April 20

What is an Autoresponder For?

 

 

Target > Engage > Convert !


If you need more customer conversions (sales) for your business,  then learning when and how to use autoresponders is a step in the right direction.

For simplicity, autoresponders are pre-scheduled emails (usually one or more in a series) that are triggered by customer behavior. They will allow you to : 

              TARGET – ENGAGE – CONVERT PROSPECTS TO BUYERS

 

Though autoresponders have been around for a while, not all small business owners are familiar with the capabilities that they offer.

To help your business start reaping the benefits, this post will provide you with important definitions, different types of autoresponders and specific examples of how they can be used right away to increase engagement, leads and sales.   

Increase sales

Increase sales

 

What Is An Auto Responder Exactly?


As the name suggests, the autoresponder feature allows you to send out automated emails to those on your subscriber list.

A popular use of the autoresponder is to send out a welcome or follow-up email to new subscribers. This is a great way to reach out to those interested in your business and provide them with more information about your services.  

You can also configure the options of the autoresponder to send out a sequence of emails to new subscribers, which are sent out a set number of days after they subscribe. This is ideal for delivering a series of daily tips or sequential messages to new subscribers.  

These emails can also be triggered when a subscriber completes a certain action or by information stored in their profile. This means these emails aren’t sent to your entire list, or even a segment of users, but just to those who meet a specific requirement.  

These requirements or triggers include actions such as the date they subscribed to your list, how they interacted with an email campaign you sent out, special occasions such as a subscriber’s birthday, or when they visit a certain page on your website.

See Wikipedia the free encyclopedia’s definition of an autoresponder     

What is an autoresponder

What is an autoresponder

 

Why & How Should You Use An Autoresponder?


Autoresponders allow you to better engage with your subscribers and do so in a more targeted way. They are also a great way to save time and put your email marketing efforts on autopilot.  

For example, you can create an autoresponder email that will only be sent to subscribers who have opened a previous email campaign you sent out. This allows you to send out an automated follow-up email only to those who have engaged with your previous correspondence.  

An autoresponder can determine which of your subscribers opened an email you sent, as well as those who clicked on any links contained in that email, and even which specific links they clicked.  

The above example allows you to automatically send out targeted follow-up emails to those subscribers who read your email and clicked on a link. These follow-up emails can have many purposes and benefits, such as :

  • Asking for feedback on the message content and offering to answer any questions
  • Auto-sending a follow-up email containing further reading and links to related information
  • Avoiding emailing those who didn’t engage with your initial message and pestering them with unwanted follow-ups

 

             

In order to achieve success with the use of autoresponders, it’s important that your emails accomplish the following goals :

  • Building a long-term relationship with your subscribers
  • Your messaging is engaging and unique to your business
  • Increase the open-rates of your email campaigns

 

Strategies


1. Create an autoresponder series

One of the best strategies for achieving success with autoresponders is delivering them to your customer base in a sequential manner with a specific goal in mind.

For example, Pat Flynn, the author of the Smart Passive Income Blog, suggests that your autoresponder campaigns should focus on utilizing a smart sequence of messages with a distinct goal. He details four different approaches to autoresponders he regularly uses himself to achieve success with his list.

One of these approaches to autoresponders is called the bait and hook, which is an effective series to emulate since it allows your organization to build a long-term relationship with your list.   bait and hook How to successfully use email autoresponders without being obnoxiousAs described by Flynn above, the bait and hook approach to email autoresponders looks like this. It starts with someone subscribing to your list and then automatically receiving a welcome email.  After they’ve received a welcome email, drive ongoing value by sharing emails with them featuring helpful and informative content that drive awareness around certain issues in your industry.

Once you’ve been driving value to your audience using content focused emails, begin to share a promotion on your products or services. Your businesses offerings should act as solutions for the issues you’ve been discussing in previous emails. 

After this, reengage your audience with autoresponders focused on more content to help increase awareness, especially with subscribers that didn’t convert the first time.  Be careful to only share valuable and informative content that helps educate your audience to prevent them from feeling like your messaging is solely focused on getting them to make a purchase in the future.

