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A Guide to Using Email Autoresponders to Boost Sales

Email marketing is one of the most successful and profitable channels of marketing available today, and autoresponders are the holy grail of effective email marketing.

They give you the ability to easily set up an email series only once, and you are done. You'll then be able to send that same email sequence to any number of people in the exact same order.

With an email autoresponder, you can create a level of service that is incredibly consistent. 

It has long been proven that for every dollar that you spend on your email marketing campaign, you get back, on average, $44 in revenue! This means that autoresponders not only save you lots of time, but they also offer you an extremely effective means of driving revenue for your business.

Of course, as with everything else in marketing, autoresponders do have certain limitations.

In this guide, we take a look at all the benefits and drawbacks associated with these amazing tools so you can create awesome autoresponders that your subscribers cannot wait to open.

As you proceed with the steps listed below, just keep in mind that autoresponders are merely tools. It's the way you use them that counts. Some email marketers can achieve outstanding long-term success with autoresponders while others never make a sale.

This guide is designed to help you consistently stay in the first group by offering you the means for effective and efficient communication with your subscribers.

How an Auto Responder Fits into Your Business

As you may already know, there are two email types that you can send using your email marketing platform, and these are:

1. Autoresponders
2. Broadcasts

Broadcast emails are those emails that you write to your list and send once. On the other hand, autoresponders are all automated. After your subscribers sign up for a specific email list, you send them a sequence of marketing emails that you pre-created. 

The obvious drawback to using broadcasts for emailing your list is that it takes time to come up with these emails on a frequent basis. Broadcasts are great for time-sensitive or one-time news and events. But, there are a lot of scenarios that are ideal for autoresponders, and that's what this guide focuses on.

Scenario 1: Introducing New Email Subscribers to Your Content

This is the way things happened in the distant past of email marketing: The new subscribers that you managed to get already knew and loved your content. They had to, or else they never would have filled out the plain opt-in form on your site.

However, with the use of new tactics these days (eg. content upgrades), marketers have many means at their disposal to help them double or triple their opt-in rates. By simply offering a free attractive bonus in return for readers’ email addresses, you're able to get a lot more opt-ins – and this is great! 

But, there is a downside to this process.

It means that a major portion of your email subscribers has only had access to just a few pieces of content from you. 

So even though they might like your work, their main reason for signing up was the free bonus!

Simply put, you don't have a very solid relationship with those readers and in order to fix this, you'll now have to show them the absolute best, most useful, and valuable content that you have created over the years.

This is a chance to blow them away and ensure that they recognize just how much value you've got to offer so you can start building that relationship. 

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But obviously, the last thing you want is to have to manually send each of your new subscribers an email containing your best posts. And since you need to deliver the emails soon as they sign up to your list, and autoresponder is the perfect tool for the job.

In sending your subscribers an email dedicated to your best articles, you're not only showing your subscribers your best content, but you can also organize it by category to allow your subscribers the best chance to find content that they are interested in the most.

Scenario 2: Automating Your Sales Funnel

Selling products through email sales funnels is an extremely delicate process. There are certain factors to consider such as the types of emails you send to your list, as well as the timing.

Some launches leave you no choice except to send the emails manually. For instance, if you open a course and close it at specific times, then you absolutely have to stick with broadcasts. But, if you are continuously selling a product, it's easy to build it into your autoresponder.

Scenario 3: Creating a Lead Magnet Course

As a general rule, your subscribers are more likely to opt into your list if you offer them something of extreme value as a free bonus. One of the most valuable things that bloggers, entrepreneurs, and online marketers can offer is coaching or consulting assistance.

However, it just isn't viable to give that away. It would not only take a lot of time, but it would also mean sacrificing lots of profits as well. But, with an autoresponder, you'll be able to provide a good level of training or coaching automatically. 

In many different niches, email courses hold high value. Assuming, of course, that your program is actually good, you will also get yet another benefit of ‘training' your subscribers to eagerly anticipate, open and read your emails.

These are just a few examples where you might want to make use of an autoresponder. Now let’s take a look at the steps to help you make the most of your autoresponder series.

5 Steps to Help You Make the Most of Your Autoresponder Series

Understanding the Factors Which Affect Open Rates over Time

The first thing you need to do before you can think about using autoresponders and making sales through email marketing is to get your subscribers to open your emails. There are a lot of different reasons why someone might want to open an email sent by you, some of which include:

  • Sender name
  • Subject line
  • Offer
  • Intro paragraph
  • Expected length
  • ... and so on.

According to a lot of studies conducted by email marketing experts, your name is one of the most obvious reasons why people open emails, and yet most marketers mess that up, even today.

