Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing, but it can also take up tons of time — unless you’re using email autoresponders. 

These are messages you can write ahead of time, effectively reaching your customers without interrupting a busy workflow. 

An email autoresponder is a message that’s triggered by a certain action, and chances are, you’re not using them to their full advantage. Here’s how you can use them to generate leads without lifting a finger. 

What is an email autoresponder in marketing?

In email marketing, autoresponders are messages sent out automatically after being triggered by a customer action. Email generates an average $36 return on every $1 spent, and autoresponders help you stay on top of it while leaving you time to run your business. 

Used correctly, an email autoresponder can boost your marketing efforts by allowing you to streamline your email marketing campaigns. 

Because these messages are generated whenever a user takes a certain action, you can keep in touch without drafting individual emails to each member.

Triggered email

To set up a series of triggered emails, start by having your current and potential customers sign up to your marketing list. First, add a customized signup form to your website.

Once a new member signs up, you can send them a click segmentation email that allows them to choose the messages they want to receive.

Each link sends users to a different segment of your list based on their interests. When a contact joins a certain list segment, they will receive your targeted welcome email that’s tailored to their specific interests.

example of an email autoresponder
This autoresponder from Peacock reminds anyone who watched “Love Island” to tune into new episodes. It uses language that increases a sense of urgency to tune in and watch, along with a clear call to action to download the app.

Autoresponder email templates

If you’re not sure what to put in your email autoresponder messages, look at various templates for inspiration. Autoresponders work best when they appeal to the recipient. Find autoresponder email templates that are simple but offer all the elements you want to include. 

When you’re personalizing your autoresponder emails, address each segment’s individual needs. 

For example, if you’re running a personal training business, you might set up an email autoresponder that celebrates each client’s anniversary as a customer. As an occasion for celebration, this email could feature an animation pumping them up for sticking with the program for a year or more with a call to action for a discount health evaluation. 

Why you should use autoresponder emails as part of your marketing strategy

Setting up personalized autoresponders helps you engage your email contact list often without having to write more emails. Autoresponders are a great way to nurture leads, with transactions typically 47% higher than non-nurtured leads. Staying in touch with your leads also inspires them to open your emails, making marketing more effective. 

But nurturing leads is not all autoresponder emails are good for. They also let you build a rapport with existing customers and add value to your email list. 

Types of autoresponder emails

Autoresponder email messages go beyond a simple “thank you.” They’re a chance to get up close and personal with your contacts. Here are some examples. 

Automated welcome series

Welcome emails let you capture people when they are most interested in your company and are likely to click a link or respond to an offer. But don’t stop at the initial email. Create an automated welcome series that thanks them for joining, makes good on the incentive you offered (there should always be an incentive), and then asks them for more information.

Drip campaign

A drip campaign is a series of targeted emails triggered by specific actions and sent out on a schedule. For example, if someone signs up for an event, you might send them a thank you email right after they buy tickets and follow up with more details as the event nears. 

Drip campaigns are a great way to move customers further down the sales funnel by engaging your audience, boosting brand awareness, and creating excitement about your business.

Happy-birthday emails

Wishing your customers a happy birthday is a great way to show them you’re thinking about them and make them feel valued. To trigger these emails, include a field in your sign-up form where customers can enter their date of birth. Then set up an autoresponder for that date. 

Happy-birthday emails can be as simple as a birthday wish from you and your staff. Or you can take it further by adding personalized coupons or reminders to come back to your business.

example of an email autoresponder Happy Birthday email
This happy birthday email from Laurel Veterinary Clinic is cute but also serves as a reminder to schedule a wellness check. Prompt your readers to do something in each email. Image

Abandoned-cart emails

Set up abandoned-cart emails that are triggered when someone adds items to their cart and doesn’t complete the purchase. These messages usually have a “Did you forget something?” subject line and include an image of the item they left in the cart. Their purpose is to entice the customer to go back to your website and complete the purchase.

When you know what types of autoresponder emails to send, follow these guidelines to improve your open rates and nurture your leads. 

Best practices for using autoresponder email

Successful autoresponder emails follow the same general guidelines as your other email campaigns. 

Pay attention to subject lines

In marketing, the right email subject line can make or break your message. Keep subject lines short and include actionable language, using the subheader feature to include relevant details. Avoid words that trigger spam filters like “click here” and “100% free.” 

Define your goals

Having specific goals for your email autoresponder messages will help guide how you write them.

You may set a goal for your welcome series to get people to sign up for your loyalty program or to upsell them. In which case, you might send a special offer with your welcome emails. 

Segment your email list

Segmenting your list improves email open rates.

By segmenting your list, you can create targeted messages that appeal to readers.

You can also use segments to guide drip campaigns. If your email list is segmented by age, demographics, or geographical location, use the information to create drip campaigns with specific goals for each segment.

Or you could segment your list by how frequently they make purchases or even by the amount they’ve spent.

How people interact with your business will guide the kind of information you send out with autoresponders. 

Create value for your email list

If you’re not offering value to your email contacts, they may start ignoring your messages or unsubscribe from your list. You don’t have to send discounts or promotions with each email, but you do need to offer relevant content that makes people feel like your message list is valuable. 

Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly

About 71% of people check their phones as soon as they wake up. Your customers are likely scrolling your messages while sipping their morning coffee. If your emails aren’t optimized for mobile, you could be sending the wrong impression. Check all emails on your phone or another email device before you send them.

How to know if your email autoresponder works

Email autoresponder messages aren’t going to help your digital marketing efforts if nobody’s looking at them. Use testing and analytics to see how yours are performing with customers. 

Try A/B testing

Before launching an autoresponder to your broad list as a whole, run an A/B test with small segments of your email list. Send out the same email with different subject lines and use analytics to track which has the higher open rate. 

Look through your email-open and click-through reports to see which messages resonate the most with members of your target audience. You might find that your welcome emails get higher opens than later emails in your drip campaign. Look for differences in these emails to see what may be more successful about the welcome one. 

Evaluate the numbers against your goals

Maybe the main goal for your email autoresponder was to improve email newsletter sign-ups. You can tell if you met your goal by comparing your subscriber count before you sent out the email versus after. 

If you had a goal to drive business to a sale, set up a specific landing page and include the link in your drip campaign. This way, you can track how many people clicked through the email and see how many people interacted with your landing page by looking at analytics on the website itself. 

When you evaluate your autoresponder emails against your goals, you can figure out how to change them each time to make them more successful. 

Use your non-automated emails to set your strategy

You can track the open and click-through rates each time you send an email campaign. Use these insights to see what kind of subject lines get the best responses. Find your best-performing links to help determine what kind of content matters. 

Even if you’re sending a generic email to multiple segments, you can still see how it performed by looking at who clicked through and how they are segmented. These insights will help you tailor your automated responder emails so people will be more likely to open them. 

Get started with an email autoresponder today

Autoresponders are an effective, easy tool to boost email list subscribers’ engagement. Signing up for your email list, making a purchase, or having an anniversary are all trigger actions or events that can be used to set up an email autoresponder.

You don’t have to set up all your autoresponders at once. Start with a welcome email series that’s triggered when someone signs up for your marketing emails. Then you can practice with different messages and content to see what appeals to your audience.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can branch out and use this valuable tool to keep in touch with customers and prospects alike — long after you’ve introduced yourself.

Work smarter, not harder. Learn how to make marketing automation and personalization work together to get more out of your email marketing campaigns.