What are Autoresponders?
An Autoresponder allows you to send new subscribers a pre-written series of email messages. To see an example, enter your email address into the black and orange box with the heading Small Business Success in the right sidebar of this site. (A sidebar is the narrow column next to the wider content area.)
When you do, every few days the marketing system I use will automatically send you another email message.
How to Set Up Your Own Autoresponders
Using an email marketing system such as GetResponse, create a mobile responsive template for your autoresponder messages. Visit that page to watch a video that shows you how your messages will look on mobile devices. That feature is very useful for ensuring the effectiveness of what you send.
Spend some time building your template for maximum effectiveness. Add your logo and use the colors associated with your brand, typically the colors of your website and social media headers.
Be sure to include social sharing buttons so your recipients can send your messages on to friends, family or co-workers.
Also include social sharing icons that link to your social media accounts. These will increase your followers and encourage sharing across social networks.
By creating a template, you ensure that every message has a consistent look and feel. Then write or copy and paste your messages into the template and save them.
Select the spacing for your messages. These are typical:
- Welcome / thank you for subscribing message sent immediately upon subscribing
- First autoresponder message same day
- Subsequent messages sent every three days*
*Some aggressive marketers believe in sending messages every day. Personally I feel that is too many, and anytime people get busy and end up with more they one they are more likely to unsubscribe.
Landing Page or Subscription Form
Now that you have your autoresponder messages ready to go, you need a lead capture form (like the one in my right sidebar) or a custom landing page.
Once your pre-written messages have been sent, what do you do? I suspect most write ten or fifteen or some other number of messages and when they’ve been sent – they do nothing. Then they wonder why they bothered to send those messages at all because their phone doesn’t ring and no one contacts them – even though many of the messages included call-to-actions suggesting just that.
The appeal of having a website, mailing list, and social media for many is the hope that they will eliminate the need to pro-actively prospect. Unfortunately, they don’t really.
Think about the companies that offer the most compelling incentives for subscribing. All of them eventually try to get your phone number or send you messages outside the autoresponder sequence.
If you want more customers, the bottom line is that you must reach out to them, ideally by phone. Use your autoresponder as the top of your sales funnel rather than a standalone tool.
What is a Sales Funnel?
- Visitors fill out your optin-in form for your autoresponder series
- If they buy, they become customers
- Opt-ins have turned themselves into leads
- Video on slide 21 – click play to better understand how sales funnels work
Autoresponder solutions have ways to automate moving subscribers between lists. Suppose you’re sending an autoresponder series selling something in particular. Once someone buys, you don’t want them to continue to receive that series, but you do want them to continue to hear from you.
This video explains how this process works:
What Should You Do With Your Leads?
At the very least, you must continue to send additional messages to your subscribers. You can set up a rule as described in the above video to move people to another list. Or you could add a message to the end of the series offering:
- Another autoresponder series about something else
- Subscription to your blog posts
- A subscription to an aggregated feed of all the content you write across multiple sites. (You can see an example of how that is done in my All Posts by Gail Gardner feed. All WordPress sites create author RSS feeds by default.)
Continuing to send your subscribers messages at least once a week keeps your list “warm”. But it isn’t the best way to turn them into customers or clients. That requires reaching out to them, ideally by phone or in Skype, Facebook or Google Plus chat.
Manually Following Up
The people who are the most successful are pro-active about connecting with their target audience. Nothing works as well as actually talking to your leads in person.
While it would be wonderful to think that your autoresponders alone will generate all the leads you need, there is a good reason they’re called “leads”. Andy Nathan shared his lead follow-up process. Although he wrote about generating leads from LinkedIn, the process of follow-up is similar.
The key takeaway is that you cannot expect all of your subscribers to reach out to you. Sending them messages should convert them from “cold” leads to “warm” leads and make them more receptive to hearing from you. But it is still up to you to reach out to them.
Do you have any tips on following up your autoresponder series?
We’d love to hear them in the comments below.