Autoresponder Crash Course: 3 Campaigns to Get You Started

If you’ve read this post about email marketing, you know autoresponders are an important key to success. In this post, I want to take things a little bit deeper and get into some specific examples of autoresponders. These are simple (don’t worry there are photos) and anyone can use them.

Alright, so before we get started, here’s a quick overview of what we’re going to cover:

  • What autoresponders are all about
  • Three types of autoresponder series
  • How you can use each series
  • Tips and tricks for getting started

Introducing The Autoresponder

Let’s get back to basics and learn about the autoresponder.

Now, you’ve probably heard the term “autoresponder” a lot online. It actually sounds a lot more complicated than it is.

Here’s a simple breakdown, an autoresponder (also known as an email campaign, or a drip campaign) is a series of emails that go out in order or over a certain time. It’s triggered by someone completing some pre-determined action (like signing up for your email list, giveaway, etc.).

Doesn’t sound so complex now, right?

The awesomeness of autoresponder series are they are pretty much automatic, they help build up the trust of your list (when done right) and allow you to sell without feeling too sales-y.

The key to a successful autoresponder series is planning…which we’ll cover a bit more in depth later on.

But, before we move on, I want you to start thinking about the types of things you can offer with your autoresponder series.

Here are a couple of ideas for you to think about:

  • A referral series for clients you just finished working with
  • A welcome series for new email subscribers
  • A catching up series for clients you worked with over a year ago

There are a ton of possibilities.

Now, a vital part of any autoresponder series is what happens before your reader subscribes. Generally, you start this chain by having a good opt-in. An opt-in is how people get on your list. Usually, this is an offer.

The key to your opt ins is you want these to be good, provide a lot of value, and show your expertise.

Here are a few examples:

  • A 20 minute free consultation call
  • A free trial to your product or service
  • A ‘tips’ guide on how customers can get the most out of your product

Use something like these as an enticing gift to get potential readers to become subscribers.

Ok, so by now we know the basics of the autoresponder, you’re probably thinking what does that actually look like?

Here’s where we break it down.

In this post, I’m going to cover three very basic types of autoresponders you can use to grow your list.

Let’s get started with some real examples.

The Extra Value Method


For now, let’s keep things simple. The last thing I want to do is overwhelm you with stuff you don’t even need to worry about.

The first autoresponder we’re going to cover is what I call the extra value method. This is for people who want to play the long game and provide tons of value up front before pitching (selling) anything.

Here’s a quick visual on what the extra value method looks like…

autoresponder extra value

Alright, after we take a minute to enjoy the beauty of my hand made graphic here, we can break it down.

So the first block is the opt-in. This is where someone enters your list because they subscribed.

The next box shows email 1, the welcome email. This is triggered from the subscription. I’m pretty positive you’ve gotten one of these before too. You sign up to someone’s list and boom a welcome email appeared in your inbox. A good welcome email will introduce you to your reader and lay out what’s going to happen throughout the email series.

Next, we move on to emails 2-5. This is where the extra value portion of this series comes into play. Here is where you knock the socks off your list with tons of value like tips, tricks and tactics, blog posts you love, and more.

It’s this part where you are really going to start deepening that relationship with your list and getting them to trust you. It’s also a great place to start showing off a bit of your expertise.

Finally, we get to email six. This is the pitch email, where you ask your list to do something: buy, make an appointment, call you, etc.

Now, because you’ve spent the time nurturing your list and adding oodles of value, you have a much better shot of your reader granting your request.

The Ground and Pound Method

Now, while the extra value method is the gentle version of woo-ing your list this method goes straight for the kill. It’s also known as the ground and pound.

While the value method can be used by anyone, the ground and pound is clearly much more sales orientated. So, for some products or industries, this will work great, for others, not so much.

Here’s a quick visual on what the extra value method looks like…

autoresponders ground and pound

Whew, that’s a lot of pitching. Done right, though, it works.

So the first block is the opt in, this is where someone enters your list because they subscribed.

The next box shows email 1, the Welcome email. Same deal as the last autoresponder, this is triggered from the subscription. Remember, when it comes to the ground and pound you want to be very upfront in your welcome email that you are going to be pitching. Otherwise, you might have a whole lot of angry people unsubscribing from your list.

Next, we move on to emails 2-6. This is where you pitch, pitch, pitch.

Now, this is not to say you should not add any value to your emails here. Remember you always want to be adding value and building that relationship.

In these emails, you can gently prod your list to take action. That could be to buy your product, or it could be to contact you, click a link, forward to a friend, etc. You’re using your list to build warm leads, at any given moment one of these leads could be ready to contact you, so why not remind them about that?

The important thing to remember is you can’t make the ground and pound method all about you. It’s still all about giving first and then asking.

And honestly, if you’re going to go all in on ground and pound, you better have some really high-value content to knock their socks off so it’s a no-brainer to click and buy or call and set up an appointment.

Make sense?

Bait and Hook

Almost done, I hope by now you’ve been explaining to everyone at the office the difference between the extra value and ground and pound.

This is going to be the last method I cover in this post, and it’s basically a hybrid of the previous two methods. It has a bit more selling than the extra value, and a bit more woo-ing than the ground and pound.

Now, for me, today’s method is sort of the type of autoresponder that can cover pretty much any situation, it’s the old faithful of email campaigns.

And for you guys, who are new to all this, you’re not going to go wrong with the bait and hook.

Here’s a quick visual on what the extra value method looks like…

autoresponders bait and hook

So, this series let me use all the pretty colors I could find, and frankly, who doesn’t like colorful illustration?

The first block as you know by now, is the opt in, this is where someone enters your list because they subscribed.

The next box shows email 1, the Welcome email. Same deal as the last two autoresponders, this is triggered from the subscription.

Next, we move on to email 2. Here, just like in the first series we covered, the extra value, you’re going to go all in on giving your list information they need and love.

Now, on to email 3. Ok, we’re back to pitching. Same idea as before, you still want to give value before you pitch, but instead of being hit with the pitch right away, you’ve done a little bit more to build the relationship first

For emails 4-6 the process simply repeats. You give a little, then you ask a little and so on.

I like this hybrid method because it tends to work well for most brands. But beyond that, you’re switching things up a little to wake your reader out of a lull. When you’re sending them awesome content every few days, it makes sense to toss a little ask in there from time to time.

There’s even some psychology behind it, the concept of giving something to someone upfront and then gently reminding them of it later while you ask for a favor in return triggers a reflex.

I won’t go all in on the details, although if you want to read more about it, I suggest checking out Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah Goldstein, Steve Martin & Robert Cialdini.

Don’t you love it when I add to your reading list?

Here’s a final tip, unless you have a daily email series, space out the timing of your emails. You can send more frequently at first (every 2-3 days) then longer (every 5-8 days). You can extend a 5-7 email autoresponder series out over the course of a few months or get them all out in just a few days.

A lot of that will depend on your sales cycle. So you can tweak the timing to align more with that.

Final Thoughts

We’ll here we are, the end of the of the crash course. I know I covered a pretty big topic in a quick way, but I wanted to give you an understand about what autoresponders really are about.

By now, I think (hope) you have a good base for understanding what autoresponders are, how to approach each different method and an idea of what method is going to work best for you.