SEO

Killer Autoresponder Blueprint

Email marketing is a vital part of your success. I am going to share a blueprint I created to create killer messages.

Just a quick overview of email marketing for beginners before we get into the Blueprint…

Generating leads is the foundation of making sales.  Consider this…. The average website converts 2% – 4% of its visitors into customers. Assuming that your website is somewhere within this range…

What are you doing about the other 96 – 98% of your visitors who leave your site without making a purchase?

Much of this 96 – 98% are genuine, savvy consumers who are currently “shopping” and will make a purchase in the near future. And if you don’t have a way to follow up with them and establish some level trust in YOUR company, they are more likely to purchase from one of your many competitors.

You can offer free information (white paper, report, ebook, newsletter, coupons etc) to entice people to join your mailing list and with an autoresponder system you can create an automated email marketing campaign that keeps your products/services front in center in people’s minds while offering free information that establishes your expertise.

Your autoresponder captures their name and email when they “opt-in” to your list and sends them the first email in the pre-written, pre-scheduled sequence.

Note: you can have the system merge your prospect’s name into the subject and body of the email, making it stand out and get extra attention, as if it were a personal email sent directly from you.

If you don’t currently have an autoresponder system, you could check out Aweber, Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Infusion (to name a few).

What is the point of email marketing?

You build up a rapport and relationship with your prospects; they remember you when they are ready to buy. If your offers are compelling enough or you have special offers, they may even buy sooner than they would have.

Blueprint for a killer autoresponder series:

Now that we have gone over the basics of what an autoresponder is, let’s talk about how you create a killer autoresponder series.

You have to give your prospects something of value.  This helps build credibility for you, it makes them see you as an expert and a source of information and it makes them more open to your offers when you do send them.  If you were to just hit them with a bunch of hard sell offers, they aren’t as likely to stay on your list and they definitely won’t “bond” with you and your company and start to build trust.

You want to create various messages that have information and then different levels of selling.  Consider calling it a “mini course” or an information series, or exposé.

Every message should include a small resource box at the bottom that says “Brought to you by…”  You can put your company name, contact info and a brief bio.  This should remain consistent on every message.

TIP: Make sure you use the spam checker tool within your autoresponder system to make sure your subject line and body of the email passes the test and doesn’t trigger any spam filters.

Also leave a teaser at the end of the message about what is coming next.  You want to build anticipation and have them expect the next email in the series.  Say something like “Tomorrow you’ll be learning how to x”

Message One: This should be sent the day they sign up for your list.  It should include an outline, or table of contents telling them what they can expect out of the mini course.  Don’t forget to offer a small tip or piece of trivia.

Message Two: This should be a medium length message that is really compelling.  This sets the tone for the whole series since it is the first real message.  If this one isn’t strong, people will have little interest in future messages.  There should be no selling in this one, make it purely informational.  Don’t forget story telling is a great way to convey information.  Please note you have to play with the timing of the messages, you don’t want to email too often, but too infrequently is just as bad.  I would make this second message come 2 or 3 days at the most after the first message.

Message Three: This message should be short, you don’t want people to start thinking every message is going to be long, they’ll think they don’t have time to read them all, so keep this one to a couple paragraphs.  There should be no direct selling in this message.  This message should come 4 days after the second message.

Message Four: This message can be a bit longer and can go more in depth.  Again no selling  – not yet.  This message should come 5 days after the third message. (Can’t reiterate enough that you need to determine what you think will work for your list, these timeframes have worked well for many clients but there are definitely times when we adjust the timing.  After they first get on the list is when you can get away with mailing the most usually, but you don’t want to overdo it and drive them away.

Message Five: Another shorter message that includes a tip or interesting fact.  Let them know the course is drawing to a close with only one message/lesson left.  This message should come 4 days after the fourth message.

Message Six: Let them know this is the final lesson in the course.  Share the lesson info and then let them know they will continue to hear from you—although not as frequently.  Let them know if they should expect a newsletter, or updates when you have sales, or tips or breaking news.  You have to decide what you can commit to and make sure they know what to expect.  They will be more receptive to future messages if you set the expectations now.  In this message you can also do your first soft sell.  Let them know what product or service you offer and what problem it solves for them.  This message should come 6 days after the fifth message.

Please note I have outlined this based on a strategy that I have found effective, there are definitely mini courses where there is more aggressive selling and I even play with doing that from time to time.  You just have to remember now is the time to establish your expertise and build trust, and you want to offer them information of value and not just sales pitches.

Message Seven: Here you can do a pretty hard sell, the message doesn’t have to have any other info, it can just be a sales message.  This message should come 6 days after the sixth message.

From here out you want to send them a variety of messages.  Send them some unexpected tips, some breaking news, some special offers/sales.  Just make sure you vary things—every message shouldn’t have an offer.  Some messages should just be information.  Other messages may only be an offer and no other info.

You don’t want to mail to them as frequently as you were in the beginning during the mini course.  No more than once a week, and no less than once a month.  You’ll get to know your list and it also depends on your industry and what news, tips etc you have to offer.

