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Why Autoresponders Are a Content Marketer’s Best Friend

Email autoresponders aren’t sexy.

They are even a bit taboo for some social media purists who believe that marketers should spurn marketing in favor of every interaction being handled by a human. I don’t subscribe to this school of thought. I believe that smart automation is the key to scaling your business and reaching the point where your content is delivering real results.

Autoresponders are at the top of my list of must-have marketing automation tools because they solve a problem that could undermine your business.

You see, most blogs are only able to convert 1-2% of their visitors into subscribers or leads. That means 98 out of 100 people will leave your blog without committing to return or give you permission to contact them. So even though your blog may have had 100 visitors today, only 2 of them are  tomorrow, your blog will start with an audience of two people. It’s likely that these two people aren’t thinking about your blog. They are thinking about summer camp for their kids, the report due on Thursday, and vacation plans for next week. You are on the list probably somewhere around to-do item #23.

Your job is to get in front of them with a friendly nudge to come back to your blog. By the way, you need to do this every time you publish a new post or have content available for them.

Right about now, an alarm bell is clanging in the back of your mind. A pudgy troll just kicked in the mental door of your mind and shouted “You don’t have time for that!” He’s right but you need to do it anyway.

Here’s another scenario.

You have a new product. You’ve built a list of potential buyers and you’re excited to finally turn those subscribers into buyers and earn a little cheddar (that’s what hipsters like Chris Brogan says “money”) in the process. Your careful research says that a typical person will need to see a message several times before they react which means you will need to send more than one message. After thinking the process through you realize that sending 5 emails in a row to different people who subscribe at different times is a logistical nightmare.

That’s where autoresponders come in.

How To Use Email Autoresponders

Autoresponders simply send a series of email messages to an existing list of subscribers or each new subscriber. This service is what Mailchimp, Aweber, and Infusionsoft were founded to deliver. Just connect your email opt-in form to the service (usually with a WordPress plugin), design the email template and write a sequence of emails and you’re done.

Autoresponders almost always turn an “ok” performing campaign into a “great” campaign. They work because they give you several opportunities to persuade your subscribers to take action. Sure there are bad examples of spam crooks pummeling email boxes with junk but the email companies are getting better at shutting this type of abuse down.

I and my clients rely on autoresponders to create a memorable experience for new subscribers. Best of all, our autoresponders work tirelessly to attract readers back to our blogs.

Here are a several ways we use them:

#1 New Reader Orientation:
New subscribers are excited about your blog and are interested in learning more about what you do. Help them by sending a 2-3 emails:

  1. Welcomes them to your community (Send Immediately or +0)
  2. Shares resources that they can use immediately (Send 3 Days after they subscribe or +3)
  3. Invites them to ask questions that will help you better tailor future content to their needs. (Send 7 Days after they subscribe +7 days)

#2 Delivering Special Reports
Always give more than your readers ask for. Delivering free reports is a great opportunity to follow-up with something that the reader doesn’t expect. For example:

  1. Deliver report along with an offer to receive the report in a different format. For example, I’m testing out delivering an audio version of my special reports. These special audio editions will be sent along with the initially
  2. printed report. (Send Immediately +0)
  3. Offer an Action Checklist that complements the report. The Action Checklist helps the reader use what they’ve downloaded. Most people don’t bother to read what they’ve downloaded, so this offer my get your subscriber to actually read the content they downloaded. (+1 days)
  4. Q&A: Invite the reader to send any questions they may have. Tell them that you’ll compile a list of answers to the most asked questions.(+3 days)

#3 Getting Acquainted
The accepted best practice for opt-in forms is to only ask for an email address. The problem is that it’s hard to build a relationship if you don’t know your reader’s name! Don’t worry. Autoresponders can help.

For this to work, you will need to add a first name field to your opt-in form. Most email services allow you to create a form without the first name as long as the field isn’t required. So, even though many of my opt-in forms don’t ask for a first name, I can still add a first name.

  1. Welcome – give your reader what they asked for. (+0)
  2. “Could You Do Me A Favor?” – Ask your reader for their first name. Your email service will give you a link that allows the subscriber to update their profile information. (+1)
  3. Quick Reminder Or This Will Be Awkward – One more reminder for your reader to get add their first name to their profile. (+3)

#4: Surprise and Delight Bonuses
William Forrester the reclusive author in Finding Forrester shares with his protegé, Jamal, that the key to a women’s heart is an unexpected gift and an unexpected time. Frankly, that’s the key to anyone’s heart. A Surprise and Delight autoresponder sequence offers an unexpected gift to your subscriber at an unexpected time:

  1. Thinking about you: Tell your reader that they were on your mind and you would like to offer them something special. Tell them to watch their email for their special gift. (+30)
  2. Thank You: Offer your bonus as a no-obligation thank you. Make sure that the gift is special. Perhaps an hour’s worth of your consulting time. A free extended trial of your product or something else with clear monetary value. (+31).

I hope that these examples spark new ways for you to offer something special and get more readers to visit and share your blog.

About Stan

Stan Smith is the CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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