The following is a summary on what and how autoresponses work.
The important thing to understand is that Autoresponses are in most cases used for two reasons, new customers generated from a subscribed campaign or established customers who have signed up to a new offer on a product or service.
Either way, autoresponders are for the most part used in lists that have 'opted-in'.
NOTE – It is important to know that using autoresponders should not be used on lists of customers who have not 'opted-in' or you open yourself up to blacklisting.
Create an Autoresponder Publishing Schedule
Autoresponders are created by starting a new campaign, as below:
Developing a publishing schedule is the final building block of a solid autoresponder sequence. This tool is the ultimate way to manage the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
A publishing schedule doesn’t have to be complex. Simply open up a spreadsheet and include a column for each of the following:
- The title of the autoresponder
- The interval number (days since the last message)
- What product is promoted
- The type of email
- The affiliate tracking ID
- Any notes you have about this email
Don't worry if you’re confused by some of this information. All will be revealed by the end of this post!
To illustrate what a publishing schedule looks like, here's a mock-up using a fitness example:
|Title||Interval #||Product||Type||Tracking ID|
|1||Why P90X doesn't work||2||3 Minute Abs||Personality||p90x|
|2||(free report) the ultimate guide to personal fitness||2||3 Minute Abs||Value||freereport|
|3||You're not going to believe this video||3||3 Minute Abs||Product||video|
|4||How to develop Six Pack abs in exactly FIVE minutes||2||3 Minute Abs||Sales||sales|
|5||Did you get it?||2||3 Minute Abs||Follow Up||followup|
|6||7 ways to instantly improve your physical fitness||3||N/A||Bridge||N/A|
|7||Why I decided to work out of home||2||Fitness Mastering||Personality||home|
This is a very low-tech approach to an autoresponder sequence. But it’s still extremely effective. It allows you to manage email without having to open multiple files and/or websites.
Autoresponder vs. Broadcast Messages
With email marketing you’re given two basic choices:
- Set up an autoresponder sequence
- Send broadcast messages
Let's go over each option:
What is an Autoresponder?
An autoresponder is simply email that’s sent to a subscriber in a timed sequence.
Think of those automatic messages you get when a person is “out of the office” or on vacation. The moment you send an email to this person you get back a pre-written response.
The moment a person subscribes he/she receives a series of pre-written messages based on a sequence that you’ve already set up.
As an example, this is what happens when someone subscribes:
- On day 1 email #1 is sent
- On day 4 email #2 is sent
- On day 7 email #3 is sent
The beauty of an autoresponder sequence is you only have to set it up ONE time. Then these emails work on autopilot as you get to enjoy the rest of your life.
The moment a prospect joins your email list, he or she will automatically receive this sequence – WITHOUT you doing a thing.
What is a Broadcast Message?
A broadcast message is an email that's sent to prospects – Regardless of when they joined. In theory, a person who just subscribed receives the same message as someone who’s been on your list for years.
Sending a broadcast message is useful for those times when you deliver date specific information. Like a link to new blog post or a promotion for a new product that’s just hit the market.
Another great thing about a broadcast message is you can target a certain group of people on your list. Instead of sending an email to everyone, you can target people based on a set criteria:
- Date joined
- Traffic source
Ultimately broadcast messages are the best way to stay current with your list and make sure you’re sending up to date information to each subscriber.
Should I Use Autoresponders OR Broadcast Messages?
Now that you understand the difference between the two, let's answer a simple question:
"What should I use with my email list?" - ANSWER - BOTH
Put subscribers through an autoresponder sequence. And then add them to the list of people you contact via broadcast messages.
How to Set Up an Autoresponder Sequence
Now let’s talk about how to set up an autoresponder sequence.
My advice is to pick 5 (or more) subjects. Each will tightly focus on a different topic in your niche. As an example, in real estate, different informative topics such as current real estate trends, contract offers, your company news, steps to buying or selling a property, etc.
Finally there should be 2 to 4 days between each message. Test this on your own and see what works best with your market. Some will respond to a high volume of email, while others won’t like getting a lot of email.
5 Types of Autoresponder Messages
My autoresponder sequence has five types of email. These will follow a set pattern that builds on the content of the previous messages:
- Personality Email: With this email you relate a topic to an event/experience in your life. It doesn’t require a lot of content. The important thing is you tell a story about an experience, issue or other and casually point out how the reader might benefit.
At the end (or the P.S.) briefly mention a service and/or product that’s related to your message. Don’t be pushy. Just introduce it and provide a simple link. That’s it.
- Value Email: This is the workhorse of your autoresponder sequence. With this message you give away a great piece of content that partially informs subscribers about your topic. With the value email you want to talk about the same topic you mentioned in the last message.
Again...don’t be pushy. But make sure that the reader is primarily getting GREAT content.
- Product Email: With this email you’ll change tempo. You’ve already introduced your service or product.
- Sales Email: Here’s where you seal the deal. The last three messages introduced your service or product With this email you’ll make a more definitive case to use your services and/or buy a specific product.
- Follow-Up Email: This message is completely optional. To be honest, some folks need an extra step to take action. Sending a follow-up email is a great way to get people buy a product before they miss out.
Keep in mind this is just an example. A general rule of thumb, the larger the price of the service/product, the longer a drip campaign should be. As an example, in the auto industry, it is normally 90 days, for real estate, it should be 6 months or more.
An example of the Autoresponder Sequence
A customer opts-in to view the MLS search on your real estate website.
Day 1: Auto-welcome email.
Day 1: Welcome introduction.
Day 2: Questionnaire on what they are looking for.
Day 4: Summary of the current market.
Day 7: Search tips for the MLS.
Day 10: Day 15: Day 20: Day 30 and approximately every 14 days thereafter.
How to Create Content for an Autoresponder Sequence
Okay...You might be wondering how to come up with so much content for your autoresponder sequence.
Fortunately it’s not that hard! Probably you already have a bunch of content that can be reused as an autoresponder.
- Blog posts and articles you’ve previously created
- Audio/Video versions of your written content
- Questions readers have asked
- Questions you wish readers would ask
- PDF collections of articles around one theme
- How a recent trend/event relates to your niche
- An interview with an expert
- A personal story and how it relates to a topic
- An elaboration of something you mentioned in your lead magnet.
- How a popular idea/concept is completely wrong
- A technique that’s personally helped your success
This list could go on and on.
The important thing is to blend content with great marketing. Basically you’re giving away top-level content and branding yourself while earning your customers trust and loyalty.
Tracking and Tweaking Your Autoresponder Sequence
This is the final but most important step in this process.
Remember how every email has its own tracking code? Well, periodically track the results and measure the performance of each e-mail.
Once every month (or two) record the following:
- The open rates
- The click thru rates
- How much each email earned.
You can put this information on a new spreadsheet or simply add a few columns to your autoresponder publishing schedule.
The POINT of this task is to measure the performance of a certain message. Obviously a sales email will do better than a personality email. But you want to monitor the overall success of a particular autoresponse sequence.
Ultimately your goal is to tweak each autoresponder, find out which emails are not as popular and work to improve on those.