Brian Emershaw

Autoresponders for eCommerce

If you’ve been online and have worked within an email or webmail program, you may have heard the term “Autoresponder”.  An autoresponder is a piece of software that can respond to an email that’s been sent to it.  They can be simple, or complex, depending on how they are built and their overall purpose.

A very simple example of an autoresponder is within Microsoft® Office as an “Out of Office Assistant”.  When someone emails an individual that is out of the office for the coming week because they are on vacation, the autoresponder takes care of immediately responding by sending a message back to communicate where the person is this week and when they can expect to receive a response back.

In the world of ecommerce, an autoresponder is a much more complex system, which can yield unbelievable results for your business.

As a merchant, you can utilize autoresponder capabilities to send one email message, or a series of messages that can easily be set up automatically.  For example, you could have an Autoresponder campaign that triggers when someone orders a particular product.  Then, 5 days later, the autoresponder sends the customer a coupon code to come back and shop again.  Ten days after the initial purchase, the autoresponder emails them with a free shipping coupon.

Since the autoresponder is based on a “Days Delay” system, each customer runs on their own schedule.  This means that ‘Customer A’ that purchased on Monday would get their 5 day email before ‘Customer B’, who completed their order on Thursday.

So, what does this mean over the course of a year?  Let’s say you have 5,000 orders over a period of one year.  You set your autoresponder to communicate 3 times to each new customer.  You have just automated the delivery of 15,000 messages, without even lifting a finger!

All of your customers have not only made an initial purchase, but you have now enticed them to come back and possibly buy something else.  Your customers have already trusted you with important buying information and they have had a great first experience.  Now, you have given them a reason to come back and shop with you.

You are learning how an autoresponder can help you build your company brand.  People are enamored with brand names and typically require seeing your brand many times before it is at the forefront of their minds for making their next purchase.  By automatically communicating key messages that show your brand, you are helping them to remember YOU, rather than a competitor.

So, how do you get autoresponders working for your business?  Well, that really depends on the type of business you run.  I’ve seen this strategy work for all types of businesses, from wholesalers, to retailers, to training and certification specialists.  What it really comes down to is the due diligence of setting it up the first time, which requires some planning and knowledge about your customer and product bases.

It can be a fair bit of tedious work to try to anticipate what customers’ needs will most likely be over the course of time, but once you know what they may need or want, it becomes a process where you set-it-and-forget-it.  Everything else is fully automated.

Since the requirements will differ from business to business, here are some examples to consider in using an autoresponder to regularly touch your new customers:

  • For Training and Certifications – Autoresponders can be used as reminders of a student’s upcoming seminar / training date.  Then,   they can follow up to remind those same students that the certification officially expires on a certain date, and that they can renew their certification by making reservations for a refresher course.
  • For a Consumer Electronics store – Autoresponders can be used to upsell additional insurance or warranty extension plans, help videos, send out coupons on particular accessories, offer upgrades to older hardware, or even offer information about an in-house repair service.
  • For a Retail Jewelry Store – After you’ve sold the charm, consider offering a coupon code on a number of matching chains / bracelets.  Also consider an offer on jewelry cleaners, or matching pieces that would complete the set.

The concept can be a little hard to grasp, but it is well worth the time and effort to explore it as an option for your online store, because no matter your business type, there is always a way to make this work to your advantage.  If would like a little additional information on how to put autoresponders to work for your business, Solid Cactus is always here to help.  Just give us a call and we’d be happy to discuss a strategy.


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