WATCH: What is an autoresponder?
What do auto-responders do? They respond to an email automatically, so you do not have to write an email to every single person who contacts you or take action on your website.
If you have ever received an email in as short as a minute after signing up for an email subscription, then you have first-hand experience as to what auto-responders are like.
But that is not all. Today, we will discuss what auto-responder software programs can do for your business and why you need them. I will also throw in some products I would recommend, including what I use.
Our topics for today are:
- What are auto-responders?
- How do auto-responders work?
- What can I do with auto-responders?
- What auto-responders should I use?
Let us dive in and get started!
What do auto-responders do–what are auto-responders?
An auto-responder is a software that you program to “respond” to an email. Instead of answering each email one by one, you use software to do this.
For example, let us say that someone bought an item from your store. Do you really want to write an email for each customer? Or would you rather have a machine send a message that you crafted only once?
One of the best practices of online merchants, like dropshippers, is to send a “thank you” note and a confirmation message to every customer after the purchase was made.
Writing a “thank you” note manually works well if you only get one or two orders per day. But what if you have more than that?
This is where an auto-responder comes in.
In the office, we have what is called an OOO or auto-reply, which pretty much is an autoresponder for Outlook or Office 365.
If you have used this email feature before, any person who sends you an email will receive a notice that you are Out of the Office. The auto-response contains details on how to contact you and when you’ll get back to work.
Auto-responders are like that, but they can perform more complicated things. You can program an auto-responder to do the following:
- Send confirmation and “thank you” message after each purchase.
2. Give a subscriber the link for the digital download such as an eBook or PDF; the auto-responder also stores that file for that digital download.
3. Automatically send emails on intervals you choose (daily, weekly, monthly, your choice, really)
You can also program an auto-responder to send a different email based on a customer’s action. Let us take a closer look at this function.
- Customer subscribes
- Auto-responder sends an email
- After a week, auto-responder sends an email
- If a customer opens it, the tool sends Email 1 (“thank you” or another marketing email)
- If a customer does not open the email, the auto-responder sends a “reminder” email, telling him that you sent an email last week and that he did not open it
As you can see, you can customize the kind of message you send to a person depending on his action. You can also program your auto-responder tool to send an email every time you post a blog.
Auto-responders are valuable tools in your marketing arsenal. To make it work, what you need is what we call a sales funnel—a sequence or process that takes your lead to a sales journey.
This journey begins from the moment your lead signs up to your email subscription list and ends when he makes a purchase.
How do auto-responders work?
To get started, you have to sign up for an auto-responder account. There are many auto-responders out there, but the two that I recommend are MailChimp and the GetResponse autoresponder.
Once you have signed up, up have to integrate the auto-responder with your website. Again, different auto-responders and different web-building platforms have different integration processes.
The most common process is to simply install a plug-in, or an app, and then sign-in to your account from there.
In a nutshell, here are the steps you need to take to make an auto-responder work.
1. Sign up for an auto-responder account
Choose an email auto-responder like GetResponse; sign up for an account and use the free trial if there is any
2. Integrate it with your website platform
For WordPress, you can install the auto-responder plug-in; for Shopify, install the app
3. Create a list
Go to your auto-responder dashboard and create a list; a list is a distribution list. You can create several lists if you want.
For example, you can build a list for people who downloaded your free eBook, and then you can also build another list of email addresses of people who bought your product.
Here is a screenshot of creating a list on MailChimp:
Let us dig a little deeper on lists. Let us say that you created a list called “people who downloaded eBook”, and then another list called “people who bought Product A”.
What you will do is to set up a program where:
- If a person downloaded a free eBook, his email would go to “people who downloaded eBook”
- If a person bought Product A, his email will go to “people who bought Product A”
Should you decide to send an email campaign to your subscribers one day, you can choose to send that email only to a specific list. For example, you want to sell Product A.
Naturally, you do not want to send this email to people who already bought Product A. What you want is to send this email to people in the list of “people who downloaded eBook” because they have not bought Product A yet.
4. Create an email campaign
Now, you have to create two emails, one for the people who downloaded the eBook where you will say, “Thank you for downloading my eBook!” or something like that. You will program your system to send that email message to anyone who downloaded your eBook.
You will also create another email where you say “Thank you for purchasing Product A!”
After writing these emails, you will assign them to a list and a button.
What you want to do is this:
- Every time a site visitor gives his email address to subscribe in exchange for an eBook, the auto-responder will send the “Thank you for downloading my eBook” message and will then add that person’s email address to your “people who downloaded eBook” list.
- Every time a person buys Product A, you want the auto-responder to send the “Thank you for buying Product A!” message, then put that person’s email address to your “people who bought Product A” list.
Now, you can create a series of emails that the auto-responder will send to each group on intervals that you want.
Here is an example of a campaign, or a sales funnel, for people who downloaded the eBook:
- 2 days after downloading eBook – send an email asking a person if the eBook was great; ask for opinion; give a link to another free eBook or webinar
- 5 days after downloading eBook – send an email telling the customer that you are offering a course; give a link to the course
- 8 days after downloading eBook – send an email giving the customer a discount for the course
You do not have to write each email all the time. You only write it once and then program the auto-responder to send it on those intervals.
Now, what if the customer bought the course on the second email, will the auto-responder still send the third email? It does not make sense, right? Why would you offer a discount if the customer already bought it?
This is why you need GetResponse. It allows you to build automatic sequences based on the customer’s action.
Take a look at the sample diagram I made below, which you can do with GetResponse.
Autoresponders for Facebook or for any integration have a cost—some are free, but there are limitations. Different plans also have different limitations. Generally speaking, you have to pay more money as you send more emails.
Here is an example pricing chart:
Because of this, you have to craft your email sequences carefully—make the most of what you pay for, and stop selling or emailing to people who are downright cold. These are people who have no intent to buy.
What can I do with auto-responders?
We have touched this subject earlier, but I will show you a snapshot of the many things you can do with your email auto-responder.
I have to point out that not all auto-responders are built the same. Some are just basic applications, while some are monster apps that can do a lot of things apart from merely sending a one-off email.
Here is a list of the things you can do with email auto-responders:
- Send emails with or without daily limit
- A/B testing of your campaigns
- View statistics
- Create Facebook ads
- Create landing pages
- Marketing automation
- Chat feature
- Multi-user access for your virtual assistants
- Send SMS messages, not just emails
- Ad retargeting
- Create webinars
- Automate email flows
- Integration with various website platforms
As you can see, auto-responders have evolved. They no longer just send automated emails, but you can now create landing pages and even create Facebook ads.
And the best part? You can re-target customers with ads, which means that your ads will follow them on the platforms that you choose.
What auto-responders should I use?
There are many email auto-responders out there, and I will throw in some of the most popular ones.
- Constant Contact
What I use is MailChimp. It is one of the pioneers in the auto-responder software industry. It is best used by bloggers who have not yet grown a massive email list, or those who have no products to sell yet.
If you do have a product and you want to take your email marketing one step further, my recommendation is GetResponse.
If you are just starting out, use a free auto-responder, and gather as many emails as you can. As you start earning money from your e-commerce store, subscribe to a better tool like GetResponse. It has everything you need to run an effective marketing campaign via email.
Use an auto-responder right at the get-go, but make sure you have a lead magnet to entice your audience to sign up. A lead magnet is a material that you give away for free in exchange for a lead sign up to your email subscription list.
Today, an eBook is still the best lead magnet, as you can use it over and over again. You can write the eBook yourself, or hire an affordable copywriter to do it for you.
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