The power of email autoresponders

Email automation sounds like a dirty word, doesn’t it? When I think of an autoresponder I used to think of spammy emails, brands, thirsty marketers and impersonal robotic messages.

Since diving into the world of online marketing and exploring the potential of email, I’ve discovered that email automation and autoresponders don’t have to be that way at all. You just need to be smart and thoughtful about how you use it.

Autoresponders are a great way to help you solve problems in your business or reach out to your subscribers in a personal way. Do you want to send them a welcome email when they join? Maybe you have a free resource that you’d like to give away, or are thinking about moving your client onboarding process into an automated email workflow to save time.

Campaign Monitor’s Workflow feature offers powerful email automation and autoresponders that are easy to manage. Let’s take a look at how it works.


How should I use autoresponders?

Autoresponders are best used to create workflows – a series of emails that are sent out based on the particular topic in which the subscriber signed up for. If you sign up to a course, blog of product mailing list, you may receive a series of triggered emails relating to that content.
In this blog post, we’re going to explore how to set up a Welcome Email as an autoresponder. A welcome email is an autoresponder which is triggered when someone signs up to your mailing list. But first, let’s touch a little bit on some best practices for how to communicate in an autoresponder.


How to write a good autoresponder

Even though autoresponders are automated (and it’s likely the subscriber knows that), it’s important to at least make it feel as though it isn’t by personable in the way you communicate. Whenever I write an email for my mailing list, I treat every person as such – an individual person. If you write an email with the intention of speaking to the masses, people are going to feel that way when you read it.

Some things to consider:

What language can I use to reach this person in a friendly and personable way? 
Write and craft your email as though you’re talking to one person. This is a challenge when knowing in reality there’ll be hundreds or thousands more that will receive exactly the same message.

Follow the 90/10 rule
Provide the subscriber with 90% value and 10% self-promotion. Give them the value up front, then at the end you may want to link to a helpful blog post.

Consider the criteria that triggers the autoresponder
Will this be the first email the subscriber has ever received from you? If so, you may want to consider introducing yourself and communicating the upcoming frequency of emails, or show them around and let them know where they can reach out to you.


Why should I use autoresponders?

To find good content for your audience
Imagine you subscribed to someone’s blog a year ago because they did this one great post on hand lettering –  and you like hand lettering. In fact, you were expecting there to be more posts about hand lettering. But since subscribing, there hasn’t been a single post about it.

The likelihood of a subscriber to stay engaged over time can deteriorate if you’re not writing or providing valuable content. Using email automation can help you set up workflows that kick off a dialogue with your subscriber at the right time and in the right context.

To save you time
Maybe you want to send a Welcome Email when someone signs up to your mailing list. Imagine if you got 100 sign ups in one day – that’s a lot of emails you’d have to manually send! Setting up an auto-responder for this kind of activity is not only a time save but helps your organize your workflow.


The importance of one-to-one dialogue

At The Apartment we switched to Campaign Monitor a few months ago to give us more control and predictability over our email workflow. Up until the switch, we hadn’t used any form of automated emails within our mailing list. People signed up and received a newsletter when the time came around.

This is the typical one-to-many relationship that we’re all familiar with. We felt like we were flying blind, sending messages out into the abyss and getting no response in return. People stayed subscribed, so we assumed they enjoyed the content – but no dialogue was started.

Soon, we started to question whether the type of content we were providing was actually valuable for our audience, and wondered what type of content they’d like to see more of in future.

We knew we had to start some dialogue. A conversation between us, and each new person to our mailing list. Not only does the personal connection feel warm and friendly, but it allows us to create a relationship with that person and uncover their needs and motivations for subscribing.

After some thought, we came up with two key questions we’d like to ask each new subscriber in the form of a Welcome Email to help get that dialogue started:

What are you struggling with right now as a creative?

What is one question you’d like to see addressed on the blog?

These two questions help us uncover various things about each new subscriber such as their struggles, expectations and pain points – while also sparking a personal conversation.

We can uncover more about why they’re struggling with something in particular, or ask them to clarify their blog suggestion, while creating a relationship with them along the way.

A welcome email also provides the opportunity to introduce ourselves, communicate the intentions and frequency of the newsletter, and also give them a place to reach out to at any time if they’d like help or have feedback. It’s a nice way to set the tone and of course, thank your new subscriber for subscribing!