 

2. Differentiate your brand from others

According to Radicati Group, 100 billion emails were sent and received per day in 2013 – a majority of these from businesses. Every day it gets more difficult for your autoresponder emails to stand out from the dozens of email a person receives everyday.

Email autoresponders are important since they help automate important messaging and free up time to focus on other tasks, it’s important to avoid becoming lazy with their use. To ensure your messaging is engaging and unique, try your very best to think how you can craft your email autoresponders to be simple, clever and original with each and every message. 

Focus first on remaining consistent to ensure your very first subscriber has a similar experience to your 1000th subscriber that’s just as original and valuable.  To ensure consistency, use copy that’s personal and engaging but with your own voice. Don’t sound robotic or too formal, but instead add personality to what you’re saying whether it’s a content or promotional email.

The imagery your organization decides to use in your email autoresponders on a regular basis will also affect the consistency of your messaging as well as how they stand out from other emails.  If possible hire a designer off of Dribble or Behance to create original visuals for your email marketing that help reflect your brand, as well as the content of each specific email.

When working with a graphic designer, they’re creating visuals that will be exclusively used by your business. These original visuals will certainly help differentiate your email autoresponders from others.

If you don’t have the budget for a graphic designer, be extremely selective with the types of imagery you’re selecting from a stock footage site like Shutterstock or Getty. There are also some free options like Unsplash or Compfight to find visuals to include at no cost.   

modcloth autoresponder How to successfully use email autoresponders without being obnoxious

3. Identify weak points through consistent testing

Analyze the series of email autoresponders that you’re sending to your list and identify any messages that result in a decrease in the click-thru-rate, open-rate subscribers or on-site conversions – depending on the content of the email of course.

Autoresponders are all about personalizing the experience your organization has with your list. Sometimes, your messaging isn’t coming off incorrectly, but you won’t know until you receive feedback from your list.

Consistently monitor the metrics mentioned at the beginning of this section to see which part of your series of autoresponder emails isn’t working.

Replace this ineffective email with two versions of a similar message to begin A/B testing these emails with your audience. This way, you can find out which of these two versions of the same email resonates more effectively with your audience and go with the version that drives better results.  

what is ab testing How to successfully use email autoresponders without being obnoxious

In some cases, the entire autoresponder email series is what’s not working. If no matter how you alter certain part of your series, it still isn’t working; it might then be time to trash it and start over.

Sometimes it becomes to evident that you’re providing content to your audience simply to push them to a product later on, which can be really off-putting to subscribers.

Restart your campaign by only including content that really adds value to your audience before eventually driving them to a product focused email. 

In some cases, it might be a softer sell to include more content emails before driving a subscriber to a product or promotional email. Engaging content can help reestablish a connection with your audience overtime.

 

What Is The Best Autoresponder?


One of the first questions new (and even experienced) marketers often ask is : “What’s the best autoresponder service or email marketing tool?”  

Well it depends on what you expect from it!  

Do you want the highest deliverability possible? Do you want to import offline contacts? Do you want to integrate your list management with a shopping cart? Do you want to spend $20 a month or $500 a month?

The answer to these questions all yield very different answers.  Here are the top 10 autoresponders you’ll find online, my most favorite two being mailchimp and get response.   

1) AWEBER 

Aweber

Aweber

If you’re managing a list in the hundreds, thousands or low tens of thousands and you only collect leads through the internet, then there’s no better service than Aweber. Aweber doesn’t really allow you to add leads from offline sources. However, for online lists, Aweber sports the best deliverability ratings on the market. If you’re primarily using online opt-in forms, use Aweber. Your emails will get delivered, opened and clicked on.   

2) MAILCHIMP

Mailchimp

Mailchimp

MailChimp is a fantastic place for beginning marketers to get started. Their “forever free” plan allows you to create a list on MailChimp for free as long as your list is under 500 users. When you’re just starting out, that’s more than enough. If you don’t want to start paying for autoresponders yet, go ahead and give MailChimp a shot, it is a great first step as an email marketing tool.  

