top of page
  • Writer's pictureExpert Opinion

How autoresponder works

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

An email autoresponder is a series of messages sent automatically to a mailing list based on specific rules at defined intervals. The process may start after a user subscribes to the sender’s email list or when a particular condition is met.

Marketers that use autoresponders have a lot of their email marketing automated. Email autoresponders consist of two individual components that work together to achieve the primary goal.

The first is the automated email campaign which includes marketing messages that are sent to subscribers when specific events or actions are triggered. Then there are the automation rules.

These are triggers or actions the sender puts in place to determine when particular automated messages are to be sent.

For example, a business wants to follow-up on customers who made purchases by cross-selling and upselling. So, a sender creates a particular message and sets a trigger such as the purchase of a specific product.

When a customer buys the item, the action is triggered, and the automated email is sent.

Businesses and websites can set up email autoresponders to inform customers about special offers or new posts, send welcome emails or gifts to subscribers who have just signed up.

One can also use them to send other email messages that keep the subscribers engaged.

An autoresponder is a simple yet effective email marketing tool which allows you to send a series of scheduled follow-up emails to your shoppers; based on specific parameters you set within your store.

For example, you may have a need to send a follow-up email to all of your shoppers who have purchased a specific item.  Perhaps the follow-up email is a special coupon you'd like to send to these shoppers, or maybe you'd like to notify them of related products and accessories which would go nicely with their purchase. 

There are many different situations to which an auto-responder may be applied, and now with, 3dcart version 3.3, you can make this a reality.

Autoresponders are made up of two separate components that work in unison.

  • Autoresponder An automated email marketing campaign (or campaigns) that contain a series of messages which are sent to your shoppers; when specific actions are triggered on their orders

  • Automation Rules A series of situational triggers and actions you specify which will determine when autoresponder messages are applicable.

This guide will show you how to set up your autoresponder settings along with a brief introduction to automation rules.  Keep in mind however that the "Automation Rules" component is a feature in its own right as well. 

We also have documentation describing Automation Rules in more detail. However for the purposes of this document we will only be covering its relationship with Autoresponder.

First, let's go over enabling the Autoresponder module.

Enabling Autoresponders

In order to use Autoresponders you will first need to enable the module within your 3dcart store. From your 3dcart Online Store Manager, use the left hand navigation menu and:

  1. Go to Modules

  2. Search for the "Autoresponder" module and click its +Icon to expand the selection

Tip If you use the search bar at the top of the page, the module will be expanded for you already.

  1. Mark the "Enable Autoresponder" checkbox and click "Save" at the top right

Now that the Autoresponder function is enabled, we'll need to describe a few additional settings. Once again, go to the Autoresponder module and click it's +Icon if it isn't already expanded.

This time, to the right of the "Enable" checkbox, click on the link labeled "Change Settings"

You will see the following options:

  • Enable Autoresponder Mark this checkbox to enable the function

  • Enable Google Analytics Tracking If you use Google Analytics this setting will add your Google Analytics tracking codes to the automated emails, so you can track the amount of users who receive and ultimately click through to your store.

  • Max Number of Campaigns This is the limit of campaigns that can be created on your account

  • Max Emails per Campaigns This reflects the limit of emails you can specify per campaign on your account.

Note Merchants on a Professional+ plan and higher will get an unlimited amount of campaigns and emails.  All others will have a base limit of one campaign with three emails.

Now that the Autoresponder functionality is turned on and set up, let's set up a campaign.

Setting up an Autoresponder Campaign

The first aspect you need to create for your autoresponder is the Campaign.  Your autoresponder campaign will contain all of your automated emails that will be sent when their respective actions are triggered.

From your 3dcart Online Store Manager, use the left hand navigation menu and:

  1. Go to Modules

  2. Search for the "Autoresponder" module and click its +Icon to expand the selection

Tip If you use the search bar at the top of the page, the module will be expanded for you already.

  1. Look for the "Autoresponder Campaigns" label and click on its "Change Settings" link

This is the page where you will create your campaigns and the emails that will be sent with each campaign.

  1. Once there, click on the "+Add Autoresponder" button located at the top right.

  2. Name your campaign

  3. Click "Add."

Up next, we'll describe how to add the actual emails that will be sent through a campaign.

Adding an Autoresponder Email Message

After clicking on "Add" in step 6 above, you'll be taken to a page where you can enter the individual email messages that will apply to this new campaign.

  1. Click on "+Add Email" at the top right to create your first Autoresponder message

  2. You will then enter the specifics of your autoresponder message. (See Additional Note*)

  3. Click Save when complete.

*Additional Note  The following are the message parameters you can specify:

  • Name The name of the specific email message

  • From address This is the email address that will show up as the message's origin.

  • Reply to address Use this email to specify the email address that will be when the recipient replies to the message.  If left blank, the message will simply use the "From address" email.

  • BCC Use this field if you'd like to specify an email address that the Autoresponder email is sent to as a blind carbon copy (BCC), meaning that other recipients will not see the the BCC addressee.

  • Subject the subject line of your message

  • Frequency Use this drop down to specify when the message will be sent based on the action that specifically triggers your campaign.  Your choices are:

    • 0 to 24 hours

    • 2 to 30 days

  • Message Use this field to specify the body of your message.  This field will accept either text or formatted HTML.

  • Text Message If using the above field for HTML rich formatted content, then you can use this second field to provide a text-only version of your message.

After saving your first autoresponder campaign message, you will be taken to a listing of your campaign's autoresponder messages.  From here you can add new messages to the campaign, edit existing messages or otherwise view the log information on individual messages.

