Yesterday I wrote a post titled Introduction to Autoresponders. It recommended them as a tool that bloggers should consider as a means of driving traffic, deepening reader engagement, and increasing profits. I also showed how to set up an autoresponder sequence of emails in just a few easy steps using Aweber’s service (another great service that offers Autoresponders is MailChimp).
Today I want to suggest a number of practical strategies for actually using autoresponders alongside your blog.
Some of these I’ve used with success myself, and some are based upon the experience of other blogging friends. It should also be said that you could combine some of the following ideas into a single autoresponder sequence (more on this below).
1. Free mini-course
Set up a sequence of emails that walks readers through the teaching around some aspect of your niche. This is what I did when developing an early version of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.
Back then 31DBBB wasn’t an ebook—it was a series of 31 emails that readers signed up for. Each day, readers received an email with some teaching and a task to do. This later evolved into the ebook with extra content.
2. Paid course or product
Numerous bloggers have set up autoresponders as central parts of paid products or courses. One of the best examples of this is Chris Guillebeau’s 365-part autoresponder, which forms part of a product. Chris’s product took a mammoth amount of work, but was hugely successful with those who bought it, and as a result, it would have been a very profitable endeavor.
3. Introduce readers to your archives
One of the challenges that many bloggers face is that new readers to your blog don’t ever see your old posts sitting in your archives. So why not showcase the best of your older posts by putting them together into an autoresponder sequence? Perhaps you could send one “classic” post per week. In doing so, you’ll be constantly driving readers to your archives for as long as new people keep signing up.
Another alternative is to do a compilation email on a particular theme. For example, on our photography blog autoresponder, one email that goes out in our sequence lists ten posts from our archives all on the theme of composition. It shoots readers deep into the site, and we often get emails from readers thanking us for it.
4. Affiliate promotions
Is there a product in your niche that you highly recommend your readers buy, and which has an affiliate program attached to it? You can easily add an affiliate promotion into your auto responder sequence. I recently put such a promotion into my photography blog’s autoresponder, and it has already driven thousands of dollars in sales (and will continue to do so). You can read about this concept more here.
5. Relaunch your own product every day
For those of you who have an ebook or some other kind of product that you’ve previously launched, building a mini-promotion of that product into an autoresponder sequence is a must. In our photography email list, we give new subscribers a discount on our portrait photography ebook 7 days after they join the list. That offer drives sales every single day.
This is another one for those with your own products to sell. The idea is that when someone buys one of your products, you then follow up the purchase with an offer for a second product.The second product could be another of yours, or it could be an affiliate promotion.
For example, when people buy our travel photography ebook, they get an email a couple of weeks later with a discount offer on another travel photography ebook by the same author. The ebooks make good companions, the author is now familiar to readers, and as a result, these emails convert pretty well.
7. Showcase what you do
If you have an offline business that you’re promoting, use your an autoresponder sequence to showcase what you do. I know of one photographer who has a sequence of emails that goes to all clients (and potential clients that he meets to give quotes to). This sequence simply sends out an email every month with a couple of photos from another client shoot, and the story behind it. In sending these emails, he’s showing off the photography he does and positioning himself as a known photographer for them time when those who receive the emails are next looking to hire someone.
Another offline business that I heard of recently who uses an auto responder sequence is a butcher who collects email addresses from customers with the promise of sending them recipes for the meat that they’re buying. He gets their permission to email them and at the end of every day he sends each person that he sold meat to a recipe for the meat that they bought (he has a range of recipes for the different meats and tailors this first email to customers’ purchases).
Once the first email is sent the customer gets weekly emails (via an auto responder) for other recipes and tips for cooking with meat.
The butcher reported a sharp upswing in repeat business from the strategy—again, he was putting his name out there in front of people through his emails, building his brand, deepening personal relationships, and giving those subscribed a reason to keep coming back to him.
Multiple autoresponders, or one with mixed objectives?
The above array of uses for autoresponders is certainly not an exhaustive list. I’d love to hear how else you use them below.
It is also worth mentioning that some bloggers have multiple autoresponders running at once, while some mix a number of the points I mentioned above into the same autoresponder sequence. Personally, I do a bit of both.
At Digital Photography School I have a number of single-purpose autoresponders running in category #6 (upselling), where if someone buys an ebook they get a followup email/s with further recommendations.
However, my main autoresponder sequence on dPS is a real mix of the above, plus it also mixes in weekly newsletters, which are sent manually each week in addition to the automated emails. The sequence looks like this:
I’ve written more on how I combine a mix of weekly newsletters and autoresponders here.