Automate Customer Communications Using Email Autoresponders

About 25 years ago, in the early days of email communications, I was tasked with sending out e-newsletters on behalf of the environmental club at my university. Every month, I spent hours doing this. If only I had an email autoresponder back then!

Doing this manually is hard to imagine for a group the size of many small businesses, but I had to send everything from a personal account. I segmented the email addresses I collected into different groups: the most active members, people who were already in my club, people who were considering joining the club, and people who were sort of interested in environmental causes. 

I didn’t have any templates, of course, but I’d do my best to make the email look interesting enough. Often people would respond to me. I’d have to stop my studies and reply, and it was possible they’d respond again. I’d have to stop what I was doing again and reply. 

It was a good way to create and strengthen relationships for my organization, but it was horribly inefficient. Thankfully, times have changed. 

Today, organizations can benefit from email marketing automation and other improvements to email technology. Communication can be easier, faster, and more effective than it was even just a few years ago.

Some small- and medium-sized business owners are still using personal email addresses — like sending from a Gmail account — to stay connected to their loyal and prospective customers. But they’re relying on the same technology I did 25 years ago. To make the process of email marketing more efficient, use a professional email marketing platform and set up email autoresponders.

Understanding email autoresponders

To get started with using email autoresponders in your email marketing strategy, you’ll need to know a few things: 

  • What an email autoresponder is
  • Why it makes sense to set them up
  • Best practices for using them
  • Ways to measure whether they’re working
  • What makes email autoresponders stand out from the rest

Whether you’ve just started to integrate email marketing into your comprehensive marketing strategy or if you’re already knowledgeable about marketing automation, the time it takes to learn and implement an email auto-reply is guaranteed to pay off with time saved in the future.

What is an email autoresponder?

An email autoresponder is a tool that businesses can use to automatically send an email to a customer after a specific action takes place. Unlike me in the early emailing days, you or someone on your communications team won’t have to stop working on other tasks to reply to customers who abandon their shopping carts, sign up for an email newsletter, make a purchase, or any number of events that should trigger communications.

Think about the “out-of-office reply” you may set up on a personal email account. This is the most basic kind of email autoresponder. If someone sends an email when you don’t plan to be at your computer, the personal account automatically sends a reply. That’s fine for your personal account, but businesses require something a little more sophisticated.

That’s where the email autoresponder comes in. While you and your team are busy with everything it takes to keep your business running, this tool will send the appropriate, personalized email exactly when your customers expect it. 

Advantages of email autoresponders

There are plenty of benefits to using email marketing automation as a part of your business communications efforts. The advantages include:

Time savings

Time is money. When you create automated methods for communicating with customers, in effect, you are allowing your business to scale up. Sure, when you are only working with a few customers, it’s no big deal to send a few emails. But when your goal is multiplying your customer base, methods like creating an email drip campaign using autoresponder emails really saves time.

Personalized communications

When you personalize your email messages, you’re doing more than just adding a customer’s name to the top of the email. Personalized emails are targeted based on specific preferences, behaviors, and events. If a customer is considering a purchase but hasn’t completed the transaction, you could send an email autoresponder with a personalized coupon to motivate them.

Stronger relationships

Do you check your email every day? I do  — and 44% of email users check it up to three times a day. This means your customers will definitely see your message in their inbox not too long after you send it, and that’s the first step in creating a connection.

Here’s the proof behind the reality that an email autoresponder works to strengthen relationships with your customers: The average ROI for email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent. You’ll save time — and you’ll make money.

When to send autoresponder emails

With such a wide scope of industries and companies competing in the market today, there are endless email autoresponder ideas. Start by choosing a few that make the most sense for your business strategy. You may be wondering, “What are the top 5 email autoresponders?” Here is a list you can use to choose the ones that are best for you.

Happy birthday wishes

A quick survey question about a person’s birthday can turn into a personalized message with the help of an email autoresponder. Consider offering a coupon or a complementary service during the month of a birthday to encourage customers to connect their personal celebrations with your business. 

Special announcements

If a customer had purchased something in the past, they’ll want to know about upcoming events or product launches that correspond to their original purchase. You can use the data you’ve gathered about them from their preferences to send notes using email marketing automation that they care about.

Welcome notes

If someone signs up for your e-newsletter, it’s crucial that you immediately welcome them into the fold using an automated welcome series. First, it lets them know that the process went through without any technical glitches. Then, it provides them with a first connection. In this initial email, you can share the values, tone, and experiences they can expect in a relationship with your brand. 

Note, however, that you shouldn’t just send one welcome email. Start with an email autoresponder for the initial sign-up. If they don’t immediately make a purchase, wait a day or two and send a follow-up. A week later, send another. Let them know that you care about getting them the exact thing they’re looking for or meeting their needs in some way. 


Let’s say you sell handmade clothing, and someone buys a shirt. This can trigger an email that encourages them to buy another item that just happens to match what they bought. Get them back browsing your catalog — an action you know they already enjoy since that’s the trigger that initiated the automated reply in the first place.

Coupons to motivate purchases

The abandoned cart email is one of the most important communications an ecommerce business owner can have. Think about it: They’ve decided on an item enough to add it to their cart, but something distracted them or made them hesitate. Use technology to get them back on track to complete the purchase. Perhaps a surprise coupon (only good for the next 24 hours) will be enough to get them to complete the purchase.

Membership alerts

If your business model includes the opportunity for customers to become members, you’ll want to let them know when the membership is about to expire. Use the email autoresponder to remind them of the benefits of the membership and include a link that will send them directly to an online renewal form. This can cut down on friction and keeps your membership list full.

