Auto-responders are a tool built into most message management systems. Whether you are using Mail Chimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, IContact or almost any other quality messaging service, an auto-responder will be built into the product suite.

What they allow you to do is send out a series of messages to your e-mail subscriber customer at intervals without manually having to do any work beyond the original setup of your e-mail campaign series.

For example, when they first subscribe to you, it is customary to send them a welcome message that tells them a little more about you or your organization and possibly provides them with a gift they hopefully will value. Gifts can be created in many forms and it is entirely up to you as to what you decide to give them and by the way, it often transpires that the person is willing to sign up to you because you have advertised the gift beforehand, they have seen it and they want it – so give good thought to what you give out as it may be what gets them to sign up in the first place. A few guiding principles for your gift:

  • To keep your costs down or at nil, make it something that can be electronically transferable to the person signing up.
  • The gift most often should be educational or inspirational to them in some way – so they do remember it over time and treasure that you were willing to part with it
  • It should be perceived as being a gift of high value to them – they will treasure it more and you don’t want them to feel insulted by it – I recommend you think hard and give them something you would value if you were in their shoes.
  • It should be something that stands out – is unique – you don’t want to give them something that they can get anywhere on the Internet. Make them feel special.
  • The gift should have relevance to your business. After all, it is your type of business they have expressed an interest in when they signed up in the first place.

So here are some gift ideas that I think may be useful to someone just signing up to your business.

  • A checklist of good ideas that they can use to make money in some fashion if they apply themselves.
  • A checklist of something relevant to your business. Are you in Travel? How about a checklist of things to pack when you go on a trip – etc.
  • Are you an online trainer? Give them a coupon for a free course.
  • Have you written and published anything? Give them a copy of it or let them download a free copy of it electronically.
  • Give them an application or some software that could be useful to them.
  • Give them a template or templates of something (Could be done in Excel, or PowerPoint, etc.)
  • A free sample of something
  • A plugin of some sort, custom ringtones, screensaver, free music access, etc. – you get my drift.

So this gets us past the first thing you do with your auto-responder. You can automate all of this so they can signup, get their gift and you don’t need to manually do any additional work at all except for maybe view your signup statistics periodically.

Once they have signed up, start sending them periodical useful information such as a newsletter. Most marketers will get something out to their subscriber base about once a week or so. The newsletter really shouldn’t be trying to sell them anything, just convey some more knowledge or insights to them to help them during their day. You want to send them content that they will want to see and that they will be looking forward to your next installment with a desire to open the next message from you when it arrives.

Pat Flynn, a well respected and successful online marketer says he only sends them a promotional message about every one in seven messages. A strategy like this is a good thing to keep in mind. As you set up your auto-responder campaign, it’s a good idea to be thinking of setting up a series of 30 or more messages in a periodic sequence, carefully interspersing your promotional messages so that they don’t feel inundated with pressures to purchase anything. You want them believing you are in a relationship with them – that you are not just a salesman.

And when they get to the end of your auto-responder series, hopefully they have purchased something by then. But in any case, keep the relationship going – you can have multiple campaigns built into your messaging platforms over time. A second series of e-mails can start after the first one concludes. These cost you nothing but a bit of time to setup – and they are well worth it as you never know when your prospect will choose to buy or who he or she will tell about you if they like you – which helps you grow.

So use auto-responders in your business and give them careful thought when setting up. You may find that over time, they become the heart and soul of the marketing side of your business venture. Good luck in your marketing activities.

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