What is an Auto Responder and How Does it Work?
An autoresponder is exactly what it sounds like – it is an automated sequence of emails that are triggered when a user signs up for an email list or provides an email address to your company. Typically, the process works like this.
Step One: A user submits an email address and receives a welcome email (most likely after a confirmation opt-in email).
Step Two: Usually one day after the customer signs up for the email list and receives the welcome email, the first of a series of “autoresponders” is sent. This first email contains either the information or offer (or both) that the subscriber was interested in.
Step Three: Following that, an average of ten to nineteen emails are then automatically sent to the subscriber, most often with several days between each email send. The further the sequence gets, the longer the space between emails is. For example, within the first three or four autoresponder emails, there may only be a day or two between each email send. However, as you get into the latter emails, it is common to leave a week between email sends so as not to encourage the subscriber to become frustrated and mark you as spam or unsubscribe from future mailings.
How Do You Develop an Auto Responder Program?
First you need to choose an autoresponder company. There are a lot of companies to choose from and for the most part they all have their advantages and disadvantages but they all do the same thing which is deliver your communications when you need them to. I use GetResponse and have been for years. I have tried a few others like Mailchimp, Aweber and Listwire but I always came back to GetResponse. So I will demonstrate setting up campaigns using the GetResponse platform. If you want to follow along you can get a Free account for thirty days just to try it. I have put a banner below.
The first thing to do of course no matter what service you use is to start an account. Most companies offer Free accounts for thirty days but getresponse is the only one that doesn’t make you secure a credit card to try it out. The others do. So the choice is up to you.
The first thing to do is log into your account and you will come to the dashboard which looks like the picture below.
Click on The picture above to watch a short video Demo:
What should be the time frame between sends? At the beginning, you want to ensure that you do not take too long between sends. Your subscribers have just signed up and are enthusiastic about receiving your communication, so take advantage of that enthusiasm. While once daily is too frequent, you can begin by spacing your emails out with only a day in between. After that, extend the time between to three days.
As you get to the tail end of your auto responder, meaning that you are getting to the least engaged customers who have not converted and may mark you as spam or opt-out of the email, begin to stretch things out by five days or even a week. Many email marketing
service providers will allow you to also mark days of the week that you don’t want your autoresponder to send, so you may want to eliminate weekend email sends of auto responders. Email open rates are lower on weekends.
How should you balance useful content with solicitations for sales or offers? One of the greatest risks of an autoresponder program is having users become frustrated with hard-sales attempts and subsequently marking your email as spam, opting-out, or simply not opening future emails. All of the aforementioned activities can lower your quality score with email service providers and make it harder for your email sends to get into the inbox.
Therefore, it’s very important that your auto-responders actually contain useful information. While it’s acceptable to include a sales offer along with useful information in each email, it is not advisable for you to make a sales-only email any more frequently than every fifth email in the series in order to protect your email sender reputation.
Auto Responder Pros and Cons
Auto responder email programs often seem as though they may be all upside because they require very little maintenance. However, when determining if you want to invest your resources into an autoresponder program, there are both pros and cons that you should consider.
Auto Responder Email Pros
The following are the propoints of sending email auto responder: After the initial time and resources required in order to build out your autoresponder program, you will have an ongoing communications
channel with your customers that can happen with little or no maintenance from you.
An engaging, compelling auto responder program can generate not only sales but also brand awareness and user referrals
If your auto responder program is successful at converting subscribers to customers, you can operate at a very high return-on-investment as convincing a user to sign up for a free email program is much easier that acquiring an initial paying customer
Autoresponders are a great solution for small businesses with extremely limited resources for email marketing and content generation
Auto Responder Email Cons
The following are the con-points of sending email auto responder:
Unlike traditional email marketing, email auto responders cannot easily be segmented to a single portion of your list (such as cat food buyers versus dog food buyers). Auto-responders by nature are generalized and will therefore convert at a lower percentage than will targeted, traditional email marketing campaigns.
Auto responder campaigns can put the sender reputation of your email program at risk as autoresponder programs tend to have higher opt-out, unopened and spam complaint numbers. These user actions can make it more difficult for even your non-auto responder emails to make it into the inbox.
The initial build out of an auto responder campaign can be labor intensive, requiring content for multiple emails all at once and several weeks of monitoring in order to determine if there are “problem” areas in your timing or content before you are able to allow the program to run automated on its own.
In summary, autoresponders present a great opportunity if you have limited time and resources to create email marketing campaigns. However, because they are less targeted, they may also be less effective and can put your email sender reputation at risk if they do not provide subscribers with engaging, useful content.
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