This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!
Darren has written a lot about how he has evolved his autoresponder sequences on his blogs. But I want to take this a step further and describe how you can turn a good auto responder into a great one.
Step 1: Segment your subscribers when they give you their email addresses
When you ask users to give you their email addresses, you should keep the process as frictionless as possible. If you can, just ask for the address itself. If you really need to, ask for their name so you can personalize messages—but that’s it.
Given you’ve only got one piece of information, how can you segment your audience?
- Segment A: Existing Customer: match the email address to your list of orders and see if the person is an existing customer or not.
- Segment B: Blog Commenter: if you’re requesting people include their email addresses when they post comments, match against that to determine how connected they are to your blog.
- Segment C: Community Member: if your blog includes a forum, chances are you’ll have a record of user email addresses from your forum signup process. Use this to determine if they’re already part of your community.
- Segment D: New Subscriber: this is the bucket for anyone who doesn’t fit into the above segments. These are fresh faces to your blog.
Step 2: Tailor an autoresponder for each segment
You’ll probably follow a similar process to the one Darren created here. However, you should create a sequence that’s specific for each segment. For example, you might welcome a new subscriber by sharing with them some of your most popular posts first. Then, you might send them a copy of your latest newsletter. Finally, you might send them an offer on one of your products. Alternatively, you might simply send an existing customer the content they gave you their email for, as they’re already in your sales cross-sell and up-sell cycle.
As a starting point, try to put yourself in the segment’s shoes, and create a process you’d like to see if you were them.
Step 3: Test and refine each segment’s autoresponder
This is where it gets a little harder and, sometimes, a little confusing. It’s time to refine your autoresponder sequence to find that optimal conversion rate for each segment. Some of the considerations you need to take into your testing could include:
- Sequence of events: e.g. free ebook –> links to popular blog posts –> latest newsletter –> paid ebook
- Email delivery time: during business hours/outside business hours/weekday/weekend
- Delay between emails: one month, one week, one day, one hour
- Email format: HTML, rich text, or plain text
- Email copy: long or short, informational or sales-focused
Warning: when you’re testing, you can easily get out of control creating variations. For example, if you had three different test cases for each of four segments, you’d have 12 tests running simulations. And if they have four emails each, that would be 48 emails you need to write! I’d start with what you think is right, and over time evolve your approach—just like Darren has.
Now unfortunately I’m not sure of any email services offering this level of depth when it comes to allocating people to certain lists based on their customer profiles (if someone knows of one, let me know). So you might need to have something custom-created for you to take an email address, decide what segment the user fits into, and assign that person to the appropriate list. However, a little investment up front can pay huge dividends in ongoing reader-to-customer conversions.
Even if you’re only getting a handful or subscribers each day, putting them through a focused autoresponder program that’s been tailored to them will, without doubt, increase your conversions.
Stay tuned from most posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing more of his tips undercover here at ProBlogger over the coming weeks.