Are Auto-Responders For You

November 12, 2017 Word Press Morris

You should consider whether you want to include auto responders in your marketing mix. Finding an e-mail auto-responder is fairly easy, there are many to choose from, paid and free versions. Some let you start free until you reach a certain level of subscribers.

Here are some examples. "We do not endorse or receive commissions or credit from these providers."

Aweber

MailChimp

GetResponse

Constant Contact

Here are some free auto-responders that are worth a look. These programs offer the same benefits as the top paid for programs.

List Wire

FreeFollowUp

ResponseMagic

Then, when you decide on developing an auto-responder program, you'll want to consider all of the following points:

How many emails should be sent?
What should be the time frame between sends?
How should you balance useful content with solicitations for sales or offers?
How do you minimize un-subscribe requests and spam complaints?

How many auto-responder emails should be sent?

It is possible that the answer to this question will be determined by the email marketing service provider that you choose. Some email marketing service providers will only allow you to send a maximum of ten auto-responder in a sequence. This is typically done to reduce spam complaints and preserve the IP that the email marketing provider is using. Most studies have shown that the ideal number for an auto-responder program will be between 12 and 15 emails. Ten is often not quite enough to convert a user, but more than fifteen increases opt-outs and spam complaints as subscribers who haven't converted then begin to become frustrated. Ultimately, the number of emails that you should send should be based on your content, its engagement level and the amount of time needed to convey it.

What should be the time frame between sends?

At the beginning, you want to ensure that you do not take too long between sends. Your subscribers have just signed up and are enthusiastic about receiving your communication, so take advantage of that enthusiasm.While once daily is too frequent, you can begin by spacing your emails out with only a day in between. After that, extend the time between to three days. As you get to the tail end of your auto-responder, meaning that you are getting to the least engaged customers who have not converted and may mark you as spam or opt-out of the email, begin to stretch things out by five days or even a week. Many email marketing service providers will allow you to also mark days of the week that you don't want your auto responder to send, so you may want to eliminate weekend email sends of auto responders. Email open rates are lower on weekends.

How should you balance useful content with solicitations for sales or offers?

One of the greatest risks of an auto-responder program is having users become frustrated with hard-sales attempts and subsequently marking your email as spam, opting-out, or simply not opening future emails. All of the aforementioned activities can lower your quality score with email service providers and make it harder for your email sends to get into the inbox. Therefore, it's very important that your auto-responders actually contain useful information. While it's acceptable to include a sales offer along with useful information in each email, it is not advisable for you to make a sales-only email any more frequently than every fifth email in the series in order to protect your email sender reputation.

How do you minimize un-subscribe requests and spam complaints for your auto-responder program?

The best way to minimize the risk of un-subscribe requests, spam complaints and non-opened emails with your auto-responder program is the same way to minimize those risks with all email marketing. Provide useful, engaging content and good offers that your subscribers will care about. You can also use the best practices for managing un-subscribe requests, opt outs and spam complaints that we'll discuss later in this book and which include: prominent and easy-to-find placement of the un-subscribe link, proper opt-out and opt-in messages and asking users to "white list" you in your initial email.

What is the Typical Content of an Auto-Responder?

An auto-responder is generally more similar in content to a newsletter than it is to a direct sales email, though it combines many of the elements of both. The content can vary wildly though based on your industry segment and what you've promised subscribers. The most common type of auto-responder content will be tips or advice, but you can also do great things with recipes, serial fiction pieces, inspirational quotes and a variety of other topics. Essentially, you are looking for content that will engage users over a period of time while also providing a platform to encourage sales of your product or service or visits to your website.

Auto-Responder Pros and Cons
Auto-responder email programs often seem as though they may be all upside because they require very little maintenance. However, when determining if you want to invest your resources into an auto-responder program, there are both pros and cons that you should consider.

Auto-Responder Email Pros
The following are the pro-points of sending email auto-responder:

After the initial time and resources required in order to build out your auto responder program, you will have an ongoing communications channel with your customers that can happen with little or no maintenance from you.
An engaging, compelling auto responder program can generate not only sales but also brand awareness and user referrals
If your auto responder program is successful at converting subscribers to customers, you can operate at a very high return-on-investment as convincing a user to sign up for a free email program is much easier that acquiring an initial paying customer
Auto responders are a great solution for small businesses with extremely limited resources for email marketing and content generation
Auto Responder Email Cons
The following are the con-points of sending email auto responder:

Unlike traditional email marketing, email auto responders cannot easily be segmented to a single portion of your list (such as cat food buyers versus dog food buyers). Auto-responders by nature are generalized and will therefore convert at a lower percentage than will targeted, traditional email marketing campaigns.
Auto responder campaigns can put the sender reputation of your email program at risk as auto responder programs tend to have higher opt-out, unopened and spam complaint numbers. These user actions can make it more difficult for even your non-auto responder emails to make it into the inbox.
The initial build out of an auto responder campaign can be labor intensive, requiring content for multiple emails all at once and several weeks of monitoring in order to determine if there are "problem" areas in your timing or content before you are able to allow the program to run automated on its own.
In summary, auto responders present a great opportunity if you have limited time and resources to create email marketing campaigns. However, because they are less targeted, they may also be less effective and can put your email sender reputation at risk if they do not provide subscribers with engaging, useful content.

Auto Responders and the Types of Email Marketing
When thinking about the five types of email marketing described previously, auto responders are almost exclusively used for customer acquisition email marketing. Your existing customers may respond well to an auto-responder campaign, but chances are high that the best place in your marketing mix for auto-responders is when trying to acquire new customers.

Auto Responder Best Practices

1. Always Include the Auto Responder Name in the Subject Line: Because you are sending multiple emails spaced out over multiple days, you always want to include the name of the auto responder program that your subscriber signed up for in the subject line so that they recognize you in the in-box.

2. Be Sure to Have Subscribers White List You: Because auto-responders run a higher risk of un-subscribe requests and spam complaints, be sure to ask users to add you to their contact list or address book in the first welcome email that they receive to help negate the chances that you will end up in their spam or junk folder.

3. Do Not Overdo Offers: While the ultimate goal of your auto-responder program is to generate sales or revenue, too many offers can result in subscribers fleeing from your list early in the auto responder sequence. Present offers contextually and don't create auto-responders that look and feel like repeated direct sales emails.

4. Make Links Clear and Visible & Use Text Links: Make sure that all links to your product purchasing pages are clear and visible. When possible, default to blue, underlined links for easy user recognition. Though in web design it is often unadvisable to use the words "click here" in a link, in email design it typically is more effective to use the words "click here." Make sure that your links are text links and not image-based links as images may not appear in all emails.

5. Use Personalization Fields: Always important in email marketing, because an auto-responder list can not be easily segmented., be sure to use the features of your email marketing program that allow you to personalize fields within your auto responder email with the subscriber's first name, handle, user name or other submitted information.

Auto responders present an excellent opportunity to create email marketing results with minimal effort after the initial build. However, the key to success is to think through the process during the build and to monitor the program carefully for the first several months in order to optimize it.