Please remember that the timeframes I am suggesting for mailings are timeframes that I have found to work.  Every list is different and some people just won’t tolerate mailings that often.  Other industries accept daily mailings.  You really need to keep track of your opt-outs and see if you are losing too many people.  If you are, it could be due to the frequency of your mailings.  You can even survey your list and see what they want.

To illustrate the outline, I’m going to do a mock-up of a mini course for you.

The company in this example sells skin care products.

Message One: Intro to the mini course, table of contents:

Message Two: Understanding your skin

Message Three: Facial skin care

Message Four: Skin care issues

Message Five: Body skin care

Message Six: Message Seven: Celebrity skin care tips, facts and photos

Message Two: Understanding your skin.  Explain that you are starting the course by making sure they really know and understand their skin.  List some interesting facts.  Try to think of a cute/funny story about skin – maybe something to do with a kid commenting on an older person’s skin, or an older person wishing for the skin from their youth.

Message Three: Facial skin care.  This one can talk about the fact that facial skin is more delicate and requires different care.  Lay the ground work for future product promotions by talking about how a good product is important.

Message Four: Skin care issues.  Outline the various issues, like acne, wrinkles, dry skin, oily skin etc.  This is a perfect message for storytelling, share people’s stories with different skin issues.

Message Five: Body skin care – talk about pampering the body. Maybe talk about soaking in a bath, exfoliating, and the different areas of the body where skin is a little harder (feet, elbows etc)

Message Six: Share skin care and beauty tips from celebrities.  You could include photos.  You could even do a quiz or something fun.  Next share with them the frequency they can expect to experience future messages and the types of things you’ll send them.  For example: Now that the mini course is complete you won’t be hearing from me as often, but don’t worry I’ll still send you tips, any breaking news, special offers and my newsletter once a (month, quarter etc).

Message Seven: Here is where you say something like “The skin care issues we’ve been talking about over the past few weeks are something that plague so many women.  There are solutions…solutions that really work…..” and you would go into a success story and then an offer for some specific products for specific problems.  You may want to keep this email short and drive them to a landing page on your site, that way they can get a full web experience and not just view it within their email box.

Make sure all future messages continue to have your resource box on the bottom and have a teaser for the next message.

There is another approach:

You can also offer a white paper or ebook as an incentive to opt-in.  If you go this route, the first message would deliver the product (via a download link) and then use the series of 7 – 8 message sot highlight key lessons and take aways from the book/report.  Share case studies and stories that relate to info in the book and continue to further establish your expertise.

Some things to remember:

  • Once the initial messages are done, you still need a plan in place to continue emailing your list.  After the initial messages, you want the broadcasts that you send to vary in message and length.  If you do all sales pitches, you’ll turn people off so try to balance – do a message with a tip and a soft sell, then a stronger promotional email and then one that links to a great article or resource and then another sales pitch.  You will get to know your list and know what you can get away with.  If you have a product site, you can establish a pattern of sending weekly product offers and people won’t mind if they expect it – but remember to also throw out useful tips and advice so they continue to see you as a valued resource.
  • Make sure you comply with CANSpam laws.  If you use the autoresponder we recommended they will make sure you do.
  • Make sure the email comes from a person and not info@site.com.  The open rate on emails is higher if it is from a person (the same person every time).
  • Make sure you send the messages in HTML so you can track the open rate.  If your open rate is low, it is either being stuck in a spam filter or the subject line isn’t compelling people to open the message.
  • You also want to track which messages people seem to respond to and create more messages like the ones that get attention.  Note which ones cause a lot of opt-outs and then cull them from your series.  This is not a “set it and forget it” marketing initiative – you need to spend time seeing what works and what doesn’t and improving your results.
  • There is definitely some testing, tweaking and monitoring involved but it is more than worth it.  Building a relationship with prospects is vital.  And a list is a great asset to a business; if you ever decide to sell your business you’ll be happy if you have a large list.

This is obviously not the only way to create an email marketing series but it’s one that has worked well for us.  Play with it and see what works for you.

 Killer Autoresponder Blueprint

Jennifer Horowitz

Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing for www.EcomBuffet.com – a full service SEO, Web Design & Development and Social Media Firm. Since 1998 Jennifer’s expertise in marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue. Jennifer has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer Horowitz is the author of Twitter Quickstart Success Training System, Blogging For Dollars, Optimization Step By Step: 2010 and more. You can follow Jennifer on Twitter at @ecombuffet. For more information on SEO, Twitter training or killer Facebook Fan Pages, contact Jennifer at jennifer@ecombuffet.com.
 Killer Autoresponder Blueprint

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6 thoughts on “Killer Autoresponder Blueprint

  1. This is really useful! I'm writing a free ebook at the moment and wasn't sure how to deliver it, as well as delivering an autoresponder course. Thanks for the clear advice!

  2. Jennifer, this is the perfect layout/structure I was looking for as I'm just now starting a 5-7 part autoresponder series myself. Thank you soooo much for posting this!

  3. Sometimes the product is the email itself so it can go on indefinitely. For example I subscribe to the Spanish “word of the day” from a foreign language site. I know their URL by heart and use it frequently.

    The church site I operate offers free sunday school lessons by email every week. The customers are really just getting the name of the church in front of them to raise awareness. No profit motive.