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Introduction to Autoresponders [And How You Can Use them to Drive Traffic and Profit]

Today I want to talk about a tool all bloggers treating their blogs as a business should at the very least be familiar with—and should probably be using. It’s something that has the potential to drive significant traffic to your blog in the coming years. It could also add significant profits to your blog in that time.

It is a tool that can be used in a variety of ways. It isn’t overly expensive to set up, and it’s not difficult to use.

The tool is the email autoresponder—something that is central to my own blogging business today, but whose power I ignored for several years.

In this post, I want to introduce you to the concept of autoresponders. Tomorrow, I will highlight a number of techniques for using them to drive traffic and profit.

Introduction to autoresponders

Autoresponders are a tool that most email service providers offer. An autoresponder is a sequence of emails that will be sent to anyone who subscribes to them. The emails are set up to go out at predetermined intervals to a user who subscribes to your email list.

The service that I use for my autoresponders is Aweber, but most providers offer them (another that many use is Mailchimp).

How to set up an email autoresponder

Using Aweber to set up a sequence of emails is simple (the process is simple at Mailchimp).

  1. Set up a list: Log in to Aweber (once you’ve signed up, it’s free to test drive), and then hit Create a New List. Enter your list name and details as prompted. Aweber will also get you to come up with a “confirmation message.” This is sent to anyone who signs up for your list so that they double opt-in to receive your emails.
  2. Add your first email: Once your list is set up, head to the Messages tab in your Aweber account and choose the Followup option from the drop-down menu.

    aweber messages followup

  3. Create your first message: You’ll be taken to a page which lists any messages you have in your sequence. If this is a new list, it will be empty: it’ll look like this:
    Screen Shot 2011-10-05 at 12.25.16 PM.png
    Hit Create New Followup Message, and you’ll be taken to a page where you can create your first email. This page is pretty simple to set up—you just need to enter a subject line and the message you want to send.

    This being the first email in your sequence, you’ll probably want to welcome people to the list and set some expectations about what will follow: when they’ll get their next email, and what the emails that follow will be about.

    Screen Shot 2011-10-05 at 12.29.24 PM.png

    Once your email is ready, hit Save. Since this is the first email, it’ll be sent to anyone who signs up to your list immediately upon signup, so do get this email right before you invite people to sign up.

  4. Create further emails: With your first email in place you can now begin to develop your sequence of emails. What goes into these emails will depend a little upon your goals for the autoresponder (tomorrow I’ll highlight a few potential strategies), but whatever you put in them, you will also want to think a little about the interval and delivery times of these next emails.

    When you’re editing these emails, look under the space in which you enter them for the area where Aweber lets you set mailing intervals.

    Screen Shot 2011-10-05 at 12.38.30 PM.png

    The “4″ signifies that this second email will be sent four days after the welcome email. You might want to lengthen or shorten this timeframe depending upon what the autoresponder is for.

    Click the check box below this to specify times and days on which you want emails to be delivered.

    Screen Shot 2011-10-05 at 12.40.25 PM.png

    In this case I’ve chosen to have the emails delivered on any weekday, between 9am and 12 noon, based upon the subscriber’s timezone. If you’re sending daily emails, you will want them to go out every day of the week; alternatively, you might choose to mail weekly on a certain day.

    Once you’ve got email #2 in place, repeat the process with further emails.

  5. Promote your list: Once you’ve got your welcome email and perhaps another couple in place, you can promote your autoresponder to get people to sign up to it. You can do this in a variety of ways using the Forms that Aweber provides. How you promote your autoresponder will depend on what the autoresponder sequence is about.

What can you use an autoresponder for?

Okay, so you know how to set up an autoresponder sequence in Aweber, but what can you actually do with it?

I’m going to follow up this post tomorrow with another post that answers just that question, and shows you a number of different ways bloggers can use autoresponders to drive traffic and bring in revenue.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear how those of you who already do use autoresponders use them in your blogging. Please share your experiences of them below in the comments section!

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Aweber. While I make a small commission if you sign up for Aweber from links in this post I’m also a long-term user of their service and recommend you consider them as an email provider. Here’s why I use Aweber.

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Faizan says:

    Nice and useful post! Autoresponders are a tool that any serious blogger should not ignore. I am going to set up one soon on my blog.

  2. Wafaa Younis says:

    your post useful for all thanks for sharing this Autoresponder , i want to get more traffic to my blog for free to get more money from it , iam new to this world

  3. Aweber rocks!

    This is also a really awesome guide to getting Aweber set up the right way the first time.

