What happens when someone joins your email list?
Do new subscribers have the tools they need to …
- Feel welcomed?
- Make the most of all the resources on your site?
- Build a relationship with your business?
- Understand how your products might help them—and how to make a purchase?
Or do they just start getting updates whenever you happen to mail out your next blog post or company announcement?
If you aren’t sure, you need a better email autoresponder sequence (also known as a drip sequence).
Although Drip (the product) can do much, much more than send out autoresponder sequences, effective email automation often starts here: with the realization that your standard-issue newsletters and “email blasts” aren’t nearly enough to create a steady flow of leads and customers to your business.
For that, you need—at minimum—a reliable autoresponder sequence that you can put in place and keep running for as long as it supports your brand and business model. It makes your marketing easier in the long run. But I’ll admit that there is a little bit more upfront work you need to do.
The nice thing about one-off, broadcast emails is. . .you don’t necessarily have to think about them very hard. There’s an art to them, sure: you might finesse the wording and images, or even A/B-test a couple of subject lines out of curiosity. But you always start off knowing what you need to say—you wouldn’t be sending a broadcast email if you didn’t. And if you mess it up, well, there’s always the next send.
Writing an autoresponder sequence takes a little more planning. You can fine-tune along the way—in fact, Drip even lets you A/B test things like subject lines and send times within your autoresponder campaigns. But to get the most bang for your automation buck, you want to get it mostly right the first time.
So how do you actually go about writing your autoresponder? First, remember that it doesn’t need to be a massive undertaking. It can be as simple as 3–5 emails designed to extend the welcome, introduce your new lead to your content, or follow up on how someone liked a resource they downloaded—and then guide them toward a sale.
I started writing for Drip as part of the Leadpages marketing team, and I can tell you that Leadpages wouldn’t be the business it is today without its core autoresponder sequence. I consulted with experts from both Leadpages and Drip to give you a step-by-step framework you can use to build your autoresponder.
Phase One: Outline Your Goals
Start by asking yourself two questions: where is your new lead when they sign up, and where do you want them to go?
Consider how many emails it might take your leads to get warmed up. What does someone need to know about your company in order to want to keep reading your emails? What do they need to know in order to make a purchase? How many emails will it take you to get that story across?
Sit down and plot out the main points of value you have to offer customers, then see if you can tie a compelling piece of content to each one. Remember, no single email needs to show them everything you offer at once—it just needs to get them to a) stay on your list, b) be satisfied enough to open your next email, and c) click on the email’s call to action, if you include one. (And you generally should, if only to see how many people are engaging.)
Think of your first email as a kind of orientation session. Be sure to explain who you are, why you’re emailing them, and what they can expect from being on your list. While your next emails should drive toward a focused single call to action, here you might want to offer several links to resources new leads can use to engage with you.
Pro tip: set up your campaign so that your readers won’t be getting your standard newsletter while they’re getting your email autoresponder, so that you don’t overload or confuse them.
Phase Two: Build a Connection with Your Reader
The next couple of emails in your sequence should be focused on content that will be helpful to your audience. You’ll be helping them and training them to open your emails to get good content.
One way to do this is by telling a relatable story. If your brand is based around you as a consultant, coach, or service provider, help your audience get to know you as a person. If it’s not, try using a customer or client story.
Keep your stories simple, believable, and actionable. Focus on points that your ideal customer could relate to or aspire to, rather than leaning on the things that make you impressive.
Most importantly for building connections, encourage your readers to reach out to you. Ask a question at the end of your autoresponder email and let them know that you’ll actually be reading the responses. In Leadpages’ ConvertedU autoresponder sequence, for instance, our conversion education team lets prospective students know they’re standing by, ready to help with the obstacles they face in their businesses.
When you get a response, respond! Help connect leads to resources on your blog that you think might be helpful, or just acknowledge that you got their note and support them. Showing that there’s a person behind the emails will do wonders for your authority.
Phase Three: Create a Sense of Authority
Whether you’re hoping to make a sale or just convince leads to keep opening your emails, you’re going to need to establish that you know what you’re talking about. Often, the best way to do this after you’ve built a connection through success stories is to teach them something.
Is there something within your expertise that you could teach someone quickly, within an email or a blog post linked to an email? Teach it in your email autoresponder and ask leads to let you know how it went. Use content that’s proven successful in other formats to keep people reading.
Or, if you get a lot of the same questions repeatedly, you can write an email answering your FAQs.
Don’t hold back on sharing your most helpful tips. If you can get leads to see you as an authority, they’ll know that you’re the expert to turn to for more help, and your product is the one to buy.
In that same autoresponder for the ConvertedU certification course, Leadpages’ Director of Certifications Erik Ullanderson shares one thing from the course that he knows will help the leads reading his email. While it might seem counterintuitive to give away your best education material, Erik uses this step to solidify the value of the certification course. If he’d kept everything to himself, you’d have no reason to believe he knows what he’s doing.
Phase Four: Make the Pitch
If you started with a cold lead, the final step of the autoresponder might not be the sale. It could be getting your lead further into your sales funnel by convincing them to attend your webinar or getting them to sign up for a free trial.
No matter what your goal is, the end of your autoresponder is the time to push for your leads to take the next step.
While you’ve been giving them subtle conversion opportunities all along, at the end they’re primed to receive your sales pitch. The last couple of emails can be more directly related to your product. The majority of the space should still be devoted to helpful content or whatever your lead opted in for, but you can show off product features as well.
If you’re a Drip subscriber, you might remember this email—the last in our initial autoresponder sequence. The bulk of the copy comes from Drip customer Cristoph Engelhardt. After talking about the benefits of marketing automation and exactly how to use Drip, this autoresponder sequence welcomes subscribers to put what they’ve learned into practice with a free trial. We think it’s the natural next step, and, of course, we hope subscribers do too.
Pretty simple, right? Now it’s time to log into your email automation account and finally build that autoresponder sequence.
Have any questions about building your own autoresponder sequence? Leave a comment—we’re listening.