Autoresponder Log

When viewing your list of autoresponder messages, you will have a button at the top right labeled "Log."  This button allows you to view a running log of messages that have been sent out as well as which have been opened and read by the recipient.

Autoresponder Campaign Queues

When viewing your individual campaigns, you will also see a button labeled "Queue."

This button allows you to view the progress of the campaign for your individual recipients. 

For example, if your campaign contains 3 separate messages which are sent out to your shoppers, you can view the queue to see where in the progression those individual customers are.  Once their individual counter reaches 0, the campaign is complete for them.

Automation Rules

As mentioned at the beginning of this document, the second component to the Autoresponder service, are the rules you specify in your store's Automation Rules section.

These rules will essentially be the triggers that initiate your individual autoresponder campaigns.

From your 3dcart Online Store Manager:

  1. Go to Modules

  2. Look for "Autoresponder" and click on its +Icon to expand the module.

  3. Within the module you will see "Automation Rules"

  4. Look to the right of "Automation Rules" and click on "Change Settings" link

  5. Next, click on "+Add Rule" at the top right and provide a name for your rule

  6. Then click "Save"

After clicking "Save" you will be taken to the Automation Rule you've just created so you may begin specifying its parameters.

  1. Specify your automation rule settings as needed, followed by your automation tasks. (See *Additional Information)

  2. Then click "Save"

  3. When complete, be sure to ENABLE the Automation Rule by clicking the provided link.

Note For the purposes of this documentation, the specific Automation Task you will be setting is the "Add email to Autoresponder" task.  This setting will take orders which meet your defined rules, and assign their email addresses to your specified Autoresponder Campaign.

It is important to NOT create an Automation Rule/Task to an Autoresponder Campaign until the campaign is created, populated with email messages and ready for use.

*Additional Information Automation Rules settings When creating your Automation Rules, you will have the following settings available.  This section will contain two specific portions; Automation Rules & Automation Tasks. 

Your available settings are:

  • Automation Rules  These will be the parameters the order must meet in order to apply for the automation.

    • Rule Name This is the specific name of your rule. You may change it as needed. Automation Rules The first half of this page will contain the actual Rules you need to specify. Orders must meet the requirements set in this section in order to trigger the tasks specified in the second half.

    • Order Status Select which order status triggers your rule. When the order is actively moved to this status, the rule will initiate. 

Please note When using the "New" order status, please bear in mind that the order has to actively be moved to that status. Orders that are simply set to "New" status by your storefront will not trigger automation. Instead, Automation Rules will use the "New" status for orders that may come into a different status (i.e. Unpaid) and are moved by you to "New" status after the store creates the order.

  • Customer Group When an order is placed by a member of this customer group, the automation will be triggered.

  • Payment Method Select the payment method that you would like to specify for the trigger

  • Shipping Method When an order is placed using the shipping method selected here, the automation will be triggered.

  • Distributor If the order includes products from a specific distributor selected in this drop down, the automation will trigger.

  • Order Amount (min. max.) Orders within this range will initiate automation.

  • Applies if Products from these Categories are in the Basket Use the "+Add" and "Remove" buttons to select categories that contain products which will trigger the automation. If the products are present in the shopper's cart, then the automation will be applicable to the order

  • Products Here you can select up to five items that - when purchased - will trigger the automation task.

  • Automation Tasks These will be the individual actions that will get applied to the orders when the rules are met.

    • Product Orders placed for this item will be set for automation

    • Add Email to Autoresponder Orders meeting the above rules will have their email addresses added to this autoresponder

    • Assign to Customer Group Users placing orders that meet the above rules will have their accounts moved to this tasks customer group.

    • Flag Order Orders meeting the above rules will be flagged with a specific color in the 3dcart order manager.

Note For Autoresponders, you will mostly be using the "Add Email to Autoresponder" option.

How to measure the effects of email marketing autoresponders

You can measure the impact of your autoresponders through the same metrics as your other email marketing efforts. However, the nature of autoresponders means you won’t be looking over every single email that gets deployed.

Therefore, we recommend you measure the effects of email marketing autoresponders through:

  1. How well they perform in A/B testing. Autoresponders are one tool out of many to deploy in email campaigns. Use A/B testing to test autoresponders against other types of emails. If your autoresponder isn’t performing as well as other methods, it likely isn’t the right one for that particular use.

  2. How well they support the rest of your campaign. Rather than applying autoresponders to every possible application, use them to support the other parts of your campaign. For example, a quick and automated welcome email is more useful than an autoreply every time someone responds to your newsletter. Autoresponders should ultimately reduce your workload while leaving customers feeling like you’ve connected with them personally.

Does it really matter?

Automated emails get 152% higher click rates than other types of emails. This may seem counterintuitive, but automation actually drives higher engagement rates.


Autoresponders can cut down the amount of work that an email campaign requires, while still maintaining the high degree of personalization that drives open and click-through rates. In an ideal situation, your readers don’t know the difference.

Likewise, since autoresponders occur in response to prompts that are often user-initiated, they can help you get the right emails delivered at the right time. This is critical if you want to drive conversions successfully.

Email autoresponder examples

Here are some examples of common email autoresponders:

A subscription confirmation email. This email is sent right after a user leaves their email address on a website. Marketers use this method to build a high-quality mailing list.

A welcome email. This is an onboarding email for new subscribers. Marketers usually send it to give a warm welcome and shoe what their brand is engaged in.

A birthday email. This is a good chance to congratulate subscribers on their special day, increase sales and raise customers loyalty. Brands usually create special offers and give discounts.

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page