“You’ve got mail!” In the early days of email, hearing those three words would bring a smile to your face as you scurried over to your computer to check out the message.

That’s not the case anymore. These days, that phrase causes an eyeroll (and more heartburn than a Philly cheesesteak smothered in jalepenos). Because there’s only one word to describe what’s in store when you open up your inbox: OVERLOAD!

If you’re anything like me, opening your inbox makes you get trigger-happy with the ol’ delete button. Because most of that digital junk? It just doesn’t have anything to do with you. If it did, maybe you’d read it.

That’s where autoresponder emails come in. Creating a series of autoresponders is a great way to get (and keep) the attention of your audience — especially when they’re overloaded by a bunch of other junk in their inbox. I’ll show you why.

What are autoresponder emails?

Technically, autoresponders are a series of emails that deploy automatically over a pre-determined period of time. The emails go out based on the number of days since the person first opted in to that particular email list.

But technical stuff aside — autoresponders are really just a way to stay in touch with potential clients over a prolonged period of time and deepen the relationship with each interaction.

So, how exactly does something that’s fairly robotic actually help you forge strong relationships with your potential customers?

  • First, it puts the pressure to reconnect on US as business owners, not on our customers. It’s up to us to stay connected and relevant, not the other way around.
  • Second, autoresponders help you keep potential clients in your sales funnel. The key is to see this is a long term relationship rather than a one shot opportunity if you sell.
  • Finally, autoresponders allow you to build off the knowledge you have already accrued about each set of customers by giving them more of what they are interested in.

People hate being sold, but they love to buy

Autoresponders will only work if they are created with care. Brian Clark, owner of Copybogger, said it best: People hate being sold, but they love to buy. Through an autoresponder series you can make people feel understood and appreciated.

Before you write your next autoresponder series, put it through this checklist to see if it passes the test.

  • Does each email feel like a gift? Marketing is being relentlessly helpful, and autoresponders are a perfect opportunity to do just that. But you’ve got to make sure that your content is helpful to the reader, not just to you and your business! The amount of “pitching” in your autoresponder emails should directly correspond to the depth of the relationship. Give great content first, ask for the sale later. Anything that saves the reader time, money or headache is sure to provide massive value
  • Does each email provide a clear call to action? Let’s face it — you’re not just sending emails because you love to send emails! You want the recipient to DO something after they read your content. Don’t leave them guessing. Make their next step very clear and they’ll be more likely to take it.
  • Is there a balance of giving and asking? One of the biggest mistakes I see with an autoresponder email series is that they’re either overly sales-y or they have no sales value at all. The ultimate goal of your email series is to get people to buy from you, but make sure the timing is right. Instead, you might want to start with smaller requests like “connect with me on Twitter”.
  • Is the email written specifically for the person who is receiving the message? One of the beauties of autoresponder campaigns is that you already know a bit about the recipients before you send the content. By creating different sets of autoresponders for different groups of people, you’re more likely to provide information they value. For instance, if you host a webinar on using Pinterest for business, put all of the webinar attendees on a separate autoresponder list. That way, the next time you have something juicy to share that’s related to Pinterest, you know you have an audience that will be ecstatic to open the email!
  • How frequently are you sending emails? One of my biggest pet peeves is opting in to an email list and receiving a NEVERENDING stream of content. I don’t want to hear from my best friend that often, let alone some company that’s trying to sell me something. Keep the frequency of your emails in check — or be very up front about how often someone will receive emails (i.e. a seven day mini-course where you get one new email each day for a week).
  • If you’re using specific information, have you double checked that the fields have been filled out in your opt-in form? There’s nothing worse that receiving an email addressed to “Hi, [FIRST NAME]”.

Now it’s your turn

Auto responders can provide an enormous source of relationship building clout, but they can also be a huge turn off if they’re not used correctly. Put your autoresponders to the test and see how they match up.

Now it’s your turn! What’s one way you plan to improve your next autoresponder series using the checklist above?

 

Jules Taggart has started a BLAH Rebellion, showing entrepreneurs and small business owners how to tell their story in a bold and unforgettable way.