How to Write an Autoresponder Email Series
By Kristen Dunleavy February 5, 2015
Autoresponder emails (sometimes called autoresponder follow up emails or just follow up emails) have a ton of time-saving and business-growing benefits – and yet 75 percent of businesses aren’t using them. What does that mean for you? Add a follow up series to your email marketing strategy today, and BAM! You’re already ahead of the curve.
Why are follow ups important?
Follow up emails let you schedule an entire series of emails ahead of time for your new subscribers. Unlike broadcast emails, which are one-time emails with time-sensitive content (think emails promoting holiday sales or weekly newsletter updates), the content in a follow up series is evergreen. That means you can send a follow up series to any new subscriber at any time of the year.
How do they work? As soon as a new subscriber signs up, they automatically receive your series. Every follow up series should follow an arc: an introduction to your business in the beginning, information about your products or services in the middle and a survey asking for feedback at the end.
This saves you the hassle of sending the same information over and over again and gives you the opportunity to make a great first impression.
If you’re a personal trainer, for example, you need your subscribers to feel comfortable about booking their first session with you. Show them how knowledgeable and professional you are with your follow up series (share workout tips, nutrition knowledge and more) and your calendar will be packed in no time. That’s how you build trust and turn subscribers into paying customers.
Now, let’s write some follow up emails.
How should I plan my follow up series?
First, define your goal for each email in your series. For example, if you’re a nutritionist, you might start off with answering common health questions you’ve received from clients in the past. The number of emails is up to you and how much content you want to create. That can mean as few as three or as many as 20 emails.
Next, decide on a sequence that makes sense for your customers. If you’re teaching new customers how to use a product, your series should have an obvious beginning, middle and end, with enough space in between to digest your lessons – try a one or two day buffer.
If you want your new subscribers to take a certain action within a certain time period, take that into consideration too. For example, if you want them to upgrade their service within 30 days of signing up for your list, your series should lead them there.
What should I write in my follow up series?
Writing a follow up email series doesn’t have to be scary. Here are some topics that any business owner can write about:
- FAQs about your business
- Ways that your products or services can save time and/or money
- Customer spotlight/case studies
- Industry insights
- Get to know the team
- Tips for success
- A survey asking for feedback
- Additional resources to educate and assist your subscribers
You can try a combination of the ideas listed above for your series. Here’s an example of a follow up series a local realtor might use for those looking to rent an apartment or house:
- Ask a Realtor: FAQ
- 5 Time-Saving Tricks for Your Apartment Hunt
- How One Family Found the Perfect Pet-Friendly Place
- To Rent or To Buy? An Expert Weighs In
- Meet the Seaside Realty Team
- 3 Questions to Ask Your Landlord
- We Want To Hear From You!
… and so on. Another approach you can take with your content is to use your follow up series as a step-by-step guide to educate your subscribers on using your products or services. If you’re an online retailer selling aquarium equipment to new customers, you might create a step-by-step guide to using your product that looks like this:
- Setting Up Your Aqua Reef Lights in 3 Easy Steps
- Troubleshooting: Common Problems and How to Fix Them
- How To Maximize Your New Aqua Reef Lights
- How Do You Like Your New Aqua Reef Lights?
Regardless of the type of series you use, remember that every follow up series is sequential. That means the information you present should make sense in the order you send it. Send yourself a test of the entire series to make sure it does.
What else do I need to know about follow ups?
You don’t have to jam everything you know into your follow up series. Save news, coupon offers and weekly specials for your broadcast emails. Use your blog for longer-form pieces like thought leadership articles.
Keep your subscribers’ attention span in mind – 300 words is plenty for one email. If your follow up series is a guide to using your services, pepper in an email or two asking your subscribers for feedback.
Once you have your series set up, create a calendar reminder so you can make regular updates to your series. This ensures that you keep your follow up content fresh and gives you the opportunity to make updates if something changes in your business.
Pro-tip: You can also update and optimize your series based on your open rates. For example, if email number six gets low opens, consider changing the subject line or swapping its place with another email, if possible.
If you’re interested in turning your subscribers into paying customers (and really, who isn’t?) a follow up series is one of the best ways to do just that.
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