How To Write an Autoresponder Message That Gets Results

The autoresponder (or mailbot) is one of the great workhorses of Internet marketing. With the autoresponder, you can deliver your sales message or other information rapidly. And you can deliver it 24 hours a day to any Internet email user in the world.

But how can you create an autoresponder message that gets real results? Here are some methods of power communication that I've had success with as a writer of sales letters, mailbot copy, World Wide Web content, ads and more.

1. Focus on the reader, not yourself

Your message should be about the customer's needs and how your product will fulfill those needs, not about how wonderful you are and how great your product is (in your own opinion).

Don't talk to me about your fertilizer, talk to me about my lawn. Take a look at my first few paragraphs above. How many times did I talk about "you" and "your" as opposed to "I" and "me"?

2. Make it personal.

As with any sales letter, write your autoresponder message as a one-to-one communication. Pretend you're sitting down to talk to a friend.

Let your message be friendly, animated and informal. Go ahead and use contractions (like "you're" and "don't" and "we'll"). Don't be afraid to start a sentence with "and" or "but." Your English teacher will never read it, and he wasn't teaching you to write advertising, anyway.

3. Emphasize benefits.

Rather than thinking of yourself as selling a product or a service, think of yourself as providing benefits. To determine the benefits, ask yourself, "What does the customer get out of my product?" The answer should be something like "more time," "more money," "more pleasure," "an easier life," "better health," or "greater safety."

Benefits are different from features. Example of a feature: "This computer has a Pentium 4 processor." Now we turn it into a benefit: "Lightning-fast Pentium 4 processor means you get more work done in less time."

4. Include a "call to action."

Be clear in your mind about what you want the reader to do after reading your message. What do you want? A reply by email? A visit to your Web site? An order called in to your toll-free number? Let the user know what response you want, and let them know in a compelling, urgent, benefits-oriented way. Include complete contact information, and triple-check it for accuracy.

5. Offer useful information.

One good autoresponder strategy is to offer a free report giving useful information but including a sales message -- an "advertorial" approach.

For an example, for several years I distributed a report, "10 Tips for Selling on the Internet and the World Wide Web." This was a report with much solid nuts-and-bolts advice. But at the end of the report, I told the user how to order my "Smart Business Guide to Internet Marketing," and I even included an order form. Users didn't resent my pitch because they got so much value from the report.

6. Use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

You tell the world whether you're a professional or an amateur by the quality of your marketing communications. Take the time to edit your autoresponder message for errors. If you're not a good speller, get help from someone who is.

7. Use layout to make it easier to read.

Since a mailbot message is delivered in plain ASCII text, your design capabilities are limited. Here are a few tricks you can use to make your message more readable:

  • For a headline, use ALL-CAPS and insert a blank line before and after.
  • Use short paragraphs, say 5-7 lines at the most.
  • Set out material in bulleted lists (like this one).
  • Use "white space" to center important material and call attention to it, like so:

Now available:
Solid strategies for "Net" results!
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Warning: I suggest you not try to create cute pictures with text characters. Different computers use different screen and printer fonts, so your picture will often come out as a big mess.

Also, I think it's a good idea to limit each line to 55-60 characters, as many email systems will automatically wrap the text at that length.

8. Obey the law.

False advertising is still illegal, even if you're on the Internet. In many countries, pyramid schemes and chain letters are illegal. You should assume that all tax and licensing laws in your town, state, province, country and so forth still apply. If you're in doubt, check with your attorney or accountant.

9. Read the messages people send to your autoresponder.

A good autoresponder system will send you a copy of the request every time someone sends for your report. With most systems, the user doesn't have to type anything in the body of their message when they send in the request. But often they do! By reading the message and replying to the user personally, you may increase your chances of selling to that person.

If you create a strong, well-written, persuasive message, your autoresponder can help you increase your sales and fulfill the goals of your email marketing effort.

Understanding the request form...

  • What are you selling: Most email campaigns are selling a product or service. Name that product and/or service in this field. (for example: security services, accounting software)
  • Target Market: Name here who you see as the market or potential buyers of your product/service. (for example: home owners, accountants)
  • Size of your mailing: How many emails do you plan to send -- this will affect your potential revenue and cost. (for example: 100,000 to 250,000)
  • Your Time Frame: When do you plan to do your mailing? (for example: mailing within one month)
  • Campaign Details: Give a more complete description of what you are planning. (for example: I plan to do 3 sequential mailings to homeowners in New Jersey in order to sell a new security system.)
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