Autoresponders Do the Heavy Lifting of Online Marketing

Not Familiar With The Autoresponder?

What is it?  One way to think of autoresponders is as:

automated email marketing messages you create to be sent to a select audience in an order and frequency you select

What are the benefits of Autoresponders?Autoresponder

There are many benefits to using this great tool.

Have you ever wanted free staff that works when you want them to work, saying faithfully what you want them to say?

Well, that’s precisely what an autoresponders does.  It works for free, when you want it to and delivers the exact messages you want it to deliver.

Autoresponders are an easy way to instill trust and to create familiarity over time with your email subscribers.

You can customize your autoresponders to select audience segments you serve by having a different sequence for each audience.

Example: A different autoresponder campaign for existing customers and another for potential prospects.

The automation aspect takes a heavy load off of your shoulders.   Once you’ve created an autoresponder campaign, it runs on auto pilot and continues to deliver for as long as you want.

The autoresponder works quietly in the background doing the job you’ve tasked it to do while you go about addressing other business issues.

In short, autoresponders are a perfect business tool – be it brick and mortar, B2B or exclusively online. It doesn’t matter.  If you’re trying to create or solidify connections with your audience, and you should be doing this all the time, autoresponders can help you do just that.

How do You Use Autoresponders?

Typically autoresponders are used as Thank You or confirmation emails for people subscribing to your e-newsletter or for making a purchase.  But you can create any number of customized autoresponder campaigns to serve a variety of goals.   Here are just a few ideas:

  • Stimulate ongoing engagement and rapport with your email subscribers with tips, techniques and good counsel.
  • Educate your audience about a particular topic or topics
  • As a delivery method for a free or paid mini e-course
  • To introduce/implement a contest
  • Lead nurturing – moving a prospect from cold to lukewarm
  • As a showcase for what you do for others
  • As a sales qualifying process
  • As an on-going marketing campaign for a product or service
  • To launch or re-launch a product or service

Your emphasis should always be on delivering value to your audience.  Yes, autoresponders present you with a perfect, 7/24/365 sales tool.  But if you use them  just to “sell” without presenting value to your readers, you’ll wear out your welcome in their inbox in a hurry.

Do Autoresponders replace the E-Newsletter? 

You could use autoresponders as a substitute for your e-newsletter.  Ideally, autoresponder content should have an evergreen, timelessness about it, while your e-newsletter might contain more up-to-the-minute communications.

The content and frequency of your autoresponder campaign is totally up to you.

How do I go about creating an autoresponder?

The technical aspects of it are defined by your email service provider.  aWeber, MailChimp and other reputable email service providers offer an autoresponder function along with training.

To begin, decide what you want to accomplish with your autoresponder campaign and what type of content is needed, the length and frequency of the campaign.

An autoresponder campaign can be limited to a defined period of time – 7 days, 3 weeks, etc. – or they can be a continuous ongoing campaign throughout the year.

To make certain you get off on the right foot, you should review a recent study by Optify that outlines the Marketing Automation Best Practices including autoresponders.

The most surprising finding is that Optify found two out of three of the top 5000 Inc. companies don’t use autoresponders in online marketing efforts.  This presents a golden competitive advantage to the companies that DO employ autoresponders.

Autoresponders-Graphic

Optify also outlined the 10 best practices as it relates to email autoresponders. Here they are.

1.  Have an opt-in form on your website to capture email subscribers.  This is an obvious requirement yet one fourth of the study sample didn’t have a form on the website.

2.  Have as few form fields as possible. Only have fields you really need and get rid of the rest.

3.  If you really need the data, (and you might in order to segment your audience) make the field required. If you don’t need the data, don’t have the field at all.

4.  Utilize Thank You Pages to not only to confirm the form submission but also inform subscribers of what they will receive, how frequently, additional relevant information and calls to action.

5.  Follow-up email should go out immediately upon form submission using an autoresponder and eliminating the need to manually follow up with every lead.

6.  Personalize and brand your auto response email.  Make them relevant and timeless. Use information collected on the form to make the autoresponder emails as engaging as possible.

7.  Send the auto response emails from a person and not from the company or from an amorphous sender. Include the sender’s information in the ‘from’ line and signature block and make sure the leads can reach out to that person.

8.  If you plan to send multiple emails (and you should), let your leads know in your initial auto response emails and provide them with a way to opt out from future emails.  It’s the ‘right’ thing to do.

9.  In the first week, send 3-4 emails and make sure that they all provide the most value to your leads. DO NOT send sale pitches in these emails; your initial goal is to establish a trusted relationship and build your brand.

This is an example of suggested frequency from Optify’s research, but you should tailor your schedule to fit your messages.  The objective is to not have a lot of time to pass between your Thank You email and the next email communications.

Email Autoresponse Sequence

 

10.  We’ve all heard that it takes between 5 – 9 points of contact to move a prospect to a buyer. Optify recommends 12-15 emails per autoresponder campaign to span over 4-6 weeks.

This last recommendation implies you’ll rack up lots of sales after an autoresponder campaign and I don’t believe that is a realistic expectation.

There are a lot of variables that will determine if your autoresponder will turn into actual sales – your messages, product offering, price, competitive environment, the duration of your campaign, etc.

While a very effective tool, I don’t want you to walk away thinking autoresponders are the Holy Grail of online marketing.   They are NOT.

Autoresponders are just one more tool to add to your arsenal.

The Bottom Line for Autoresponders?

  • Decide how best to employ autoresponders in your online marketing to meet your goals and objectives.
  • Follow the best practices laid out above in crafting your automated campaigns.
  • Experiment with your content by testing different campaigns to determine which one does best.
  • Just like all of your online marketing efforts, track your autoresponder results.  Determine how long it takes for a cold prospect to become a hot lead, a warm customer and what percentage eventually coverts.
  • Don’t rely exclusively upon your autoresponders to deliver sales.  Have a Plan B after or during an autoresponder campaign.

Resources

You may be interested in delving deeper into Optify’s research.  You’ll find a PDF of Optify’s Marketing Automation Study here.

Your Turn

What’s your experience with autoresponders?

Are you currently using them?

What has been your level of success?

Don’t be shy.  Go ahead and share your experiences below.

The Marketing Bit CTAO2

 

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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