In the article, “An Email List of One,” we sought to broaden your view of email marketing by highlighting list segmentation as a way target your messages more effectively. The main principle communicated in that article was that email marketing is more than just a mass newsletter once or twice monthly. With the right strategy and tools, you can use email to target and qualify your audience, allowing prospects to rise to the surface while still communicating and delivering value.
Two Types of Autoresponders
One of the best tools that can be used in qualifying your audience is the email autoresponder. To be clear, there are two types of autoresponders. The first type is a “welcome” email that anyone receives when they join your list. This is standard, and should be concise; just to say hello and thank you for joining, perhaps with some call-to-actions (CTA) based on their interests.
The second type of autoresponder is used to follow up with someone once they have completed some significant action. Some examples might be attending an event, downloading a guide or report from your firm, requesting a demo of your product or service and definitely after someone makes a purchase. This type of autoresponder is a series of highly customized and focused emails designed to further qualify and educate that potential buyer.
Think about it: if someone has actively joined your email list then, after engaging with your content for some time downloads a purchasing guide, it should be noted and acted upon. How best to do it though? Call them? Maybe, but perhaps there is something else we could do before making that leap.
How Do Autoresponders Work?
An autoresponder series is designed and created in advance then activated once anyone is added to the list designated for that series. This all happens automatically, from the point someone converts on the landing page for the offer. After that they’ll begin to receive the email messages at whatever time interval you decide in advance. If designed properly, autoresponders are a tool you can keep using over time. For businesses that have seasonality in their products and services or rely on a cycle, they can also be turned on and off, requiring little effort to edit and put them in to action again the following season or once a cycle renews.
What to include?
Autoresponders must be used wisely, containing value while not overwhelming, but still allowing you to learn more about the recipient. For this reason autoresponders should contain little copy, one primary CTA and only one or two secondary CTA’s and contain images and graphics to appeal visually. When designing the series, be sure to lay out the goal for each message in advance and stick to it, keeping the message short and focused. It’s important to use an original design as well, something new that will surprise the recipient, not a different version of your standard newsletter communications.
See: Creating Branded Buttons for Your Email Marketing Using Constant Contact’s Table Feature
So what to include in an autoresponder series? It depends on the original action they took.
You might include:
Articles or videos that complement the guide they downloaded or event they attended.
CTA for a demo request or schedule a meeting
If they made a purchase, point them to information on products that complement the original purchase
Surveys/Polls; Either to obtain feedback on the original offer (i.e. what could we do to make this guide better?) or to further qualify based on the original offer (i.e. where are your biggest challenges based on what your learned from the guide?)
An offer or coupon/discount
Information on an upcoming promotion or event
You want to learn more about the recipient without being sales-y. Autoresponders are a great way to educate, but also a great opportunity to learn more using surveys. Using surveys allows you to learn about how to improve your offer or products and services, and also more about needs and wants of your prospects. Complementary to this is looking at your analytics to see whether recipients are opening the email and where they are clicking-through. With this information you will be better equipped to make (or not make) “the call” and the potential buyer will be better equipped to receive it.
While there is an element of “set it and forget it” to autoresponders (they are automated by nature), you should continue to look at your analytics and feedback and make changes where necessary. Be sure to keep the information in them up-to-date and test different CTA’s and content. Autoresponders can work well in your marketing program, providing you with great insight into a prospect once they’ve identified themselves and their interests. Use them wisely, keeping in mind SPAM laws, identifying specific goals and delivering a short, concise message with real value.
Are you using autoresponders in your email marketing program?
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