Why and How to Use an Autoresponder
by JONATHAN SODERHOLM
WHAT IS IT?
- An autoresponder, or 'drip campaign,' is, simply put, a set of automated emails triggered by a pre-determined action on the part of your prospect. Its most popular use is as an introduction to both you and your brand though it too has great potential in response to a wide gamut of prospect actions. Here, though, I will focus on the primarily important introductory use of it.
WHY USE IT?
1. Welcome emails have a high average open rate of around 50%, making them far more efficient than using an email newsletter alone;...
... 86% more effective according to research done at Marketing Sherpa.
2. The ROI (return on investment) of email, in general, is already a staggering 4,300% (Direct Marketing Association).
3. An autoresponder builds the bedrock for the sustainability of your brand. You need to sell your prospect on both trust and rapport before you can pitch to them, and your autoresponder gives you the venue to do so.
4. Your Sustainability is the same as your Success. When you can establish means of sustainability, you determine your means of success.
5. You can train your prospects. The point being that an autoresponder is your best opportunity to start rewarding your prospective customers by giving them targeted rewards for their interaction with you and your content. This will get you that trust and rapport as your prospect comes to expect to be rewarded for their engagement with you.
Note: the 'Targeted' part of this is where an experienced copywriter comes in. His/Her job is to make both the content and the ensuing reward for engaging with it, and even how the content is experienced, speak directly to the heart and emotions of the prospective customer. In other words, they 'make it relevant.'
Ok, so How do I make one?
- Key Parts
1. Subject Line
2. Relevant Content
3. Deliver // Reward
We will look at the subject line below. However, let’s start with the content you need for your autoresponder.
Your autoresponder is your first impression. So let’s not take it lightly. What’s more, at this point people want to know what you have to say, as you have managed to pique their curiosity and interest enough to get them to sign up (we will talk about that process in another post). However, your prospect is still subconsciously looking for any reason to brush you aside. It is not a personal or intentional act; for the most part, they are not even aware of it. But, the point is, if they are not immediately rewarded for their engagement with you and your content, chances are you will not see them again. So let's not let them get away.
First and foremost, making your content great is about making it relevant. Doing so involves a good bit of effort and diving into the ground work of knowing who your target prospect is and what he/she wants; and not just from you specifically, but from life. Then, when you can add a basic understanding of human nature, you have the means to curate the proper content and reward for your prospect. Moreover, this 'being relevant' is what constructs the kind of relationship that will build a bedrock for your sustainability. It is what will keep your prospect coming back.
# Content Focus Points
Always remember that your prospect is naturally looking for reasons not to join you or part with their hard-earned money. A large piece of this puzzle is the human nature of not wanting to unwarrantedly stick out your neck. It is why humans are tribal in nature. It comes down to a simple survival skill. We continually ask ourselves “am I alone?” and our perception of inherent risk in taking action becomes considerably diminished when we know we are not; when people have gone before us, and are going with us.
So use the opportunity your autoresponder affords to make your prospect feel comfortable in your tribe; let's call it your 'brand community.' Invite them to be a part of it; and even better if you can make it feel like an exclusive community.
- People love that "important quality, not always easily verbalized, that sets them apart from others and makes them similar to one another (Muiz, O'Guinn 416)."
Some fun facts about 'Brand Communities'
• The idea of a 'Brand Community,' as such, was given its name by Albert Muiz and Albert O'Guinn back in 2001, professors of marketing and sociology. A Brand Community, they said, is "a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relationships among admirers of a brand (412).” And, making the effect clear, said that...
these "play a vital role in the brand’s ultimate legacy (412)."
That legacy is what I would call a brand's sustainability.
• Muiz and O'Guinn go on to describe a "Consciousness of Kind" as "the most important element of community... (416)."
◦ This "Consciousness of Kind" stresses that "members feel an important connection to the brand, but more importantly, they feel a stronger connection toward one another (416)."
◦ So make your prospect comfortable in your brand community and show them that they are not alone in it.
- So yes, your customer engagement rests somewhat on your efforts in the relationship, but even stronger bonds are built when people get to engage with you along with their peers. So curate the possibility for this kind of interaction, a tribal interaction. But, don't just run with this information without a clear direction of where you are going and what you are selling. As said above, exclusivity can be a great benefit to some brands and products. So, in the end, know your brand and know your prospect. How much risk does he/she feel in engaging with you in the action you propose and the reward you promise, and what kind of community can allay those fears?