If you publish all content on your website under your name, that is the name your subscribers will expect to see in your emails. If you're sending them emails from ‘customer service’ and ‘support' or another name that they are not familiar with, you may get some people who don't open your emails simply because they don't recognize the name. 

The majority of people open emails mainly because of relationships and that's why it's important to send them emails using the name that they know. This is one factor that influences long-term open rates of your email campaigns, but let’s take a closer look at some of the other factors:

Factor #1: Enticing Email Subject Lines

Typically, email recipients will see a subject line followed by the name of the sender. In some emails, they may also see the message’s first line, although not as prominently. Obviously, your email subject line is extremely important and matters a lot when it comes to your open rates.

Almost a third of email users open emails based mainly on the subject line. This means that if you want to increase your email open rates, you need to create good email subject lines. 

But how exactly do you go about doing that?

Your first step is to make it short. According to studies, the subject lines with the highest open rate of those which contain only 6 to 10 words. The more words you use the lower the open rate goals, with emails containing 20 to 25 words having the lowest open rate of all.

This is mainly because most inboxes only display a maximum of 10 words before they cut off the rest.

Your second step is to ensure that your subject line is interesting and induces curiosity. And this is the point where a lot of email marketers make a mess of things.

They have discovered that there are certain tricks that they can use to increase their open rates, such as sending emails containing '(No Subject)' subject lines. These types of emails get opened by almost everyone.

Yes, you want to increase curiosity, but that is the wrong kind!

Using a trick like this means that your readers will open your email only to see what it contains, and unless it has the most interesting and compelling content in it, your reader is going to feel like you tricked them – and tricked readers aren't happy readers.

You can be sure the vast majority of them won't be opening any more of your emails in the future.

If you choose to use any such tricks, make sure you do so sparingly.

Instead of wasting time trying to get cute with your subject lines, a better alternative is to send you email subscribers valuable content which they're interested in. 

For instance, you could simply insert the name of the topic or post that you're writing about directly in the email subject line. That is a great way of grabbing your readers’ attention and it also comes with two other benefits:

First of all, if those readers are on your email list, then you know they are already interested in the topics you are writing about. As long as you make it clear that you are writing about a topic that is relevant to them, they will open your emails.

Secondly, you have already spent quite a bit of time creating a powerful headline for your post. Because of that, you know your message will not only be clear, but there will also be a sort of ‘curiosity gap’ built into it.

So, as you can see, getting your emails opened doesn't have to be about tricks, it's just a matter of understanding what your readers want and providing it for them.

Factor #2: Your Topic Matters

Even though you may decide to email all your popular posts from your blog at once, it's also possible to spread the content out over time. As previously stated, the best way to build relationships with your readers is to send them lots of information on topics that they find interesting.

That is the best way to get them to open your emails now and into the future. The most popular posts on your blog are among the best places to get incredible email ideas.

Simply go to your Google Analytics dashboard and navigate to:

Behavior >Site Content >All Pages

You will be presented with a list of all posts on your site sorted by page views. These are the top posts you can use for your email content. Alternatively, you could simply supply your subscribers with the links to these posts.

Because they already popular with your current readers, you can be reasonably confident in the fact that your new subscribers will enjoy them in much the same way.

Factor #3: Fulfill Your Promise

One thing most successful email marketers have in common is their ability to deliver on any promises they make to their audience. As an email marketer, one of the most important tasks you have to do is to build relationships with your subscribers.

To do this you will have to prove to them, on an ongoing basis, that they can trust you.

If you betray their trust, such as by tricking them into opening your emails, or by not living up to your promises, then you will destroy the trust you have worked so hard to build. So don't make crazy promises in your subject lines just to get a great open rate for your emails, you also have to deliver content to meets that promise. 

Each time you do this, your readers will be happy and excited to open your next email, and the next. That is how you build great relationships. 

Treat your subject line like a movie trailer - give your audience a preview so they know what to expect. 

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Factor #4: Give More Than You Take

The bottom line is that email marketing has to produce sales. It can do that for you, but you have to be careful as to how often you promote your products. People, in general, don't like pitches. However, you'll find that your subscribers don't mind them just as long as your overall communication has a value that heavily outweighs any pitches you send.

Over time, your readers will come to realize that you aren't just trying to get money out of them and that you do actually care about helping them to improve their lives. 

Once you are able to knock down that skepticism barrier, your email subscribers will know that you are different from most other marketers and they will begin to open your emails without feeling that you are just trying to make the sale and profit from them. 

In fact, they will grow to welcome your future pitches a lot more once they know that everything you do is to help them, and not to take advantage of them.

 Understanding the Purpose of Emails

The purpose of emails is something that is often misunderstood. Modern copywriting involves writing to your audience in a tone that is conversational. This goes for everything from your blog posts to your emails. Your content needs to sound like something that you would send to one of your friends.