Reconnect with old customers

Haven’t heard from someone in a long time? You can create email autoresponders that send an old-fashioned poke if a customer hasn’t purchased in a set amount of time. If someone had purchased something previously, it means they appreciate what you have to offer. They may have simply forgotten, and this automated message could be enough to trigger another transaction.

How to measure the effectiveness of email marketing autoresponders

When deciding what to send (and when), it’s important to integrate email marketing automation into a comprehensive marketing strategy. That is, you may want to experiment and plan what communication will be most effective rather than blindly sending emails. Use data collected through email marketing programs to determine which emails are most effective.

One way to measure the effectiveness of an email autoresponder is to use a process known as A/B testing. In this experiment, you’ll create two emails with a similar message or for a similar triggering event. Send one out to one group and the other to another group, and see which group has more sales conversions or whatever action you’d like them to do. This is a great way to test images, tone, and style so you can connect best with your customers.

Another way to measure the effectiveness of email autoresponders is to integrate them into bigger marketing strategies. Here’s where those email drip campaigns come in. This is when you set up a series of marketing emails that automatically send to a contact once a specific trigger happens. Interestingly, open rates for drip emails are 80% greater than a single email blast. Track the impact to measure the success.

Always schedule a time to evaluate the effectiveness of any email responder. Look at the open rates, sales-related data, and any A/B testing to see if you need to make changes. Once you get comfortable with how to use automation, you can add more based on more trigger actions.

How to choose an email autoresponder tool

One of the most common questions is, “What email autoresponder is best?” This answer is simply one that can handle your needs in a beautiful, easy-to-use way.

Most email marketing tools have some kind of email autoresponder tool. Even personal email addresses can send an “out of office” reply. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be good enough for a growing business ready to scale up in a meaningful way.

As you create your marketing plan, start brainstorming which triggers you can identify that could result in an automated email. This is known as behavior-based marketing automation, and it’s extremely effective. Make sure whichever email marketing tool you integrate into your business has the capability and capacity to automatically send whatever emails you need. 

It’s also a good idea to find an email autoresponder tool that offers a variety of templates. This makes the graphic design element of sending emails much easier and faster. Often, business owners will consider a free autoresponder, but the limited capacities can make scaling up a challenge when the time comes.

How to drive results using email autoresponders

Here’s something important to understand when you are looking for the best results using an email autoresponder: This is a marketing tool, rather than something to use as a transactional email. A confirmation email, a type of transactional email, is a different kind of automation. It’s a time-sensitive communication used in place of a paper receipt. Often, those are sent directly from your ecommerce site. An autoresponder for marketing is one way to get more of those sales confirmations from the start.

Now that you know the answer to, “How do autoresponders work?” you can make sure yours are as effective as possible. Here are a few of the best practices marketing professionals use when creating an email marketing automation campaign.

1. Pick an appropriate template

If you want to know, “How do I create an autoresponder email?” you’re not alone. The good news is that you don’t have to recreate the wheel. Choose an email marketing program that has a variety of templates that fit the style and feel of your business. Decide early on about fonts, color palettes, and general types of images (hire a professional for a stock of photography, if you can afford it). If all your automated emails have a similar feel, your customers will know what to expect. That consistency can pay off.

2. Create autoresponder scripts

Let’s say you know you want to create a series of emails for a customer who has an abandoned shopping cart. Before you head into the email marketing software to create the campaign, start by thinking about the flow in advance. Come up with three emails with different messages that work together as reminders about the cart. When you make autoresponder scripts, your marketing messages will come across as clear and convincing.

3. Segment your email lists

List segmentation is one of the most effective tricks in email marketing. I was doing this in my college days; I had different lists of people who were active in the group: members, those considering membership, and those who were simply interested in the work we were doing. That was a simplified version of what you can do with your business to improve your email auto-reply process.

By separating your email list into as many groups as possible, you’ll be able to send more personalized and, in turn, effective communications through email marketing automation. Groups can be based on traits, behaviors, interests, or geographic location — whatever makes the most sense for your business.

Email autoresponder examples

Here are a few good email autoresponders that have ended up in my inbox recently.

New York Times subscriber-only newsletters

I read the New York Times, but I never signed up for one of the newspaper’s special subscriber-only newsletters. This added benefit may motivate me to continue my subscription, so it makes sense for them to encourage me to sign up with an automated email.

Alerting your customers to additional benefits or products can help keep your brand at the top of their minds.

Tony Robbins motivation

Like thousands of people, I signed up when motivational speaker Tony Robbins held a free training session on Facebook. I didn’t, however, spend hundreds to be a special VIP member or get additional training. His team sent me a follow-up email to encourage me to do so.

Tony Robbins sent this month’s newsletter after the free training, so don’t think it’s ever too late to reconnect with a customer.

GMP Live upcoming concert

I once purchased tickets to see an Allman Brothers cover band, so the promoter sent me an email to alert me to a similar concert. With just one click from the email, I can go straight to the sales page and hear more great tunes.

The promoter used past purchases to personalize this automated email message.

Use email autoresponders to scale up your business

Response emails require some forethought and planning to be effective, but the result will be saved time and a stronger relationship with current and prospective customers. When you choose an email marketing software service that can meet your needs as a growing business owner, you’ll find that marketing can be easy and effective.

To get started with email marketing automation, review the methods you use to collect email addresses from the people who are connected to your brand. Look at your lists to see if there are ways you can break big lists into smaller groups. Consider questions (like birthdays, for example) that can help trigger automated messages. 

The more you think about opportunities to send email autoresponders to your customers, the more you’ll see how helpful this method can be. When integrated into a comprehensive marketing strategy, this tool can go a long way in helping your brand find the success it deserves.

The post Automate Customer Communications Using Email Autoresponders appeared first on Constant Contact.

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