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  • Writer's pictureExpert Opinion

Why use autoresponder

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

An autoresponder is a computer program that automatically answers e-mail sent to it. They can be very simple or quite complex.

The first autoresponders were created within mail transfer agents that found they could not deliver an e-mail to a given address. These create bounce messages such as "your e-mail could not be delivered because..." type responses.

Today's autoresponders need to be careful to not generate e-mail backscatter, which can result in the autoresponses being considered E-mail spam.

Autoresponders are often used as e-mail marketing tools to immediately provide information to their prospective customers and then follow up with them at preset time intervals.

Why are autoresponders important?

Some say email autoresponders are a lazy approach to email marketing and I completely agree.

But they’re certainly not lazy in a bad way—they’re lazy in a great way! Once set up, they do all the hard work for you, sending automatically and saving you time so you don’t have to write and send emails manually.

Most businesses have an email list, or have started building one. You might even have a welcome email set up already. This is a great start! You’ve already got one email autoresponder in place that’s rolling out the red carpet for your subscribers.

But why stop at one? There are plenty more types of autoresponders you could set up to automate different aspects of your business.

When you use autoresponders, a lot of your email marketing gets automated – if you set things up correctly, subscribers receive key messages from your business without you having to worry about manually sending these messages out.

So the main benefit of autoresponders is clear: they save you time – a lot of it. 

Not only that however, autoresponder emails can generate a lot of income for your business — if you’re clever in how you use them.

A simple autoresponder sequence for a music project.

Sophisticated applications of autoresponders

The above example of sending out a series of timed promotional emails automatically after somebody signs up to a mailing list is an important one, but there are more sophisticated things you can do with autoresponders, based on what you know about your subscribers, or certain actions they take online:

For example, you can:

  • use autoresponders to send birthday greetings (and related offers) to people on your mailing list

  • move a subscriber from one cycle of communications to another after they buy a product (i.e., move them from a ‘prospect’ style series of emails to an ‘upsell’ cycle of communications)

  • switch a subscriber from one type of autoresponder cycle to another if he/she clicks on a particular link within an email

  • send people emails exactly one year after they bought a product (for example, to encourage them to renew a policy or guarantee etc.)

  • automatically send people emails about individual products based on the page of your website that they signed up to your list from.

Using autoresponders in these ways can generate significant income and maximise the value of your mailing list.

Our top tips for sending out autoresponders

  • Don’t overdo it: keep the intervals between your email autoresponders reasonably long, unless there is a very good business reason to bombard your subscribers with emails.

  • Keep things relevant: use data supplied by your subscriber when they signed up to send content which they are most likely to be interested in. For example, if they expressed interest in Product X, think twice before adding them to a cycle about Very Different Product Y.

  • Don’t just ‘drip’— use the full arsenal of marketing automation features available to you. Autoresponders have come a long way since the days of basic 'drip’ campaigns triggered by time intervals. You can now use a whole host of triggers such as opens, clicks, web page visits and purchases to create really sophisticated user journeys that maximise profit.

  • Be mindful of data protection rules. In the era of GDPR, it’s more important than ever to stay on the right side of data protection laws. Be aware of your obligations on this front, make sure you always have explicit consent before adding any subscribers to autoresponder cycles and allow users to unsubscribe easily from your mailing list.

And that’s it!

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