    As far as my experiences, I have been able to earn as much as $78 from a single email, but also as many as 15 unsubscribes in 2 days and no money from another… so be careful how you treat your email list :)

    If you don’t have an autoresponder yet, go ahead and buy Aweber from Darren! I don’t think he mentioned its only $1 to set up for the first month ;)

    Thanks for the post,
    -Gabriel Johansson

  4. autoresponders is one of the those aspects of blogging that i find a little intimidating for some reason. i have decided that it feels like selling and it also requires me to talk more personally to my readers. i kind of hide behind my content and feel less like i am selling when i am just running ads on my site, not selling a product. very interested to read tomorrow’s posts. thanks darren.

  5. Pankaj Gupta says:

    Yes, Auto Responders are always useful. Currently I am using Getresponse and that’s is doing good. Thanks for this awesome post.

  6. Hey Darren, I love this aweber post have made it my best blogging report for my blog readers always love sharing your valuable info.

    Mike

  7. Thanks Darren, nice simple post. Trying to convince a few sports clients about how to use autoresponders & email marketing effectively, this post will help.

  8. Daniel says:

    I have to admit when I was quite new to Blogging, I thought that people using Email Auto-responders, were doing so as a lazy way to auto respond to Blog comments. Though, seeing the amount of visitors(And the number of comments) some sites are getting, I can now see the need to use such tools. Not only this, the added dimension whereby, blog members(subscribers ) can be kept up-to-date on a whole host of other things. The truth is, I feel that as much as using an Auto-responder would be crucial for a large(More established) site, for sites not getting many visitors, it may not really be all that useful.

    For the smaller sites, or low traffic sites, it would probably be better to look for either a free or cheap alternative. Once the traffic picks up, and visitors are becoming return visitors, then going more up market(Buying products like Aweber) would be the best option.

  9. Aweber autoresponders are perfect for:

    Collecting Leads
    Building a Relationship
    Getting Feedback
    Selling Additional Products
    Offering Deals

    ETC. THEY ROCK.

  10. I’m using Aweber myself and very satisfied with their service. What’s your thoughts in comparing Aweber to other email services, like iContact (since the article is about autoresponders in general instead of aweber specifically)? Wishing you success always, Darren…

  11. Melvin says:

    This is one of the things that I first learned from Problogger a while back. PB guys always mentioning, and not only them but others too, that you should setup your own email list.

    The benefits of this is can’t be seen instantly but in the long run you’ll probably going to thank those who reminded you to do it.

    Thanks for this post Darren.

    - Melvin

  12. Pasindu says:

    Nice Post..This very very helpful to me for my day today works.thank you very much…

  13. Good breakdown Darren. Add value consistently through your emails, and you can generate strong sales. Use an autoresponder as you would any other tool: help people solve their problems with your mailings and include direct calls to action with each message.

    Thanks for sharing!

    RB

  14. Great post Darren. I use an autoresponder now and it has been really convenient. But I also ignored it for years and even after I got interested I wish there was a post like this that showed me what to do in such detail. Thanks!

  15. Without a doubt an autoresponder is an absolute must. Personally , the biggest problem I have is knowing how to use it to its full advantage!

    Thanks Darren for sharing your knowledge in this & forth coming posts!

  16. naijadotcom says:

    Autoresponders?Great,Thanks for this post.

  17. I’m sorry but autoresponder are also VERY annoying for your visitors. My (office + private) mailbox receives each day +100 mails.

    I’m really don’t need an autoresponder of each action/subscription/… with mostly just a welcome text.

    Give your visitors real value for clicking on your autoresponder-mail or otherwise don’t use it…

  18. Mark Aylward says:

    I am using an auto responder and trying to figure out better ways to use it strategically. It seems there is the tactical logic of staying in touch and building a targeted list and there is the strategic logic of when to sell, what to sell and how to drip content in a balanced fashion that supports relationship building yet also generates sales. Any thoughts would be welcome
    Cheers
    Mark

  19. Marsha says:

    I look forward to seeing the other posts. My problem with Aweber has been with adding/changing the emails in the chain. Say you add an email with a special for your new subscribers. Don’t people that are already subscribed get that email too?

  20. T. Adam says:

    Your process of work with autoresponder, just awesome and legit. But most of time, marketer make this auto-responding like spam. That’s why real people don’t get courage to subscribe.

  21. For some people, Autoresponder seemed to be a bit irritating to have in their inbox.

  22. AstroGremlin says:

    Tremendously interested in this topic since I learned that “the list is the thing.” Properly used, e-mails are not annoying in the least to me. I sign up for lists at quality sites and read them at my leisure – have gotten some great freebies and tips reserved for list members. Looking forward to the next post, Darren.

  23. Vince Thorne says:

    Nifty tool. Does make you look better as you took the time to set-up the tool.

  24. BT Stream says:

    Will this work with Blogger blogs?

  25. Allen Resha says:

    Autoresponders are a great way to build a list and drive traffic. Aweber is the autoresponder that I use as well. I like it because it is simple to setup, but on the same token powerful! I suggest that anybody with a blog have an autoresponder. Great post!