And speaking of risk, the human brain is too, always looking for outside threats; predisposing prospects to find and bring up any opposition that will allow them not to take a risk. So use your autoresponder to bring up and counter any objections your prospect may have to the action you want them to take.
How do you know what their objections will be? By this point, you should have already done the ground work and research into your prospect. And remember, you are NOT trying to sell to everyone. There is a particular target person that will consider giving you their business and it is this person you want to talk to and whose objections you want to address. So with what you know about them, and his/her worldview, it is a short jump to what his/her objections will be. So bring them up (this is a great place to get your prospect to 'agree' with you and to empathize with them, make them a part of your team) and put them at ease.
Be direct in your language! People, again, are not predisposed to take the action you want from them. As such they will respond better to being told what to do than just being nudged with a suggestion.
Remember Pavlov’s dogs theory? Here’s a quick recap: Pavlov studied the salivation habits in his dogs when he would feed them. He came to realize that no food even had to be present and that they would begin salivating just by him entering the room. This is what we are trying to accomplish with your autoresponder. No, we do not necessarily want your prospect salivating, but we do want them to be both excited and expectant at the sight of you.
There are two keys to Pavlov's theory: The reward that the dogs expect and Pavlov himself. We will start with the later.
Without Pavlov's repeated presence and the dogs knowing of his identity, they would not have a consistent reaction. For if a different person came into the room, the dogs would not know what to expect and would be on their guard rather than excited and expectant. So make sure your brand identity is clear and use your autoresponder to get your prospect used to that identity.
Moreover, keep your identity constant throughout your communications, from your autoresponder to your newsletter, and beyond.
- Note: This is a great opportunity point for both email segmentation and A/B testing. As your list grows, you can experiment with different identities for different prospects.
Further, it is a good idea to make one of your first autoresponder emails from a particular person on your team. Newsletters can quickly feel far too impersonal. So take the initiative to start your customer engagement on a personal level.
MAKE IT VALUABLE
This is the second key to Pavlov's theory: The Reward.
You must make certain you are rewarding your prospect for their interacting with your content. In the case of your autoresponder, a proper reward can and will many times be as simple as the making relevant of your content to your prospect, as it makes it both valuable and worth their time. However, even if you do not end here, you must still ever start here; with relevant and valuable content.
Even when both compelling and well written, if your content is not pertinent to the prospect, he will find little to no reward in giving you his time. As such, he certainly will not give you his money.
Remember that the reward is the reason Pavlov’s dogs reacted to his entering the room. You cannot just walk into the room and not reward the people there. For as such, the next time you walk into that room they will not be paying you any attention. You have nothing to give.
NOW TELL A STORY
Think of your autoresponder as a book or story you are writing. This is where making your content relevant intersects with making it compelling.
Your book must be about achieving a certain end goal that your prospect wants, and your job is to tell the story of him achieving it. Believe me, he will listen. And what's more, if you pick your story right he will find it extremely relevant. Thus you have created content both compelling & relevant.
But take note...
What you sell should complement this story, not the other way around.
- So craft and sell your prospect on the STORY; they will buy your product(s).
- You can even treat each email in your autoresponder as a chapter of the story. Making sure each installment is compelling and rewarding in its own right while still involved in the end goal.
1. START STRONG: Subject Line
2. CREATE RELEVANT CONTENT
- Tribalism // Objections // Identity
- Make it Valuable // Tell A Story
3. FINISH STRONG
By the end of your autoresponder (Book/Story) you need to deliver on your hype in a way that is, again, both useful and relevant; being something your prospect wants. Never forget to reward them for interacting with your content.
All this ultimately creates the bedrock for the sustainability of your business.
Make your prospect part of your 'brand community', part of your lifestyle, and reward them for it. As such, they will continue to both support and reward you far beyond your investment. Remember, email has, according to the Direct Marketing Association, an ROI of around 4,300%.
CITED WORKS // FURTHER READING
- Copyblogger (Email Marketing: How to Push Send and Grow Your Business)
- Brand Community
Author(s): Albert M. Muniz, Jr. and Thomas C. O’Guinn
Source: Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 27, No. 4 (March 2001), pp. 412-432 Published by Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/319618
© Jonathan Soderholm 2017