This isn't bad advice just as long as you keep in mind that there are many different levels of friends. Some marketers take the advice of being friendly too literally and end up sending emails that leave the new subscribers all creeped out and wondering, 'Ummm...okay? What on earth was that?'

For instance, you wouldn't want to talk to someone that you just met in the same way you speak to a friend you've been close to for years, right? 

But don’t overthink this. The fact is that subscribers signed up because they read your content and they like the way you write. This means that you need to focus on the same unique, friendly writing style you use on your blog when talking to your new subscribers so you don't creep them out. 

If you're already good at writing blog posts in a conversational style, then you will do fine when writing your emails. If you need help crafting your email series, SyWriters can help!

Understanding that You Don't Have to Sell in Emails

Email is great for driving sales, as everyone knows. However, that doesn't mean every single email you send needs to be a sales pitch. Also, there is no need to directly sell in your emails. That is a massive mistake that many unsuccessful marketers make.

The vast majority of people don't buy in emails.

That's where they discuss ideas, learn new things, and so on – but they do not buy. 

These days, people are wary of scams and they don’t like buying stuff from links that are placed directly inside emails. So the way to make money from your email marketing efforts without selling in emails is by sending your subscribers to a page where they can complete their purchase safely and confidently. 

You essentially want to use emails as a way of pre-selling or warming up your prospects before sending them to a landing page. By doing this, you're not just slapping a buy button in their face when they don't expect it. 

Two effective ways for pre-selling in emails are:

1. Link to reviews (which contain your affiliate links)
2. Directly link to a landing page

Just make sure that it's clear to readers where the link is taking them so they don't feel tricked in any way.

Don't Be Boring

Think about it. Even in your own experience, there are probably certain friends you'd rather receive emails from than others, am I right? You probably wouldn't admit that to the person's face, but I bet you sometimes receive emails from them (or maybe other message types) that you simply ignore, or at least take your time in responding to...

However, there are those of your friends that you get excited to receive messages from and you can't wait to hear what interesting morsel they have to share this time!

You obviously want to be in the latter group. 

This means you have to work to ensure that your autoresponder emails offer the ultimate in value. 

Here is what NOT to do:

  • Don't email your contacts frequently when you have nothing interesting to say
  • Don't send any email that doesn't have a unique and interesting point
  • Don't send emails concerning every day topics that aren't of high interest 

You already know the overarching topics that your subscribers want to learn more about. Make sure each and every one of your emails is focused on that and nothing else. 

Don't Allow Emails to Lose Impact

The last main problem to address is one of the emails losing their impact. If you've ever signed up for an email list before, then you know just how exciting it can be in the beginning but over time you slowly lose interest.

As the person on the other side of that equation, you will find out that this is one of the hardest things for any email sender to prevent. 

However, it is possible to do so by ensuring that your email length matches its value. The same goes for the length of your autoresponder series. There is no perfect length for either, despite what some marketers might claim, but you can base your decision on these key factors:

How interesting is your topic?
The more interesting your topic is, the more willing your subscribers will be to discover more about it.

What do your readers expect?
If the emails you send are always short, that's what your readers will expect. So don't expect your long ones to be given as much attention by your subscribers as your regular emails.

What has to be said?
For instance, do you simply want to link to another page on your site that you want your readers to visit? If that is the case then less is more. Just include whatever is necessary to build up curiosity and prepare your readers for that page.

This last point could be the most important.

Sending emails that contain a lot of fluff makes it a chore for readers to go through your emails. They waste valuable time trying to sift through all the junk to find the gold. Over time, this causes them to lose interest and reach for the unsubscribe button (or worse - the spam button!).

As for the length of your autoresponder, one thing for sure is that your autoresponder must come to an end. Once you've determined just how long it has to be based on the value of the topic, you have two options that you can use individually or together to bring your autoresponder to an end.

The simplest one is to move your subscribers to the main subscriber list where you can continue to send them emails whenever you publish new posts or when you're sending out a broadcast email.

Another option is to offer your subscribers a chance to sign up for a new autoresponder. Those who are interested in the topic can register their interest and immediately be placed on the new autoresponder.

The Bottom Line

As you've seen from this article, an autoresponder is an amazing tool that businesses can use to enhance their email marketing. However, as with most other tools, you have to know the proper way to use it in order to achieve the best results.

Use this article as your resource to help you achieve success in your email marketing activities so you can bring in more revenue to your business starting right now!

About the Author Talik Evans

I am a California girl, currently living in sunny SA with my husband and two kids. I specialize in writing long-form content in the Digital Marketing niche, and I bring a creative flair to my content creation. I also have a special knack for injecting lots of fun into B2B brands! If you want to simplify content marketing and make more sales, click HERE to get your first blog post FREE!

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