit managers rely on overdue invoice reminders to reign in late payments.
- Your customers rely on your helpful reminders about overdue invoices.
- Get the tone, content and format of your reminders right so you can generate a prompt payment or invite a payment discussion.
- A best practice overdue reminder email or SMS template is a crucial tool in your business.
For more templates and AR resources, download ezyCollect’s toolkit of free resources: