When to use email autoresponders – and when not to

Lilach Bullock on Email marketing,


Autoresponders are a powerful business tool. Used properly, autoresponders can be an effective way of moving people along the sales funnel, converting leads into customers.

Autoresponders are a great way of building and maintaining a relationship with your database, keeping you in your subscribers' inboxes, and allowing you to position your business as a source of reliable information.



There is a potential downside however. Use them carelessly and you risk irritating customers and seeing your emails consigned to users’ spam folders.




What are autoresponders, and how do they work?



As their name suggests, autoresponders are emails sent automatically to recipients.



They can take the form of single email sent to a user on her birthday, a week-long chain of messages related to a customer’s purchase history, or an ongoing campaign on a general theme related to a particular service you offer.

What makes autoresponders effective?

While 25% is a good open-rate for a newsletter, emails have an open rate around 50% and this includes autoresponder emails. The reason why is obvious, autoresponder emails are ‘contextual’, and the user understands why you’ve emailed them.

Conventional marketing wisdom will tell you that users dislike receiving automatic emails. And there is some truth in this. However, well-targeted autoresponders can build trust with leads, and encourage buyers to return. The trick is knowing how to pique your subscribers’ interest with eye-catching subject lines and relevant content.



Autoresponders allow businesses to automate communications, saving them from having to send messages manually.



The pros of using an autoresponder far outweigh the cons, provided you know you how and when to use them.

When should you use autoresponders?

When to use autoresponders

1) When you’re trying to engage new subscribers

Traditionally, autoresponder campaigns are triggered when subscribers join your database. This is autoresponder at its most basic: A user provides you with their details and receives an email from you.

Don’t just stop at an automated welcome message, though. Prepare a series of messages describing your business and outlining how it can meet your subscribers’ needs.



Ensure that new subscribers are engaged with strong content and accurate segmenting. 


Newer autoresponders allow you to segment your database and target users with tailored information. Targeted emailing of this kind is much more effective, ensuring that you have a much better chance of providing a user with content that interests them. Ask yourself, what are your clients’ informational needs, and how can you meet them?

2) When you make a sale




 When to use autoresponders

Too many businesses fail to follow up on a sale with anything other than a receipt and a thank you. This is a shame: After all, the customer liked you enough to buy something from you and may be interested in learning more about what you offer.



An autoresponder is a golden opportunity to send details of other products and services. Using an autoresponder, you can sell everything from product training (how to get the most from a purchase) to upsells and cross-sells (increasing the value of a purchase or offering a related product).


A buyer is no longer a lead, but a customer, and their details should be updated. Follow up emails should aim to subtly draw subscribers’ attention to related products. This is a great way of inspiring brand loyalty and encouraging fresh business.

3) When someone cancels



A surprising number of users reach the checkout stage only to abandon their purchases before completion. Using an autoresponder, you can ask them if they have any questions about the product, and point them to FAQs or a customer helpline, giving the user the confidence they need to complete their purchase.



This technique can be used even when an order is cancelled, with an email outlining common reasons for cancellations and offering solutions.




4) When a user browses, but doesn’t buy

A customer may browse a product but not make a purchase. An autoresponder can be set up to draw the user’s attention to a special offer on the product itself, or details of related items. 


You can provide added value by offering subscribers offers unavailable through other channels. Using this method, customers feel engaged, and see a reason to keep an eye open for your emails.


5) On significant dates

When to use autoresponders

It’s nice to be remembered on your birthday. A simple e-card, or a special birthday offer (such as a limited-period discount), is a nice touch that will be appreciated by subscribers and drive business.



Another nice touch involves sending a client a message on the anniversary of a purchase. This gives clients a sense that they are remembered and valued.

When not to use auto-responders

We’re so confident in the benefits of autoresponder, that we can only think of two reasons not to use it:

1) When you don't have a strategy



If you’re just sending out messages at random, your subscribers will get bored of you pretty quickly.

Autoresponder campaigns need a strategy, and to get the most out of autoresponder you may have to run a number of campaigns to ensure that all segments of your database are accurately targeted. On top of this, ensuring that your emails are informative and entertaining requires some thought.

This is time-consuming, but will pay off in the long run, winning you more business. It will also save you time in the long-term, we promise. 

To ensure that you’re using autoresponder effectively, remember that all marketing communication should be goal-oriented. If your autoresponder email isn’t aimed at converting leads into customers, it isn’t doing its job. 


Ask yourself, what’s the ultimate goal of this autoresponder, what are you hoping the user will do? It’s nice to be a source of useful information, but you’re running a business, not Wikipedia. Finding the right balance will take some tweaking, but it will all pay off when you get it right.




2) When you receive complaints

When to use autoresponders

What’s more irritating than a business sending you a form response to a complaint? When that same business adds you to your mailing list. Autoresponders can turn casual browsers into customers, but if someone’s annoyed with you, you’re better off taking the time to sit down and write a carefully worded apology.



Autoresponders are a fantastic way of communicating with both leads and customers.



To be effective, of course, they require planning. You need to work hard to ensure that content is relevant and accurately targeted.



As with all marketing content, you need to make use of analytics to test the effectiveness of your autoresponders. Don’t think that just because an autoresponder has been sent out a thousand times it can’t be tweaked.



Get it right, and your auto-responders will pay dividends, driving new business and boosting brand loyalty.

Autoresponders are a powerful business tool. Used properly, autoresponders can be an effective way of moving people along the sales funnel, converting leads into customers.

Autoresponders are a great way of building and maintaining a relationship with your database, keeping you in your subscribers' inboxes, and allowing you to position your business as a source of reliable information.