3) iCONTACT

iContact

iContact

iContact is a great choice for small to medium sized marketers who do want to import outside lists. iContact allows you to add people to your list manually or through import.  

4) CONSTANT CONTACT 

Constant Contact

Constant Contact

If you’re a fan of HTML or graphical emails, Constant Contact can be great choice as an email marketing tool. Again, they’re geared primarily for marketers who have lists in the hundreds, thousands or low to mid tens of thousands.  

5) INFUSION SOFT 

Infusion Soft

Infusion Soft

InfusionSoft is the tool of choice for serious marketers. If you run a six figure online business or have a list larger 50,000 subscribers, this may be the tool for you. InfusionSoft combines your shopping cart with email marketing, so you can do complex things like segregate your buyers from your subscribers or mail specific sequences to specific people. You can also send physical postcards from InfusionSoft. InfusionSoft isn’t cheap. The monthly subscription is in the hundreds, and there’s a four figure setup fee. It’s geared towards companies that arealready successful and need powerful solutions, rather than startups.  

6) GETREPONSE 

Get Response

Get Response

GetResponse is a solid autoresponder choice for small businesses. It’s also geared primarily towards list sizes of mid tens of thousands or fewer. They have a strong reputation in the industry and offer a wide variety of features.  

7) 1SHOPPINGCART

1SC Stores

1SC Stores

If you want to integrate your email with your shopping cart but don’t quite want to spring for InfusionSoft, 1ShoppingCart could be your answer. 1ShoppingCart is a one stop solution for payment processing and email marketing. It allows you to segregate lists and mail only buyers or your entire list. It’s one of the more reputable shopping cart services on the net. Be warned however, their deliverability rates simply aren’t as high as a dedicated email marketing service. You save time and money by just having one shopping cart rather than a shopping cart and an autoresponder, but it’s not without tradeoffs

8) ARP REACH

ARP Reach

ARP Reach

Autoresponse Plus, also known as ARP Reach, is the autoresponder of choice for doing co-registration. You can certainly use the software to do standard email marketing as well. However, if you’re buying leads and need those fresh leads to be mailed instantly, Autoresponse Plus has one of the most solid reputations in the industry.

9) CAMPAIGNMONITOR

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor is email marketing built for the data driven business. All your data, including open rates and clicks, can be tracked using a Google Analytics-like interface.   If you want to split test emails or carefully track what topics do better than others, give Campaign Monitor a spin.   

10) OFFICEAUTOPILOT

Office Autopilot

Office Autopilot

Essentially, you can tell Office Autopilot what to do if certain things occur. For example, if a customer places an order, you can send an order to your fulfillment house to fulfill that order. Or if a customer leaves, you can send them a last minute special offer. Just select the trigger for the action, then select what list it applies to then select what to do when that action is trigger. Office Autopilot plans all start at above $200 a month. These are the top 10 autoresponder and email marketing tools on the market today. You have options all the way from free to several hundred dollars a month, from basic functionality to complex analytics and shopping cart integration. The one you pick depends entirely on where your business is and what it needs.

My 1# Recommendation : GetResponse


gr-new-logo

 

 

I like it because whether you’re a beginner or an advanced pro, they’ve got you covered

 

The Pros


  • Easy and intuitive email creator to build beautiful emails without using a drop of code
  • 500+ professionally designed email templates you can use to start sending emails today!
  • FREE access to over 1,000 images from iStock to add some flair to your emails
  • Learning Center with hundreds of videos and tens of downloadable guides to get you started
  • List booster to help you build your contact base from scratch
  • Easy-breezy list imports. Transfer your contacts to GetResponse with just a few clicks. Grow your list with Single Opt-in imports
  • Inbox Preview to check out how your emails look in all the popular email clients
  • A/B testing up to 5 versions of your mailings to know which offer works best with your audience
  • Mobile Apps for iOS and Android, to manage your email campaigns anywhere, anytime
  • 350 000 customers, they have a good reputation
  • The affiliate program :  you can promote the world’s easiest email marketing tool and earn recurring 33% commissions!  

