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4 Steps to More Effective Autoresponders

Marketing automation features like lead nurturing and email marketing get a lot of the glory — but what about another underemphasized feature: autoresponders?

Autoresponder emails are emails that are deployed automatically, typically in response to a prospect action like filling out a form. These emails provide another way to get a tracked touch point with prospects or customers and lead them to interact more deeply with your site.

Autoresponders can be used to welcome prospects to a mailing list, send a link to requested resources such as white papers, confirm event registrations, or simply acknowledge that you have received a prospect’s inquiry and will follow up shortly.

Back in 2013, email marketing expert Chris Hexton of Vero said that “about 75% of businesses are missing out on the email marketing sweet spot.” He then went on to explain that trigger-based transactional emails are more than 100% effective than newsletters (50% open rate vs. 20% open rate). Why? Because triggered emails like autoresponders are contextual.

With the ability to reach recipients at a moment of engagement — no manual sending required — incorporating autoresponders into your email marketing strategy seems like a no-brainer. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re creating autoresponders that work:

1. Put it in context.

Autoresponders are powerful because they’re relevant to actions that recipients recently took — but you still need to put your emails in context so that buyers understand why they’re receiving them. If you’re thanking subscribers for signing up for your mailing list, or sending a white paper after a form submission, make sure your subject line and body copy reflect what the email contains (i.e. “welcome to our blog mailing list!” or “The white paper you requested…”).

If applicable, outline what further communications recipients should expect from you, or include an option to confirm opt-in for greater email compliance.

2. Customize.

With marketing automation, you can customize the sender of your autoresponders so that they come from a sales rep (or another relevant user) who has already been assigned to a prospect. Because emails come from a specific user instead of a generic email address, it creates a more personalized experience for email recipients and strengthens the relationship between prospects and sales reps.

3. Create additional opportunities for engagement.

Just like any other point of engagement with your brand, you don’t want your autoresponders to be a dead end. If you’re sending a white paper or a webinar registration confirmation, include additional links to related content, helpful webinars on similar topics, and high-value CTAs for a product demo or sales consultation if appropriate. This increases the likelihood of recipients deepening their engagement with your brand.

4. Tie autoresponders to larger campaigns.

An autoresponder doesn’t have to be a one-off communication. You can tie autoresponders to larger email or nurturing efforts. For example, an autoresponder can be used to welcome a new subscriber to a weekly content digest, which sets the expectation for a series of emails that will be delivered over the upcoming weeks. Similarly, nurturing emails can be triggered to deploy based on prospect actions, to that they’re automatically delivered when the recipient is most likely to interact. Creating entire campaigns based around triggers can be a powerful way to promote engagement with your email communications.

Take a look at our Knowledge Base for a more in-depth explanation of autoresponders in Pardot. Have you been using autoresponders at your business? What additional tips would you add to this list?

See more tips and checklists for optimizing different types of email in our Email Template Handbook!

email template handbook