In the early days of the internet, providers like AOL and Yahoo ruled the world of email. During this time, online messaging with email was like the wild west. Scammers and spammers proliferated like rabbits.
Over time, consumers got used to ignoring marketing emails due to the difficulty of sifting gold from the dirt. Today, email providers have made things much easier with new technology like natural language processing or disrupting the way we craft content. However, we must not lose sight of what already works well in email marketing, an email autoresponder.
We know what you’re thinking, “Generic auto-replies that sound robotic and alienate recipients.” If that’s what you think about email autoresponders, then you’ve come to the right place to dash such misinformation to pieces.
What is an Email Autoresponder?
An email autoresponder is a tool that sends a pre-written message in response to predefined conditions being met. Autoresponses are typically triggered by actions taken by the customer, such as making a purchase or signing up for an email newsletter.
While a simple form of marketing automation, email autoresponder customization helps to build a personalized experience for your audience segments. This is accomplished through simple features such as trigger categories, customer tags, and bracketed variables.
What is the Difference Between Autoresponders and Auto-Reply?
Auto-reply is a feature of many email services, including Gmail, that allows users to create automatic email responses. These types of emails are often generic and apply to narrow conditions.
A classic example is an “out of office” auto-reply. For many of us, as soon as we’ve switched that baby on, we’re already on holiday mentally, if not physically!
Unlike autoresponders, auto-reply is not able to include bracketed categories that allow for personalized messages. Nor can they handle email marketing related to customer touchpoints along the sales funnel.
Furthermore, by implementing email autoresponders, you can streamline your customer communication while also automating essential business processes, such as sending receipts and invoices. This not only saves you time but also ensures accurate financial records and provides a convenient way to track tax-deductible expenses using a tax deduction cheat sheet.
Why Use Email Autoresponders?
In a world with machine learning and AI-powered automation, email autoresponders may appear as the steam train of the digital age—this is simply not the case! Today, email autoresponse services are still valid marketing tools for even small businesses and freelancers.
Perhaps one of the top reasons why you should be using email autoresponders is because they are easy to set up and straightforward to use. Whether as part of a call center management strategy or to boost eCommerce sales, autoresponders will have you on your way in minutes.
Other reasons to use email autoresponders include:
Save time: once an automated email flow has been created, no more work is required. Every time a new customer signs up for something or makes a purchase, you rest assured that they will be targeted with engaging and relevant email content.
Nurture leads: email autoresponders are an effective way to nurture and onboard your audience. After taking action, customers will be contacted within minutes with directions on how to take the next step or answers to common questions.
Targeted marketing: through the use of pre-defined triggers, you can easily segment your audience. This allows for more highly targeted messaging of your email content.
Automated but dynamic: while the email responses are pre-written, most tools allow for easy editing and adjustment of an automated series while on the fly. This sets you up for continuous optimization of campaigns and up-to-date information to stay relevant.
Double opt-in: autoresponse platforms allow you to send confirmation emails instantaneously. This is especially important for permission-based marketing regions governed by data protection laws such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Stoke engagement: an automated email series can streamline the building of trust and improve your customer relationships with more personalized content.
More data: using an autoresponder tool lets you connect your email marketing to other business tools like CRM and much more. With more data, you can expect better campaign optimization.
Examples of Autoresponder Emails
There are many use cases for email autoresponders. The following are a few examples of running automated campaigns.
Welcome Emails and Confirmation Emails
These days, we’ve all come to expect a rapid welcome email when signing up for a new product or service. Anything less, and most consumers will start to worry. In a way, welcome emails are a confirmation that your brand is aware of your newest subscriber and ready.
(Alternatively, you can build confirmation replies that contain things like transaction IDs, invoices, and account details).
A welcome message autoresponse is easy to create with the email marketing tool of your choice. You can also use these emails as lead magnets by offering new member discounts or promo codes.
While a welcome email may only be one or two messages, an onboarding autoresponse may be a series of four or five emails. With this type of autoresponder, you can gently hold the hand of new customers or users.
An onboarding autoresponse series will begin with offering guides and tips on how to get started. This ensures customers have a good experience with your product and encourages increased adoption.
