When and How to Best Use Autoresponder Emails

Autoresponder - Email MarketingWhether you know them as triggered emails, nurture emails or autoresponders, automatic messaging can play a big role in your email marketing campaign.

As the name suggests, autoresponders are emails sent automatically when a customer hits a trigger point on your website, such as when they make a purchase.

Though sending an email automatically may sound “spammy”, the practice, when done right, provides timely, customized content that immediately fills customers’ needs.

Autoresponder open rates hit 47.7 percent in Q3, about 75 percent higher than manually-sent messages. With click rates of 9.7 percent, the autoresponders doubled the performance of typical emails.

Here are five top tips for using autoresponders and seven occasions to use them:

Autoresponder best practices:

Metric - Confirmation Email

The band Metric has a second opt in and reminds that action is required to prevent email providers from marking updates as spam.

1. Start now

Even if you have only one autoresponder ready to go, use it. Build your reserve of autoresponder emails as you go. Feel overwhelmed? Start by creating or improving your thank you and confirmation emails. The aim is to get the email into inboxes within two hours of the customer reaching a trigger point.

2. Send but not too often

Having emails sent automatically makes email marketing easy, but sending too many weakens its power. Limit the number of emails you send to recipients per month and make sure not to send them all at once. For example, send a welcome email the first day, a coupon the 10th, and a referral to your blog the 20th.

3. Customize messages

Just because autoresponders are sent by a computer doesn’t mean they can’t have a personal touch. Use a web analytics tool to find what people are browsing on your site and use it to feature those products in an automated email.

4. Fulfill customers’ needs

Put some thought behind your autoresponders. If someone purchases a product, what will they want? Most likely they will want an order summary and shipping/tracking information. Also consider sending promotions and discounts.

5. Keep tweaking it

One of the beautiful things about autoresponders is that they take up little of your time. That doesn’t mean that once you have set up a system you can ignore it, though. Test to find which emails are the most effective and attempt to optimize them for even better results.

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When to use autoresponders:

Marriott - Welcome Email - Autoresponder

This autoresponder from Marriott does welcoming the subscriber well, telling them how they got the address and what they should expect.

1. Welcome emails

Welcome emails typically have the highest open rate of any email you send. Use the email to establish a relationship rather than sell something. Tell your new subscriber or customer what they can expect from your business.

2. Major buying cycle events

After a customer signs up for a newsletter or makes a purchase, send an email that confirms the action. Get the most from the email by using it as more than a confirmation. Introduce the customer to additional products and try to upsell them.

3. Recurring triggers

If you sell a product that has a specific lifecycle, consider taking advantage of it. Calculate the average length someone uses the product and send an email around that time to encourage customers to order more. Also, take advantage of birthdays to wish customers well and perhaps provide a discount for their special day.

4. Win customers back

Has an account on your website been dormant for a long period of time? Have autoresponders sent after a specific period of inactivity and try to win them back. The email will help get your business back to the top of their mind. An incentive could entice them to come back.

5. Get referrals

Survey recent customers to see how they felt about your service. Have autoresponders go out to the ones who rate you highly (an 8 out of 10, for example). Offer them a discount for referring you to their friends.

6. In-stock notifications

Include a sign-up sheet on pages of items that are sold out. Have an autoresponder go out to everyone who signed up when the product becomes available again.

7. Reward program

Consider rewarding your most loyal and best customers. When a customer hits a certain number of transactions or level of spending, send an autoresponder that provides perks and incentives. Give the best offers to the customers who have the highest buying frequency or have spent the most.

Image: factoryjoedklimke (Creative Commons)

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