If you have any interest in finding useful ways to automate parts of your business, the email autoresponder is the best place to start.
Autoresponders are as simple as writing an email, but can become very powerful automated tools that help you sell your products or services, increase your brand awareness, and help position you as an expert in the eyes of your subscribers.
What is an Autoresponder?
An autoresponder is a tool or feature that is usually part of an email provider like Mail Chimp or Aweber. This feature will allow you to create a series of emails that can be sent, automatically, to your subscriber over a certain period of time.
Most email service providers will let you schedule the amount of time between emails sent. i.e Send this email 3 days after the one before it. Some of the more powerful email service providers will let you make more complex rules such as, if the subscriber clicks on a link in this email then tag them as a potential buyer and move them to another autoresponder series.
To be clear, autoresponders are not the same thing as newsletters. However, the auto responder tool/feature comes as part of signing up for an email service.
Newsletter are typically one-and-done sort of emails. Once these emails are sent out once, they will never be seen again. If someone joins your list after you send a newsletter out, the new user will never see that email.
Autoresponders on the other hand are messages that are set to go out automatically time and time again, as new subscribers sign up.
Why Should You Use an Autoresponder?
Autoresponders are so easy to use and can be such a powerful tool for your business, that here is no reason you shouldn’t be using them.
When used properly, an autoresponder will help you achieve at least two things that are essential to growing your business; they will keep your brand in front of your customers and they will keep your list primed to buy from you.
Even more importantly, I feel that autoresponders can help build trust.
Yes, these emails are pre-written and sent to everyone who signs up for them. But, that doesn’t make the content in these emails any less valuable. And the more value you can provide to your subscribers, the more they will come to trust you.
Examples of Autoresponders in Use
Autoresponders are all over the internet. So much so that you would be hard pressed to not have had your own personal experience with them.
Have you ever entered your email on a website to download a free ebook, some recipes, worksheets, etc and then started to receive a series of emails? That is most likely the result of an autoresponder.
Lets take a quick look at a few popular entrepreneurs websites to see how they are promoting their autoresponder opt-in.
Now that we have seen how some popular entrepreneurs are promoting their autoresponder series, lets look at a couple more versatile examples.
There are really two types of businesses, service based and product based. Here is an example of how each type could use autoresponders in their business.
If you are a freelance web designer you could build an autoresponder to…
- Follow up with leads
- Check in with past clients every few months
- Distribute your lead magnet to help educate prospective clients
If you are a artist who sells handmade goods, you could build an autoresponder to…
- Deliver an email series that shares a behind-the-scene look at your business to help build your brand
- Follow up with customers asking them to review or share their purchase on social media
- Deliver a lead magnet about how the customer can make better use of your product
How to Get Started with Autoresponders
The first step to getting started with autoresponders is to start thinking about how you can implement them into your own business.
It can be easy to plan elaborate autoresponder series, but if you are just getting started its best to find simple ways to work them into your business.
Start small by looking for areas where you can create a small autoresponder sequence of 3 to 5 emails.
As a jumping off point, here are two things you can do to start brainstorming ideas for your autoresponder:
1. Repetitive Emails – Are there emails that you send out on a regular basis to clients or customers? Do you follow up with them after a purchase? Do you send out educational material after a project is complete? Look for these sorts of emails and see how you could build upon them to create a useful autoresponder series for the subscriber.
2. Wishful Emails – Are there are emails and followups that you should be sending to every client and customer, but aren’t because it is to much work? Auto responders are the perfect solve for that. Sit down and plan out what you think the perfect follow up series of emails would be for a new customer or client. Then build that into your first autoresponder!
Choosing a Autoresponder Service
There are a handful of email service providers out there that offer autoresponders as part of their service. Below are a few of the most popular choices for those just getting started with autoresponders.
Price: $10 per month to add automation
This is one of the more popular choices out there because they offer a great product and you can start using them for free. However, in order to use their automation feature you must pay $10 a month.
Price: Starts at $19 per month
These guys are still one of the most popular entry and mid level email service providers on the market. They actually offer a basic autoresponder tool and a more advanced one that lets you create complex campaigns.
Price: Starts at $19 per month
This tool is incredibly cheap for as powerful as it is. It lets you create wildly complex autoresponder workflows. It does come with a bit of a learning curve, but if you are an established business with lots of products/services and fairly tech savvy, this maybe a good choice for you.
Price: Starts at $29 per month
I have found that this tool has the perfect combination of features. It offers you the ability to create simple autoresponders, but also offers just enough additional tools to help you create more complex autoresponders. This is the tool I use at Use Authority.
Creating Your First Autoresponder Sequence
Unfortunently, there is no single email sequence formula that works for everyone. Take a look around the web and you will find all sorts opinions and tactics on how you should use your autoresponder to grow your business.
In the next section I will share with you a basic formula you can follow to create your first autoresponder sequence. However, just remember that it is not once size fits all.
You know your business and your customers better than anyone else. Use this outline more as a guide than a true fill-in-the-blanks template. This outline wont work for every type of autoresponder, so use it merely as a point of reference.
The first email you send will likely have the best open rates of any email you ever send, so make it count.
Thank them for signing up and remind them how/why the signed up. If they signed up for a download, remind them how/where they can download it.
Take few lines to introduce yourself.
Be sure to let them know how they can contact you if the have questions or want to follow up.
Give them some next actions to take. Don’t be afraid to tell them what they should do next, even if it is self serving like asking them to share your site on social media.
Send: 1 to 2 Days Later
This email can be short and sweet. I like to use this email as a way to ask the reader if they have questions about anything or if I can help them out with something.
In addition, asking the reader to respond directly to this email with an answer to a question you have can be a great way to learn what your customers are looking for.
For example, in this email you could ask them to respond to your email and tell you what their biggest problem with “X” is. If you know exactly what problems your readers are having, then you can create content and products tailored directly to their needs.
Send: 3 to 5 Days Later
In this email all you want to do is provide some useful content related to whatever it was that got them to give you their email address. The purpose of this email is to do nothing but provide useful information to them.
For example, if they signed up to get a free quote about your web design services, you could follow up with a link to a blog post you write about how to choose the right content management system for your business.
Don’t forget to encourage them to take action before you wrap up your email.
Send: 7 to 9 Days Later
This email should follow the same outline as the previous one. Simply provide them with some useful content related to the information they are interested in and provide them with some next steps.
Send: 12 to 14 Days Later
By this email your subscriber should feel pretty good about you as a business. This is the perfect time to soft sell them on a product or service of yours. There are plenty of great suggestions out there for how to write a sales pitch email, so I wont cover that here.
I simply wanted you to understand that it is never to early to start selling to a new subscriber. Many people worry that their new subscribers will be turned off if they start selling to them so soon.
The thing is, new subscribers are often the most interested and excited about your business. If thats the case, why would you not want to take advantage of it?
Autoresponders are the cornerstone to automating your business. Dedicate some time to really understand them and how they can grow your business. Once you get started with them, you will wonder how you ever lived with out them.
If you are serious about getting started with autoresponders, here are the next steps you should take:
- Download the Workbook
It will help you get started with your first autoresponder series. This workbook will help you choose what to write about and help you outline your first autoresponder series.
- Choose a Email Provider
Take some time to research the email providers I listed above and see which one will work best for you. Once you have decided, go ahead and sign up so you can start learning how the tool works.
- Ask Questions
If you have any questions, be sure to post them in the comments section below. I will do my best to answer every question in a timely manner.