Quick email response time is essential in maintaining positive customer relationships, and autoresponders can help by sending a confirmation email right away and assuring customers that their concerns are heard.
Autoresponders can be set up for all kinds of actions that enhance your cloud contact center. An autoresponse series can reassure a user that you have received their message and/or request and will be getting back to them promptly.
Other information can be included, like a ticket ID number and any relevant FAQs or a link to your knowledge base. As the email series continues, you can follow up with customers to make sure they have received the help they need.
Lastly, you can finish a customer email autoresponder series by including a message asking for feedback via a form or survey. This helps you improve the customer experience.
Once a visitor to your eCommerce site has abandoned a purchase, you can initiate a targeted email series. You could use pre-written cold email templates to make the process more efficient. The first email can be sent as a gentle reminder within hours—just in case the customer was interrupted and forgot to return. Another reminder can be sent a day or two later.
Image sourced from asos.com
If no clicks are garnered, the next email in the series could offer a small discount or free next-day shipping. During this drip campaign, you can also include FAQs about relevant products or troubleshooting guides for the checkout process.
How to Write an Automated Email Series
It may be fairly obvious, but you can’t send an autoresponse series if you don’t have an online visitor’s email address. Use marketing tools and widgets on your website to garner a user’s contact information. Build website forms and add them to your site to track visitor information and enroll them in your email marketing.
Many merchants tempt new visitors with discount offers or free e-books in exchange for an account creation or newsletter subscription. When combined with your email marketing apps, you should be able to manage all of your user emails in one place.
Use your CRM solution to connect customer personal information to autoresponder messages.
Segment Your Audience
Within your marketing tools, you can tag your audience and categorize them by account or demographic details. However, for email autoresponders, you will be segmenting based on pre-defined triggers.
What triggers you choose will decide who you are targeting and what you hope to accomplish. Are you trying to attract power users or those looking for the best price?
Do you want to increase sales that are driven by channels like social media or organic searches? Or are you hoping to get more opt-in subscribers?
Build Your Autoresponder Workflows
Each automated email response series will have targeted messaging with a specific goal in mind. Those goals could vary from garnering a sign-up to a free trial to making a full purchase to gaining customer feedback.
When creating an email series in your autoresponder tool, keep in mind who your intended audience is and where you want them to end up.
For example, if a customer views a specific landing page, you can send them a relevant email drip campaign nudging them further down the funnel.
Email series tactics should also align with the level of commitment from a user action. For instance, a weekly newsletter sign-up is much higher up the sales funnel than someone who has contacted the sales team.
Write Your Email Copy
Once you’ve got a targeted email list and identified your triggering actions, it’s time to get to work. That means painting your best marketing prose onto a digital canvas. While it’s tempting to get flashy, it’s best practice to remember KISS (keep it simple stupid) when crafting your autoresponse copy.
Use bracketed terms and identifiers as much as possible to boost the level of personalization in each email. But don’t worry if you can’t squeeze in more than a user’s name and the event that triggered the email.
Always include clear and specific CTAs for each email in a series. This helps increase conversion and also improves A/B testing and optimization.
Track, Measure, and Optimize
You may be thinking, “How do I get people to open my emails with more frequency?” The answer is simple, A/B test and follow the data. Use your email marketing tools to measure important metrics such as the following:
- Open rates
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Conversion rate
- Bounce rate
- Unsubscribe rate
- Revenue or sales
By tracking these KPIs, you can improve and optimize your email autoresponder campaigns no end!
Automate with Personalization Today
Start using a tool like Benchmark Email and streamline your email automation. Using email autoresponders couldn’t be easier with the modern tools at your fingertips.
Autorsponses help drive your permission-based email campaigns. They also allow you to include personalization that keeps your content relevant to your audience. The end result is that you won’t alienate your potential customers with spam tactics and can increase engagement.
Alwayne Powell is an experienced performance marketing leader with an extensive background in the digital space, working client and agency side to provide paid search, SEO, and CRO solutions in the B2B and B2C sectors. They are the current Senior Digital Marketing Manager at 8×8, call center solutions and leading communication platform provider. Alwayne has also written for other domains, such as Startups Magazine and iGMS. You can find them on LinkedIn.