By David Cross
“Ha! Did you fall asleep at a party?”
“Very funny. We can blame our youngest daughter for The New Look.”
While trimming my eyebrows with the trimmer set to “3” our youngest daughter, Teeka, surreptitiously switched the setting to “1” and I buzzed my right eyebrow clean down to the skin.
Automation can help to reduce that time it takes to achieve a task but I’m starting with an amusing anecdote to illustrate a caveat, namely that you can use automation to help you in your business, not that you can turn over all your tasks to automation, set it and forget it.
As we continue our discussion on ways to improve and grow your online business, I’d like to share with you a way to automate one aspect of your marketing.
When starting an online business the tasks can seem neverending; SEO, PPC, email marketing, websites, blogs, social media, shopping carts, etc. And all you wanted to do was run a business! But there is a way of setting up at least some of this on a form of autopilot called an autoresponder.
An autoresponder is a system that automates the sending of email messages, either one or a series of them, to a group of email addresses which can be prospects or customers. Autoresponders grew out of single vacation autoreply messages when pioneering marketers saw the advantage of setting autoreplies up to email a list of prospects or customers.
Most email providers nowadays offer some form of autoresponders. There are independent standalone programs you can run on your web hosting company’s server or plug into your own email program. They all tend to offer similar features. I won’t get into the technical aspects of them here suffice to say that unless you have very specific needs not covered by those offered by commercial email providers, you’re generally better off using the ones provided as a part of the service by email providers such as Mailchimp, iContact, AWeber, Constant Contact, et. al. All of these email providers offer support and tutorials on the use of email autoresponders.
It’s important first to decide what the purpose of sending an autoresponder to your prospect is. Gary has used them to send out free reports and guides and to help cement the initial relationship with new customers or prospects. I’ve used them for over 15 years on hundreds of projects and when used properly they can help achieve your marketing goals.
Sending Out a Free Guide
A common use is to deliver a free report or guide over a series of days after someone signs-up to your email list. I discussed sending our free reports in the first part of my series on getting to #1 on Google and they can be a very effective way to help build your email list of prospects.
If you are sending out a free guide you can either send it in one email or change “guide” to “mini course” and split it into 3, 5 or 7 chapters and send each chapter – or lesson – using an autoresponder spread over the first few days or couple of weeks after someone signs-up. The advantage to this is that with every email that fulfills the chapters in the free guide, you have another opportunity to build your relationship with your prospect, offering something useful, and provide an opportunity for that person to buy what you’re selling.
This is a very effective way to build your email list. In the last 3 years, over 35,000 people have requested Gary’s free report on Ecuador and we’ve used it as one of the facets of building his Ecuador Living email list. I’ve used them in every type of business you could imagine and they can be very effective.
But you don’t need to limit autoresponders to the initial contact with someone. You can use them when someone buys a product or service, when their purchasing, clicking or email-opening activity increases or decreases or when you want to segment the interest in your existing email list.
For example we offered a special report on the opportunities for real estate around the beaches in Bahia, Ecuador, last year and about 2,500 people signed-up for that special report. It may not seem a huge number but for a niche topic, 2,500 is a very healthy number of people which could be used as a targeted marketing list. It’s good to know that everyone on that list is interested in one topic.
Email autoresponders are a very simple and effective way that you can automate one aspect of your marketing. You can set-up a welcome autoresponder and put it in place. This takes care of the first 5 or so emails to new prospects and customers. I even know of at least one marketer who sent out an 18-month long autoresponder campaign, one message a week, and simply changed the marketing offers in the message.
The Automation Caveat…
Autoresponders can definitely add a powerful tool to your marketing arsenal …when used properly. You should continue to monitor the results, possibly split-testing one version against another to gauge response. And I recommend that you occasionally sign-up for your own autoresponder to make sure that each message arrives as intended.
I’ll be sharing more about the use of autoresponders at our Writer’s Camp this summer…