There is a potential downside however. Use them carelessly and you risk irritating customers and seeing your emails consigned to users’ spam folders.




What are autoresponders, and how do they work?



As their name suggests, autoresponders are emails sent automatically to recipients.



They can take the form of single email sent to a user on her birthday, a week-long chain of messages related to a customer’s purchase history, or an ongoing campaign on a general theme related to a particular service you offer.

What makes autoresponders effective?

While 25% is a good open-rate for a newsletter, emails have an open rate around 50% and this includes autoresponder emails. The reason why is obvious, autoresponder emails are ‘contextual’, and the user understands why you’ve emailed them.

Conventional marketing wisdom will tell you that users dislike receiving automatic emails. And there is some truth in this. However, well-targeted autoresponders can build trust with leads, and encourage buyers to return. The trick is knowing how to pique your subscribers’ interest with eye-catching subject lines and relevant content.



Autoresponders allow businesses to automate communications, saving them from having to send messages manually.



The pros of using an autoresponder far outweigh the cons, provided you know you how and when to use them.

When should you use autoresponders?

When to use autoresponders

1) When you’re trying to engage new subscribers

Traditionally, autoresponder campaigns are triggered when subscribers join your database. This is autoresponder at its most basic: A user provides you with their details and receives an email from you.

Don’t just stop at an automated welcome message, though. Prepare a series of messages describing your business and outlining how it can meet your subscribers’ needs.



Ensure that new subscribers are engaged with strong content and accurate segmenting. 


Newer autoresponders allow you to segment your database and target users with tailored information. Targeted emailing of this kind is much more effective, ensuring that you have a much better chance of providing a user with content that interests them. Ask yourself, what are your clients’ informational needs, and how can you meet them?

2) When you make a sale




 When to use autoresponders

Too many businesses fail to follow up on a sale with anything other than a receipt and a thank you. This is a shame: After all, the customer liked you enough to buy something from you and may be interested in learning more about what you offer.



An autoresponder is a golden opportunity to send details of other products and services. Using an autoresponder, you can sell everything from product training (how to get the most from a purchase) to upsells and cross-sells (increasing the value of a purchase or offering a related product).


A buyer is no longer a lead, but a customer, and their details should be updated. Follow up emails should aim to subtly draw subscribers’ attention to related products. This is a great way of inspiring brand loyalty and encouraging fresh business.

3) When someone cancels



A surprising number of users reach the checkout stage only to abandon their purchases before completion. Using an autoresponder, you can ask them if they have any questions about the product, and point them to FAQs or a customer helpline, giving the user the confidence they need to complete their purchase.



This technique can be used even when an order is cancelled, with an email outlining common reasons for cancellations and offering solutions.




4) When a user browses, but doesn’t buy

A customer may browse a product but not make a purchase. An autoresponder can be set up to draw the user’s attention to a special offer on the product itself, or details of related items. 


You can provide added value by offering subscribers offers unavailable through other channels. Using this method, customers feel engaged, and see a reason to keep an eye open for your emails.


5) On significant dates

When to use autoresponders

It’s nice to be remembered on your birthday. A simple e-card, or a special birthday offer (such as a limited-period discount), is a nice touch that will be appreciated by subscribers and drive business.



Another nice touch involves sending a client a message on the anniversary of a purchase. This gives clients a sense that they are remembered and valued.

When not to use auto-responders

We’re so confident in the benefits of autoresponder, that we can only think of two reasons not to use it:

1) When you don't have a strategy



If you’re just sending out messages at random, your subscribers will get bored of you pretty quickly.

Autoresponder campaigns need a strategy, and to get the most out of autoresponder you may have to run a number of campaigns to ensure that all segments of your database are accurately targeted. On top of this, ensuring that your emails are informative and entertaining requires some thought.

This is time-consuming, but will pay off in the long run, winning you more business. It will also save you time in the long-term, we promise. 

To ensure that you’re using autoresponder effectively, remember that all marketing communication should be goal-oriented. If your autoresponder email isn’t aimed at converting leads into customers, it isn’t doing its job. 


Ask yourself, what’s the ultimate goal of this autoresponder, what are you hoping the user will do? It’s nice to be a source of useful information, but you’re running a business, not Wikipedia. Finding the right balance will take some tweaking, but it will all pay off when you get it right.




2) When you receive complaints

When to use autoresponders

What’s more irritating than a business sending you a form response to a complaint? When that same business adds you to your mailing list. Autoresponders can turn casual browsers into customers, but if someone’s annoyed with you, you’re better off taking the time to sit down and write a carefully worded apology.



Autoresponders are a fantastic way of communicating with both leads and customers.



To be effective, of course, they require planning. You need to work hard to ensure that content is relevant and accurately targeted.



As with all marketing content, you need to make use of analytics to test the effectiveness of your autoresponders. Don’t think that just because an autoresponder has been sent out a thousand times it can’t be tweaked.



Get it right, and your auto-responders will pay dividends, driving new business and boosting brand loyalty.

Share this post




Email Marketing Resources


An Intermediate Guide to Email Marketing for Business

Email is an incredibly powerful online marketing tool. Everyone understands email, it feels personal and has the ability to build trust and preference.

Email Marketing Statistics

Email marketing is the workhorse of modern marketing with 42% of organisations citing email as one of their most effective lead generation channels. Learn more about how businesses are using email marketing, what's working and what isn't.


Lilach Bullock
Professional Speaker, Lead Conversion Expert, Social Media Specialist & Occasional Diva. Proud mum
UK https://www.lilachbullock.com/