how do I use autoresponders

Today’s question comes from Jessica (awesome name btw), who writes (bear with us, it’s a long question!):

I really enjoy reading your newsletters, and especially your recent C&T e-course. Tons of great info, thank you so much!! (Ed: You’re welcome Jess!)

I am writing to ask a question about autoresponders, and I hope you don’t mind helping me out?

I am having the hardest time trying to keep everything straight. I’m using MailChimp, and I love it! I recently purchased a paid subscription so I can use autoresponders. Setting them up is a breeze, but the trouble I’m having is because I don’t know how to keep everything separate.

I’m sending out a ‘regular ole campaign’ to those currently subscribed, who subscribed before the date I set up the autoresponder. I’m then copying and saving that campaign as an autoresponder to add to my queue. I’m setting the triggers as 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks after signup, etc. But I only have 3 saved so far, and all the while more people are signing up!

If someone signs up now, they’ll get the first 3 autoresponders, but then what?? I don’t think I can then add new material to the queue that these people will get, since they are now current subscribers – or maybe I’m wrong about that. I asked MailChimp for help and told them what I was wanting to do, and their answer was basically, “that’s not exactly how autoresponders were intended to be used.’

So I’m having the worst time trying to keep track of who signed up when, who already got an email this week from the autoresponder, and when they will run out of scheduled emails….and the more people who sign up the more confused I get. I sure hope I’m making sense. I don’t feel like I am :/

I’m finally reaching out to beg for your help after going back and reading your awesome e-book again! You say that as you create new content in your emails, you then add it to your autoresponder queue. So, how do you do it? Could you please give me a hint?

Thanks so much for your help. I know you’re really busy and I really appreciate your time!

Okay – for those of you who don’t yet use autoresponders, I’m hoping this post might convince you differently.

They are a fantastic way to ‘set and forget’ so-to-speak – a way to ensure you are still touching base with your list on a regular basis, even if you don’t send them out manual emails for a while. And don’t get me started on you if you’re not already using email marketing. You are, aren’t you?

What is an autoresponder?

When you set up a mailing list, you can set up automatic emails – autoresponders – that will go out to a subscriber at a certain point in time after they subscribe to your list.

Jessica, I’ve got a few answers for you.

1. First – please don’t stress that some of your current subscribers are missing out on your autoresponder emails. Frankly, you just have to accept that they won’t get all the autoresponders you’ve set up – and that’s okay. You can’t retrospectively send them those emails – they’ll just have to be content with the manual emails you send from here on in. I know that’s a bit frustrating, but it’s just the way it is.

2. That said – one way to get MORE of your current subscribers getting your autoresponders is to set them up further into the future. For example – if you set up an autoresponder to go out 3 months after they signed up to your list, you know that anyone who signed up within the last 3 months will get it eventually. So, if you want to think long-term, you could go ahead and set up autoresponders spread out over months, rather than weeks. Sure, some people will miss out on the earlier ones – but as I said above, that’s okay. Look towards what you CAN do now, not what you didn’t do soon enough.

3. Content. There are a few places you can get content for these autoresponders. I’m not sure what sort of emails you’re sending out, but I’m going to use examples from both of my lists (the C&T one and my Epheriell Silver Service). I’m in the process right now of setting up a HUGE batch of autoresponders for the C&T list – so I feel where you’re at – should I have done it sooner? Probably? Did I? No – so what I’m doing now will have to do 🙂

For these autoreponder emails, I’m using archive blog content. Here’s a screen-shot of one of these emails:


Basically, I send out a teaser with a link to an archive post here on C&T. The purpose of this email is to keep in touch with my subscribers by sending them good, useful content. The reason I link back to the blog, rather than putting the whole content of the post in the email, is that I want to encourage them to click back over here, hang out, and read more.

These autoresponders are on top of manual emails I send out each week to the C&T list. They’re short, to-the-point, and easy for people to read quickly (and hopefully act upon).

Now, for my Silver Service list, I use autoresponders much less. I have a couple set up spread out over the first 6 months of a person’s subscription to the list. One, for example, is a special discount code that sends out at a certain time milestone to thank them for staying subscribed. Another is a link to a blog post about my studio, so they can see ‘behind the scenes’. Setting up a few more autoresponders to those subscribers is on my to-do list – I’ll get there!

You can also use (as you mentioned) content from previous emails – so long as it’s evergreen content (it doesn’t age).

Other ideas for autoresponder content:

  • link roundup of useful posts by other people
  • link to a specific useful post or video by someone else
  • email about one of your products or services (make SURE to spread these out – here’s a good blog post about this)
  • a personal email – like the ‘here’s my studio’ email I mentioned earlier – that helps your readers get to know you in the context of whatever it is your list is for

There are lots of ideas, but those should be enough to get you going.

If you’ve got a mailing list, and you’re not already sending out some autoresponders, it’s a good thing to think about.

Goodness knows we’re all busy, so a bit of time spent to automate a little sliver of your marketing will pay off in the long run.

If you use autoresponders already, I’d love to know what and how often you send them out – share with us in the comments below!


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