 

A Closer Look At Aweber 


 – email creator

Now anyone can create beautiful emails  that look great on any device.  

* GetResponse makes all your newsletters look great on all devices, automatically. Computers, smartphones, tablets… you will WOW your audience every time. Best part is, you don’t need to do anything. Responsive email design works its magic behind the scenes to get you 42% more results and more sales.  

* Experience the creative power you never had before with the new drag-and-drop editor. The revolutionary Email Creator will make all your visions possible with multiple email templates and limitless editing options: add and edit photos, change colors and fonts, add social sharing buttons and so much more – all with a click.  

* Maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns with GetResponse Email Intelligence, designed to make tracking, gauging and analyzing a real pleasure. Make smart decisions in minutes: compare follow-ups, measure site conversions, view hourly fluctuations, and segment subscribers with a single click.   


  – autoresponders  :

Turn leads into customers with smarter automated follow-up.  

* Get control with email marketing automation. Send follow-up cycles, birthday emails, 1-to-1 communications, customized offers and more. Refine your relevancy, timing and accuracy with simple yet powerful new time-based and action-based messages that respond perfectly to your subscribers’ needs and interests.  


  – landing page creator

Create, publish and host beautiful, high‑converting landing pages – in minutes.  

* Create and publish landing pages in less than 10 minutes. 100+ mobile-ready templates, powerful drag’n’drop editor, built-in web forms and a set of optimization tools will help you generate high-converting sales pages, video pages, squeeze pages and more with no IT skills at all.  


  – 24/7 live support :

Their friendly & helpful experts are standing  by 24/7 to help you with anything you need.  


  – 99% email deliverability :

Get better delivery rates, fewer bounces and stronger results.  


  – A/B testing :  

Run effective campaigns and make sure you know which offers work best with your audience. Test, analyze and optimize any element of your message: subject line, CTA, from field, best time and day to send email, and more with the new A/B testing.  


  – list booster

With one click, you can import contacts directly into your email campaigns from your hard drive and from several different services and mail clients, including Gmail, Magento, Salesforce and Highrise. Grow your subscriber list by hundreds or thousands – automatically – in just a few seconds.  


  – form builder :

Collect new subscribers with pre-coded sign-up forms embedded on your website, blog, and Facebook fan page. Choose a design that’s appropriate for your business from 500+ great-looking templates. Customize the size and add input fields, graphics, checkboxes, and more. No coding required!  


  – inbox preview

Take a sneak peek into your recipients’ mailboxes to make sure all the elements of your email render correctly. Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook, Mail 5.0, Opera and more… now you can check your designs in popular email clients with a single click. Make sure your newsletters always look perfect on your subscribers’ screens.  


  – 30 days free trial   

30 day trial Aweber

30 day trial Aweber

    

Cons


  – well it’s not free! =) 

Conclusion


Autoresponders and email marketing tools are some of the most important parts of your business.  You use it to follow-up with customers, to keep people coming back to your site, to build loyaltyTO MAKE SALES. =)

To sum it up, here’s what an autoresponder can do for you :    

  • send automated emails to a subscriber list 
  • send out a welcome or follow up email to new subscribers
  • provide your customers with more information about your services
  • target your customers
  • engage with your customers
  • save time
  • avoid emailing customers who didn’t engage with your initial message
  • add value to the experience a person has with your business online
  • reminder to return to your shopping cart
  • send an email re-introducing old content to your subscribers
  • send an alert announcing new products to a customer based off of their past shopping habits

 

Related Articles


Setting Up An Autoresponder

Email marketing : get started !

Newsletters and Autoresponders

 

I hope this article has helped you understand the potential of an autoresponder and that you’ll be able to pick one that fits your company!   Feel free to leave a comment below, I will be more than happy to connect!

Cheers

Sarah     

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