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8 Ways to Use Autoresponders to Drive Traffic and Increase Your Blogging Income

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.

6. Upselling

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.

8. Tips

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.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I really need to implement this to my blog.

    Even though I don’t have a specific product or ebook, I should definitely add this so I can send subscribers new blog post updates and weekly updates.

    It would probably motivate me more to push great content.

    Glad I saw this post, definitely going to put it in effect.

  2. Autoresponders are great if you have a specific niche and target specific products, one disadvantage I learned the hard way about having a portal with so many categories is hard to sell specific products with an autoresponder when readers arrive for varied and unrelated interests. Though I did just recently setup a DM autoresponder for Twitter in experimenting to see if it brings me some benefit (I typically don’t like Auto DM’s but testing to try and make it effective)

    • That’s one reason why I always try to keep my blogs focused on a specific niche. If I feel the need to explore anotehr subject, it’s always best to start another blog. Actually, my most popular blog was started as an offshoot for hobby purposes of one of my main blogs. Now, a few years later it’s the blog I have the biggest following and mailing list for.

  3. This is a really important topic for bloggers wanting to go pro. Shame it hasn’t got more attention.

    • I think it’s more like most bloggers do not really believe that an autoresponder is necessary; they’ve heard about it but still don’t implement it. I know I fall into that category. I ‘knew’ all about autoresponders since 2008 but it wasn’t until this year I finally started running one. Imagine all the cash I lost just like that.

  4. Thank you so much for this continuation post,Really learning alot.

  5. I love this, thanks so much, Darren! Getting my newsletter autoresponder series up and running was one of the big reminders I took away from #pbevent last week – and I’ve now got 1/2 a years worth of e-mails cued up and ready to go out to my new subscribers.

    Finally! Something I should have done a loooong time ago.

    I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions as to what to do with all my ‘old’ subscribers – those who signed up before I got around to this? I don’t want to double-up on e-mails…

  6. This is one of the best posts I have read from you in a while Darren. Which is not to say the rest of your content is not awesome, as much as it is to say I think this is special stuff. You seem inspired mate.

  7. Key points to list building provide over value to your readers so when you do sell them on something it does not feel like your shoving it down their throat! The graph really lays it out as clear as day thank you!

  8. top led lights says: 10/27/2011 at 5:47 pm

    Thank you so much for this continuation post,Really learning alot.

    http://blog.progresslightingdiscount.com“>itop led lights

  9. thank you very much

  10. What a wonderful post. This will help any blogger that what to be seen more online. Keep the good work you are doing

  11. I have a large authority site and use autoresponders to welcome people and connect them to the resources most relevant to their level of practice. I also send a 3 week series to my First degree Reiki students to support their continuing daily practice.

  12. Wow!! Really great tips for increasing traffic to the blog/websites!! Thanks for sharing this tricks!!

  13. this is awesome ways!! I was like feeling that i’m not doing the promotion right. the good thing that i found i’m doing it right :D

    Thanks a lot for the post.

  14. Excellent tips, I need a good autoresponder and I think Aweber the best autoresponder and e-mail marketing

  15. Thanks for opening my eyes! I have small list of 500+ subscribers and was sending them only promotional emails. Did like my mentor said to do… Now Imma gonna try your system and send promotional email only once or twice a week and send useful tips everyday.

    I’m new to all this stuff but learning fast ;) Thanks again!

  16. Thank you for this list! I love it :-)

    You have suggested some things that can benefit not only my consulting business but also my bricks and mortar wireless store. The butcher example is a great one for anyone in retail.

    Thank you!

  17. Yes i agree.. I use aweber and it manages my mails etc fab!

  18. I really need to spend more time playing around with my email messages and my list, so much potential, but I never really took the time to do it, but I will try and set a day aside in the coming weeks to do only that.

  19. Thanks for the post, Darren! I’ve been blogging for a while and have a newsletter that just shoots off my most recent post, but thanks to your tips, I’m going to experiment with ways to expand upon that fairly limited offering.

    I particularly like the idea free min-course as well as the “classic posts” approach!

  20. Darren, I like the idea of tips. Of course free tips don’t sell, but when you are giving away a lot of good free information you build up that level of trust so that people WANT to open up your autoresponder sequence and when you do sell, they are much more likely to buy.

  21. The chart makes it all clear: Extract a reader from the willy nilly, hit or miss relationship with a blog and put them onto a choreographed, high quality pathway. Done well, I can tell it would be a big project and requires focus. But once perfected and automated, and when you know it’s good, its a real value you can promote with pride.

  22. Hi there Drren,

    I set up an autoresponder for my Japanese learning site about two years ago. I remember setting up about about 15 to 20 emails to go out every 4 to 5 days. Each email has links to Youtube videos, products or One Time Offers and articles I have written about studying Japanese.

    I haven’t really added any more content, but it is amazing the response I get from these emails. I get many thank you emails from people who have opted in believing I have personally written to them. Also, I get a sale or two every week. Very powerful stuff.

    Anyway, you have inspired me to revamp my emails and add a few more weekly updates.



