Autoresponders are a great tool to ensure that you are following up and staying connected with your audience when they join your list or opt in to receive specific information from you. I use them with all my clients and recommend 3 specific types, in this order:

  1. Customized Welcome Email
  2. Indoctrination Series
  3. Lead Magnet Follow Up Series

Customized Welcome Email
The first type of autoresponder is the Customized Welcome Email. If you are using an email solution provider, like Constant Contact, this email is already getting sent to new subscribers to your list who sign up (not who you add yourself). This is the most opened email you will ever send because the subscriber just signed up and is interested in you at that moment. Your email solution provider is already sending out a generic welcome email because it is a good best practice to follow. You might as well take a few minutes to customize it for your organization.

Be sure to keep your content evergreen and relevant. Here is a checklist to structure your welcome email:

  • Introduce Yourself. Tell the recipient a little bit about yourself and your business. Let’s assume they don’t know much about you and we want to make a strong connection.
  • Reinforce permission and set expectations. Make it clear that the recipient signed up for your list and remind them what information you plan to share and how often.
  • Deepen the connection. Remember they are already very interested in your business because they just signed up. Give the recipient the opportunity to dive deeper with you. This is a great place for social media links or to popular pages on your website.

Don’t overthink it. Customize the email then check back in a few weeks to see if your overall engagement has increased. Be sure to revisit this email every 6 months or so to make sure all the content is still accurate. Click here for a downloadable copy of this Welcome Email Checklist.

Indoctrination Series
Once you have customized your Welcome Email, it’s time to move on to the second type of autoresponder: the Indoctrination Series.

I recommend this email series just consist of 2 or 3 emails. Here you have the opportunity to introduce your business to the new subscriber. It’s also a great opportunity to point the reader to resources, blog posts, guides, or videos that help explain the story of your business, why you do what you do, and what services you offer. You may choose to drive the reader to pages of your website that explain these things as well. There is no offer involved in these emails. It’s just an opportunity for the reader to learn more about your business and how you can help them. Case studies and testimonials also make great content for the Indoctrination Series.

The key is to give the reader a picture of you and your organization in a simple concise manner. Each email should be short and have one main point. Set the Indoctrination Series up to run every few days spanning a week or so. Remember the prospect just subscribed and is still interested in what you have to offer. This is the time to use that to your advantage to educate them about your organization.

Depending on the content of this series, you may decide to turn your Welcome Email off. If you don’t, be sure to factor that email, its content and timing into consideration when writing and scheduling this Indoctrination Series.

The last email of the series should explain that the subscriber is now on your list and will now receive emails monthly or whatever your frequency is. This is also a good time to restate what type of content you share in your emails. For example, “From now on you will receive our monthly newsletter including the latest updates on our services. You can unsubscribe at any time.”

Even if this series starts as just one email, you can always go back in and add more emails to the series.

If you customize your Welcome Email and institute an Indoctrination Series, I would say you are ahead of 90% of the small businesses I come in contact with every year.

Lead Magnet Follow Up Series
Now, the third autoresponder series is attached to a lead magnet, also known as an opt-in bribe. This is a download, ebook, report, webinar replay, coupon, or other type of content that you are giving the subscriber in exchange for subscribing to your list. There is a lot of strategy involved in this autoresponder series and many of the decisions depend on your business model and sales cycle. Now we are talking about setting up a true sales funnel which I do for my clients all the time. It’s a big topic with lots of differing opinions. The key points to remember are:

  • The lead magnet should be directly related to your core offer.
  • The lead magnet should be delivered immediately after opt in.
  • The rest of the autoresponder series should share related content and offers to the lead magnet and your core offer.

I hope this article inspires you to look at the autoresponder functionality of your email solution provider and motivates you to take advantage of this marketing automation that you have at your fingertips. If you do nothing else, go check out your Welcome Email. Even if you customized it in the past, it can’t hurt to revisit the content.

Don’t forget to download the Welcome Email Checklistand customize your email right way.