  23. Thanks Darren. These points are useful. Giving is the best way to establish rapport.

  24. I think you covered everything well. I’ve been thinking of this but wasn’t sure the best way to actually use this as well. I might have to start researching this more!

  25. It is really strange that your first line reads “Yesterday I wrote a post titled Introduction to Autoresponders.”….and you did not provide the link to that post…strange from a problogger like you…

  26. I really like the part about the butcher and an auto responder sequence…. I may have to tell one of my friends this idea to help him with his food business!

  27. I like the idea of e-mail its certainly the one of many strategies that I never used. Building an e-mail list would be really effective and it would become a tool for reminding people to come back and see what happening on my blog.

  28. Is there any auto responder to use with blogger blogs? Actually i don’t have any experience about auto responder.

  29. You won’t find that many savvy butchers when it comes to email marketing! I work in local SEO and most brick and mortar shops like that are run by old-school hard headed men who think they know better and that old school still works, it does but coupling that with lead generation is 1,000 times better! That is good business…

    Darren, I am glad to see that Internet Marketers like yourself are still treating their list like gold and not hammering them with a bunch of phony offers. Each list is different (I have many) and respond differently so you need to know your audience as well. For instance: Folks not familiar with IM freak out at a double opt-in and think you are after their first born!

  30. Hi!

    Thanks for the ideas.

    You mention sending a discount for an ebook. Is it time sensitive? If so, how do you set it up? Can Aweber do that?

  31. autoresponders are a good way of getting old visitors back.

  32. Relationship is everything to making money online. An autoresponder allows you to develop a relationship and earn the subscribers’ trust (if you do it right). Once that happens they will gladly sign up for offers that you promote.

  33. The autoresponder is one of the most overlooked aspects of marketing, especially for websites that are more passive. I have seen many people drive traffic through SEO or PPC to get sign-ups for the email list and then make money for weeks as the sequence completes. This can be used for almost any industry. Great examples above.

  34. Dear Darren,

    Thanks for providing such a valuable guide, I registered a new account and created my first emails/pages. Since my blog is new, what is your recommendation should I immediately start using Aweber or I have to wait until sufficient visitors start coming to my site.

  35. Almost every successful bloggers and Internet Marketer Guru share the same thoughts with regards to the importance of building an email list right from the start. I recalled John Chow mentioned that one of the the biggest mistakes he ever made was not collecting email list of subscribers.
    One thing that I am curious though is that almost everyone recommends Aweber autoresponder. What about others such as GetResponse? What the strength and weakness of these two ? Appreciate anyone to share their thoughts on GetResponse..

  36. Pretty cool way to drive traffic to your website. Thanks for sharing this!

  37. I have been implementing this strategy for my email autoresponders this year and the results I have gained have been really amazing. For upselling and product pitching I only use products that I have actually used and that I feel is going to be a benefit to the audience. I have it setup that a new email autoresponder goes out every seven days from the time of opt-in.

  38. Yes i agree. I use aweber and it manages my mails.

  39. As someone just starting out in the blogging world, this blog was very helpful. Thanks!

  40. I can never stress this point enough to people and it’s not only the list building that counts, it’s the relationship you build with your list too.

    Simon. How To Make A Website And Make Money

  41. Really Informative & very useful article about Autoresponders. Using autoresponders effectively we can establish our identity among target audience. I have got a great inspiration from this article and now I’m planning to follow these tips into my web-marketing efforts. Thanks for sharing such a useful idea.

  42. Incredible!! Really great strategies for improving traffic to your blog/websites!! Thank you for revealing this methods!! :)

  43. Simple step by step here to understand to drive the traffic from auto-responders. lately I was give-up my auto-responder technique because i got zero traffic from it, maybe it’s boring or something, after this just now I’m research back with auto-responders as you are saying here Darren :).

  44. The tips here are really useful, thanks for sharing them. We set up autoresponders to new newsletter subscribers last year, but reading your tips here, I can see there’s plenty of room for improvement! We’re hiding some of our best content from our subscribers too as it gets buried away and forgotten. We need to sit down and implement some of these tips to drive more sales for our e-books too! We use Mailchimp for our newsletter and autoresponders rather than Aweber, but am happy with the service so far.

  45. I use mine to email my daily rss feed to keep people coming

  46. Thanks for your posting !
    This article have helped me consolidate the knowledge about IMO

  47. Yep, everything is a big circle and you can keep going around and around and around. Keep promoting old products at a discount, while you promote your new products at regular price. The first freebie always works wonders too! Thanks for this great post. inspiring. gave me some extra ideas :)


  48. I think email marketing is where most marketers get it wrong. I know that I need to improve in this area and this post has a lot of useful tips to implement.

    I think the hardest thing is to try your best to get your subscribers interested in opening your emails in the first place. The emails must be based on value and not spam for people to keep opening them.

    The days of the dodgy car salesmen type are over for internet marketers as their is an abundance of choice.

  49. I can see there’s plenty of room for improvement! We’re hiding some of our best content from our subscribers too as it gets buried away and forgotten. We need to sit down and implement some of these tips to drive more sales for our e-books too! We use Mailchimp for our newsletter and autoresponders rather than Aweber, but am happy with the service so far.

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